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To gauge the performance of the F2380, we've put it through a gauntlet of tests provided courtesy of Swedish site lagom.nl and compared it where possible to the LG W2261V, a very popular 2ms LCD with a TN panel.

Contrast

Contrast on a monitor is effectively its ability to display distinguishable shades of any given colour. The test bars here will quickly show up any weakness a panel has in showing colour gradation across a wide spectrum of colours.

At factory settings the F2380 blurred some of the colours together, with gradients lost at the rightmost end of some of the bars, however quickly tweaking the contrast setting down to about 60% put that right, after which the screen showed excellent gradation between all steps with no shades lost at the darker end of the spectrum.

The LG screen also suffered blurring and even after some tweaking it still showed over-saturation with a few colours, perhaps indication that the screen is manufactured to show deep, bright colours at the expense of fidelity. A good start for the Samsung screen.

Black level

Some monitors, particularly the ones with VA panels, suffer from what is called "black crush", or the inability to display distinguishable shades of very dark grey.

The squares in this test gradually step up in brightness (0 being the darkest and 255 being the brightest) and each step is clearly distinguishable on both monitors.

This will help in real life scenarios such as dark scenes in movies and for picking up details in shadows when editing images.

Considering VA panels traditionally fail in this regard it's good to see that Samsung may have overcome this.

White saturation

This test is basically the same as the black level test but at the other end of the brightness spectrum. Each checkerboard pattern gets brighter and brighter but you shouldn't lose visibility of any of them against the pure white background.

After setting the contrast on the F2380 lower than default during the first test, it needed to be turned down again to 40% so that the 253 and 254 checkerboards where not lost in the background. This made the brightest colours noticeably duller but I guess that is the price you have to pay for image accuracy.

The LG screen on the other hand would not display the 254 checkerboard without turning the contrast down to almost zero, so the Samsung screen is clearly a good performer in this area.

Response time - ghosting

Now this is the area that most gamers care about and will probably make or break their buying decision. If Samsung can make a high contrast LCD with superior colour reproduction and no ghosting effects then they have a winner on their hands.

The test here involves ten vertical lines travelling across the screen from right to left, with different options for the brightness of both the lines and the background, to show how fast the monitor can transition between different brightness levels. LCD monitors generally perform worst in the black-to-grey transition, and this will show up as the first few lines on the leading edge (the left hand side) of the group of lines being darker than normal. A slow grey-to-black or white-to-grey transition will appear as ghostly shadows on the trailing edge (the right hand side). There are only ten lines being displayed in this test, so a couple missing at the start or one or two extra at the end is the ghosting effect.

The explanation for this is that to create brightness levels, the monitor will send a specific voltage signal to each pixel telling it how bright to be. Low voltage is black, medium levels are grey, and high voltage is white. Going to black or white can be done quickly by sending very little or very high voltage - akin to slamming a door open or shut with maximum force. Going to the grey levels in between however requires more delicacy and more time - akin to shutting a door but stopping halfway, without overshooting the halfway point too much.

As you can see, Samsung's cPVA panel fares worse than the TN panel for ghosting. In the black-to-grey transition (0 - 128) the first line is very faint, and the 2nd and 3rd line are also not at full brightness, showing a slow response time for this transition. Grey-to-white transition is perfect, but transitioning back to grey is also very slow - note the clearly visible 11th line and the slightly fainter 12th line.

The TN panel however is superior in this area, with uniform brightness across all bars in the black-to-grey transition, and only a minor trailing ghost in the grey-to-white transition.

Hopefully now you can see that labelling an LCD as "2ms" or "8ms" or whatever is somewhat meaningless. Response time will vary greatly across different brightness levels, and only a more exhaustive test like this will uncover the bigger picture.

Processing lag

Another dreaded phenomenon that gamers go to great lengths to avoid. Processing lag is simple - it is the time it takes a monitor to display a signal after it has received it. Delays can be caused by a number of things but the main culprits are usually built-in image processing and response time compensation chips in the monitor.

The test here sends the same time counter to both screens at the same time, so in theory each screen should be displaying the same frame (the number in brackets is the frame number, between 0 - 59 due to the monitors running at 60Hz). If one monitor has more processing lag than the other, then it will be displaying an older frame.

As you could probably have guessed, the TN panel outperforms the F2380 across all different brightness levels. At all four levels, the cPVA panel is either still on the last frame or has only just begun to transition to it. The difference isn't huge though - one frame at 60Hz is just under 17ms, and monitors with high processing lag will wait up to 51ms before spitting a frame out. This is of course assuming the TN panel doesn't have a 17ms or 34ms lag in the first place, but there's no way of objectively measuring that without more expensive and sophisticated equipment.

Viewing angle/colour shift

The last lagom test done was viewing an image and various colours from different angles.

As expected, the cPVA panel performs admirably in this regard, being able to view images from much wider angles than the TN panel with much less colour shifting. It's still not perfect however - the top and bottom of the test text page still warp into red and blue at anything other than a dead-on angle. Overall there are a lot less distractions, and portrait mode is especially good as vertical viewing angles appear markedly improved compared to the LG screen.

Conclusion

At an RRP of $469, the Samsung F2380 cPVA LCD monitor is only about $100 more than an equivalently-sized TN-based LCD monitor. For the difference in price, you are paying for better viewing angles, more accurate colours, and better contrast. If you are an amateur photo editor or graphics artist, this could suit you perfectly, giving you some of the benefits of an IPS panel without having to splash out the thick end of a grand for one.

If you are a gamer however, you are going to be very put off by the slower response times, ghosting and higher processing lag. Given that this monitor is not aimed at gamers however, I think Samsung can be forgiven on these fronts, as you really should be sticking with TN panels for gaming.

Overall, I actually really liked the F2380, images where crisp and clear with rich, vibrant colours, and I found myself going through hundreds of old digital photos that I've taken over the years, literally looking at them in a new light.

If you are on a budget and have any use for high colour accuracy , contrast, or a full sRGB colour space, then I can highly recommend this monitor. If you are serious about that sort of stuff however try and stretch the budget for an IPS panel, but if you are a gamer then stick to TN. Simple.

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Our thanks to Mighty Ape for providing the review sample.