The big push in movies and displays has been 3D the past few years. In movies it’s ranged from well designed and executed (Avatar) to a gimmick to charge $4 more per ticket (many examples), but for gaming, it potentially has more direct benefits. Virtually every game now is rendered in 3D, and so all of the information is there that is needed to show the game in 3D to the user, unlike the fake 2D to 3D conversions that many films use. Running in active 3D also means a panel that works at a true 120Hz, so even your 2D image can benefit. Samsung sent us their latest 3D enabled 23" LCD for review, with built in support for AMD's HD3D solution.

Samsung S23A750D Design and Setup

The Samsung S23A750D (henceforth S23A) is certainly a slick looking monitor, but it is not a design without issues. Its angular central pedestal only provides tilt adjustment, with no swivel or height adjustment at all. The connectors on the rear of the pedestal are nicely arranged in a way that keeps everything close together and makes cable organization easy for the user. There are HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, and you’ll want to use DisplayPort here, as it’s the only way to get a 120Hz signal from your video card to the display. The one bad side about the port design is that Samsung uses an external power adapter, so be prepared to hide another power brick somewhere near your workstation.

The front controls on the pedestal are all touch sensitive, with Menu, Power, and 3D buttons at the top, and 4-way arrow keys with a central Enter button in the middle. This brings up one big issue that I had with the display, in that the Enter key is located far too close to the arrow keys and is nearly impossible to hit. The Enter key is also used to select the correct input, and for a couple of days I was not able to hit Enter to change from HDMI to DisplayPort. It turned out that trying to barely hit the button didn’t work and I had to use my whole thumb to hit it, but this would often hit the arrow keys instead of Enter.

Needless to say, this drove me absolutely crazy during the review period. It was hard to change inputs, to adjust anything on the OSD, and to really adjust anything with the display. I’d strongly suggest that Samsung spread out the buttons more, or make them actual tactile buttons, and possibly include a remote as well if they want to stay with the touch sensitive options. Since the monitor is also available in a configuration with a TV tuner integrated, the remote option makes the most sense as it would let them keep the look while making it easier to adjust.

The screen and bezel of the Samsung are very glossy in use, and I likely wouldn’t use it in a room where there was going to be a lot of lighting that would reflect off of it. While taking some pictures of content on the screen it was virtually impossible to get one without a reflection, so if reflections bother you easily then you might want to look elsewhere. The glossy finish gives the screen a good amount of pop as you would expect, but there are the reflections. Here's the overview of the specs and features for the S23A.

Samsung S23A750D
Video Inputs HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort
Panel Type TN
Pixel Pitch 0.265 mm
Colors 16.7 million
Brightness 250 nits
Contrast Ratio 1,000:1
Response Time 2ms (GTG)
Viewable Size 23"
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Viewing Angle 170 H / 160 V
Backlight LED
Power Consumption (operation) 48W
Power Consumption (standby) 1W
Screen Treatment Ultra Clear Panel (Glossy)
Height-Adjustable No
Tilt Yes, 0-20 degrees
Pivot No
Swivel No
VESA Wall Mounting No
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.39" x 15.94" x 7.59"
Weight 9.26 lbs
Additional Features 120Hz input, 2D -> 3D Conversion, Active 3D, Headphone Out
Limited Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Active 3D Glasses, DisplayPort Cable
Price Available online starting at $435

The OSD system of the S23A would be fine if not for the issues with the touch sensitive buttons. All the settings you expect to see are there.

Sidenote: Display Testbed Upgrades

The harder point of setup for me was that I’m not a huge gamer, so I didn’t have a video card that would drive a game in 3D at reasonable frame rates, or that had a DisplayPort output on it. AMD was kind enough to send along a Radeon HD 6950 video card for the testing so nothing would hold back the performance of the display. On the other hand, AMD's current HD3D solution doesn't have quite the gaming support as NVIDIA's 3D Vision, but that's a matter for gamers. Considering the S23A specifically includes support for AMD's HD3D solution, testing with an AMD GPU makes the most sense. It's also worth noting that running games in 3D mode puts a much higher load on the GPU, just as with NVIDIA's 3D Vision, so you're not going to want to try 3D gaming with anything much lower than a 6950; that brings us to the next point.

Not surprisingly, upgrading to a high-end GPU meant my PSU wasn’t up to the task, but OCZ helped out with a ZX series 850W PSU to replace the anemic one I had installed. Installing this into the Antec P182 was a bit of an adventure thanks to all the dividers inside the Antec case, but it worked great once installed and ran even quieter than what I had installed previously. The OCZ is also a modular PSU, whereas my previous PSU had a fixed set of cables, and I found the change helpful when rewiring my case and adding the PEG connectors to the GPU. Here you can see the result of my upgrades if you're interested.

The main reason we mention this is that anyone considering upgrading to a 3D display for gaming purposes really needs to consider their other hardware as well. Serious gamers might have all the necessary equipment already, but casual gamers—as well as many typical OEM builds—could fall well short of the desired level of performance. Now with my PC upgraded and ready for 3D testing, let's see how the S23A performs.

Viewing Angles and Color Quality
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    So this is an oddity of HDMI. There are plenty of graphics cards that support HDMI 1.4a, which is the latest standard. For example, HDMI 1.3 category 2 supports up to 10.2Gb/s bandwidth, which should be enough for 120Hz at 1920x1080 (a 32-bit signal would require 7.96Gb/s). The problem is that HDMI uses HDCP, and I believe most (all?) consumer HDMI implementations use a chipset that can't do 1080p120.
  • Starzty - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    I can tell you from experience that every NVIDIA implementation I have used supported it. I have tested it on an 8600m, a 460, a 9800gt and a 460m. It only worked properly at the standard TV resolutions but it did work. While for video games the performance hit is significant enough that it doesn't matter, with a 27 inch screen I am thinking more about the applications in regard to 3d blu rays. I haven't tried AMD systems but I may give it a shot next time I am around one. I have tested it with a 3d viewsonic projector through HDMI and on a 3d tv which I cannot recall the brand of. The reviewer may have to wait for official 3dvision support to try an automated test through HDMI but you can tell the nvidia driver to push 120hz and it should go through.
    I know theoretically it should work but I thought you needed 1.4 do to 3d, I wasnt aware 1.3 supported it
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    Just to update on this, I chatted with Chris and he said with an HDMI connection to the LCD there was no way to send a 120Hz signal. This could be something on the AMD driver side of the equation, or it may be the HDMI chipset in the Samsung LCD just doesn't accept that. In terms of specifications, it's important to note that 1080p120 isn't mandatory or even listed as an optional resolution; anything sending 1080p120 over HDMI is using HDMI more as a carrier for a DVI signal.
  • cheinonen - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    HDMI technically has the bandwidth for 120Hz, but it's not in the standard for HDMI 1.4a. Neither the Windows settings nor the Catalyst Control Panel would allow a refresh rate of 120Hz to be selected without using DisplayPort for the interface. For 3D over HDMI, the required formats are:

    - 1080p24 Frame Packed (so 24p for each eye)
    - 720p60 Frame Packed (for gaming, 60p each eye)
    - 1080i60 side by side
    - 720p60 top and bottom
    - 1080p24 top and bottom

    There is no 1080p60 frame packed there, which is what you would need to support a true 120Hz refresh rate at 1080p resolution. Some vendors might support this, but it's not in the standard, but it is fine with DisplayPort, so that's the route that Samsung went.
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I am not really interested in seeing reviews of 120Hz monitors as long as they are 1080. I own a 24" 1200 right now and would really like to see more reviews of 1440 monitors (Dell U2711, Fujitsu P27T-6, Samsung S27A850D, Hazro HZ27WB/C). Especially the Samsung has been making waves. Some complain about the backlight bleed, but other praise the great matte finish which does not add grainyness (like e-IPS 27" have). :-)
  • dj christian - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    Yes agreed! And AT somehow forgets my login everytime. Running FF 9.
  • IceDread - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    Good review, I however lost all trust in samsung after the scandal with samsung 226bw.
  • DanNeely - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    Meh. At this point is there any major vendor who hasn't done a component lottery at some point?
  • IceDread - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - link

    Well, which companies do you know about that has done it?

    If you keep purchasing products from a company with bad business ethics the industry will never improve.
  • justniz - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    Terrible review.
    Why would a non-gamer without anappropriate GPU try and review a 3D Monitor?
    Jeez at least start with the prerequisites filled.
    Furthermore testing with AMD GPU was a bad choice anyway...Everyone knows AMD 3D software support is a poor second best to nVidia's.

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