Hard Choices: 8 Things You Should Know About Monitors

By Jeremy Laird on February 21st, 2012 at 4:14 pm.

A whopping resolution of 16x16 or something

OK folks, we’ve done CPUs and graphics cards, now for my favourite subject of all, screens. I’ve long said a decent screen is the best investment you can make. Frankly, I’ve long been right. I’ve three 30-inchers of my own, two of which are about five years old. And with the exception of 120Hz support (see below), the game hasn’t moved on dramatically. Any five-year-old CPU or GPU, by contrast, is garbage. That’s the difference.

As it happens, good LCD screens have just become a lot more affordable. You’ll need to check out part two for the whys and wherefores along with a tour of the best currently available options. But things change fast, so a little knowledge can go a long way. Here are the eight most important things you need to know about screens for games.

1. Panel types

This is the biggie, the issue you really need to wrap your head around. A few of the following factoids have been simplified for easier digestibility, so please don’t write in with points of pedantry. The fuller, forensically accurate exposition is far too lengthy, far too dull, doesn’t materially improve comprehension and definitely doesn’t help with choosing a panel.

Above: 30 inches of IPS gorgeousness:  My venerable Dell 3007

TN or Twisted Nematic

Right. The crystals in TN panels are fixed at one end. Got that? It means they can’t move much and that explains why TN panels have historically had crappy viewing angles and dodgy colours. It also explains the poor blacks. The default position lets light through and the crystals can’t shift enough to fully block the backlight. The same goes for the shonky colour fidelity. The crystals cannae move enough. Thing is, that limited movement also translates into speed, which is why TN panels have the best pixel response.

 

TN, the bottom line: Fast response, crap colours, leaky blacks, shitty viewing angles. Next!

 

VA or Vertical Alignment

VA screens come in two yummy flavours, PVA and MVA. The technicalities are super dull, so I won’t bother. What you need to know is that PVA has richer colours and deeper blacks. In fact, if anything, PVA panels tend to be over saturated. Now, the default position of the crystals in a VA screen blocks light. Thus, you know why VA has such good blacks. VA also has freely moving crystals and offers more accurate colour and better viewing angles than ye olde TN. But not quite as good as IPS, more on that in a sec.

 

VA’s big weakness is pixel response which has lead to the use of overdrive technology, which in turn brings its own problems. Bank that one, we’ll be coming back to it.

 

VA, the bottom line: Deep and inky blacks, super saturated colours, dodgy overdrive issues

 

IPS or In-Plane Switching

In many ways, IPS is the daddy. It offers easily the best viewing angles and the best colours. That’s because the crystals in an IPS panel can fully rotate about their axis. Hurrah. Of course, with a longer leash, those pixels take more time to move about and that means slower response.

 

IPS panels also have two transistors per subpixel rather than just one. That, along with those free-range crystals, explains the fab colours. But it also means less light getting through. Result: less vibrancy. IPS has also suffered from a peculiar glow effect known as, well, IPS glow, along with sparkly screen coatings.

 

IPS, the bottom line: Lovely colours, super viewing angles, mediocre response and brightness

 

PLS or Plane to Line Switching

PLS is a panel tech recently introduced by and exclusive to Samsung. From what I understand, it’s meant to be the best of IPS and PVA in a single panel type. Frankly, I’m clueless as to what marks it out technically at this point and very few PLS monitors are currently available. However, I’ve had a close look at one of the first and you can read about it in part two.

 

PLS, the bottom line: The best of IPS and PVA in a new panel type. Maybe.

 

Overall, panel types are converging. TN colours, contrast and viewing angles are improving, IPS response is getting better. The big question is which panel type is best for gaming? TN is clearly the bomb if maximum response is your bag. Personally, I favour IPS. It’s not quite as quick as TN, but it’s better in every other regard.

 

2. Aspect ratio and resolution

Let’s be absolutely clear about this, 16:9 aspect ratio PC monitors only exist because it fractionally improves yields for fabs banging out the substrates which in turn form the basis of LCD panels. It’s just a convenient marketing pitch that it coincides with so-called full-HD 1080p resolution. In truth, there’s not much advantage for the PC, whether in-game or not, of 16:9. It basically boils down to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels for 16:9 and 1,920 x 1,200 for 16:10.

 

The same goes for larger 27 and 30-inch panels. Personally, I much prefer 2,560 x 1,600 to 2,560 x 1,440, the latter feeling surprisingly cramped by comparison. Yes, really. Problem is, 16:10 panels are now very rare and usually very expensive. They’re often double the price of their 16:9 brethren. That’s a lot to pay for those extra 120 vertical pixels.

 

3. Input lag

Fact: All LCD monitors lag, the only question is how much. The worst culprits are panels with fancy image processing gubbins, the least affected are those that just slap up the picture without pratting about. Fortunately, input lag is on the wane. It’s at its absolute worst on PVA panels with overdrive (see below) and such screens have dwindled to near non-existence. For proof of just how bad it can be, check out the video below.

 

4. Overdrive
Ramping up the rate of pixel response has been a major challenge for monitor makers. Beyond improving the panel itself, they’ve taken to using a technology called overdrive. In simple terms, the idea is to shove excess voltage through the crystals to accelerate them more rapidly. Which it does. Unfortunately, it can also mean the pixels overshoot the target colour state. The result can be all sorts of horrid and unwanted image artefacts including inverse ghosting (check out the video below). Overdrive implementations vary, so it’s a case of suck it and see.

 

 

5. LED backlights
So, until OLED or some similar technology comes along, we’re stuck shining lights through LCD pixel grids. Until recently, it was CCFL or nothing. These days, nearly all screens are LED backlit. In reality, most are cheapo white LEDs rather than expensive and far superior RGB LEDs. Still, even white LEDs last longer, use less power and produce marginally better light than the equivalent CCFL backlights. So, yes, LED is a “good” thing.

 

6. Colour depth and dithering

The key metric here is bits per channel. Proper pro displays need at least 8 bits per channel, which is why 6-bit-only TN panels are out. For gaming, I’m not so sure 8- and 10-bit panels are critical. Yes, 6-bit displays end up using dithering (that’s bouncing a pixel rapidly between two colour states to mimic a third). I get very upset by bad dithering (visible as fizzing pixels), but done well it’s pretty much invisible to the end user. It’s worth noting that lots of the latest budget-priced IPS screens are in fact 6-bit, where IPS has traditionally been 8 and 10-bit.

 

Above: If your panel isn’t true 8-bit or beyond, it needs dithering to draw lots of colours. That can lead to speckliness and banding. (image courtesy of http://www.lagom.nl )

 

7. Image processing
A popular ruse is to bang out cheap TN panels and fudge the awful inherent performance with image processing tech. That includes tweaks like dynamic contrast and fancy colour modes, including modes specifically for gaming. The main upside here is that it gives monitor makers the ability to claim spectacular performance figures. Anything over 3,000:1 for contrast, for instance, will be dynamic and therefore faked.
Anyway, the take-home message here is really simple. Don’t be seduced, such technology is almost always worthless. Much more important is to have a good underlying panel and backlight and sod the extras.

8. 3D technology and refresh rates
What you make of technology like NVIDIA’s 3D Vision is pointedly personal. I confess, the latest second-gen 3D Vision with Lightboost is pretty impressive. But only for about three minutes. Then my eyes start bleeding and my brain begins to melt. Well, that’s what it feels like.

Still, what I can say with certainly is that active shutter tech like 3D Vision is far superior to the alternative, which is alternate-line polarised technology. I can’t be arsed with the specifics, but the problem boils down to the fact that polarised 3D screens effectively operate in half resolution in 3D mode. And it looks pony.

 

Above: How NVIDIA imagines 3D Vision. The reality will give you a headache.

One further upside to active shutter screens is the need for double refresh rates. Now, science will tell you that 60Hz saturates the human eye and brain. But I’m here to tell you that 120Hz looks absolutely fucking fabulous to the extent that I couldn’t quite believe it at first. Everything from gaming to simple window jostling on the desktop is just so much smoother at 120Hz. This presents a bit of a quandary, since 120Hz monitors are currently all TN. You can’t have 120Hz IPS. Bummer. Anyway, let’s recap.

  • 1. You want an IPS panel unless you absolutely must have the fastest possible response.
  • 2. 16:10 trumps 16:9 but good luck finding many 16:10 panels at a competitive price.
  • 3. Input lag is scary and horrible for games, but doesn’t affect many screens.
  • 4. Watch out for bad implementations of overdrive technology.
  • 5. LED backlights are a welcome development, but usually not that exciting.
  • 6. 6-bit colour isn’t necessarily a terrible thing for games.
  • 7. Dynamic contrast and fancy colour or “gaming”modes are usually bunkum.
  • 8. You might not like stereoscopic 3D, but you will love 120Hz refresh.
  • With all that in mind, we’re just left with the minor matter of which screens you should actually be buying. Guess what? That’s what part two is all about. Be back here for that tomorrow.

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    169 Comments »

    1. simoroth says:

      Very nice rundown. I’ve been considering swapping my 2407-wfps in for a single 30 incher, but I think my GPU would hate me.

      You missed one key point I would of added. Ensure that you are using a dual link DVI cable. Many monitor manufacturers will only put a single link cable in the box. Even Dell on moniters that require dual link. Its a complete waste if you have a great screen and the wrong cable restricting refresh-rate or colour bit depth.

      Also should be noted that quality DVI cables do make a difference as the specification does not have any error checking.

      • Kdansky says:

        DVI are cables that transmit digital signals. If they work, they work. If they don’t, you get utterly messed up pictures. But quality won’t change.

      • simoroth says:

        “utterly messed up pictures.” – Actually you get patches of pixels or stripes that come out as garbage. And you don’t want that. So buy a decent cable. Its not the old “buy a gold plated HDMI cable” scam, its a genuine problem with low quality cables, especially ones that are more than two metres as you hit a length where you randomly start getting junk. Some people go out and replace their £300 GPU at this point so its worth knowing about to save them the effort.

      • jmtd says:

        I’d argue you should go straight to HDMI or displayport and shun DVI entirely.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        @jmtd

        i would never use hdmi on my monitor. I dont really know about the technical side of things but DVI looks better then hdmi, no?just seems that its the right choice for pc and hdmi is what i use for consoles.

      • Abtacha says:

        Why HDMI? It’s the same as DVI apart from also transferring audio.

      • felix6 says:

        Yeah. HDMI and DVI is basically the same thing. the difference is that in HDMI you also get digital sound through the cable, so in most cases a DVI would be sufficient for a PC monitor..
        Though I’v never tried the displayport yet, so I don’t know if its better or worse. Though I think its the better alternative?

      • Snargelfargen says:

        Yeah, DVI and HDMI provide identical quality. They both send a digital signal, which means that an image is transmitted perfectly, since 1′s and 0′s never degrade or change.

        The only possible exceptions to this are when you are using very, very cheap cables, have a long length of cable (like 10+ meters), the cable is in an extremely high interference environment, or some combination of the above. You will know when this happens, because the image will be very messed up.

        I prefer to use DVI for my pc, because that leaves the HDMI slot free in case I want to hook up my blueray player to my monitor.

      • Boozebeard says:

        If you are using a high resolution monitor (2560×1440/1600) then you HAVE to use a dual link dvi, standard dvi and hdmi don’t have the bandwidth.

      • riku0116 says:

        @Kdansky
        The “quality” of the cables won’t change a thing, but dual link DVI, as the name suggests, has double the bandwidth of regular DVI cables. This is why for resolutions of 2560×1440 or above, you absolutely do need a dual link DVI cable or DisplayPort to be able to display it at full 60hz refresh rate and/or 10bit color.

        HDMI and regular DVI simply can’t carry enough bits to handle these larger resolutions.

      • pasdcvbc says:

        I’ll take the challenge. Give me a single reason why a keyboard is worse than a digital arcade stick. http://ho.io/3154

      • Williz says:

        You realise you can also get sound through DVI right? A lot of Graphics cards are starting to support this in fact. So HDMI and DVI are basically the same now apart from the different ports/connectors.

      • jmtd says:

        The physical differences between HDMI and DVI are a big deal, IMHO. DVI continues the horrid thumb-screw legacy from D-SUB, has a large, blocky and ugly connector that is very easy to knock out if you *don’t* use the thumb-screws, and a thick, unpleasant cable that is difficult to route. There’s also the problem that there are loads of different *types* of DVI, with incompatible plugs and sockets being a constant problem where I work. It’s also not impossible to have your devices negotiate and talk analogue over DVI, even when you want digital.

        HDMI solves all of these problems.

    2. Fierce says:

      I’ve long been in the market for a 16:10 IPS monitor that has a fast enough response time to handle videogames without lagging, and a “true” 120Hz refresh rate so I can stop being forced to turn on V-sync because my GPUs are too powerful.

      I’d buy 5 of those, keeping one in the storeroom as a backup and taking another one to work.

      Do these exist? (Nope, just read the last paragraph.) Will they ever exist??

    3. trjp says:

      Whilst we appreciate all the tech, I think there’s a very, very important thing completely missing here.

      “Buy a monitor which is the right size”

      If you’re going to sit in-front of a monitor all day (I assume as you’re working but whatever!!) it’s even more important because too-big or too-small will really, really hurt you over time.

      I’ve seen people who have a conventional desk PC setup and a 32″ telly on it – I find that mind-boggling but at the other extreme I see people with 19″ or less screens running lower-than-standard resolutions and LARGE FONTS too.

      There’s a bit of a ‘bigger is better’ thing with monitors but if you’re sitting in-front of it (as opposed to lying back playing a game or whatever) then I suspect 24″ is too big (never mind 32) – check any developer’s setup and you’ll usually see 2 or 3 screens of more moderate size (21/22 seems popular) instead.

      Hell you can probably get 2 19s for the price of a 24 and for a lot of people that’s a better option (perhaps not for pure gamers but anyone who doesn’t more than 1 thing at a time will understand).

      Ironically, screens over 20″ tend not to vary much in price and it IS hard to resist ‘the bigness’ right up until you find out you’re staring into the sun and have a stiff neck from having to turn your head to read this!!

      • poena.dare says:

        The best thing I ever did ways buy a pair of prescription glasses specifically for working at my computer. If you are old or masturbate excessively then proper eyewear is a lifesaver.

      • Fierce says:

        A 24″ 16:10 monitor is a thing of beauty and should be revered in shrines around the world.

        It’s no where near as cramped as a 22″ 16:9 monitor, if you can fit 3 x 22″ 16:9 monitors on your desk you can fit 3 x 24″ 16:10 monitors without problems, and more of the appreciable space is visible when you lean back in your chair.

        Also, you raise a point about understanding people having 19″ monitors and then jacking the text size up to compensate, but then don’t include it in your own reasoning. Yes, it is a very true statement that the bigger your monitor size, the more people may strain to look at it; but not because its movie theatre big and they’re in the front row breaking their neck looking straight up. More because the default text size in Windows is fairly conservative and doesn’t scale up depending on your resolution.

        Text size is subjective and while I have no problems seeing “IE Text Size Medium” sized text on my 24″, I can certainly understand if others would. My point is, if one needs to increase text size in order to see it on widescreen monitors, you’d better believe its better to do so on a 24~27″ monitor than it is to do so on a 19~22″ monitor.

        Finally, realize that the size of a video game developers screens has nothing to do with their preferences; it has to do with the accounting department buying monitors in bulk at an acceptable cost. Beware casual fallacies of logic.

      • trjp says:

        You knock me for casual fallacies and yet assume there is an ‘accounting dept’ holding back every developer on earth – what a berk…

        There are loads of factors to consider – do you sit upright or do you have the ‘developer lean’ – is your desk shallow or deep – is your monitor jacked-up or not – these are all factors you need to consider.

        Just telling everyone to go out and buy a 24″ screen is daft – anymore than telling everyone that 2x19s is better.

        The key issue is that people realise there are options and do a BIT of thinking before they buy something MASSIVE and then discover that they need to pan their head like the people at Wimbledon :)

        p.s. on the font size thing – if you’re having to increase the OS level font size, there’s a good chance you bought a monitor which is bigger than you really needed (or you have a real need for specs!!)

      • SanguineAngel says:

        poena.dare you have brought a smile to my face. perv

      • Fierce says:

        Not trying to knock you at all, just pointing out that if you’re positing that people need to be wary of “the right sized” monitor while shopping, and then mention developer monitor screen sizes as evidence that N” may be too big, you’re drawing a natural conclusion that those screen sizes reflect the developers preferences of too big/too small.

        Unless you have evidence that those monitors were personally brought in by the developers to increase the comfort of their working space, you can’t do that. If you wish to, it is a logical fallacy.

        Conversely, bulk purchases of employee hardware happens in the vast majority of companies in 1st world countries; it’s how Dell made its money. I made no allusions about Accounting departments holding anyone back. Bulk hardware purchases are just a business world reality.

        Finally, all of your mention of “I assume as you’re working but whatever!!” and “as opposed to lying back playing a game or whatever” would lead any reader to believe you were talking about an upright seating position at a desk. Deep/shallow desks and monitor/chair height adjustments exist specifically to allow a person to adjust their position based on their height to accomodate that “eyes centered” position. Of course there are factors to consider when buying a monitor, but you gave no clue that your crash test dummy example consumer wouldn’t adjust those factors to fit into a natural seated position.

        A position upon which 24″ 16:10 is the minimum for potential text size needs and vertical space productivity than smaller, and sometimes larger alternatives.

      • Bishop says:

        I’m a game developer and I busting out this sentence on two 22″ 16:10′s. I did test out a 48″ inch monitor once, it was amazing for BattleField 3, nearly my entire field of vision was covered, but I struggled to close windows as the cross was so far away.

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        PoulWrist says:

        Sorry, no such thing as too big. I have a Dell U2711, upgraded from a Samsung 24″, 2440wfp, and this weekend at my LAN-party I had the opportunity to see tge glory of the 30″ big brother. I’d been telling myself that 27″ was enough. I know now I was wrong. And I sit within 1 meter of it.

      • SquidInABox says:

        I am an indie dev and as such bought my own monitor. I prefer 22″ over 24″ but the more important factor is having two monitors that are identical and can be rotated so they are vertical. I like to have one vertical for coding on and one horizontal for everything else.

        Sadly finding rotatable monitors is getting harder as companies try to make the stands look more swish.

      • Gukenschlaven says:

        I bought a 32″ TV as my monitor and frankly I loves it! I’ve got a fairly deep desk, so I just have it at the back. It makes for a very comfortable work space and lets me use more of my desk, and of course, games are just delightful on the thing.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        @Gukenschlaven

        i use a hd tv for console but i would NEVER use a tv for PC gaming, the quality you get from a good monitor is better then anything even a good tv could display.

        oh yeah, i think 24″ is the sweet spot, but i am looking at 27″ at the moment for a possible upgrade.

      • odd parity says:

        I’m a developer (LOB stuff, not games) and my work setup currently consists of a 30-inch monitor with a vertical 20″ on each side. I do not by any stretch consider this “too big”, nor do I have to adjust font sizes etc. It’s all about fitting as much text on the main screen as possible – the 30 incher gives me ample room for having two files open side-by-side without having to hide tool windows. The other monitors are typically used for reference documents and a command-line window. I also know of other developers with similar setups. So when you say “check any developers setup” that is at the very least an exaggeration.

      • Boozebeard says:

        I wouldn’t say you can really have too big a monitor, keeping in mind the biggest size you can realisticly get is 30″ (I have a 27″). The problem is people using large TV’s for monitors, good 27″ and 30″ monitors are 2560×1440/1600, this is an amazing pixel density (better than a 24″ at 1920×1080) a 32″ TV at 1920×1080 on the other hand is just going to look far to enlarged and awkward.

      • Solrax says:

        poena.dare I’m laughing so hard I’m crying.

        But I agree about the prescription computer glasses. Because I’m old, not the excessive masturbation. Excessive is so subjective.

      • MadMatty says:

        i got a 22″ Flatron Wide LG monitor with 2ms response time- it fits perfectly.

        I sit hunkered by my desktop, with the screen about 40-50cm from my face, and fast games like FPS JUST about works without moving my eyes- i can easily see why anything bigger would start to be problematic.

        Anyway, i love the damn 22″ monitor- picture is very crisp aswell, no idea about the type of hardware it is.
        I use it mainly for gaming- i can see why a coder would want a vertical slightly larger monitor to have a larger work desktop area, but in games you gotta consider other factors, like not having to move your eyes much (OR YOURE DEAD!).

    4. Kdansky says:

      I also want a few pointers on these supersized lowres screens, such as 27″ at 1920×1080. Is that really a good idea?

      • Spad says:

        I’m using 1600×1200 monitors at home, which I was able to get hold of whilst they were still cheapish compared to 16:9/16:10 alternatives. No idea what I’ll do once they die, widescreen is such a waste of space for anything other than gaming/movies.

      • Fierce says:

        @Spad

        Before this is corrected and deleted, I’d also like to point out…

        The result can be all sorts of horrid and unwanted image artefacts including inverse ghosting

        Assume Jeremy meant “artifacts”. Or maybe that’s just UK spelling. I dunno, I’m tired too.

        If Mondays are a bitch, Tuesdays are its more tolerable sister. Still need that coffee though.

        @Kdansky

        Ahh nevermind. You typo’ed 1920×1000 so I thought that actually existed and you were going to buy one. Hoho!

      • trjp says:

        What’s lowres about 1920×1080 exactly???

        I assume you’re talking PPI and of course a bigger screen has a larger PPI (anything over 23/24″ has a radically worsening PPI)

        BUT

        You’re meant to sit further away from them which balances this out. Not everyone is like my mate who’s 50″ TV is no more than 1m from his face!!

      • apocraphyn says:

        @Fierce: Yup, that’s UK spelling.

      • Fierce says:

        Thanks apocraphyn, going to double up on that coffee now.

      • LazyGit says:

        I use a 27″ 1920×1080 screen and it’s fine for me. It is also 120Hz which helps. I can resolve the pixels in my vision at a normal viewing distance but I could do the same on my old 20″ 1680×1050 screen. It’s nice that it’s the same res as my TV as well, even though it’s not important, it just means that wallpapers match correctly.

        I’ll just add here that stereoscopic 3D gaming is fantastic so if anyone is unsure about whether to get a 3D monitor or not: do it, it’s great.

      • yourgrandma says:

        27 is fine at a 1080p as long as you have a good computer to push higher levels of AA. A larger monitor is a god send if you plan on ever using a steering wheel i have noticed.

      • Boozebeard says:

        I would say no. The pixel density is far too low at that size, a smaller screen of the same res will look much sharper and nicer. Even the pixel density of my 24″ 1080p leaves a lot to be desired next to my 27″ 2560×1440, I would actually prefer it being 22″.

    5. Orija says:

      Tell me you’re going to cover motherboards too, can’t choose which one to get for the i5 2500k.

      • Kdansky says:

        It probably doesn’t matter much, as long as the ports are all there. Some cheap boards skimp on a PS2, which is actually superior for keyboards, and number of RAM slots and SATA can vary.

      • Fierce says:

        Just out of curiousity, how exactly are PS2 ports superior to USB for keyboards in any way that practically matters to normal PC operation?

        The ability to hot(un)plug my keyboard when I want to clean it practically pays for itself.

        (I use Device Manager now personally, but I did physically unplug it in the past.)

      • trjp says:

        Nightmare topic which only the daft would wander into.

        Get the best one you can afford from a brand which isn’t known for being a bit shit – is the best advice you’ll get on that topic :)

      • LimEJET says:

        @Fierce: PS/2 ports support a theoretically infinite amount of keypresses at the same time, whereas USB chokes at six. Usually this isn’t an issue, as most keyboards today can only handle up to four, but if you have a mechanical keyboard and want to use it fully you need to plug it in via PS/2.

      • Kdansky says:

        Pro USB: Can unplug during use. Which is sometimes nice, because accidentally unplugging a keyboard is annoying.

        Pro PS2: n-Key roll-over if they keyboard supports it. That’s about it. You can easily play 2QWOP, or Street Fighter 4*, and never worry about the BEEPs and missed inputs.

        *Fighting games regularly demand two directions plus two or three buttons, which is very problematic on most USB keyboards. And if you do a quick 360, you can end up with six to seven buttons pressed, impossible without PS/2. Don’t play Zangief on USB.

        Experiment: Press five buttons and check for BIOS beeps. Depending on keyboard hardware, some combinations work and others don’t. For example modifiers are generally very lenient, while letters are not. A sensible and comfortable layout (WASD for movement, keypad for buttons) will definitely fail.

        It’s just this one trade-off. I’ll take “can play SMB and SF4″ over “can clean while running” any day.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aninhumer says:

        I’m sure I remember hotplugging ps2 devices all the time. I seem to remember Windows XP didn’t support it, but Linux handled it fine. I’d imagine Windows 7 can deal with it as well?

      • Fierce says:

        Ahh I see. This makes sense in typing operations…

        …but why would you play Street Fighter on a keyboard! What madness is this?

        You and I need to schedule a 3rd Strike match!

      • Kdansky says:

        I’m not a 3rd Strike player, it’s a game I skipped over. I’m not much of a Chun/Yun fan. :P

        Guilty Gear AC is my primary, might switch to BlazBlu at some point.

        Playing on a keyboard is similar to an arcade stick (one finger per button), except for the directions. My keyboard is actually superior to my arcade stick (mechanical vs cheap), which is a real bother. Pads? I could never understand how someone will play a game where you need to press three buttons at once on a pad. That’s not possible with only one thumb!

      • trjp says:

        Hotplugging PS2 ports is NOT WISE.

        There are 3 laptops and at least 1 desktop in my ‘scrapyard’ who’s PS2 ports are cooked from people plugging/unplugging stuff whilst the system was on.

        If you really need to play 6-finger-must-not-miss-anything games you play them on a controller surely??

        Keyboards are not Street Fighter controllers!!

      • Kdansky says:

        Try pressing all combinations of two buttons on your ABYX pad.

        I have no clue how to even do the diagonal ones on a pad with just a thumb, and even if, my thumb would get tired quickly. I’ll rather use the other four fingers too. I’ve seen arcade stick mods where people replaced the stick with four buttons, and put jump on the left thumb instead of above the other three. It’s insanely quick to press, easy to learn, and you can’t make mistakes. Doing hard moves like 720° or double dragonpunches is SO EASY.

      • iainl says:

        Dreamcast Arcade Stick to USB converter. Sorted. Keyboard just strikes me as an insane idea.

      • Kdansky says:

        I’ll take the challenge. Give me a single reason why a keyboard is worse than a digital arcade stick.

      • Fierce says:

        @Kdansky

        Actually, I play Ibuki, Makoto and sometimes Yang. In no particular order.

        And BlazBlue isn’t worth it. Not very much room to master, or counter mastery.

        (Oh, and a single reason is precision. Part of the mastery of fighting games isn’t just the timing and reading of your opponent, it’s the finesse you develop with your muscle memory and your motions to achieve advantage, like cancelling out of a move halfway and doing a full move at twice the speed in order to avoid a mistake. Maybe its just the tactile feel of it, but I would say you can’t get that level of “skill” nomenclature from a keyboard that you can from a stick.)

      • Kdansky says:

        I don’t think you can’t have the finesse of a stick on a keyboard: Buttons are all but identical (assuming you have a mechanical keyboard, and not a wobbly cheap one), and sticks are not actually very precise compared to four buttons. If a pad user can win at EVO, surely a mechanical keyboard is equivalent. ;)

        I was referring to the 3rd Strike tier issues: Chun/Yun are SS tier, and then you have no S tier and no A tier, and everyone else down from B. Those two characters together are like 90% of all EVO Top 8 players in the history of EVO. Check Wikipedia if you think I’m making this up. ;)

        Also I didn’t much like the parry feature, which is so central to 3S. Why does everyone hate so much on BB? GGXX is such a great game, surely, they could not fuck it up that badly?

      • salgado18 says:

        Would you guys stop this “you need a joystick to play this game” nonsense? If anyone NEEDED a joystick to play, there would be no keyboard support to it. Seriously, I like joysticks and all, but to me it’s a waste of money, no matter how cheap they are. I agree on the “muscle memory” theory on playing SF4 (combos are very hard to achieve on a keyboard, sometimes impossible), but I still don’t NEED a joystick. Not even to racing games, every single one of them (the good ones, and NFS: Shift 1/2 being exceptions) plays great on a keyboard.

        TL:DR, you like joysticks, some people don’t. Get over it.

      • andytt66 says:

        As far as motherboards go, I’d say go for whatever z68 is being offered in a bundle with an overclocked i2500k at your dealer of choice. (I personally like Asus stuff, but there is absolutely no empirical reasoning behind it, other than a gigabyte one blew it’s capacitors on me about six years ago, and asus mobos have always outlived the usefulness of the CPU).

        Bought an asus/i2500k (pre OCd to 4.5 ghz) combo from scan a few days ago, based partially on this series. got the windows partition on an ssd drive, and also use it to cache my main hard drive via RST. Complete pain to set up, but highly recommended. Very rarely see skyrim loading screens now, for example.

      • AbyssUK says:

        I know this is a monitor thread, and a question about motherboards which has now gone onto keyboards.. but i have to answer because i know the difference between usb keyboards and ps/2.

        Lag times, a usb keyboard uses a sweep method to wait for key input i.e. it checks every 50-200ms if a key has indeed been pressed so the input can be registered anywhere between 50-200 ms. A ps/2 keyboard is switched so it tells the computer when it has been pressed has has a constant quicker response time typically around 20ms

        Now this might not sound like much, but on trackmania [Which if you don't play with on a keyboard you are doing it wrong] I switched from a usb to a ps/2 and instantly gained 0.2-0.5 sec faster lap times (thats a lot btw). Purely because I could respond just that little bit quicker.

    6. MattM says:

      Science doesn’t say that 60Hz saturates human vision. Claims made to this effect in internet forums never cite any sources. 20hz is about where it becomes difficult to distinguish individual frames, but simple A/B testing shows that 120hz/120fps is noticeably smoother than 60hz/60fps. Even today’s 120hz panels have some noticeable judder. Set up a screen saver to move a red square quickly around a yellow background and look at the edges of the object. It is noticeably stuttering around rather than moving smoothly.

      • enobayram says:

        It’s irrelevant at what frequency our optical sensors saturate. Those studies, I believe, don’t take into account the eye’s movement. Imagine being on a fast moving car. When you’re passing by a sign next to the road, if you follow the sign with your eyes, for a split second, as it passes, you’ll have a clear image of it. There won’t be any blur on the text of the sign, because the image has been static (car’s motion compensated by the motion of your eyes). Now imagine, if the window of the car were a monitor. In order to get the -same- crisp image -when- you follow the sign with your eyes, the monitor would need to have probably a few thousand frames per second!!! There’s no upper limit to this really, especially during fast moving scenes.

      • Steve_0 says:

        Actually I’m certain that your eye’s don’t record any images when in motion, try it. It’s a big part of why using those 3D virtual reality glasses with two screens can be sickening when the image rotates – generally as your eye moves it doesn’t record these images but here your eye is stationary even though the glasses are showing an illusion of movement leading to motion sickness.

        You’re definitely right that the whole refresh rate / max fps you can detect thing is pretty much nonsense. There’s certain things your eye is very good at detecting in which higher refresh rate definitely improves quality. Think about a lightning strike, surely the light isn’t visible for a longer time than 1/60 seconds, yet you’re able to see it regardless. I just don’t think it’s comparable really, refresh rate vs how quickly your eye is able to detect. It’s an apples to oranges comparison, your eye simply doesn’t function like a normal camera would in every way.

        How about the wings of a hummingbird or something equally fast moving – surely if the wings are moving faster than you can “detect” then they’d be invisible, rather you see them as a blur…
        Disclaimer: I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

        EDIT: actually, now that I think about it I think you’re right about the whole sign post in the car thing. But this leaves me conflicted – I’m certain that you’re eyes don’t record images as they move, there was a study I read/saw that used this phenomenon. Basically applicants would watch a screen with a camera recording the movement of the eyes, and parts of the image would be added periodically, sometimes whilst the eye was stationary and sometimes between movements. Applicants were then requested to list items they saw appear. For the most part the parts of the image that were added during eye movement were undetected, and the applicants would be incredibly surprised to find that major items such as buildings and such were added and they didn’t notice. Let me search on google for a link…

        EDIT: quick googling shows that the human eye does both these things, often involuntarily. With fixational eye movement as your eye moves to focus upon a stationary object the eye doesn’t (or your brain, whatever) perceive any image between movements or saccades. This is done in situations like reading, your eyes don’t smoothly move across a page but rather jump small distances across and rest, focusing on the next word usually.

        But your eyes are also capable of detecting images whilst smoothly panning (more easily horizontally than vertically apparently, probably through evolution). This is difficult or impossible to achieve voluntarily without a moving object, try moving your finger across your vision and you can easily focus on it, however if you try to do the same motion without a moving object your eyes will saccade and fixate, jumping rather than smoothly moving at a constant speed.

        It all just goes to show that human vision is very strange indeed, and that it’s pretty useless to talk about something like framerate or refresh rates exceeding your eye’s capability. It doesn’t work like that.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Wikipedia says lightning lasts about a 1/3rd of a second, just posted for correctness.

      • enobayram says:

        @Steve_0 It’s interesting why motion sickens you in 3D displays, I’ve always thought it’s because of the out of sync images you receive in your eyes. We instinctively track objects when there’s motion in the scene, so that in the sequence of images our brain receives, the central area is always sort of static. This becomes impossible to achieve in the presence of out of sync images, because whoever, or whatever compiles those images can not know how much your eyes have moved between the left and right images. Stereoscopic depth perception is also messed up for the very reason. Your eyes simply receive inconsistent disparity all the time. The solution is probably to have both of the images on the screen at the very same time. I haven’t gazed upon such a 3D medium yet, so I don’t know if the sickening still exists.

    7. mckertis says:

      “super viewing angles”

      I’ve never met anyone who would actually needed that. Just a pointless bit of advertising. For TVs – yes, like if your whole family sits on one couch, or you invite some friends for a gaming night or something. For PC monitors ? Who gives a crap.

      • Meat Circus says:

        Ghosting. That’s what you don’t get with IPS panels that you do with cheap old TN.

      • lordfrikk says:

        If you ever had a monitor that had superior viewing angles and then go back to a lousy TN you WILL cry. I bought a laptop and while I am not using all that much, that TN screen…

      • Darko Drako says:

        @ mckertis

        “super viewing angles”

        I’ve never met anyone who would actually needed that. Just a pointless bit of advertising. For TVs – yes, like if your whole family sits on one couch, or you invite some friends for a gaming night or something. For PC monitors ? Who gives a crap.”

        If you have more than one monitor, then the second monitors will be at an angle and viewing angles will immediately become an issue.

      • TheManko says:

        The viewing angles matter even when you’re sitting directly in front of the screen. A TN monitor will be darker on the upper half of the screen and brighter at the bottom. Same thing with VA panels which have a different contrast at the edges of the screen compared to the middle. So the superior viewing angles of IPS are needed simply to have a consistent image across the screen with one person sitting in front of it.

      • Tams80 says:

        Laptops are worse for viewing angles as you are more likely to be viewing it from different angles. As the screens tend to be small, it really becomes noticeable if you go on a “look at this cool video sesh”.

        For monitors it doesn’t tend to be as much of a problem for most people, but when you go back to a TN panel… you won’t if you can help it.

      • Telzis says:

        I had Samsung laptops for some years now with displays that almost instantly became either muddy gray or super-contrast black if you looked at them a tiny bit from above or below. The bearable angle to the sides is a bit better, but still quickly noticeable. For about a week now I have an external IPS screen plugged in and it’s a difference like night and day. I can sink into my chair to watch a video without looking at weird colours!
        So… yes, viewing angles matter if you ask me.

      • Maktaka says:

        You know why poor viewing angle matters?

        http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/all_tests.php#viewing_angle

        That’s why. No matter what TN monitor you’ve got, it WILL look like ass forever and ever to you after viewing that page.

      • Mctittles says:

        @Maktaka
        I can’t tell a difference with anything on that page?

        Oh yea…I’m on a crt :)

      • devlocke says:

        I watch movies on my monitor from my bed. Having a monitor that doesn’t totally freak out because I’m now laying down a feet away instead of sitting up directly in front of it, is actually kind of handy.

      • Guvornator says:

        @Maktaka My virus software (Malwarebytes anti-malware) flagged a warning (blocked outgoing threat) when I clicked on the link. It might be nothing but you and everyone else who clicked on it might want to run a scan to be safe.

      • Kdansky says:

        @Guvernator: That page has a few scripts running, which might have tipped your scanner. It looks perfectly safe though.

        Also: Virus scanners are a waste of money. Any proper virus will not get detected. Anything else should be solved by patching the hole.

    8. Premium User Badge

      SpakAttack says:

      Great article in a great series – keep up the good work!

    9. Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      Come back 4:3, all is forgiven.

      • Maktaka says:

        Humans don’t view the world in a 4:3 box though, we view it significantly wider than we do taller. A 16:9 or 16:10 viewing angle is much better suited to filling our scope of attention within our view.

      • Premium User Badge

        Colthor says:

        Your binocular vision is about 120° both vertically and horizontally, and only a tiny proportion of that is high-resolution (the middle 2° being your main focal point). Widescreen was largely popularised for films to distinguish them from television and fight a fall in attendance; nothing to do with viewing angles.

        For computer use, it’s a pain in the arse. Having more vertical lines is useful for programming, and the web seems to prefer being in tight, vertical columns entirely unsuited for widescreen display, as you must keep endlessly scrolling.

      • Fierce says:

        I say this in complete seriousness, but it sounds like you need a mouse with a loose scroll wheel (I use a Logitech G500 personally) or to click and drag your scrollbars.

        While some websites do prefer tight columns (blogs, like this one, and their templates are common examples to be sure), I have never heard someone mention a widescreen monitor being a detriment to the Internet experience in lieu of a 4:3 monitor.

        Try a loose scroll wheel mouse out, it might help you.

      • Maktaka says:

        Your viewing angle is even in both directions, your focus of attention is not. We evolved in and still live in a largely horizontal world, and our natural way of viewing things as a whole is shaped to match. You don’t hunt for animals by checking the sky and the ground above you, you don’t cross a road looking in the sky or the ground for oncoming cars, you don’t read a book by viewing the entire paragraph like you view the line you’re reading.

        If you’re finding things distorted when maxing out your browser window on a widescreen monitor, maybe just don’t max your browser window?

    10. Meat Circus says:

      I have a 27″ Dell IPS Ultrasharp monitor and it’s a thing of wonder. Skyrim looks joyous at 2560×1440.

    11. Cheebahh says:

      I hope the VG236 gets a mention, I bought it a few months ago and it’s hands down the best investment I’ve made. Games are silky smooth and crystal clear, totally changed the level of immersion.

    12. tenseiga says:

      Matte Vs Gloss?

      • Meat Circus says:

        Holy War Issue. STAY AWAY.

      • SF Legend says:

        Matte. Gloss is an abomination of glare designed to attract simpletons and magpies.

      • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

        And here we go.

      • TheManko says:

        Matte adds a sandpapery look to colors. Depending on the material it can be hard to see, but in Mirror’s Edge for example you see it constantly as a sparkly effect over colors. Glossy screens don’t have this problem at all.

      • Kdansky says:

        Gloss usually looks better, especially colours.
        Matte suffers less from glare and reflections.

        If your screen is in the basement, take gloss. If it’s near a window, take matte.

        Is it more complex than that?

      • lordfrikk says:

        It’s really a preference, but I love matte screens, personally. I still remember with horror when I had classic monitor and I had to have blinds shut all the time unless I wanted to use the monitor as a mirror.

      • tenseiga says:

        Actually I knew the difference. Was just wondering why it wasn’t covered. Matte all the way… or gloss… idk whichever doesn’t have perfect reflections.

      • trjp says:

        On a desktop I’ve no problem with glossy – you setup your desk/lighting to avoid glare and reflections rather than putting something in the way of image quality to do it.

        On a laptop, glossy is a warcrime – you’ll never be able to use the bloody thing without spending 20 mins finding the right spot (which will always be too-far from the wallplug or projector socket or whatever!!) :)

      • yourgrandma says:

        Used to always prefer matte but now that i have a gloss… i recommend gloss as long as you have controlled lighting conditions. Why put some sort of grainy filter in front of you expensive lcd if you don’t have too?

      • Joc says:

        I have a satinwood finish on my mahogany bezel. It’s tasteful.

    13. mouton says:

      Hey, my five-year-old 8800 gt is certainly not garbage. I am not even thinking about an upgrade yet.

    14. LimEJET says:

      One thing that’s important about LED vs CCFL ( which are basically fluorescent tubes) is that a minority of people experience headaches and nausea when exposed to fluorescent light, as it flickers at a high rate.
      For most people this isn’t a problem, but if you, like me, have problems with nausea while in front of a monitor, check if it’s got a CCFL backlight. I bought a LED monitor for my new PC and it’s really done the trick.

      • xlog says:

        CCFL can cause a headache the same way as inactive cell towers – by pure human imagination.

        CCFL operates at 20+kHz, no human can see flickering at those frequencies. Even if they could couse you a headache, so would LEDs ( unless on full brightness LEDs are also flickering at those frequencies).

        The only light source that do couse headaches are CFL lamps with electromechanical ballasts.

      • jmtd says:

        “CCFL operates at 20+kHz, no human can see flickering at those frequencies.”

        That sounds suspiciously like “the human eye/brain can’t distinguish between framerates above 60fps” which has also been debunked in these threads.

    15. TheManko says:

      16:9 is better than 16:10 for games. Sure 16:10 gives you some more pixels, but look at any game on widescreengamingforum.com and you’ll see that 16:9 has a wider viewing angle than 16:10. In 16:10 the sides are chopped off so you see less on the sides. This is true for about 99% of games released in the past 5 years. Only a couple of games at most every year give you more top and bottom in 16:10.

      • Bobtree says:

        Viewing angle has nothing to do with aspect ratio, and it’s wrong to conflate them. The only real consideration is that FOV should suit the physical size of the display based on how far you sit from it and what kind of view and motion the game has, in order to prevent motion sickness.

      • randomnine says:

        As strenuously as WSGF might disagree, a wider horizontal viewing angle does not always mean a better gaming experience.

      • TheManko says:

        Much to the 16:10 fans chagrin 16:9 has become the standard, so the default intended FOV is optimized for 16:9 and especially in racing games all the viewing angles look wrong to me in 16:10 whether it’s bumper, interior or exterior cameras. With 16:9 most people would be able to “forget” about FOV and just use the default instead of with 16:10 where the narrower angle makes FOV tweaking necessary. That has been my experience anyway.

      • yourgrandma says:

        Its never about 16:9 vs 16:10 its 1920×1080 vs 1920×1200. 1920×1200 Is vastly superior in every way because you can run 1920×1080 if you have to for a game and the vertical space helps astronomically for working and webpages. I lived with a 4:3 crt till just about a month ago and had more viewing space in games than most people had with their 16:9 monitors because of FOV hacks and adjustments. Please never bring up viewing space in 16:9 vs 16:10 ever again its a waste of life. Once 2560×1440 monitors become the norm this 16:9vs16:10 argument will disappear the because the lacking vertical space will finally be filled.

    16. Bobtree says:

      This article is completely wrong. What I want is still a CRT!

      Unfortunately my GTX 570 makes a distracting amount of visual noise (as light/dark horizontal bands) on the analog output when it’s working hard, so I may go all-digital someday. That is not the CRT’s fault though, just sloppy engineering because analog output isn’t in demand these days. Vsync + triple buffering (forced with D3Doverrider) eliminates most of this flickering in most games (it’s really just the FPS limiting of vsync, but you need triple buffering to make vsync tolerable, and video drivers really should provide a smart FPS limiter anyway – to sync when above refresh rate, and tear when below). Better cables help too (they have a big fat chunk on the cable – it’s a filter).

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        Bobtree, have you tried a 120Hz panel with good response? They pretty much nix the last remaining advantages of staying CRT, save for the ability to run multiple resolutions.

      • TheManko says:

        CRT still have superior blacks and response time. Especially compared to the 120hz TN alternatives the CRT will produce a nicer picture.

      • DigitalSignalX says:

        I had a Silicon Graphics CRT that was 22 inches and weighed approximately 600 pounds. It was the best thing ever. I was owning people’s asses all the live long day with it in Counter Strike, people thought I wall hacked. But then an epic plant watering accident occurred.. sigh. Still, someday, rich and famous me will build a glass cannon again.

      • ecat says:

        @DigitalSignalX
        A tribute, all 400+ pages…

        http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=952788

        This is the 24″ version weighing 60,000lbs, I so very, very nearly bought one of these.

      • kyrieee says:

        I think the ability to use any resolution you want is a huge bonus. Picked up a used CRT for next to nothing a few months back and it works great.

      • yourgrandma says:

        I upgraded from a CRT to a s27a850d which does 2560×1440 and it is a pls (IPS) monitor. It felt like a major downgrade even though my CRT did only 1600×1200. The back light bleed and blacks are awful and the input lag and ghosting was noticeable. I returned that one and got a 120hz S27A750D and it feels much more like a CRT with no input lag or ghosting at all. While the blacks aren’t as dark as a CRT (never will be) and your stuck with 1080p but the picture was just as clear as the IPS. Don’t bother going LCD unless its 120hz the feel and look are amazing.

      • Bobtree says:

        @Jeremy

        When I can get a 2048×1536 120hz LED-backlight 21″+ display, then I’ll be interested. The next round of GPUs will have so much fillrate we won’t know what to do with it all. They don’t even make 1920×1200 at 120hz yet!

    17. Ridnarhtim says:

      I saw you sneakily fix that ‘effect!’

      Also, very informative. Looking forward to the next article. Been wondering if I should wait for glasses-free 3D monitors though.

    18. Premium User Badge

      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Yes.

    19. Tams80 says:

      The Asus ProArt is a good IPS monitor at under £400.

      The 24″ (PA246Q) is about £390. 16:10 as well.
      The 23″ (PA238Q) is around £220, which is more competitive with TN monitors. Unfortunately it’s 16:9.

    20. galaxion says:

      Are there any monitor brands out there that have old style knobs for adjusting brightness and contrast quickly instead of having to go into 3+ onscreen menus via fiddly buttons?

    21. ecat says:

      I would add one more bullet point to the list:

      9. If you’re relatively happy with what you have and can hold out for 2 years then wait to see what OLED brings.

      I have a love/hate relationship with LCDs. They are pinpoint sharp, VAs to the point of causing pain and are fantastic for text and anything that requires geometric accuracy. For gaming let’s just say I’ve not found a single game that doesn’t look better on my old 21″ CRT, it’s the contrast and boy does it make a difference. The contrast adds depth which once seen is hard to forget,. The likes of Peggle just simply look better, the likes of Fo3 take on a whole new dimension. I do hope OLEDs keep their promised performance and live up to my expectations, I’ve £1k waiting and I’m ready to ditch this mid-range HP IPS thing at the drop of a hat.

      Skipping back to VAs for a moment, the biggest problems I have with these are black crush and contrast shift. The former an inconvenience, the latter totally messes up my eyes and balance.

    22. cHeal says:

      Actually my quad core 2.66GHz, bought in April 2007 is still fighting fit and can handle anything I’ve cared to throw at it with ease.

    23. FrankTheCat says:

      I’m terrible. I have a super-awesome-blowjob-giving computer, but I use:
      2x Dell 1907FP’s and one ACER AL1917

      They’re laggy, screen tear constantly (especially the dells), and have flat, boring colors. They were free, though?

    24. Jeremy Laird says:

      Couple of points raised are dual-link DVI and inputs in general on the on hand and matte v gloss on the other.

      Re the first subject, it’s addressed in part two coming tomorrow. It’s not actually a huge issue since just about any decent gaming 3D card supports dual-link and if the monitor needs it, it’ll come with the cable, too.

      Re matte v gloss, needless to say, my firm vote is matte. I did consider including it. But mercifully it’s mostly gone out of fashion so not worth wasting too many words on.

      • TheManko says:

        By having a firm vote in the matte camp and probably making that opinion come through you’re sure to attract plenty of comments tomorrow. Even the mildest anti-glare treatment adds artifacts in the image at this point compared to glossy screens. If the source material is such that it exposes anti-glare treatment I keep staring at it and it gives me a headache while glossy gives the “looking through a window” effect instead and is seamless.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        I’m not at all tolerant of sparkly screen coatings, which is one of the key reasons why I harsh on a certain 24-inch IPS panel in part 2.

        However, for a while PVA screens have had nice, smooth anti-glare coatings and the best news is that the latest budget IPS panels had nice coatings too. They’re good enough to ensure there’s no good reason to put up with the downsides of glossy.

      • TheManko says:

        You say that but you’ll take my glossy screens from my cold dead hands. I do think it’s a bit baffling though why mobiles, tablets and laptops have glossy treatments while computer monitors can be anti-glare treated to hell. Completely backwards priorities there.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        Well, tablets and smartphones have touch surfaces, so that’s a slightly different issue.

        My feeling re laptops is that glossy remains popular as a kludge to increase contrast and colour saturation on what are almost exclusively awful TN panels. At first glance, glossy makes TN look a bit more exciting. What you really want, in my view, is a very smooth anti-glare coating and a decent panel underneath.

      • Premium User Badge

        stahlwerk says:

        Actually, when I got my laptop 5 years ago, it came with a glossy screen and I was cautious of it. Nowadays I don’t really notice. The focus point of the screen is near enough that the reflected lights behind me are blurred by the ol’ gazers to a level that is very much “matte”.

    25. Alaric says:

      I love my Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP 30″ @ 2560×1600, and anyone who says there is a better monitor is wrong.

      • Dhatz says:

        that is way out of anyone’s way to judge that, have fun being alone with it.

    26. Howl says:

      16:9 > 16:10 imo because most PC games are either ports or multi-platform releases and the art assets for large parts of modern games are done to exactly fit 16:9 because of the consoles.

      Title pages, loading screens, non-scaling GUI elements, yadda yadda, the list is endless. Switch to 16:9 and you’ll suddenly find that everything just ‘fits’. The situation is even more pronounced once you stick three screens together. With 16:10 Eyefinity/Surround loading screens and FMV become stretched vertically to fit the space and consequently end up spilling out into the side screens by an inch or two.

      • Bobtree says:

        “It’s better because we’re stuck with it” is a terrible argument. I’d agree that it’s easier to comply than to resist though. Your video drivers shouldn’t be stretching anything for 16:10 unless they’re set up that way, so you can probably disable that.

      • Dhatz says:

        If we didnt have standards, there would be 24/7 chaosmas, it’s always safe bet to get the current standard ratio and best usable resolution. Dude lol, shouldn’t be streatching? that is all they do. I had to get LG with button for 4:3 mode to get plausible oldschool gaming experience(definitive proof we evolved from apes, only ape could make game with unmodifiable resolution/ratio, which explains the consolitis symptoms.)

      • Howl says:

        @Bobtree: It would be nice if it was a simple case of the display stretching things but it’s not. It’s a case of lazy ports. If it’s a good port you end up with black bars and if it’s a lazy port you might end up with GUI elements stretching or being oddly placed. As I said, throw in even more modern PC tech like triple screen resolutions, which often only work through a hack job or blind luck and your rigs compatibility with the way developers have decided to show you their game gets even more ropey.

    27. Shadrach says:

      I’ve been looking for a replacement for my NEC 20WGX2 for a while now, since it’s feeling a bit small and is 6 years old by now.

      But it really is an excellent screen, was terribly expensive back in 2006. The glossy Opticlear stuff makes it look so much clearer than any LCD I’ve seen since. So it’s hard to find a decent replacement… anyone got an idea for a “spiritual successor” for this amazing screen? 24-27 in, no bigger.

      • TheManko says:

        NEC PA231W or PA241W? I’ve got a PA231W and it has fantastic color quality and for an IPS about as good of a response time as you can get from the panel type. For reference I’ve got an Apple 27′ Cinema Display, Asus VG278 and a LG 42SL9000 TV which has been ISF calibrated and none of them come close to the NEC PA231W as it simply has superior hardware underneath.

      • Shadrach says:

        Thanks for the tip, those look good :)

    28. hmcindie says:

      PLS is technically the same as IPS. Just Samsung’s version.

      And saying that VA monitors are intrinsically “over-saturated” is completely wrong. If you have an oversatured monitor one reason could be that it’s a wide-gamut version and you don’t have any profiles loaded.

      • TheManko says:

        Agree. The saturation has more to do with the gamut and gamma than panel technology.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        My experience with PVA screens, including my XL30, is that even after calibration with a light meter (and in the context of gaming, who has those?) they tend towards over saturated.

        If you sampled the installed based of monitors out there, hardly any of which are calibrated even in professions like desktop publishing, I guarantee you’ll find the vast majority of PVAs are running over saturated. That’s not true for TN or IPS.

    29. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      My 5 year old TN Iiyama is still absolutely brilliant. I’ll keep using it for as long as it keeps going.

      There’s a huuuuuuge difference between a top quality TN and a lower quality TN.

    30. Hmm-Hmm. says:

      This doesn’t exactly tell me why I would want an LCD display in the first place. But then, I don’t complain much about(or have done research into) hardware.

    31. clippa says:

      Everyone has their own opinion, so here’s mine
      A low input lag 120hz TN matte screen is the only way to go with gaming as far as I’m concerned.
      Use monitor calibration wizard to correct the gamma and you’re off.

      • yourgrandma says:

        Completely agree… i have tried higher resolution monitors and they are nice but the feel and motion are simply garbage compared to a 120hz monitor. Anything less than a CRT or 120hz LCD is garbage for gaming imo.

      • Dhatz says:

        give me mainstream 120hz full HD that doesnt need to cheat with dynamic contrast and ITS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS0IUTlq_gk&feature=related

      • Shortwave says:

        Agreed, since I’ve gone 120hz I can’t go back to anything.
        After properly calibrating it I don’t see any issue, great colours and contrast.
        Since it’s a gaming monitor, the viewing angle doesn’t really concern me.
        It’s always positioned properly right infront of me, ha!

        I still get people ranting to me about how the human eye can’t even see the difference.
        Hell, I had one guy recently tell me the human eye can’t see more than 25fps, haha. : /

    32. Azhrarn says:

      I have a lovely (if rather pricey) ASUS PA246Q screen, which is an IPS panel with a resolution of 1920×1200.

      As for the cons mentioned in the article, I respectfully disagree, this screen has a very decent 6ms response time (more than decent enough for gaming) and the brightness is rather splendid, the screen is currently sitting at 5% brightness and the whites are still a bit on the bright side for my liking but the other colours are still incredibly vibrant and strong.

      I love this screen to be honest and the improved viewing angle is certainly useful. Worth every penny (as it does cost over ~€400).

      The one downside I must note though is it’s size, this screen is pretty much the opposite of flat, it’s easily 2 inches deep and that’s not even counting the huge mount it’s on (which can rotate in just about every direction, which can be handy, but it is very bulky).

    33. Ronlaen says:

      Excellent article, would love to see something similar for computer audio. Had a speaker on my Z5500 die out and ended up replacing the two fronts with some Polk Monitor30′s and was surprised how much of a difference it made. Anything beyond that has me a little lost though as far as getting an amp, receiver or what equipment goes well together.

    34. Zeewolf says:

      Sigh. Still not time to ditch my CRT monitor, in other words. People must hate it that my cheap, aged tech has none of the problems mentioned in this article. It’s just big. Very, very big.

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        Thing is, Zeewolf, CRTs have their own issues. Size, weight and general on desk hideousness aside, you’ve got imperfect geometry, fuzzy pixels, they’re more tiring on eyes. I could go on. LCD is far from perfect, but the latest panels are just a lot nicer to live with than CRTs.

      • Dhatz says:

        big hideous problem: no Full HD. I only got 16:9 because I can predict all sorts of idiots wont bother with having 16:10 support. And it was cheaper, hence it’s TN(not as bas as the first generations).

    35. Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      60Hz is the limit of a single retinal cell, but they operate out of phase so your eye picks up partial chages of an image anywhere between a full refresh at 60Hz to the whole battery being out of phase (i.e. single cell changes) at something around 120GHz

      EDIT: also my point of view on the 16:10 thing is that almost all 16:10 screens are good quality and almost all 16:9 screens are garbage (because they’re built as TV’s first & monitors second) & for me at least it’s quite hard to sort the hyperbole from the facts on the tech specs.

    36. Dhatz says:

      Could it be we are actually getting close to acceptable displaying devices? I always craved more than 100hz monitors, if they and the gpu to match werent expensive. And we might be breaking the 24bpp barrier too. Multimonitor and 3D will always be an overpriced gimmick. If OLED doesnt fix the stuff TN can’t, what else will deliver us from this mediocrity in mainstream displaying?

    37. 2late2die says:

      I got myself 2 Asus PA246Q monitors – IPS, 24inch, 16:10 ration – love ‘em! They’re probably among the cheaper good-quality IPS panels and so far I’ve been very happy with them, so I’ll probably be getting the third one once I save up a bit.
      Incidentally, I tried an Asus 3D monitor before going with IPS. It was something like 23.6 inches and 16:9. I thought I’d see a difference on desktop with the 120MHz refresh rate but I couldn’t spot anything – only if I was moving the mouse really fast would I see a difference in the tail length (don’t worry I just turned on mouse tail for test). So, I decided to screw then whole 3D thing and go IPS – never looked back.

    38. StickyNavels says:

      Is the HP zr24w still being sold? It’s 16:10 (I’m really upset that it’s being phased out) and IPS. Just a lovely monitor all around. Good value. It’s “just” sRGB, which is pretty nice if that’s your work space (web-stuff, games, etc).

      IIRC, it’s usually quite well-calibrated out of the box, too.

      I think the Asus PA246q is also a pretty good 16:10 IPS monitor. However, Asus’ panel lottery is even more hit and miss than HP’s and their return policy isn’t quite as good.

      EDIT:: ^ Haha, well, there you go.

    39. Pointless Puppies says:

      I bought one of those monitor-with-a-TV-tuner hybrid and while I was worried I was going to get a crappy-quality monitor, I’ve been surprised how competent it is as a regular monitor. It’s got a dedicated monitor mode that makes it function exactly like one, so no blurry overscan, overly-saturated/processed image quality etc.

      The only thing that vaguely bothers me is the fact that it’s supposed to be LED-backlit but it still looks very much like a regular backlight. Blacks don’t look “deep” at all, which is what I think is supposed to look like. At any rate, it’s a nice 1080p image (aspect ratio doesn’t bother me, considering how it’s also a TV so the aspect ratio HAS to be 16:9) that’s a sure upgrade from my previous 1440×900 LCD monitor. The only lamentable thing is that with that higher resolution comes slightly worse performance. I used to be able to max out Deus Ex: HR on my old monitor at 60 FPS but I absolutely cannot do that at 1080p. Bummer.

    40. Fumarole says:

      My BenQ 24″ at 1920×1200 is the single best PC purchase I’ve made, and that was three or four years ago. It’s a shame to hear that they’re hard to find priced competitively these days. I think I paid about $300 or so at the time, paid for from a tax refund check.

      • ukpanik says:

        My BenQ 24″ (FP241W) has been the worst.
        Slowly developed weird dark smudge patterns. Got it replaced and the replacement has done the same, but much worse. Out of warranty now unfortunately.
        I won’t be buying BenQ again.

      • Premium User Badge

        RLacey says:

        Interesting. I have a V2400W, and it still seems to be working very well some three years on. I wouldn’t mind 120Hz or wider viewing angles, but at the moment I’ll settle for the 16:10 aspect ratio…

    41. captain nemo says:

      Nice article

    42. PenGunn says:

      You can have my 34″ Sony Superfine Pitch HD CRT when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I’m getting on so that’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. Got one of the last ones and had it shipped from NY NY to BC Canada. The $500 shipping was well worth it. I dread it’s eventual demise but they can last a long time.

      No one I know has anything even close for games.

    43. Zaboomafoozarg says:

      Wait, TN has poor blacks?

      Everyone knows that.

    44. jamesgecko says:

      Monitor people! I just got a used 20 inch AL2016W, and running at 1680×1050 @ 60Hz, there’s visible, um, flickery wave things towards the bottom of the screen. The 1280×800 screen on my laptop also runs at 60Hz, but doesn’t have the flicker.

      What’s going on? Is the backlight about to die or something?

      • Shortwave says:

        It’s damaged for sure, that’s all I can say! Ha.
        Sucks man. But on the good side, you can now get a nice new screen!
        By following the intelligent information found in this article. : P

    45. nootpingu86 says:

      the dell U2410 can be had for about $275-300 on eBay. It’s a 24″ IPS panel LCD. It has more inputs than you could ever need and around 1 frame of input delay. that’s really, really low for a good LCD – 16ms. get that.

    46. Website Design Ipswich says:

      this is very reliable, brilliant idea of sharing what the monitor has. now i know what are the parts of it and their use. :)

      http://www.acefastservices.co.uk

    47. Tony Heugh says:

      Very useful article, thanks!

    48. AbyssUK says:

      120Hz TN all the way, sorry but I hate the flicker!

      You only need the blackest of blacks and super colours when watching raw uncompressed films or photo-shopping.

      Gaming is all about removing the blur.

    49. alilsneaky says:

      Nice, came in expecting a trash article full of irrelevant bullshit, but it’s very concise.

      I hope this discourages people from buying shitty samsung TN panels and going for IPS.
      Maybe if enough people buy them they’ll put more money into lowering response times and eventually we might get an LCD panel that isn’t complete ass.

      Till then I’m stuck on my 19″100hz crt monitor.