Iiyama Prolite E438S 17" TFT Monitor

Iiyama, recommended price £164 plus VAT

So you've upgraded or bought a new PC base unit, and to do the rig justice you'd really like a nice TFT monitor that will stand you in good stead for the future as well as take up less desk space than your normal convential CRT one. So with so many out there, which one do you go for? Do you try a cheap and cheerful one, or do the rules of thumb apply like CRTs where the brand names really are what you pay for? With that in mind, I decided to venture out and check out the vast array out there.

With so many horror stories of users buying cheap TFTs that resulted in dead pixels, it's important that you don't fall victim to that. There are allowable limits of dead pixels in displays due to manufacture, but I've seen some people have 30-40 after a period of months, which to be honest isn't good enough and also shows the cheap and cheerful side of some TFTs.

Anyway, here I'm going to test out one of Iiyama's new models, the Prolite E438S. Now don't let the model number fool you into thinking that this monitor is silver. It's not. In fact, it's all black, no silver in sight anywhere, and for people who have black cases, keyboards and mice it's a perfect looker in terms of that. The specifications from the site also look good, so it was time for me to put things to the test.


First off as with any monitor it's always good to take a peek around the back and see what connections there are. And with this one you'll get a nice surprise. Not only is there a standard 15 pin VGA connector, but also a DVI-D digital connector, so you have compatibility with most modern graphics cards that can output to DVI (not to mention any other digital devices out there which use the same connector). There's also a standard power socket for the usual three pin power plug, and also a standard 3.5" jack plug to connect your sound card to the on-board speakers, although in truth monitor speakers aren't always that good compared to a nice standing pair - more on that later.

What's In The Box?

In the box the monitor is in two parts - the main screen, and then the stand. The stand feels a nice size and it's also weighty enough to hold down the monitor comfortably. Instructions to attach the stand are in the manual but they're rather handily also in a little guide at the bottom of the stand, so you can see with pictures how it attaches - also meaning you won't see them once the stand is on your desk - extremely useful that. With the stand attached it was time to make all the necessary connections - and everything you need to get you going is in the box - a 3.5" audio lead, a standard VGA monitor lead and a standard power lead. Even if you don't need them all, it's nice that everything is there to get you up and running. It would have been even nicer to have a DVI-D lead with it as well, but I guess it's easier to supply what everyone can connect to first and foremost.


With the standard VGA lead plugged in, configuration was nice and simple - there's the standard "auto configure" option to get everything looking nice and in place for you, and the five buttons at the bottom of the monitor are unobtrusive which allow you to do that. You press the "1" button on the left for the menu, the next two buttons are up and down, and the "2" button to the right does most of the select choices. The menus are nice and simple to follow, with "auto-adjust" being the top option. With that in place, everything looked nice and centred. Even better was that most of the options were set by default so that you didn't have to fiddle with things like colour temperature and other such oddities - it all worked as it should, straight out of the box.


I did a few standard tests, first off using thedxdiag Direct X diagnostic tool, and the 3D sections for testing Direct 3D looked crisp and clear with no "ghosting" movements. Then again this is probably down to a nice and quick 8ms response time. I also gave it some more tests with some movie files in AVI, MPEG-4 and Quicktime formats and the display was crisp, clear and with no blockiness or blurring at any time. The standard Windows display looked very clear indeed and was a true natural black and white as well, always nice to have. I played a couple of games and the monitor coped very well indeed with the response time proving its worth - not least when trying out a couple of OpenGL games to see the response. And on the whole - excellent. Couldn't fault it whatsoever. And this was only on the standard VGA analogue display.

I then got myself a DVI cable and switched to digital. And if you do that, you won't go back to analogue again. Configuration as soon as the cable was connected was automatic (even the BIOS startup screen was fully visible and centred) and the sharpness was just taken to another level. I did the same tests as I did with the analogue connection and got similar great results with that, so it was already clear that everything looked the right way. One word of note is that if you want the highest refresh rates possible at 1280x1024, it's well worth investing in a good DVI cable that is dual link, not single link. With a single link cable you'll only be able to have a refresh rate of 60Hz maximum, but with dual link more is possible (up to a nice 75Hz at the top resolution.)

The speakers on the other hand were not great - they'd probably be passable for occasional use in an office but if like me you listen to a lot of music when sat at a PC then you'll be yearning for a separate set of speakers, which to be honest I'd recommend anyway. The sound was okay but just too tinny and no bass whatsoever, hence the need to really select a good separate pair. At least it worked, and you can always mute the speakers completely so that they're not in use.

And what of dead pixels? Well, the one I got had none! Yes, none whatsoever. And if things do go wrong, there's a three year warranty as well which is nice - you don't even have to register, only needing to ring up if it goes wrong and the serial number is located in one of the information menus accessible from the front panel of the monitor - meaning you don't have to find the little sticker with the serial number in. Again, a neat touch but something that will save you lots of hassle later on.


So is this monitor worth it over your average 17" TFT? Having used several different models at work, I can safely say that this Iiyama is the dog's proverbials, honestly. It has such a crisp clean picture, looks good with anything you could throw at it and in DVI mode it really excels beyond belief and makes you really proud to own it. And of course for those of you who have black PC kit, it looks the part too. It is easy to use and setup, and it's well worth paying that bit extra for - as long as you don't use the speakers onboard!

Warren's rating: 90%