The Nvidia 3D Lightboost technology was originally designed for use in 3D monitors together with the company’s 3D Vision technology for stereoscopic 3D gaming with reduced crosstalk and improved level of brightness as compared to the older 3D Vison-ready monitors. Lately however 3D-capable monitors with support for 3D Lightboost technology are also creating a lot of interest among users not playing in stereoscopic 3D mode, but instead using them in 120Hz 2D mode and the reason is not only the higher refresh rates that these monitors support in 2D mode as well, but also due to the fact that you can relatively easy enable the 3D Lightboost technology in 2D mode as well. The advantage of using the 3D Lightboost technology in 2D mode is that the motion blur is being eliminated, making fast movements appear much smoother now as compared to using only 120Hz refresh rate with no 3D Lightboost enabled. What the 3D Lightboost technology does is to strobe the backlight instead of having it always on like on traditional monitors (it is on only when the whole frame is drawn and off between transitions while the next frame is being built), the side effect is that you get a reduction in the maximum brightness you get when 3D Lightboost is enabled. And while the benefit of having motion blur eliminated in 2D mode is definitely a good thing, what bothers some people is the lower brightness you get, so I took an Asus VG278H 3D monitor for a spin and played a bit with the brightness settings to see what you can do to get the most out of it if using it not only for stereo 3D gaming, but also for 120Hz 2D gaming with 3D Lightboost technology enabled as well.
Here is how the default color reproduction is with the Asus VG278H out of the box settings, this means 2D mode 120Hz refresh rate, Brightness set to 90 and Contrast set to 80. As you can see the maximum level of brightness the monitor is capable of at these settings is quite high, at over 400 cd/m2 it is very bright, so lowering the brightness from this level can be noticeable, especially if it is not just a slight decrease.
Calibrating the display for better color reproduction while trying to maintain the highest possible brightness level does produce very good results and the maximum brightness remains at a high value at 285 cd/m2. Now, you should be aware that over 400 cd/m2 is really an overkill brightness level for monitor that you will be spending hours for gaming, let alone if you also use it for work and other tasks. At 285 cd/m2 the brightness level is more tolerable, but can still be more tiring for the eyes of the person using it, especially for longer periods.
If you’ve read my review of the Asus VG278H 3D monitor for stereoscopic 3D use, than you probably have also seen my recommendation to lower the Contrast level to about 55 from the standard value of 76. This will significantly reduce the level of crosstalk you will be getting in stereo 3D mode as with the default value of 76 for the Contrast the crosstalk you get is annoying. Now, the interesting thing here is to measure what is the actual brightness you get with a setting for Contrast of 55 when you are in stereo 3D mode or in 2D mode with the 3D Lightboost enabled. I’ve got 102 cd/m2 which is a bit too low, really making the image seem much darker than what you get with the out of the box settings of the monitor in 2D mode when not using 3D Lightboost – it is more than four times lower here. So while having the Contrast of the monitor set to 55 does work well in stereo 3D mode, you’ll have to consider increasing it when you are playing in 2D mode with Lightboost enabled.
Increasing the Contrast to 76, the default value you have set by default for the Asus VG278H 3D monitor for stereoscopic 3D mode does bring the brightness up to about 151 cd/m2, making it much more comfortable for use in 2D mode with 3D Lightboost enabled (this level of brightness works good for me). And while this brightness is quite Ok, there is a bit more to be desired from the level of brightness, especially if you are used to playing with higher brightness levels.
Moving to Contrast value of 90 brings the brightness level to 180 cd/m2 which should be a good choice for people that find 150 cd/m2 still a bit dark, as you can see with a Contrast value of 76 and 90 the colors are not very accurately displayed, but that should not be much of a bother for gaming needs.
Doing a color calibration at a Contrast value of 90 however seem to bring the best results for me personally, 156 cd/m2 brightness level (works great for me) and very good color reproduction, though calibrating colors is only needed if you are going to be working with colors and then this monitor is probably not the best choice even though when calibrated it can bring out very good results.
Just out of curiosity I also went out to test with a Contrast value of 100, something that is not usually recommended as it pushes everything to the max. This brings up the maximum brightness level up to 192 cd/m2, but the color reproduction suffers more.
Not to mention that with a value of 100 for Contrast even calibrating the display you will get worse results with just a slight increase in the level of brightness. But as I’ve said already, doing a color calibration on a monitor that will be used mostly for gaming is not needed anyway. And even though that the Asus VG278H 3D monitor can produce very good results in terms of color reproduction after getting calibrated it remains a gaming monitor using a fast response TN LCD panel and it is targeted at gamers, both 2D and stereo 3D ones.
So what is the most important finding in terms of the brightness level you get when you have 3D Lightboost enabled in 2D mode as well? Using the default value of 76 for Contrast should work well for most people, though when playing in stereo 3D mode you might want to get that value lowered to something like 55 for less crosstalk. If Contrast set at 76 is still low in terms of brightness for your taste, then you can bring the value up to about 90 which should be Ok, but you should avoid going all the way up to a value of 100. In the end the level of brightness even with the 3D Lightboost technology enabled isn’t so bad if you bring the Contrast up a bit, it is not going to be as high as the over 400 cd/m2 that you can get without the 3D Lightboost technology in 2D mode, but that is a bit overkill level of brightness anyway and it is not recommended to be used if you value your vision.