Samsung SyncMaster 172W LCD Monitor


Samsung, one of the industry's juggernauts, has released their line of LCD monitors into the public for all to gaze upon. If you take a moment and really think about what I just said, it's quite amazing how far things have come. Let's take a little jump back in time to the year 1969 when a little company with a big vision opened it's doors for business. Samsung was its name and electronics were their game. Two short years after they opened, they started to ship out their first black-and-white television. Who would have thought 31 years later they would be making liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors and televisions. We at SLCentral are happy they didn't stop at black-and-white, and are extremely excited to get our hands on one of their works-of-art. Equipped with its many features, such as its 17inch viewable area, dual hinge system and DVI input, this monitor looks great on it's spec sheet and we haven't even turned it on yet! Lets begin this review shall we?


Say hello to SyncMaster:

It's 1:30pm in the afternoon. I am awoken by a friendly FedEx worker at my doorstep with 'the goods' under his arm.


Guessing by the Samsung logo and the letters S-y-n-c-M-a-s-t-e-r 172W on the package that this could very well be the monitor I had been dying to receive. I very carefully cut the packaging tape, opened the box, and pulled out its contents.

Sorry about the glare

The monitor and it's accessories were well secured in the box. Inside I found the following items: The monitor, Analog RGB input cable, DVI (Digital Video Input) input cable, mounting plate with screws, power cord (it comes in two parts that connect together), sound cord (used to connect your sound to the monitor's base speakers), and the driver software. Setting up the monitor was a breeze. I disconnected my current Gateway CRT monitor that is about 5 years old and moved it aside to make room for the new beauty.

Please note that monitors don't actually have faces.

Make way for the SyncMaster.

Once I had the SyncMaster in place, I simply connected the input cable to my video card and plugged in the power cord. I then booted up my computer and the pixels came to life. Once windows was loaded I popped in the driver disc.

The driver setup was as simple as could be. Also included on the driver disc is the Natural Color program. This is a configuration utility used to fine tune the monitor and printer settings to make sure you get the best picture quality possible. Now that the monitor is all set up and installed, it's time to check out the SyncMaster's specs and features...


Specs and Features:

The SyncMaster172W is one of the brightest monitors I've ever seen. You would think that because of its higher-then-normal intensity that it would die much faster, but Samsung backs their monitor by a solid 3-year Parts/Labor/Backlight warranty. They are so confident that they include a mail-in form that you fill out and send in for an extended 3 months of warranty.



Viewable area:


Pixel Pitch (mm):



 450 cd/

Contrast Ratio:


Viewing Angle (H/V):


Response Time (ms):



Horizontal Frequency (Hz):


Vertical Frequency (Hz):


Maximum Resolution:


Signal Input

Analog RGB and DVI Digital Link


Net (Physical):

 10.6 lbs

Gross (packaging):

 15.0 lbs

Cabinet Color (front / back):



Magic Bright™ - MagicBright™ is a new feature that provides you with the optimal viewing environment depending on the contents of the image you are watching. There are three different modes of brightness available. They are text, internet, and entertain.  Each mode has its own pre-configured brightness value. You can also select "User Adjusted" mode for a personalized brightness.

HDTV capabilities -With the addition of an HDTV card, this monitor can receive HDTV broadcasting.

Dual Hinge System - The two-hinge system allows the monitor to be folded freely or to be wall mounted. See demo below...

Click arrows to see the Dual Hinge System in action.

Wall or Ceiling Mounting Abilities
- Since it comes with a mounting bracket the SyncMaster is able to mount easily on the wall at a total depth of only 2” flush to the wall or on an adjustable arm. If you really wanted you could even mount it on the ceiling.

Built-in Base Speakers -The base comes equipped with 21W speakers, volume control and input for audio headphones. The performance of the base speakers isn't anything special, but they do work decently for being built-in monitor speakers.

Overall, the features are nice additions to the SyncMaster and only compliment it's beautiful LCD screen that much more. In the next section of this review we will take a more in-depth look at the SyncMaster.



Now that we're through the tech-talk let's focus on what really matters- how it looks and performs.

The panel of the monitor is a sleek silver in the front with a black plastic backing. The depth of the monitor is only 1 inch, but the base is 216mm (almost 8.5 inches) deep. While this may sound like a lot, 8.5 inches is still a very small area compared to the huge area a CRT takes up.

As mentioned in the features, the SyncMaster can fold to be perfectly flat with it's base. From there the unit can be mounted onto the wall (or ceiling if your adventurous). I'm sorry I didn't have a spare wall to screw the mounting bracket into, but I'm sure you can visualize it in your mind.

The back of the base provides us easy access with the port for the power adapter, the Analog RGB input, and the DVI input. The fact that the cords aren't built into the back of the monitor, but removable instead, is a big plus in my book. Some monitors cut corners by having the end of the cord integrated with the rest of the monitor- definitely not a good idea. I really like the SyncMaster's setup because it is easy to remove a faulty cord without having to lay a finger on the monitor itself.

As we rotate around the base we come to the Audio In and headphone jacks. The headphone jack is very convenient since it allows easy access for you to plug in your headphones, rather then having to plug them directly into your sound card. I'm sure anyone who uses headphones will find this to be quite handy. Along side of the jacks is the volume control for the base speakers.

The front of the panel houses 4 menu oriented buttons, the power button and auto-adjust button. The auto-adjust button is a one-touch screen calibration method, simply press and it does the work for you. If you aren't happy with the auto-adjust, then you can use the Menu button to bring up the SyncMaster's very easy to use menu system.

To navigate the menu you use the "-" and "+" keys to move the cursor left and right. The different submenus are as follows (in order with the icons from left to right): Brightness, Contrast, Image Lock (Not Available in Digital), Horizontal/Vertical Position (Not Available in Digital), Geometry and Color Reset (Not Available in Digital), Color Temperature, Image Size, Halftone, Language, Menu Position, Menu Display Time, Display Mode (shown above). I had no problems using the menu and found the controls to be quite easy to use. The other options are the Source and Magic Bright buttons. The Source button will choose between analog and DVI input. The Magic Bright button will bring up a menu with the four different brightness options mentioned in the features section.

One last thing to look at is the viewing angle- that is, how well you can see the picture of the LCD when looking from a sharp angle.


As you can see the screen is still very visible from the side and the quality and clarity the picture is only a little degraded. Another thing to note is that the pictures were taken in the evening so the room was darker then normal which makes the picture much easier to see. In a well lit room the screen is slightly harder to see from the side but still visible.



At last, the moment of truth. How will the SyncMaster perform while we put it through a series of the most stressful tests via DisplayMate's monitor testing software. Will it ghost when we play a fast-paced First Person Shooter? Hold on as we make the 172W flash every shade of black white and grey imaginable...

SyncMaster meet your doom.


Take this!


And that!


How about some color!?

Piece of cake. After the many stress tests the DisplayMate put the SyncMaster through, it came out on top. All of the colors were vibrant and sharp. One of the tests checked for dead pixels, and much to my delight, the total count was a big fat zero. So far the SyncMaster has shown no signs of having any of the normal problems that come with LCD monitors (IE: Dead pixels, Low viewing angle, etc..). I shouldn't speak too soon being as I haven't seen how it performs while playing a First Person Shooter video game. So I loaded up Tactical Operations, a mod for Unreal Tournament, and got down to fraggin'.

After several hours of playing (it looked so good I didn't want to stop playing), I was extremely happy with its performance. There was absolutely no ghosting and the game looked brighter and more beautiful then ever before. The 172W passed all of the tests without a problem. Impressed with the results I decided it was time to watch a movie. Here I could see how SyncMaster's natural widescreen shape looks while playing movies in widescreen format.


Before I started the movie I called my girlfriend over to check out the new monitor. We watched the movie together and both ended up paying more attention to the monitor then to each other. I asked her what she thought of the 172W and well, she was in love and it wasn't with me. The movie looked just drop-dead gorgeous - I wish it would never have ended.

Having put the SyncMaster through a rollercoaster of images to display and seeing the excellent results, it is time to wrap things up.


I could essentially write this conclusion in one word: magnificent. Samsung's SyncMaster 172W has been an absolute treat to review. While it's street price is a semi-steep $649USD, keep in mind you're paying for an excellent 17" LCD monitor. The menu system for the SyncMaster is smart and simple- navigating with it's front panel buttons is a breeze. Samsung's MagicBright feature is also a nice addition for having quick access to the brightness of the monitor. I also found the Dual Hinge System to be a nice feature as it was very easy to adjust the tilt and height of the screen. However, I would have liked the main arm to have just a little bit higher raising radius, but that is just me being picky. My girlfriend was impressed by the SyncMaster's picture when we watched the movie on it and with that I can say- chicks dig the monitor.


Cons (very minor):

Overall, I was very impressed with the SyncMaster 172W 17" LCD monitor and I give it a 9.5 out of 10.

SLRating: 9.5/10


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