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View Full Version : Which monitor configuration is more productive: 2x24" screens or 1x30"?


Wolvenmoon
11-22-2012, 11:34 PM
Hello all!

I have an awesome opportunity this year. My LCD panels are over 7 years old. This is a magic number, because it means it's time to replace them.

I currently use an Ergotron Workfit dual, http://www.ergotron.com/ProductsDetails/tabid/65/PRDID/378/language/en-US/Default.aspx which is a workstation that can be brought up into a standing position just about any time I'd like. It supports up to 2x24 inch monitors. I'm considering getting a decent IPS panel (I'd love recommendations!) alongside a fast TN panel (also would like recommendations).

However, it's likely I'll use whatever I get for the next 7 or 8 years, which means I'll have it with me when I get my doctoral degree. I'm planning on going for a computer science degree - specifically AI or robotics. Screen real estate will be important to me. Whatever I get is going to be a work horse. My question is on what will be more productive - 2 24 inch screens, or a single 30 inch screen? If it's the latter case, what would you all recommend for a college student with a limited budget that wants a work horse that'll last the better part of a decade?

Thanks!

leigh
11-22-2012, 11:39 PM
Please read the rules thread in General Discussions before posting there again; we specifically ask that hardware threads be posted in the hardware forum. When people ignore the rules, it creates a lot of unnecessary work every day for the moderators who have to move the threads to the correct forums.

Wolvenmoon
11-23-2012, 12:02 AM
Oops. Sorry about that.

I'm very glad that there are moderators willing to move threads into the right sub-forums here. Thank you for your time - I highly appreciate it. This won't happen again.

AJ1
11-23-2012, 04:20 AM
Do you do art stuff, or just maths and programming?

Wolvenmoon
11-23-2012, 04:54 AM
I do all of the above - with a type A mindset. However, I'm in college for computer science. Artwise, I'm a self taught artist who's having to go back into 'drawing 101' to advance further as a 3D modeler.

Lately I've been yanked in to doing some graphic design work, so I've been horribly abusing my 3D modeling applications to design business cards and assisting with fliers in between gaming and reading ebooks.

AJ1
11-23-2012, 05:16 AM
I've found the 2560x1440 monitors are great for reading. It seems 27" is about as small as they come.

Maybe you can wedge a 20" and a 27" on your stand.

I don't have any links, but I've heard that studies have shown that dual monitors slightly increase your productivity. :cool:

Sounds like you need to get CS6. :p

-AJ

Wolvenmoon
11-23-2012, 07:50 AM
I can fit 2x24 inch monitors on this stand, or if I go for the other stand, I can fit up to a 30 inch screen but there is no turning back and it could mean an additional $400 expense on my part (unless I find someone to sell my current stand, used, or to trade with). There's a 30 inch NEC monitor that doesn't have a scaler that I remember sits around $1200. However, if I spend that kind of money, I'm very, very married to the monitor.

I feel that dual monitors do increase my productivity, but they also let me get more distracted. However, having had to write an essay that used 4 outside sources - heavily - in its arguments, I can say that multiple monitors have an advantage. I've noticed the Acer B243PWL, Asus PA248Q, Asus PA246Q, and I believe it was the Dell U2410 as possible models here. I'm not blown away by any of them, the reviews make me hesitant because I absolutely hate backlight bleed and some of the Newegg reviews for the Dell model talk about insects getting into the monitor - yikes!

I already have Photoshop CS5. Though that's a good point. I need to load up on student software ASAP. Any other things you can think of off the top of your head barring the Autodesk stuff which I'm already after? (Though I want this thread's primary topic to be on productive art monitors - not software!)

Thanks!

AJ1
11-23-2012, 08:34 AM
I don't think you'll need the NEC monitor if your just doing the graphics as a hobby. If you hate back light bleed and you need colour accuracy on the cheap, just hook up an old CRT :).

Would that stand be able to hold 2 different sized monitors? From those pictures, It looks like it might.

You can check with your school to see if they offer any software for free or at a crazy discount. Normally you can get the new Windows and Adobe CS. Autodesk offers their wares for free through their own student portal. I don't think you can get a free version of Zbrush.

Not sure if you been here before, but there's lots of nice free CS resources on coursera that launch soon.
https://www.coursera.org/category/cs-ai
Not really related to the discussion at hand, but I just thought I would share.

-AJ

olson
11-23-2012, 02:41 PM
Having all of that space on a 30" monitor is nice but they are very expensive, way more than I could afford when I was a student. I've worked with a 30" and dual 24" monitors and there's not really much difference in terms of "productivity" unless you plan to do compositing with 1920x1080 renders most of the time (so you can have the full image and application panels up at the same time). If your primary tasks will be programming and other general tasks the dual 24" monitors would probably be better (and cheaper, and have more total pixels than a 30").

Wolvenmoon
11-23-2012, 08:44 PM
(Thanks for the info on the software!)

I went to look for it and could no longer find it - there used to be an NEC 30 inch S-IPS panel with no scaler that sat around $1200, all I could find at Newegg were these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007617%20600030629&IsNodeId=1&name=30%22

The stand theoretically could hold two separately sized monitors, but their weight needs to be about equivalent or it'll have problems. For the dual-monitor configuration I'm wanting to look here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=Property&Subcategory=20&Description=&Type=&N=100007617&IsNodeId=1&IsPowerSearch=1&srchInDesc=&MinPrice=&MaxPrice=600&PropertyCodeValue=3098%3A21326&PropertyCodeValue=3098%3A46872&PropertyCodeValue=3098%3A21328&PropertyCodeValue=1099%3A9240&PropertyCodeValue=1099%3A9242&PropertyCodeValue=1099%3A57803&PropertyCodeValue=1099%3A25153&PropertyCodeValue=1099%3A18464) . I'm sort of willing to do 1920x1200 on the IPS and 1920x1080 on the TN but I like my 16:10.

Elaborating a bit on my tasks: One university I'm looking at getting into in particular has a robotics research program going on. My task as an undergraduate would be to model a few of the robots and do a few lower end math/programming tasks in C++. It's very likely I'll be doing art as a hobby, but moving into CAD.

When I say hobby, I really mean that I can't get the funding to take college classes for it, but otherwise it's a part of my daily life. My artwork will be something that rapidly gets better as my chronic back injury heals, probably ~20-30 hours/week starting this December.

AJ1
11-24-2012, 12:21 AM
Whats your total budget?

Looks like the cheapest monitor that runs at 2560 x 1440 is about $700.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007617%20600012694&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&ShowDeactivatedMark=False&Order=PRICE&PageSize=20

I used to have a pair of these at my old job, and they're nice if you can afford them. They would be great for CAD work.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824260111

-AJ

Wolvenmoon
11-24-2012, 03:55 AM
My budget is $500 for a single 24" screen, or ~$1400 (max) for a 30 inch IPS screen. This includes having additional warranty years tacked on so that I have a 5 year warranty coverage.

My monitor stand can currently accommodate 2x24" screens. I can't fit 2 27 inch screens on it. Switching to a 30 inch screen will involve finding someone who is interested in trading the large-screen version of this monitor stand, for the dual-screen version. However, I'm fully willing to do this for the right monitor!

AJ1
11-24-2012, 04:31 AM
This might not be a bad set-up for your needs. It looks like the backs have screw mounts that should fit your stand. The 22" and 27" would be the same width as 2x24" screens, but you would have more pixels. There's only a 6 pound difference between the two. I guess you could also tilt the small one 90 degrees, or get a non wide-screen secondary monitor.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824116578

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824116565

Lots of people use two different sized screens. Normally the big one is your primary monitor, and you use the little one for tools and menus.

-AJ

paintbox
11-24-2012, 12:12 PM
I got a 23" LG-IPS screen and I love it, it's light weight and has excellent colour rendition. Won a few awards. The price is hard to beat. (Around $250 in USD probably)

The closest model I could find (Euro models have different ser. names)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005288

*EDIT* new model that looks pretty sweet:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005365

Wolvenmoon
11-24-2012, 09:38 PM
It was either in the manual or while talking with support - I know that there needs to be less than a 2 pound difference between the monitors.

I got REALLY excited when I saw that LG's bezel, but I looked it up and got really disappointed!

The LG monitor's bezel is a bit of a lie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4fg9liWguo regarding its bezel, a more in depth review is available here: http://www.digitalversus.com/lcd-monitor/lg-flatron-ips237l-p14102/test.html though digitalversus is a bit diplomatic it shows a response time issue as well. If the bezel was as thin as it looked I'd jump on it, but it's a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor, otherwise. That was really close to perfect on paper, though!

AJ1
11-24-2012, 11:21 PM
You would just need to counter weight the small one. It says your stand can hold 28 pounds of monitor, and even with 4-6 pounds of counter weights, that's still under the maximum.

That LG monitor looks pretty cool though.

-AJ

Wolvenmoon
11-25-2012, 12:48 AM
Alright, I have a few models in mind now. One last thing before I start placing orders. How picky should I be about color uniformity, and what should I expect with the backlights?

Realistically how much backlight bleed should I expect? What's 'normal' with IPS screens? I've juggled screens with Dell before sending them all back, this is my review, with pictures included.

http://reviews.dell.com/2341n/320-9271/dell-dell-ultrasharp-u2211h-21-5-inch-flat-panel-display-reviews/reviews.htm?page=2&sort=submissionTime&dir=asc

Was I being too harsh? Are any of you able to post backlight bleed pictures of good monitors for me to see so I know what to expect?

Thanks, this thread has been illuminating! :)

AJ1
11-25-2012, 01:36 AM
All LCD monitors are unable to display true black. If your just doing CAD and programming, its really not that big of a deal.

The LED backlit displays give a more even back light across the monitor. If your obessed with back lighting, have a look at those.

And yes, I think your review was a little harsh. :p

-AJ

Wolvenmoon
11-25-2012, 02:12 AM
I didn't expect to see the uniformity issues on blacks/dark colors so I let them have it, but I'm still uncertain of what's acceptable on these.

hvanderwegen
11-25-2012, 05:02 AM
Also check the Samsung SyncMaster LS27A850DS 27IN PLS LCD Monitor (2560X1440) - new technology, and quite affordable. I just purchased a second one (on sale $699 NCIX) since I am very happy with the first one, and finally getting rid of my last LACIE CRT.

My work consists of (web)coding, 3d work, painting, image editing, reading/research and a spot of gaming as well ;-) This screen is the best I have had so far: anti-glare (without the sandy look like other ips screens), full sRGB, very sharp. It is a great multi-purpose screen.

As with all lcd screens, and depending on the tech used, there is always a trade off: in this case the black is quite shallow. Still, the quality of the image is excellent overall. Mind, some owners have complained about backlight uniformity on some of these, and had to exchange them for a replacement.

Check the reviews on the net.

paintbox
11-25-2012, 03:27 PM
On my LG, there is a tiny amount of backlight on the right-hand and lower corner, but it's hardly noticeable in normal production. And again, for the price/quality this thing is hard to beat. That bezel with new LG was quite a scam I guess! I don't game, and response time is overall a non-issue for me.

I suggest, since you want a monitor for many years, to go a shop and check different models yourself. That is what I did and in my case the LG came out on top after many visits and looking at reviews.

Wolvenmoon
11-25-2012, 10:45 PM
It does look like I need to put eyes on these before committing to one long term. I would really love to get this from a B&M retailer, but all that I have in my area are national chains. I'm in Northeastern Oklahoma (Tulsa county). Are there any retailers you'd suggest going to to look at IPS screens?

I'm seeing these $280 Dell U2412s. The anti-glare coating sounds like it'd be infuriating. I'm looking at this thread: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1674033 and wondering if it's the right time to buy a monitor, because I'm having to look at modding it right out of the box. All of the cheaper IPS panels have these coatings..

Hmmm. This is a tough choice. How often are these monitors dipping down into this price range?

earwax69
11-26-2012, 04:59 AM
When you taste the 30inch love, there's just no coming back.

Freshfromthegrave
11-26-2012, 10:49 AM
I haven't read all the other replies but at work I've recently gone from 2x24" Samsung TN panel monitors to 1x30" Dell IPS monitor. In my opinion, go for the 30"! I've become quite reliant on two monitors both at work and at home but using the 30" on it's own is actually extremely comfortable and I don't miss the 2nd monitor at all. There's always enough space for whatever I need and the ability to fit an HD comp window on the screen and still have space for timeline and other panels is really helpful.

Plus in my case it's going from a TN to an IPS which makes an incredible difference. 30" also just feels... impressive, somehow.

Wolvenmoon
11-26-2012, 10:13 PM
That was EXACTLY the experience I was looking for!

How many documents can you have on your screen simultaneously? I can get 4 up side by side currently, which is really useful when I'm working on papers or following tutorials.

About how far away from your screen do you sit?

Thanks!

olson
11-26-2012, 10:35 PM
I can get 4 up side by side currently, which is really useful when I'm working on papers or following tutorials.

A 30" would display four documents at a time but in a top to bottom and side to side layout (one in each corner). If you had four documents open side by side on a 30" it would be about 640 pixels of width per document which isn't much. With two 24" monitors and two documents per monitor there would be 960 pixels of width per document.

ThE_JacO
11-27-2012, 12:33 AM
Everybody has a different perception and feeling off this kind of choices.
There are accredited studies showing that there is such a thing as too much (for some people).

I would take two 24s over a single 30 any day of the year, and for me the sweet spot is two IPS XD 27" (which Dell has a relatively solid and affordable offer for).

It's hard to distance a 30" enough from your eyes to have a clear best-window of viewing AND still retain ideal real-estate text and icon sizes, and ultra high res is still problematic at times with some apps and environments that won't resize properly.

A dual 24" monitor at 1920 res (16/9 or 16/10) with a slightly biased setup (one monitor almost frontal one on the side) at 60-80cm from your focal plane is the absolute best you can get for your eyes for the widest range of eyesights, from the hyperfocal using relaxing glasses (like me, 22.50/20 and 21.75/20 sight) to the slightly myopic using non bifocal.

Your neck, eyesight, and brain are also very well suited to moving side by side fast and interpolating correctly, but not particularly good at vertical angles, which makes overly tall monitors like 30 not good for eyestrain.

There are many reasons to not go with a 30" over a dual 24", physiological and neurological before we even consider UIs and all, and very, very few examples of a 30" being better than dual 24s.
Most of the people who dig one work on selected and rare subsets of tasks that take advantage of it, or are simply giving in to a mix of placebo effect and hardware fetish.

Also worth considering that a dual 24 means one monitor can be rotated vertically, most 27s due to size can't be rotated, and a single monitor, even if it could, is simply impractical to.

hvanderwegen
11-27-2012, 04:35 AM
I concur with the previous poster - it depends on your own experience. For example. I have been working on three screens these last couple of months:
1) Synchmaster 27" SA850ds @ 2560*1440 (which *does* have a pivot option, btw)
2) HP w2408H 1920*1200 in portrait mode
3) Electron22Blue CRT 1280*1024

A 30" will give you the same or almost the same screen resolution as my 27" - it just feels bigger, and will have slightly lower ppi.

And I can tell you: I need more space for the daily work I do. It's insufficient. The 24" HP works absolutely awesome in portrait mode, and is brilliant for web and documents - it takes that part to a whole new level. Web pages and documents fit exactly on that resolution in height quite perfectly - much more efficient.

But I expected that a single 2560px wide screen would suffice - and it does not. The old CRT is too low resolution due to a converter to make it sort of compatible with my current video card, and I need more space for all the work I do! Looking at your work it seems quite similar to mine, and I would say: get either two 24" at 1920*1200 or two 27" at 2560*1440/1600. I have tried working on one 30" before, and I always miss that option to move stuff out of the way for a while. Often I have my 3d app open on the main screen, and other apps on the other - a single 30" will not make you as productive as dual 24" or 27" - this has been researched and "proven". My personal experience tells me the same. And, as JacO was saying: two 27" in portrait mode could also be an option.

Btw, reading on the SA850 is awesome - text quality is impressive thanks to its high resolution and anti-glare screen without the negative IPS grainy look.

Tomorrow afternoon the second SA850 arrives, and I can't wait to be working on two 27" at 5120px res and a portrait 1200*1920. :bounce:

*update*
Just hooked up the second SA850 - I can only recommend two 27" - they take up less space, provide for a ridiculously sharp looking image, and offer twice the desktop space compared to a single 30" - that, and with the portrait 24" for full height documents and web: sheer heaven! My opinion: why would you get one 30" if you can get two 27" screen for double the screen estate and slightly more money?

MBeckUK
11-28-2012, 03:24 PM
The first thing you need to think about is what is going to work well for you. Would you prefer the larger real estate of one large screen to help with looking at fine detail, or would it be better to have 2 screens so that you can have something running on one screen that you can be keeping an eye on, while you're happily working away on the other.

At work we tend to recommend 2 smaller screens because that tends to fit most people's needs better, and has the added benefit of being cheaper than a single large screen.

Wolvenmoon
11-29-2012, 12:54 AM
Ya'll are up selling me! :D

I like it. I am definitely a hardware tinkerer and this is my year to upgrade come hell or high water. Looking at the cheap 27 inch IPS screens that are around is making me look at my Workfit and go "Hmmmm..."

My little brother just got one, actually. I'm going to end up having to test it for him tomorrow to make certain there aren't any defects. Sigh.

Anyway. I'm very fond of my Ergotron Workfit, which maxes out at 2x24 inch screens. Getting a 30 inch screen on one means a whole lot of extra legwork on my part (if it's worth it, I'm fine doing this, though I did have the thought that vertical motion would be bad for me), and getting 2x27 inch screens would mean I didn't have the stand anymore, which would be bad for me because I have chronic back and neck problems - and the Workfit helps a lot!

Currently the surface of my desk is 16.5" from the bottom bezel of my monitor while I'm sitting in a knee chair. My eye level is center with my screens, so when I work things on the center of my screen my head is at a neutral position - though turned a few degrees right or left.

paintbox
11-29-2012, 04:06 PM
Why go for 27inch then? :-) Imho...I think 23inch is already huge-ish.

You just mentioned your chronic pains, not knowing your situation but throwing it out there....do (thereapeutic) yoga or similar activities, to relieve the back and neck more often. Swimming can be good. 15 minutes at bare minimum for each 8 hours of working behind a computer.


Ya'll are up selling me! :D

I like it. I am definitely a hardware tinkerer and this is my year to upgrade come hell or high water. Looking at the cheap 27 inch IPS screens that are around is making me look at my Workfit and go "Hmmmm..."

My little brother just got one, actually. I'm going to end up having to test it for him tomorrow to make certain there aren't any defects. Sigh.

Anyway. I'm very fond of my Ergotron Workfit, which maxes out at 2x24 inch screens. Getting a 30 inch screen on one means a whole lot of extra legwork on my part (if it's worth it, I'm fine doing this, though I did have the thought that vertical motion would be bad for me), and getting 2x27 inch screens would mean I didn't have the stand anymore, which would be bad for me because I have chronic back and neck problems - and the Workfit helps a lot!

Currently the surface of my desk is 16.5" from the bottom bezel of my monitor while I'm sitting in a knee chair. My eye level is center with my screens, so when I work things on the center of my screen my head is at a neutral position - though turned a few degrees right or left.

sentry66
11-29-2012, 05:13 PM
For me, the best scenario is a 27 inch IPS and a 23 or 24 inch 120hz.

...I really miss CRT's with their snappy response time and high refresh rate....and good colors. These days, you need 2 monitors to do what 1 CRT was capable of. None of us miss the weight, size, or power draw, but still.

affordable OLED's can't get here soon enough

CKPinson
11-30-2012, 12:29 PM
Love the http://i.dell.com/images/us/segments/dhs/campaign/U2913wm_225x188_new_AH.jpghttp://i.dell.com/images/global/general/spacer.gif
Dell Ultrasharp U2913WM




IMO 699 for this monitor is a good deal, IPS Premium Panel- seen it and it looked great!




I am actually considering replacing my 2 21inchers with it. (21inchers=other rooms TV subs)

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