You can’t help but be impressed that Samsung’s 940UX provides 19 inches of 1280x1024-res full-color LCD action over a USB 2.0 interface. How is that even possible? It’s the result of a built-in DisplayLink chip and driver, which handles graphics duties and makes the monitor instantly recognized by the OS as a connected USB device—no manual configuration required. It’s an amazingly simple and convenient way to add one or more monitors to a PC that lacks any additional videocard ports. Samsung says you can even daisy-chain up to six 940UX LCDs to a single machine (each monitor sports one upstream and two downstream USB 2.0 ports) provided your CPU can accommodate them. Minimum requirements for one or two 940UX monitors is a 1.2GHz CPU and 512MB of memory, and it scales up from there.
But as much as we encourage multimonitor usage, we can’t condone a solution that’s this fraught with compromise. The USB interface was perfectly serviceable when we performed static and semi-static tasks, such as working in word processors, surfing the web, and even watching Flash video (where only a small portion of the screen is active), but even then we detected a slowdown in our mouse’s movement. When we moved to more demanding content, such as standard-def DVD played full-screen, there was evidence of frame-rate lag and redraw errors as the 940UX struggled under USB 2.0’s bandwidth constraints; our 2.6GHz Athlon 64 hovered at around 60-percent CPU usage (versus 15 percent with DVI). And the 940UX’s software-emulated graphics solution prevented us from playing any 3D-accelerated games.
The 940UX does feature conventional VGA and DVI interface options, and in our tests using the latter, the screen performed acceptably on all fronts, including games. But let’s face it, you’re paying a premium for the USB interface—if that’s not what you’re after, you can get a bigger, better DVI monitor for less money. And if you think you are after a USB interface solution, despite all its weaknesses, you probably shouldn’t be reading Maximum PC, because we can’t abide by that style of “upgrading.”
Daisychain up to 6 monitors; no need for a DVI port; acceptable for static-tasks use.