$400-$800 High-End LCDs

As we move into the high-end LCDs, generally speaking we are looking at 24" and larger displays. One offering that you might want to jump on his the Dell 2408WFP, currently on sale for just $482 (though we're not sure how long that sale will last). We gave this monitor or Silver Editors' Choice award, as it has great features and also delivered some of the best color accuracy results we've seen to date. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that it scored 1.74 average Delta E without any calibration -- that's better than some LCDs do with calibration. The only drawback to the 2408WFP is a significant amount of input lag, although we understand that later revisions have reduced the lag to the point where it might be acceptable. We haven't been able to personally test the later revisions, so we don't know for sure how much the situation has improved, but if your primary concern is color quality this is still an excellent LCD.

Other options in this category are interesting, in that you can actually find a few S-IPS or S-MVA. For an S-IPS display, the HP LP2475w runs $585, which is more expensive than a lot of the competition, but our personal preference is still IPS over any of the other technologies. S-MVA panels are few and far between for whatever reason, and at present we are only aware of one LCD in the US that uses an S-MVA panel, the BenQ FP241VW... and it no longer appears to be in production. Still, prices have dropped significantly since the LCD launched, and our own testing indicates that input lag matches the best any of the other LCDs we've tested can offer. That means you can get wide viewing angles, good color accuracy, and still not have to sacrifice gaming potential. Finally, there are a few higher quality 22" LCDs that also fall into this category, like the Lenovo L220X, a 22" 1920x1200 LCD with an S-PVA panel. At $485 it costs as much as the Dell 2408WFP, but that's the price of a high resolution non-TN 22" LCD it seems. Finally, the Planar PX2611W is a 26" S-IPS panel that is very highly regarded by many owners, although it is priced quite a bit higher than the 24" LCDs, coming in at $765.

$900+ Dream LCDs

Last we have the ultra high-end LCDs, with prices that are more than most people will spend for an entire system. Generally speaking, if you're going to spend this much money we would recommend picking up a 30" LCD, but there are also imaging professionals that will want best in class performance. Most of the 30" LCDs use S-IPS panels and have similar performance characteristics, so it comes down to features. The Dell 3007WFP-HC and HP LP3065 go head-to-head at around $1200 -- the HP costs $50 more at present. The primary difference is that Dell has a single dual-link DVI input along with flash media slots, while HP skips on the flash reader but includes three dual-link DVI inputs. If you never intend on connecting your LCD to more than one computer, either LCD will work fine; if you might want to use a KVM switch down the road, however, know in advance that dual-link KVM switches are extremely expensive. We would give the edge to the HP LP3065, but the margin of victory is extremely small.

If you're looking for other 30" options, a slightly cheaper alternative that's worth a look is the DoubleSight DS-305W, which again uses an S-IPS panel but carries a $950 price tag. We haven't personally tested the display (yet), but $200 is nothing to scoff at compared to the HP LP3065. If you might prefer something other than an S-IPS panel, Samsung offers the 305T with an S-PVA panel for just over $1100. Input lag is reputed to be better than the 24" and 27" S-PVA panels, but we're not sure it's at the level of the 30" S-IPS panels. Finally, we should note that the newer Dell 3008WFP includes a bevy of input options, but apparently also suffers from severe input lag, making the $2000 price tag much more than we are willing to pay.

The final two options in the dream LCD category target imaging professionals, and both come from NEC. The 26" LCD2690WUXi uses an H-IPS panel and is priced at $1050, but among users that demand accurate color it has a very good reputation. The other option is another 30" S-IPS panel, the LCD3090WQXi that retails for $2000. If your livelihood depends on accurate colors in print media, the price premium over competing 30" options may not matter. Most users looking to pick up a 30" LCD will probably be more than happy with one of the cheaper options, however.

LCD Recommendations Other Thoughts


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  • silvajp - Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - link

    In our home we went with a 25.5" from Samsung, native resolution 1920x1200. It's larger pixels were much easy on our eyes compared to a highly recommended 24" from Dell offering the same resolution. Reply
  • silvajp - Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - link

    FYI We have the Samsung 2693HM.
    Also note this model seems to our eyes very bright and colorful. In fact one of us is a Graphic Artist and find the color range very satisfactory.
  • kondor999 - Saturday, December 27, 2008 - link

    As someone who was very confused about the "Contrast Ratio War" going on in Retail, this was super-informative.

    I'll officially stop perseverating on this meaningless spec now.
  • gochichi - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    Dear Anandtech,

    This is your job. It is truly disappointing to see so little help coming from the review sites. Dell has 31 LCD monitors. That's one brand, one brand that has some of the best LCDs and surely must have some bad ones too.

    I've never seen a review of Dell's new high-RES 23" LCD. You guys mention it in passing. You guys also throw Acer a bone as an "overall good value", if you've never seen it, I certainly have. I purchased a 24" Acer LCD and returned it the next day. I preferred my old 17" MAG LCD (OLD! REALLY OLD!) to the junkiness of that Acer.

    I currently have a 24" LCD, a 17" LCD, a 21.5" LCD, a 32" 720P HDTV (as a computer monitor) , and I totally disagree with your assumption that bigger is better (it's not worse either)because most of the monitors you mentioned are below $500.00, they are all affordable. Some other criterion must be used.

    I think most people don't need as much help with the obvious things such as size. I don't need you to tell me that you prefer 24" screens, different sizes have different uses OBVIOUSLY. Can you instead tell me about the non-obvious, the performance, and so on?

    Because I would absolutely be interested in a high performing 17" LCD as well as a high performing 20", etc. etc. The brick and mortar stores are little help, 90% of the time they have useless setups with the resolutions garbled up.

    Every single Acer monitor I've seen I strongly dislike because of the image quality. Yet I've seen some very nice monitors in other sizes that I'd be happy to own, though I don't know the model numbers there are 4:3 ratio smaller Dells that are a pleasure to work on. (17" or 19" both).

    Obviously, it's absurd that Dell has decided to release 31 models of LCDs, and that every other manufacturer does similar things. Samsung is not much better, they have 20" models, 21.5" models, 22" models many of which (most of which really) are impossible to differentiate from one another.

    You guys could take a leadership role on this and really start untang ling this mess. Instead of this obscure, incomplete, biases guide (you yourselves called it biased, you said "bigger is better"). What are the 17" LCDs to look for? What are the 19" LCDs to look for? Etc etc.

    Even more importantly is, which models should we avoid? But then again, I'm not exactly trusting your judgment too much since the only brand that received a blanket endorsement (Acer) is one of the very worse in my personal experience.

    Other ways to divide LCD monitors: Glossy vs matte displays. From time to time I see glossy desktop displays and some of them are good, some of them not so much. For example HP's 20" glossy display is high quality. I would even appreciate a list of the brands and models that offer glossy displays (e.g. Dell's coating would be "TrueLife")as well as overall impressions on this.

    I think my job is to come here, click on Ads and buy stuff and I do that. Your job is to give me some reason to come and do so. These articles aren't as useful as they could be and I'm tiring of it.
  • gammaray - Friday, December 26, 2008 - link

    I totally agree with you. Bigger isn't better even if it's just 20$ more.
    i WANT to know which 19" or 20" LCD monitors is the best right now.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    Why not? How many people are space constrained enough to need a 17" if you can get a $19 for the same (or $20 more)?

    My only experience with Acer is a 17" I bought for my parents last Christmas. It is a TN panel, so it has all the TN panel problems, but otherwise has been flawless.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    You dislike Acer that much, eh? I've tested three of their displays; for the price, they're all good displays -- as in good performance with some drawbacks that are totally overcome by the very affordable price. And you still get a 3-year warranty (which I've used on at least one Acer display over the years) -- unless that changed? I've also used many of their other displays, and never had any serious complaints.

    The same goes for most LCDs though. If you don't want backlight bleed, you'll need to shop around more; if you want better color reproduction, again you'll need to shop around (or at the very least pay for a more expensive LCD). There can be a pretty significant difference between $320 24" LCDs and $1000 24" LCDs in terms of color quality, but will most users notice or even care? I don't think so.

    I'm working on other LCD reviews, but it takes time to get them and then run all the tests. At the end of the day, if you want a high quality LCD, you pay a high quality price. In most cases, you can tell a lot about the display quality just by finding out if it's a TN, PVA, or IPS panel. I'd take the latter every time given the option, but they invariably cost about twice as much as the same size with a TN panel.
  • jackylman - Monday, December 22, 2008 - link

    No non-TN panels for under $400?! Man, I should've filled my garage with a bunch of ViewSonic Vx2025wm (20" widescreen PVA) when they were in the $300 neighborhood. I could be making a lot of loot selling them for ~$400. Reply
  • geok1ng - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    I feel sad with the state of the LCD market today. Aside from the DS with 30 inches of S-IPS glory for $900 there are no options today that can rival the good old ones...
    A- My 5 years old Apple Cinema HD 30 inches is still on the top 10 of the planet. What 5 years old hardware can manage that much time on top!
    B- My previous LCD , an Acer 2616w , 26 inches of high coplor gamut S-MVA with decent input lag and HDCP simply has no similar on the USA market...i feel really good about the $600 that i payed 2 years ago
    C- The Soyo 24 inches SMVA is a fast nononsense sub$300 panel, and it is pretty much the only non-TN panel at 1920x1080 that does not costs an arm and a leg.

    But i agree with the directions that the low end market is taking, higher resolutions TN panels, instead of huge 28 inches TN panels. Today 22 inches TNs are the way to go for non professional uses, but we still need better and cheaper non-TN options for the quality oriented consumers.
  • DorkMan - Saturday, December 20, 2008 - link

    First, settle on a size. I love my 24" panel for all my video editing.

    Okay, not settle on a technology. Very, very, simple rule of thumb: ANYTHING is better than TN, though TN usually has faster response times. Better how? Look at a beautiful color photo on the panel. Now move your head down a couple of feet, not up a couple of feet. The fancier panels will look the same, the TN panel image will change dramatically. But hey, if you don't mind, go for TN, which is significantly cheaper.
    BTW I was lucky to get one of the $299 P-MVA Soyo panels a little over a year ago. Fantastic image, saturated color, no black level shift as you move around. Wonder where Soyo found these Optronics panels when all the other guys didn't have them?

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