Samsung 2233rz Review – World’s First True 120hz LCD


The Samsung 2233rz at first glance…

For 5 years, I have seen the response time go from 35ms to 2ms, everytime with new promises that it would be the best screen for gaming. Ghosting diminished but the games still felt as if they were stuttering and blurry compared to my CRT… until today.

The Samsung 2233rz LCD for is the first LCD to ever screen to compete for against my CRT for fast action 3D gaming.

True 120hz

The new 120hz provided by the Samsung 2233rz is actually a true 120hz. That means that it receives 120 updates per second from your computer instead of the standard 60.

LCD TVs have a fake 120hz because they are in reality simply 60hz LCDs with a ghost frame inserted between the frames to smooth out the image. The ghost frame artificially inserted by 120hz TVs does help but can sometimes make the motion seem unrealistic and a little weird.

With a true 120hz, like in the Samsung 2233rz LCD, this simply does not happen. Although I would want to take the most scientific approach possible, it’s actually quite difficult to capture the 120hz motion in action without very expensive equipment. Therefore unless the Discovery Channel wants to lend me some high speed cameras, it will be a subjective review along with some pictures and a video that simply do not do the screen justice.


  • Samsung 2233 22″ Widescreen LCD
  • GTG 3ms (3D) / 5ms(2D) of Response Time
  • 20000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
  • 170o/160o (CR>10) Viewing Angle
  • Native 1680×1050 resolution
  • 300 cd/m2 Brightness
  • 120Hz Dual Engine

The specifications of the Samsung 2233rz are decent but not spectacular in any way. From a 5ms response time that has become the standard, to a dynamic 20000:1 which is closer to a 1000:1 true contrast, everything on the screen is pretty much what people have come to expect from 22″ LCDs today. The only difference, and this is a rather large difference, is the 120hz. I personally find that all LCD manufacturers have very misleading specifications and as we’ll see, Samsung is no exception.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed with the Samsung 2233rz was the average build quality of the screen’s frame.

I believe that if you’re going to price your screen nearly double the price of other 22″ LCDs, it should at least not wobble when you set it on your desk. Although the exterior frame looks nice, when you actually handle the screen, you immediately get the feeling that they skimped on the build quality of this screen. The plastic feels brittle and adjusting the tilt on the screen usually results in it shaking around for a few seconds before it settles down.

However, as a gamer and a hardware enthusiast, I’d rather have the money spent on image quality and performance rather than the frame, and that’s exactly what Samsung did. That being said, my Dell wp2208 is much better built and was half the price. To sum it up, build quality is passable but definitely lacking for a screen of this price.

Image Quality

The Samsung 2233rz tries really hard to provide a good image quality for the average user but no matter how much tweaking with this monitor, I just can’t seem to get it just right.

When you enable the MagicBright option which enables the 20000:1 dynamic contrast, it disables all the other available options on the screen. So if you’re like me, and you find that the magicbright overdoes it, then you cannot fine tune it. Instead I found myself using a custom color scheme that was easier on the eyes.

Standing side by side with the Dell WP2208, the whites were brighter on the Samsung and the darks were darker as well. The colors tend to pop out more on the Samsung, providing a brighter, more vivid experience for the user. The drawback is that having intense, vivid colors makes it difficult on the eyes when you’re trying to read text on the internet. I found myself constantly adjusting the settings back and forth between gaming and normal internet usage.

Compared to the more recent screens by LG, Viewsonic and even Samsung’s own 60hz models, the Samsung 2233rz’s image quality is on par but does not excel in any way. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the screens and I personally feel that the 20000:1 dynamic contrast is poorly executed. It does make the colors more vivid, more intense but by doing so, it lacks color accuracy.

The brightness on the screen is very uniform but there is a little light bleeding from the edge of the screen from the backlight. It’s very minimal and I normally would have not noticed if I wasn’t paying special attention to every little detail.

Usability (Controls)

The screen interface consists of cleverly hidden buttons on the right side of the screen. This makes the screen more attractive but at the expense of usability.

To compensate for the user not being able to see the buttons, the screen displays little arrows to tell you where the buttons are located and what they do when you go into ‘menu mode’. The menu is not very intuitive and I found myself more frustrated with it than anything else. To make matters worse, when you put the buttons on the side of the screen, the screen wobbles a little due to the poor build quality of the screen’s base.

All the standard options that we have come to find in screens such as color themes, temperature, sharpness, brightness and constrast are there. Navigating through them takes a little getting used to, which really shouldn’t be the case. After a few hours with the screen, I can now change any setting relatively rapidly, but I still feel that the learning curve for changing settings on a screen should be seconds, not hours.

It’s worth mentioning that in order to take advantage of the screen’s main feature, the 120hz, you need to install the display driver that comes on the CD with the monitor.

Unfortunately, Samsung fails in this aspect as well. Forcing the user to manually install the driver by right clicking on the device manager and then searching for the correct driver on the CD-ROM.Although this is a pretty standard way of installing drivers for technicians, Samsung could have made it much simpler by simply having one button that says: “Click here for automatic screen installation”

Once the driver is installed, it’s also important to go in the monitor panel and set the frequency to 120hz. This isn’t explicitly mentioned when you install the driver and I fear that a few users that purchase this screen might simply forget to set it at 120hz.

Gaming Performance

I started off testing the screen’s performance by running Crysis Warhead and I was immediately impressed. The first thing I noticed was that the image tearing that was common with 60hz screens with v-sync off was almost entirely gone.

Immediately as I started testing the screen, people gathered around and noticed subtle details that made the screen shine. Even though I disliked dynamic contrast for text and internet, it really started to shine when playing Crysis. The water was vivid, so were the trees, bushes… the game looked better than before. However, Crysis being the FPS monster that it is, the frames per second were hovering around 50-60 and I was unable to truly test out the full potential of 120hz. That being said, even at low FPS, the screen still provided a smoother image than the equivalent 60hz screen. This was especially noticeable when panning sideways through bushes and trees.

I was impressed.

I followed by running Left 4 Dead, a slightly faster Zombie based game that would really test the movement and rendering dark environments. Once again, I was surprised by the image quality produced in games. The screen was much better at rendering fast paced motion than previous LCDs. Rapid flicks of the mouse didn’t result in massive tearing and blurring, instead the image was consistent and much easier on the eyes.

There’s a world of difference between 60hz and 120hz in fast paced games and the difference is very obvious when you make rapid mouse movements.

Samsung 2233rz Video Review

Note: I recommend watching in Full Screen.
Unfortunately the video compression messes up the Freeze Frames, they look much better on 120hz. They are sharper and have less tearing.

Quake Live was much more enjoyable as well. It was unplayable on my old LCD screen and now with the new Samsung 2233rz, I can finally play and be competitive. The high speed action is where this screen really shines.

Team Fortress and Counter-Strike where exponentially better was well. The mouse movement is much smoother and when you turn quickly, the walls and characters follow remain in focus. To test the difference, I had the Samsung 2233rz and the Dell wp2208 running in clone mode, one at 120hz and the other at 60hz side by side. Jumping up and down next to a wall provided a noticeable difference. I attempted to capture this on video, but unfortunately my video camera only shoots at 30fps so the difference isn’t very noticeable. This is unfortunate, because when you’re playing a fast paced game, the 120hz is definitely noticeable and makes for a great gaming experience.


The Samsung 2233rz is currently the best gaming LCD I have ever used and it will replace my old Samsung 900NF 19″ CRT for gaming.

Even though I own multiple LCD screens, up until this moment, I still used my CRT because of it’s ability to produce 140hz at 1280×1024. Although the CRT is still slightly better at reproducing fast movement, it’s very close with the Samsung 2233rz. At the native resolution of 1680×1050, the LCD is actually faster than my older CRT, not to mention much larger and sharper!

When it comes to games, there is absolutely no comparison between the Samsung 2233rz and other 60hz LCD screens.

If you’re a gamer and are still using a 60hz LCD, then I believe the upgrade would definitely be worth it. If you’re like me, and have been waiting for 5 years to change from a CRT monitor, then run to get one as soon as possible.

That being said, if you’re a casual gamer, or play slower paced games mixed in with a lot of internet browsing, then this might not be the best screen for you. Although it would do the job, there are better alternatives out there that will cost much less for the same result. When you’re browsing the Internet or even watching a movie, there’s absolutely no noticeable difference between a 60hz screen and a 120hz one.

I believe it really comes down to what the primary use of this screen is going to be. If you’re going to be doing a lot of word processing, text and internet browsing and photography, then this screen will do fine but there are better options out there.

Contrastingly, if you consider yourself a gamer then this is by far the best LCD you can possibly get.


Relevant Links To The Samsung 2233rz

Samsung’s Official Website
Samsung’s Official 2233Rz Monitor Page
120hz+ Monitor Enthusiasts Blur Busters

And of course, check out how to enable ulmb for newer gaming monitors.


About the Author

Eric is the author of Fragging Fundamentals, the ultimate guide to competitive FPS gaming.

Leave a reply 15 comments

charbel - March 16, 2009 Reply

I dont know about you but I do notice the difference between 60 Hz and 120 Hz on a white background on windows

dg - April 8, 2009 Reply

hey excellent excellent review and video is very helpful. thanks for taking the time. i havent found as good areview on any “pro” sites. its an expensive proposition and youve made the decision a lot easier! Thanks!!

Rostabosta - May 5, 2009 Reply

Great review, think i may get this.

What is that song in the video?

Paulson - May 26, 2009 Reply

wow! difference is huge!!!
Thanks for review, I will buy this lcd for sure.

darksun - June 1, 2009 Reply

Thanx for your great review.

song is : circ revolution song Tonight, tonight

RPGWiZaRD - June 3, 2009 Reply

Thanks for doing your part and promoting the 120Hz LCD, we need as much as feedback as this as possible so manufacturers understand to focus on developing more 120Hz screens, I’m not gonna switch quite yet, except the performance, the entry 120Hz screens leave too much left to be improved for the price you pay.

Jason - June 3, 2009 Reply

i bought this monitor today……
and i keep having this problem
i set my desktop refresh rate to 120hz 1680*1050
but when ever i open a game , it just change to 60
i saw it from the OSD menu , and when i turn virticle sync on , the maximum fps is 60
i tried using ReForce and overriding the refreshrate from CCC
but it wont work , can anyone help me?

Matt - June 12, 2009 Reply

The “weird” motion you see is due to the motion enhancers used (eg. Sony’s MotionFlow or Samsung Auto Motion Plus). You can turn these off on the sets and still get the 120Hrz.. And the reasoning behind the 120Hrz is not to double the framerate of what you see, it’s because film and is shot in 24p. When you try to divide 24 into 60 hrz, the math does not work. In order to try and fit the 24p film content on a 60Hrz screen, TV makers use what’s called a 3:2 pulldown. This works decently well, but causes a lack of smoothness, called judders. I’m not going to go in depth, but you can read more about that here:

Long story short, the 120Hrz is there because it allows the TV’s to show frames in even multiples of film (24p x 5 =120) or video (30p x 4 = 120) eliminating the need to do a 3:2 pulldown thus getting rid of motion judder and giving you a smoother picture.

The tech for computers is different because the monitor constantly receives frames from the GPU so it will actually show dedicated frames per second, be it 60 or 120.. Problem is, the human eye, with the exception a maybe a handful of people, are not really going to be able to tell a difference in anything more than 80-85 Hrz.

Jesse - July 20, 2009 Reply

Matt, Human eye can easily receive image at speeds well over 200 FPS depending on lightning conditions. 80-85Hz shows obvious flickering on CRT’s for EVERYONE, if you show a picture on a white background, but after 120Hz you can talk about values that only handful of people are going to be able to tell the difference.

windi - August 10, 2009 Reply

I tested this monitor at an nvidia stand and I was really supprised to see an LCD monitor which finally had no noticeable difference to a CRT what comes to the motion blurring lag effect which clearly happens on normal LCD’s (part reason being the lower refresh rate of the LCD matrix.) It was really amazing experience as well. I currently have a CRT and an ordinary 60Hz 5ms LCD and I keep switching between them ocassionally since both have their pros and cons. I think I’ll buy this monitor as it seems a perfect monitor for PC games and action scenes in videos, having both the speed of CRT and the contrast and pixel perfect image of modern LCD’s.

Thomas - August 12, 2009 Reply

I bought this monitor last week and all i can say ist “Wow”. You can actually see the difference of smoothness between 60 and 120 Hz by moving the mouse on the bare desktop, gaming experience ist exponentially better as well – movement in Counterstrike or Quake 3 reminds me of the good old days on my last CRT (R.I.P.), everything is smooth and crisp.
Bottomline: I will never buy a 60 Hz Display again for gaming, i hope other vendors will follow the example and offer more displays, would also be great to see some 24″ Models.

nik - August 23, 2009 Reply

Good review dude, though doubler the price is not worth it for me 🙁 Oh well I guess I’ll have to wait another 5 years for 120HZ on LCD to become a norm…lol. YEs I’m still using a CRT, though thinking of the IPS panel from DEll 2209WA

Phil - August 27, 2009 Reply

Really appreciate the review, video footage was excellent.

00110001 - November 21, 2009 Reply

input lag????

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