Everything About Monitor - Guide About This article talks about all the basics of monitors, and explains all the different technology type. It is aimed at non-professionals. It assumes the market situation of when this article was written, and assumes that the monitor being looked to purchase is under 1000$ U.S/Canadian. It is important to note that I highly recommend to check reviews of a monitor before purchasing. Everything mentioned is generalized. They are always exceptions in the monitor market. So it important to check reviews before purchasing. This guide will not talk how each monitor technology works exactly. They are many articles on the web on those. To make things simple and more helpful, only advantages and disadvantage of each monitor technology is presented. Terminologies Before we start, to better understand what the specification means of a monitor, we will go over that, so that you have a better understanding on what you are buying. Response Time Response time is a measurement done by the monitor manufacture, which involve switching a pixel from one color to another, and measure the time it takes to do this task. The faster it is at doing this task, the faster the LCD monitor is at drawing, and the less you will see ghosting effect. Lower the response time value, the better. However, this technique has no standard method of measuring. They are 2 ways to measure the response time: Black-to-White (B-to-W) or Gray-to-Gray (G-to-G). Gray-to-Gray is what is mentioned and used on consumer grade monitor, and Black-to-White is what it mentions on professional grade monitors, as well as Gray-to-Gray. Black-to-White is looking at a pixel passing from perfect black to perfect white, and measure how fast it does the switch. As the 2 colors are extreme end, the result is always very high time in milliseconds, like 10 or 16ms, which sound bad (hence why they don't mention it), but actually very good. Gray-to-Gray is measure by taking 2 grays colors and see how fast the monitor switch. The problem with this, is that the 2 gray color changes between manufacture to manufacture and even monitor to monitor. It can also be the same gray color, which explain the impossible 1ms response time monitors. Also something to know, is the more vertical lines of pixels you have on the screen, the slower the response time. Why? Because the monitor draws 1 line at the time from the top to bottom. As the response time is when a pixel changes from 1 color to another, the time for the monitor to draw the rest of the screen is taking into account (unless the manufacture decides to exclude that time, to reach lower numbers) The drawing of top to bottom of an LCD monitor, is something we can see in action: That is why in fast motion games, you have this that can happen: Split in 2! (unless you force the graphic card to limit the image output to the monitor refresh rate.. so 60fps for a 60Hz, so that the monitor has time to draw every frame and avoid the picture above. This system is called VSync, see game option to turn it on or off). So, higher the Hz, the faster the monitor takes in drawing each line. However, the time the pixel turns to show the right color is the response time. As the monitor takes more time to draw every line vertically, the response time measurement is also affected. Now, let me show you why gray-to-gray response time is meaningless. We have here the Dell U2410 measured by TFTCentral. The Dell U2410 has a 6ms response time G-to-G, and uses a technology that is slower than a "gamer class" monitor, it's 1920x1200 resolution (so 1200 vertical lines). Very good. Now, let's look at a 1ms response time monitor. As it is 1ms, we expect that this one is 6 times faster, right?! In addition, this monitor uses a super fast "gamer-class" monitor technology called TN (explained bellow): The ViewSonic VX2739wm, 27inch, 1920x1080. While the screen is bigger, it does not mater as the resolution is close to the same. This is 1080 vertical lines... so it has LESS vertical lines then the U2410 which has 1200. So, we expect even greater results.... WOW, compared to the above it must not show any ghosting what's so ever. Should be great! Oh! ... what a disappointment. With everything on it's side to be ultra fast, it failed to beat the U2410. It's a bit slower than the U2410. So don't get fooled with the numbers. Check reviews! Dynamic Contrast Ratio This is the "fake" contrast ratio measurement, if you will. Let me explain: Due to the back light, most panels except select MVA panels and some PVA panels (all explain later what they are, but in short, they have the ability to block the back light better than any other technologies on black), the monitor is limited to about 1000:1 contrast ratio. To boost that value, the monitor can play with the brightness of the back light based on the picture displayed to increase that ratio. So on a dark scene, the back light diminishes to minimum to make is easier to see the hard to see details, and on white and bright image, boosts the back light to maximize, to provide a more "realistic" feel (kinda like the sun, acting on the environment) and make explosion in movies "pop" more. By default, dynamic contrast ratio is disabled on computer monitors (TV it's enabled), else every time you open a folder window or web browser, you become blinded by the back light. As it requires to go inside menus few bother enabling it before watching a movie or playing a game, so it ends up few uses it. So, a 1000000000000: 1 contrast ratio feature can be ignored. Plus, this feature affects the whole screen, and not regions, so a street light at night will not pop as you think, it will be dimmed, as the rest of the screen. Some mid-high range last generation CRT (the monitor with the big tube on the back) where able to do this feature accurately. They usually had a button on the monitor to enable it. NEC called it Super Bright Mode. It make the cathode cannon boost in intensity when drawing the pixels that were brighter... so in a game.. a sun.. looked like a SUN, and rest of the image was not affected. only that specific spot was bright. It was awesome! Sadly this is gone due to LCD technology limitation. In the case you don't know how a CRT works, it's basically the cathode cannon on the back of the tube output light to draw each pixel, row by row, and the phosphor on the glass are where you see the picture, in the tube, allows to keep the retain the light for some time. Hence, why old CRT's, and cheap ones are flickering fest as the phosphor either aged to a point that it didn't retain light, or is so cheap quality that it does not retain light for a long time. LED Monitor/Display It's all about LED displays, these days. What's all the rave? W00t! Well no... no w00t's, sorry. It's actually a down side. But, it's also a up side. It depends on the situation. But before I start on this. What is LED Monitors? It's marketing B.S. All it means is that the back light is using a set of LED's instead that illuminate the LCD panel. Its' not each pixel is an LED, to my knowledge there isn't anything this small on the LED market... at least nothing affordable to put a huge quantity of them to fill a monitor. LCD's don't emit light, and needs a source of light on the back for us to see the light filtration done by the LCD panel, which allows us to see an image. They are 4 technologies: White-LED (W-LED), RGB-LED, CFL, and newly added GB-LED. This is an LED Display in reality: It a bit hard to play games with it Perfect (or close to it) white LED's don't exists, they are usually light blue color. Of course, higher end the monitor, the better the white LED's are.. some also add a white phosphor layer to adjust the white, but usually it's not very good compared to the other technologies. Bellow, I'll explain the up and downs for the different back light technologies. Glossy monitors (panel) Glossy film is used by many manufacture to try to compensate down side of a budget class monitors. Matte films used on panel distorted light, so text is less sharp by a few small percentage, and colors appear more washed out. So, manufactures needs to compensate this.. which they can.. but that cost more to implement by getting better films, and better back light light spreading technologies. So, to reduce the monitor cost, they used glossy film, as it does not distorted light, blacks looks better, and colors a bit more "vivid". So, it's a trick to reduce cost, and at the same time, gets a little bonus. But at what cost to you? Sure it's cheaper or your wallet, but how about using the monitor? This is your main interaction with your computer. If you can't see properly, or fighting to see the monitor or boosting the brightness of the screen to compensate and have your eyes hurt... it's not worth it, at least to me. Color Number They are 3 color set model that exists for computer monitor on the wide market today: 6-bit, 8-bit and 10-bit colors (they are higher ones, such as 12 and 16-bit, but these are really expensive and are very specialized monitors). What does all this means? Color bits is the number of bits the monitor can output per channel. Red, Green, and Blue are channels. By default (and this is standard) your computer, your graphic card (including Intel graphic solution), and your software, including games, are designed to support 8-bit colors. If they outputted only 6-bit colors pictures would look like this: Instead of: When we say "this is a 8-bit panel" it means that the panel can produce 8-bit colors per channel... in other words Red x Green x Blue = (2^8 x 2^8 x 2^8 = 256 x 256 x 256 = 16,777,216 colors). Why 8? 8-bit of course! 2 to the power is used to convert bits to decimal value. TN panels, and entry level IPS (referred as eIPS) and MVA panels are all 6-bit panels. That means that the panel can only produce: (2^6 x 2^6 x 2^6 = 64 x 64 x 64 = 262,144 colors). "WAIT A second!!!!", you are saying, "The box CLEARLY state 16.7 million colors... what the pineapple are you talking about Crazy Bytes?" The monitor emulates the missing colors. The way it does that, is that it it takes 2 colors that it can do and switch between them really quickly to imitate the color it cannot do, and hopes to trick your eyes in seeing the correct color. This is called FRC (Frame Rate Control). So, will 6-bit IPS panel look like the same crap as TN panels?, you ask. Not really. IPS panel in nature is able to display color better than TN, with the downside of being slower. So, IPS panel are still better. Plus you have the other advantages of IPS panel listed on the next post. A true professional, or someone who are used to an 8-bit colors per channel can identify more easily the difference between the two. The difference is usually visible. 8-bit will tend to have more richer colors than 6-bit panel. So, will 10-bit panels (1.07 billion colors) be better? Yes, of course.. BUT, well for one it's not cheap. Second, you need EVERYTHING from point A to Z to be 10-bit compliant to enjoy 10-bit colors. This means: The software that you use, supports 10-bit colors (example: PhotoShop) The graphic card support 10-bit colors. The graphic card drivers support and enables from the GPU 10-bit colors. Display Port connection is used to connect the graphic card to the monitor (no converters/adapters used). DVI is limited to 8-bit colors, unless the resolution is lowered to provide it sufficient bandwidth to output 10-bit colors, Display Port can do 10-bit colors just fine at any resolution.