Samsung SyncMaster 931BW

Audio|Video|Misc
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NOISE, POWER, PERFORMANCE

Our usual gamut of test equipment was bright to bear on this monitor. The photo below shows the gear clustered around the power supply tester, which is obviously not used here. Most of the other components was used.


From the left: Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun microphone, custom built wood PC thermal simulation box with Nexus 120 fan and internal 21A loading resistors for the 12V2 line, digital thermometer to monitor in/out temperatures of the power supply, a test power supply in the "hot seat", digital multimeter to monitor the PSU fan voltage, DBS-2100 PSU load tester
integrated with PC thermal simulation box, B&K 2203 sound level meter in front, 120/240 VAC dedicated outlets, high accuracy Extech 560 digital multimeter to measure output voltage and current, Extech 380803 AC power analyzer/datalogger, 20A 0~140VAC variac, USB Instruments DS1M12 digital oscilloscope to measure / display AC ripple, LCD monitor of silent PC running sound and oscilloscope software, along with spreadsheet software to calculate PSU settings and tabulate measurements.

The test results are shown below:

1. NOISE - The Samsung SyncMaster 931BW makes no audible noise. A faint hum can be heard from the back of the monitor with my ear about 3" away. Move back to one foot, and it becomes much fainter and harder to hear. From two feet, I cannot hear it at all in this very quiet, ~20 dBA ambient room. It certainly cannot be measured or recorded from our standard one meter distance. Any other moving device or ambient noise in your room will easily drown out this noise long before you can hear it. It is effectively silent.

2. POWER - The maximum power draw is given as 42W, but in testing, this consumption level was never reached. The maximum AC power ever reached in any combination of monitor settings and applications was 31W. The power consumption was directly tied to brightness. Switching through the Magic Bright presets, which changes mostly brightness and contrast, made this very clear.

Samsung 931BW AC Power Measurements
Setting
Brightness
Power
VA
PF
Text
12%
16W
26
0.62
Internet
22%
20W
32
0.63
Game
100%
30W
45
0.67
Sport
100%
31W
45
0.67
Movie
100%
30W
45
0.67
Dynamic
not available
26W
40
0.65
Custom
0%
15W
26
0.62
Sleep
-
1W
-
-
Off
-
0W
-
-

What's a bit surprising is that judging from the big gap between apparent power and VA, and by the PF measurements, this monitor's power supply does not feature any kind of power factor correction. (The link goes to an explanatory PDF file from the U.S. Department of Energy.) APFC is so common these days that on the manufacturing side, the additional cost is probably no more than a dollar or two for a product like this. It would have made the 931BW more environmentally friendly by eliminating AC power losses due to harmonics.

3. PERFORMANCE - The monitor was tested subjectively for visual performance with text, images, video clips and a couple of games. Several different video cards were used:

  • Matrox P650 (excellent 2D)
  • ATI X1800GTO
  • Intel Extreme Graphics 900 (onboard integrated video)
  • nVidia 6800GT

The overall performance was excellent. The edge to edge brightness was very uniform. The usable viewing angles were quite wide. At the 1440x900 setting, both text and images were sharp and clear without any artifacts of any kind (except that introduced by the analog video cable and the onboard integrated graphics, which have nothing to do with the monitor itself). Even fast motion was well reproduced with no significant ghosting or trailers; perhaps it's the effect of the 2ms response time. While a formal color accuracy test was not performed, images such as photos and videos I'd taken myself were reproduced with great vibrancy and they were certainly accurate enough for non-professional use.


This web-friendly 650x488 photo of the 931BW screen of a frame in the 720p video clip "SuperHighway" from Microsoft's WMV HD showcase doesn't do justice to the actual viewing experience, but it's fun to look at anyway.
;)

 

CONCLUSIONS

The Samsung SyncMaster 931BW is a good LCD monitor with fine performance, no noise, low power consumption and little heat. It's sleek, lightweight and nice to view. It confirms our basic assumptions about LCD monitors in general: They're basically noiseless, cool, and pretty nice to use. The only downsides are the absence of height adjustment and active power factor correction. Given the very modest <$250 market price in the US and Canada, it's difficult not to recommend the 931BW for any range of applications and users. I'd certainly have no problem using this monitor (or perhaps a pair of them) on my desktop.

Our thanks to Samsung Canada for the review sample and for their kind support.

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For detailed authoritative discussions of LCD display technologies, check out Oleg Artamonov's excellent guides in X-bit Labs:

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