PDA

View Full Version : Flat Panel Monitor Question



e2michaelb
05-23-2007, 04:53 PM
My favorite computer builder is pitching me an ACER 20" wide-screen LCD monitor to replace my "19 inch" CRT monitor. The ACER has a native resolution of 1400x1050 (is that the correct terminology?), refresh rate of 5ms, something called 800:1 and a DVI connection. The quoted price is $220+tax. Is that a good price and can I expect worthwhile improvement over my current graphics, all else being equal?

MaxMhz
05-23-2007, 05:06 PM
Improvement depends on what you call improvement /what you are looking for...
5ms is nice, so is the contrast ratio of 800:1 although contrast could be higher. LCD only have 24bit colour, not 32+ that can be displayed by CRTs, LCDs do give an easier to look at picture though because they don't need to refresh the whole screen (you might see your CRT flicker on- off after getting used to the LCD...
the 24bit limit does not play a role in-game. It can play a role when doing photographic work.
Overall I think you'll like it.

F4U_Flyer
05-23-2007, 10:19 PM
check best buy , I got a mag 22" for $269 and it has

Ultrafast 2 ms response time
1400:1 contrast ratio; 300 cd/m² brightness
1680 x 1050 maximum resolution

online right now for $249 , mine works great!

Freelancer-1
05-23-2007, 10:58 PM
I would go wide screen.

Not so great to set up if this is the only game you play, but it is the future. So called 'normal aspect' monitors will soon be as hard to find as CRTs.

May as well do a little future proofing now http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

TgD Thunderbolt56
05-24-2007, 07:32 AM
Originally posted by Freelancer-1:
I would go wide screen.

Not so great to set up if this is the only game you play, but it is the future. So called 'normal aspect' monitors will soon be as hard to find as CRTs.

May as well do a little future proofing now http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/agreepost.gif

I'd also say that the 20" monitor you're looking at would be considered the smallest size to get...22" would be better and 24" is considered the new "standard".

TB

NonWonderDog
05-24-2007, 12:01 PM
Originally posted by MaxMhz:
Improvement depends on what you call improvement /what you are looking for...
5ms is nice, so is the contrast ratio of 800:1 although contrast could be higher. LCD only have 24bit colour, not 32+ that can be displayed by CRTs, LCDs do give an easier to look at picture though because they don't need to refresh the whole screen (you might see your CRT flicker on- off after getting used to the LCD...
the 24bit limit does not play a role in-game. It can play a role when doing photographic work.
Overall I think you'll like it.

It's a lot more complex than that, and I'm sorry to say that you're just completely wrong about the colors.

No monitor ever made, and probably no monitor that will ever be made, is 32-bit color, and CRTs are analog anyway. All CRT monitors display 24-bit color images created by the video card; 8 bits of red, 8 bits of green, and 8 bits of blue. When something is encoded in 32-bit color, all it means is that it has an 8-bit alpha (transparency) channel. Transparency is computed on the video card, not the monitor. In TFT displays there are three pixel elements (picture element element? Probably not the right name) per pixel, one each of red green and blue, and in a perfect display each would display 8 bits of variation. Some do, some don't.

There are many different types of TFT panel being sold today. The cheapest ones, and the most widespread, are Twisted Nematic (TN Film) displays. These have very fast response times, but poor color reproduction and very small viewing angles. Most (Probably all, but LG.Phillips is whining about having 8 bit TN panels. I just bought one (very nice 20.1" L204WT Flatron widescreen), but I think they're lying.) TN film panels only display 6 bits of color per pixel element, and make up the difference by dithering. They change the color of the pixel elements around the pixel with the color that the panel can't display and flicker between colors at 60-75Hz, and in doing so can appear pretty close to 24-bit color. Usually these panels claim to display 16.4 million different colors or so instead of 16.7 million colors (24-bit). The big problem is vertical viewing angle; if you look head-on at the screen one side is often slightly brighter than the other, because you can't be at the optimum viewing angle for every pixel at the same time.

Be wary of quoted response times for TN panels, too; they're mostly just a pack of lies. There are several different ways to measure response time, and overdrive can speed up the minimum grey-to-grey response time in some instances to 2-4 ms without much cost. So that's the one that's quoted in sales literature. The black-to-white response time is usually at least 6 ms even on the fastest panels, and the average grey-to-grey response time is longer than that. You could conceivably buy a "2 ms" response time panel that has an 8 ms black-to-white response and a maximum grey-to-grey response time of 32 ms, so it's really not very useful. It's definitely better than in old panels without overdrive, though; if an old MVA panel claims to have 12 ms response times, that's probably black-to-white response. The grey-to-grey response on older panels is usually MUCH longer (on the order of 100 ms!). Overdrive can cause some really annoying artifacts (anyone with a new LCD: try scrolling through a webpage with a fine grid background), but it's better than blurring.

The response time of anything sold today will probably be good enough, though, especially if it's a TN panel. Don't worry too much about the specs, just make sure you know they're lying. It's best if you can see the display before you buy it.

Watch out with claims of very high contrast ratios on TN panels, too. It's pretty much impossible to find one with a contrast ratio better than 800:1. LG.Phillips makes lots of TFT displays with TN panels labeled as "2000:1 contrast ratio" or so, but they're actually 800:1 panels. They will never display a scene that has a difference between black and white levels greater than a factor of 800. What they do have is dynamic contrast; if the overall scene is dark, the panel will automatically change the brightness to get more detail. You can definitely notice when it does this, but whether or not it's distracting is up to you.


Professional TFT displays use In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels. IPS panels have perfect color and very wide viewing angles, but all but the newest most ridiculously expensive ones are pathetically slow. Old IPS panels have fairly poor contrast ratios, too. They're really only good for photo editing.

The best gaming panels are Muti-domain Vertial Alignment (MVA) and especially Samsung's Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA) panels. They're almost as fast as TN panels, have wide viewing angles, the 8-bit panels have good color reproduction, and some of the PVA panels have incredibly high contrast ratios (3000:1 or so). They're also expensive, and the 8-bit S-PVA panels are probably unavailable in anything less than a $800-$1000 24-inch widescreen.


ACER monitors are decidedly average, and $220 is a decidedly average price to pay for a 20.1" widescreen TN film display. It won't get you a good one, though. You can get a much better 20.1" widescreen from Circuit City for $300 minus a near-impossible-to-claim $50 rebate (the aformentioned LG.Phillips L204WT I'm using right now). I still think they're lying about the 8-bit color, but it's probably the best dithering I've ever seen. Color reproduction is better than any CRT in the house, for sure, although every CRT in the house is old and decrepit.

You definitely don't want any monitor bigger than a 20.1" widescreen unless you're prepared to pay SERIOUS dosh for your computer. My brand new shiny 8600GTS will run new games at 1680x1050 with antialiasing and whatnot at 30-40 frames per second. If I had a 24" widescreen at 1920x1200, I'd have to seriously turn down the image quality or buy an 8800GTS. For a 30" widescreen at 2560x1600, you'll need a 8800GTX to run it at native resolution. Running an LCD at any resolution other than native means you have to scale the image, and that doesn't always look very good (my monitor has surprisingly good scaling of 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024. Everything else looks like ****). NVidia has apparently fixed the 8-series widescreen scaling bugs in the new beta drivers, though, so I can run my monitor in 1280x1024 with black bars and have myself a nice crisp 17" monitor if I need to.

The only other reason to buy anything bigger than a 20.1" widescreen is to watch HD movies in 1080p, but I still think that's really excessive for a computer monitor. If that's important to you, though, you'll need at least a 24".

Remember that a LCD screen is measured corner to corner, while CRT dimensions are something like vacuum tube depth. A 17" LCD has about the same size screen as a 19" CRT. A 20.1" widescreen is pretty much just a 17" LCD with an extra couple inches tacked on the side, so it's plenty big.

Vegas771
05-25-2007, 10:46 PM
I'm pretty happy w/ my Viewsonic 20" widescreen (runs at 1680X1050). Your Acer seems to be running at a funny res for a 20" from what I've seen. As noted by others, while IL2 runs fine on widescreen, it really isn't built for it. But if you do anything else w/ your computer, you will appreciate the WS.

Bigger would be nicer, but the best pricing seems to be at 20 right now.

WOLFMondo
05-26-2007, 08:50 AM
Originally posted by NonWonderDog:
If I had a 24" widescreen at 1920x1200, I'd have to seriously turn down the image quality or buy an 8800GTS.

I have a 24" BenQ FP241W and a X1900XTX 512mb and it does the trick. I can play most games at maximum detail, 1920x1200 with some FSAA and get good frame rates. Its the memory on the card thats important. A 256 card won't do for that size of screen.

It was mighty expensive for a monitor but its well worth the cash.

My only advice on getting a 24" is don't get the Samsung ones, they have input lag and the Dell 24"s have problems with colour banding. The Dell problems might be sorted out now but 6 months ago I wouldn't have touched a Dell 24".

NonWonderDog
05-26-2007, 01:16 PM
1400x1050 is not widescreen, it's 4:3. There are a few monitors that run at this resolution, but they are not widescreen. If it's a 20.1" widescreen it runs at 1680x1050. I assumed it was just a typo in the original post.

Dell monitors overwhelmingly use LG.Phillips panels hooked up to cheap no-name electronics. If you're ever thinking about getting a Dell monitor, get an LG monitor instead. LG monitors are less likely than Dell monitors to have dead pixels, too, since they get first pick of the panels.

Samsung makes very good PVA panels, but they make average-looking TN panels. If you're in the market for a $1000 monitor, Samsung would be a good bet. Don't buy one blind, though, some of the PVA panels are still fairly slow when transitioning between dark greys. You might see a bit of blurring in night missions. Of course, with a TN panel you might not see enough in night missions to appreciate the faster response time, as they have about 1/3 the contrast of a PVA panel.

I can play Half Life 2: Episode One at 1680x1050, 16x AF, 8x CSAA, Multisampled Transparency Antialiasing at 30 fps. My 8600GTS definitely wouldn't handle 1900x1200 at those settings, but those settings are admittedly excessive. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. needs texture detail turned down to run acceptably at 1680x1050. (Dirty little secret: it will run at 1024x768 with ALL the pixel shaders turned on with as little as a 6600GT if you turn the texture detail down three notches.) I could probably run them at 1920x1200 with a 7950GT or X1900XTX (both with much more memory bandwidth than a 8600GTS...), but I like having eventual DirectX 10 support and HDCP for when I pick up my student-priced copy of Vista Ultimate this fall. Next cheapest way to get those at this point is a 8800GTS 320Mb, and one of those was $100 more than my card.