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Review of the 23-inch Asus VG23AH Passive 3D IPS Display

June 21st, 2012 · 23 Comments · Other S3D Tech


Back in April, when Asus announced their VG23AH passive 3D monitor with IPS panel I was quite interested in the product and now, a bit later I’ve got the chance to do some testing with a sample unit that I got from Asus for this review. I’m assuming that you already know what are the differences between an active and a passive 3D solution, so I will not be comparing the two technologies here, but instead will focus on the features and performance of the Asus display in question. The 23-inch Asus VG23AH 3D monitor uses passive 3D technology (FPR 3D) on top of an IPS LCD panel, it features HDMI 1.4 interface with support for frame packaged content as well as Side by Side and Over/Under and there is also a built-in 2D to 3D conversion functionality. What is more interesting, especially for stereo 3D gamers is the fact that Asus does not bundle this 3D monitor with any kind of stereoscopic 3D solution for transforming 3D games into stereo 3D ones. This is neither an “Optimized for GeForce” product, not it comes with the TriDef 3D software or the iZ3D Driver, however the good news is you can use pretty much any product that provides you with Row Interleaved output together with the monitor to output in 3D.


Asus VG23AH Specifications:

Panel Size: 23.0″(58.4cm), Full HD 1920×1080
Panel Type: IPS LCD, LED backlight
Pixel Pitch: 0.2652mm
Brightness(Max): 250 cd/m2
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR): 80000000:1 (dynamic)
Viewing Angle (CR>=10): 178°(H)/178°(V)
Response Time: 5ms (Gray to Gray)
Display Colors: 16.7M
3D Technology: FPR 3D Technology
Signal Input: 2x HDMI 1.4, D-Sub, DVI-D
Power Consumption: <40W (Typical), Power Saving/Power Off Mode <0.5W Phys. Dimension with Stand (WxHxD): 550.2x419.5x250mm Net Weight (Esti.): 6.5kg



The Asus VG23AH monitor comes bundled with two pairs of passive 3D glasses – one normal and one clip-on for use with prescription glasses. This is a typical configuration for passive 3D monitors and the good news is that the monitor is compatible with pretty much any RealD-compatible passive 3D pair of glasses, these can be found really cheap, but you can also use them together with a better quality, more comfortable and nicer looking while still affordable glasses such as the ones made by Oskav that I’ve also tested the display with and they work perfectly fine. There are of course much more expensive designer passive 3D glasses available, but going for such is a bit more of a personal preference, I probably am not going to spend a three number figure for passive 3D glasses, unless I really like the design a LOT. With that said, the standard glasses that Asus bundled with the display are quite OK, but they were a bit small for me personally and the larger Oskav glasses (both the frame and the lenses) that I’ve had handy were more comfortable for use with the display. The clip-on glasses were OK, but I prefer to wear normal glasses on top of my prescription glasses when using stereo 3D monitor than to use clip-on glasses, again this is more a matter of personal preference.



The monitor comes with two HDMI 1.4 connectors that support 3D as well as with a single DVI and single VGA connectors and there are some things that you should know when using these different video interfaces, especially regarding the viewing of stereo 3D content. Officially only the HDMI 1.4 interfaces support stereo 3D since the monitor does not come with a software solution to allow you to output any kind of stereoscopic 3D content, but since this is a traditional passive 3D display you can use most of the stereoscopic 3D software configured to output in Row Interleaved mode. There are some functions however that will only work with the HDMI interface for example the manual switching capability to Side by Side or Over/Under mode from the monitor’s menu is only active when using the HDMI interface. The built-in 2D to 3D autoconversion functionality is available for all interfaces and it does quite a decent job, although I won’t recommend it over any software that supports stereoscopic 3D output or a video that has a 3D version. You can also control the level of simulated depth when using the 2D to 3D conversion feature, something that is good to play with if you are getting more ghosting if you increase the strength of the simulated effect more. And a bit more on the levels of ghosting that the VG23AH provides you with in a bit.

If you’ve seen the active 3D model VG236HE from Asus that was released back in 2010 you may notice quite a few similarities between it and the VG23AH, at least in terms of the external appearance of the two products. Of course being able to review the Asus VG236HE 3D monitor I’ll have to compare it to this one in terms of performance and the good news is that the new model performs better in terms of stereoscopic 3D quality compared to the older active 3D solution. That of course does not necessarily make it the better choice and if it did not perform better I’d personally be disappointed, especially since there is quite a big time difference between the release of the two products. One of the things that I was not too happy when the VG236HE was released was the glossy display that it used, now that drawback has been improved significantly with the VG23AH, it is still a glossy display, but with much better coating that behaves almost like a matte display than a glossy one.



Considering the fact that we have an IPS LCD panel used in the Asus VG23AH it is normal to expect good out of the box results in terms of color reproduction, however the factory settings disappoint a bit. The most likely reason for that is that Asus wanted to really keep up to their specs and provide really high brightness – the one they list in the specs is covered. It is hard to say anything about the incredibly high dynamic contrast ratio that Asus claims for this monitor, however at the factory settings I’ve measured around 0.29 cd/m2 black point with 855:1 contrast ratio.



Calibrating the monitor does bring really good results with very little brightness loss, still over 200 cd/m2. The color accuracy after calibration is what you’d expect from an IPS panel, but the funny thing actually is that the latest generation of 120Hz TN panels such as the one used in the Asus VG278H active 3D monitor does provide just slightly worse results after calibration. This just means that TN LCDs are starting to catch up to IPS at least in color accuracy, although they are still behind in terms of the width of the viewing angles, on the other hand you can say that IPS is also catching up in terms of response time and getting close to what TN can do. After the calibration the black point of the monitor remains at pretty much the same level, but due to the decrease of the total brightness level you can expect that the contrast level will be lower. Don’t forget that this calibration is done in a way to achieve best results while retaining the highest brightness level possible, so at the cost of some more brightness you may also achieve better results if you need.

Now, since I’ve mentioned the response time I’ll have to talk a bit more about it here as it is something important that may affect your experience using this monitor in stereo 3D mode. You should know that the response time of the pixels in a 3D display is a very important factor as if they are not fast enough you are going to be getting more of the so called crosstalk or ghosting. And while IPS is still not fast enough in terms of response time for 120Hz panels in active 3D monitors, it is quite Ok for use in the 60Hz passive 3D displays. With that said you should not expect perfect results on the Asus VG23AH with the stock settings as the Trace Free function of the display is set to 60 (this controls the level of overdrive used to improve the response time of the pixels) and this actually introduced quite a lot of crosstalk/ghosting with contrasting objects that are moving. So you’d want to lower the Trace Free value than the stock 60, going down to 20 makes things more acceptable and you may want to even go to 0.



Time for some crosstalk/ghosting testing, starting with the extreme black and white test photos that I’m using to see how things look in close to worst case scenarios, though you’ll hardly get things so bad when using the display normally in stereo 3D mode. The moire effect you can see on the white in the photo is caused by the “interlacing” of the display when viewed trough one of the lenses of the glasses, when viewed normally you will not see this effect, so don’t be bothered by it. The situation with the white is really good and the black is also quite good and these are extreme case scenarios with really high contrasting objects on completely white or black. Here, as with other passive 3D solutions you should be aware that you should keep within a very narrow vertical viewing angle in order not to loose the stereoscopic 3D effect, otherwise the level of crosstalk may significantly increase to a state where you’ll completely loose the feeling of volume. The tests here were performed at a vertical viewing angle of zero, normally you should be OK within 5 to 7 degrees, but not more, so be careful when you setup a passive 3D monitor and don’t blame it if you are getting bad results just because you are not using it right.



The sailboats 3D video test exposes just some faint and very hardly visible ghosting, so again very good performance here, although not perfect as there are some 3D displays that don’t show any crosstalk at all on this test.



And finally some real-world tests using the game Tomb Raider Underworld in stereoscopic 3D mode, a good example to show that the Asus VG23AH does indeed have just a little crosstalk and performs very well in stereoscopic 3D mode. The top of the screen does not show any crosstalk at all if you lower the Trace Free, if you keep it at the default value of 60 you will see some afterimage. The bottom part has some faint crosstalk visible, but no color ghosting due to the overdrive (something we’re used in seeing with active 3D monitors).

So what is the conclusion about the 23-inch Asus VG23AH passive 3D IPS monitor? A very good IPS monitor for use in 2D mode and very well performing in stereo 3D mode passive 3D display, not to mention that it comes with quite attractive price for a monitor with an IPS panel and 3D features. If you don’t have a license for iZ3D or TriDef 3D you’d probably have to add in the expense for getting one as there isn’t one bundled, but you’ll need that only if you plan on playing games in stereo 3D mode on it. And if you are not bothered by the fact that you are limited to 60Hz in 2D mode and you have only half vertical resolution when you are using the display in stereo 3D mode, then you might as well go for the Asus VG23AH instead of a more expensive active 3D monitor. It is a bit of a shame that this monitor did not get into the “Optimized for GeForce” Nvidia program as it would’ve made it an almost perfect solution for stereoscopic 3D use out of the box, but still Asus did a surprisingly good job with this product. So if you are considering to go for a passive 3D monitor you’d probably want to put the Asus VG23AH among the top models in the list of possible candidates.

If you want to get the Asus VG23AH 23-inch LED-lit IPS Passive 3D Monitor…

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23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gestalt // Jun 22, 2012 at 09:17

    Do you think the reason the CNET review rated 3D so poorly is because he tested Crysis 2 and Diablo 3 using DVI (review stated that) and no special software like TriDef or iZ3D and was looking at 2D to 3D conversion? http://reviews.cnet.com/lcd-monitors/asus-vg23ah/4505-3174_7-35306085.html

  • 2 Bloody // Jun 22, 2012 at 11:59

    That is the most likely reason, although automatic 2D to 3D conversion can at times produce decent results (it depends a lot on the content as well) it can never be as good as proper stereo 3D rendering. Testing a 3D monitor in 3D mode only by using the built-in 2D to 3D autoconversion functionality is not only stupid, but unfair when judging the 3D capabilities of a display. And on top of that if you are not in the sweet spot in terms of vertical viewing position you could really get the wrong impression about the 3D capabilities and performance of a passive 3D display, not only the one from Asus, but pretty much any other FPR 3D monitor.

  • 3 Antcodd // Jun 22, 2012 at 15:40

    Thank you so much for reviewing this! The CNET review is even more useless than their one for the LG D2342P and no one else (I even tried foreign sites) has a useful review. I used to own a D2342P (it was stolen unfortunately) and found the lack of height adjustment incredibly irritating (I had to use several carefully chosen books), this plus the much better quality IPS panel should solve the shortcomings.

    I think ASUS not including any kind of 3D software was a big mistake – a lot of people seem to only try the 2D-to-3D. I suspect the CNET review was using 2D-to-3D, or in the wrong spot, or worse tried to have 2D-to-3D and native 3D from a game on at the same time. Nice to see it works with RealD glasses unlike the LG, I was disappointed when I went to the cinema and couldn’t use the more comfortable glasses that came with my LG (the polarization angle is different so there is lots of purple ghosting).

    What is the black level like at a lower brightness for watching 2D movies (say 100-120cdm/2)?

  • 4 Fran // Jun 22, 2012 at 16:48

    Can you put the calibration profile to download?
    I have this monitor.

  • 5 Bloody // Jun 22, 2012 at 18:03

    Antcodd, the LG indeed has purple ghosting instead of white with RealD-compatible glasses, I’ve noticed that as well when playing with it and I was happy to see that the Asus does not have the same problem. The black level of the Asus monitor remains higher even when you further reduce brightness and you are getting lower contrast as a result.

    Fran, the calibration profiles are for the specific combination of video card and monitor, so they cannot be shared with the idea that on another monitor with a different video card you will have the same results.

  • 6 MenacingTuba // Jun 26, 2012 at 11:49

    “VG23AH, it is still a glossy display, but with much better coating that behaves almost like a matte display than a glossy one.”

    Pretty much every single IPS panel uses a very grainy matte coating. This image was taken up close to show the effect of different matte coatings on pixels. The 27Q LED-P is glossy, the FP241W, X2472 and S24A350T are VA panels with semi-glossy coating and the use use grainy matte coatings, hence the blurred pixels

    http://www.overclockers.ru/images/lab/2012/06/11/1/37_kristaleffect_big.jpg

    Your comments lead me to believe this Asus uses semi-glossy coating, similar to the coating found on the new Samsung VA (S24A650D)+PLS (S24/27A850D) panels, older BenQ Va panels (VW2430/EW2430/EW2420/BL2400pt). Have you used any of these models? Most matte Sony and Samsung TV’s also use semi glossy coating.

    This is an image of a semi-glossy Samsung S24A850D:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wKDq3oCmoR8/TnYfa96kqJI/AAAAAAAABA8/cgtqffvuoOo/s1600/REVIEW%2BGloss.jpg

    Would you say the Asus is the same? If it is, that would be a revelation for many people who have been put off by comments from the many people who have had bad experiences with the coating matte IPS panels

  • 7 MenacingTuba // Jun 26, 2012 at 11:50

    Edit: and the rest use grainy matte coatings

  • 8 MenacingTuba // Jun 26, 2012 at 11:52

    Edit: and the rest use grainy matte coatings

    Edit 2:many people who have had bad experiences with the coating matte IPS panel use

  • 9 Bloody // Jun 26, 2012 at 21:22

    Yes, the term semi-glossy is probably the best one describing the coating of the Asus VG23AH… very similar effect to that of the Samsung S24A850D reflection you have posted.

  • 10 Dan // Jun 26, 2012 at 22:04

    Great review…Thanks again Bloody

  • 11 iWATCH3D // Jun 27, 2012 at 11:21

    Great review Anton,as usual. I got some detailed questions about the possibilities of using this monitor as a live preview 2nd monitor in Vegas 11 stereoscopic editing. You mention manual swithich between 3D sbs or over/under can be only done when in HDMI mode,does it has to be in HDMI 1.4a mode or could I output a HDMI 1.3 from my graphics card that is not yet a quadro so I cannot use my Alienware 3D nvidia as 2nd active display, but coould output two 1080p standard 2D displays, but would i than be able to select output as side by side, and manually select this mode on the monitor, just like on TV, or would it need to be output row interleaved ? What about if I used a 1.4a cable but the output from the PC would not be 1.4a as my card just doesn’t do that, would it work automatically ? probably not, but you have the monitor so your’re the only person I know that could test it. If so my Alienware goes on ebay soon, as it could almost cover the purchase of this new moniotor, while the quadro card i want is still way too expensive.

  • 12 Asus3Dfun // Jul 1, 2012 at 06:03

    I almost return rhis monitor until figured out the correct settings. First of all the cnet review is complitely wrong. Looks like the guy had the monitor for limited time and did not read the manual. I have really good 3D movie picture with just a little research online and clue. First of all my “high speed” HDMI cable was not so high speed as advertised. I also installed Arcsoft Media Theatre 5, chooses the settings for passive 3D display and what is really important CHECK THE BOX “EYE SWAP”. Asus has different order of lines for left and right eyes and this option will really helps to get pleasant 3D free of strain and minimal ghosting. You can also play with sharpness, to get less ghosting if you see any. I also tried 3D with display port and Got good picture but had no time ro evaluate it. So you need 1.4 HDMI card, good high speed HDMI cable, software with option to swap eyes to get good picture even without further tweaking.

  • 13 Asus3Dfun // Jul 1, 2012 at 06:09

    P.S. When I wrote “good 3D picture with display port” I ment GPU with display port connected to Asus HDMI port using adapter

  • 14 mirak // Jul 26, 2012 at 19:29

    Hello,
    I bought this monitor.
    I think it’s good overall.
    I had a CRT 19″ monitor, I played riddick and gamming was ok.

    Only issue is I feel I see the lines matrix of the screen a bit too much when surfing internet. I see them on bright unicolor surfaces. Sometime I forget about them, but sometime I can’t help to notice them.

    Do you see them also or is it me or my monitor ?

  • 15 mirak // Aug 2, 2012 at 09:56

    I maanged to make it work on battlefield 3 on pc and hd6870
    and the eyes are swapped and there is no option to switch that, not on the screen and not in the game !!!!

    Did Asus made a mistake ???

  • 16 VPC // Aug 23, 2012 at 12:22

    Hey Mirak.

    I recently bough this monitor and have same issue as you mentioned. I can see the static horizontal lines across the screen on bright plain background. Did you fix this issue? I am thinking to return this monitor because I use my computer for programming and it’s completely unacceptable for my eyes.

    Thanks.

  • 17 Siril // Sep 7, 2012 at 23:45

    Is the Asus VG23AH recognized and compatible with the nVidia 3d Vision drivers? nVidia has been implementing some compatibility with passive 3D but I don’t know if this display is recognized by it. I would like a passive 3D display to use nVidia 3D with instead of having to deal with the active system. nVidia’s website only shows two passive displays, both Acer, that it says are ‘optimized for geforce’ but they don’t seem to be for sale anywhere on earth.

  • 18 Bloody // Sep 8, 2012 at 12:34

    The Asus VG23AH is not officially compatible with either 3D Vision or Optimized for GeForce, however with an EDID override driver from one of the Acers that go under Optimized for GeForce program you should be able to make it work. Check the 3D monitors forum for different EDID override drivers…

  • 19 David Cole // Sep 22, 2012 at 19:25

    I originally ordered the LG D2342P – but – found the vertical sweet-spot for the polarizer to be impossibly small (just like my Zalman).

    This Asus is MUCH better! It’s actually useable for content post-production. Great monitor!

  • 20 John doe // Nov 11, 2012 at 12:19

    How does this display compare vs the LG D2343P ?
    also, is this display AMD compatible? I know the LG is AMD compatible..

  • 21 Adam // Nov 28, 2012 at 23:35

    I have a old LG W2252TQ display that’s 1680×1050 on my desktop, recently I picked up a Lenovo w520 that has a pretty sweet 1920 display attached. The LG looks terrible in comparison and was interested in the VG23AH to upgrade to a proper 1920 display with “accurate” colour.

    I do like to get my game on though. The w2252tq boasts 2ms grey-to-grey, I understand the VG23AH is 5ms gtg. Any opinions about whether the longer grey to grey time will be very noticeable?

  • 22 foomonger // Dec 2, 2012 at 23:26

    “you have only half vertical resolution”. Nonesense! The eyes see full 1080p, aka. HD. Just because the lines are split between the eyes doesn’t mean you get less resolution!

  • 23 Bloody // Dec 3, 2012 at 19:19

    The nonsense is believing that you can get a single Full HD 3D image out of two 1920×540 frames with slightly different content that each of the eyes sees. Even with some extra processing this will never be as good as having two different full 1920×1080 frames for each eye.

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