Buying Guide: Best Screens For Your New PC (Part 1) - liyama Prolite E1906S, Iiyama Prolite E2273HDS

12/13/2012 9:16:50 AM

We help you select the best available screen for your new PC

When you’re assembling a PC, the choice of screen can have a larger effect than you might realize. There’s no point packing in the most powerful graphics cards if you don’t have a screen that can show off the pixels. Similarly, if you have a screen with a resolution higher than your graphics card can manage, you’ll have wasted money on an expensive piece of equipment you can’t use! Clearly, buying the right screen is important. However, it isn’t just about getting the right resolution, or the right size monitor; it’s about the underlying technology and finding the monitor that performs best at what you want it for. Using the system-building tool on Computer Planet as a guide to the current monitor market, we’ll show you how to appraise a monitor’s capabilities and decide whether or not it’s the right one for the computer you want to create.

We help you select the best available screen for your new PC

We help you select the best available screen for your new PC

TN Panel Monitors

TN panels are by far the most popular kind found in LCD monitors, but they’re also the least specialized. Inexpensive to produce, with excellent response times, TN panels are ideal for displaying the kind of fast-paced graphics found in games, and they’re by far the cheapest kind on the market. The combination of low price and generally good performance makes them an obvious bargain, but it’s also true that many people simply don’t know any better.

For example, TN-based monitors do have drawbacks. Color reproduction is often inaccurate and washed out (although the move to LED backlights has improved that) and viewing angles can be bad (under 170º, sometimes under 160º) and contrast ratios are low. If you buy a particularly cheap example, you may notice that your picture looks discolored, blacks appear as a washed-out charcoal grey, and that if you move too far up, down or to the sides you’re unable to see the image on the screen properly.

That said, as long as you avoid the cheapest end of the spectrum, a TN panel will fit most of your needs without you ever noticing a problem. If you don’t consider yourself to be a stickler for performance or you just want a large screen that isn’t prohibitively expensive, a TN panel will satisfy.

Good for: Gaming and general use PCs and system-building on a budget.

Bad for: Design work and multimedia viewing.

Budget Choice: 19” liyama Prolite E1906S

If saving money is your goal, it’s hard to go wrong with Iiyama’s Prolite E range. This range of Eco-monitors offers extra-low power consumption (22W even at max brightness) and comes with built-in speakers to save you even more money.

19” liyama Prolite E1906S

19” liyama Prolite E1906S

The 4:3 aspect ratio, 19” screen and resolution of 1280x1024 does suggest that that it’s best used for business, rather than pleasure, because you can lose a lot of screen real estate to black bars if you try watching video on it. However, picture quality is solid, color reproduction is good and contrast is high. Priced around $160, it’s tough to complain about the quality or performance, even if the size is maybe a little unambitious.

So in fairness, it’s a solid performer that doesn’t cut corners on features (it’s adjustable, which not all cheap monitors are) and not only is it fair, the low power consumption can actually save you money. Sounds fair to us.

Performance Choice: 22” Iiyama Prolite E2273HDS

At the slightly more expensive end of the spectrum, the Iiyama E2473HDS is a fairly standard monitor with integrated speakers and HDMI input. The 22” widescreen panel makes it a good choice for entertainment viewing, especially since it’s full HD with HDMI support.

22” Iiyama Prolite E2273HDS

22” Iiyama Prolite E2273HDS

Although the overdrive mode does mean you get some reverse ghosting, it’s possible to manually control the level through five different settings, so you can tweak them to reach your preferred compromise between response times and ghosting artefacts. That’s something enthusiasts on a tight budget will appreciate.

The contrast ratio is pleasingly high, the TN panel means there’s a low chance of ghosting or any visible input lag, and although the viewing angles aren’t great it’ s about as good as TN panels get. Color reproduction suffers on the default settings, but it’s possible to calibrate manually. It isn’t perfect out of the box, but the level of control you get means you should be able to make it so with a little work.

VA Panel Monitors

IPS panels are particularly popular in high-end monitor

VA panel technology was initially developed as a way to compromise between the cheap, low-quality TN displays and the expensive, high-quality IPS displays that were the only available options at the time. It remains as such, but it has also managed to carve out a distinct niche for itself.

VA-based panels offer better color reproduction and larger viewing angles than TN panels - comparable to IPS panels in that regard - and the best contrast ratios of any type. They also have the best saturation of any monitor type, if not the most accurate color reproduction. They have been accused of having a markedly slower response time than TN-based technology and a history of noticeable input lag, but in present iterations of the technology the difference is minimal.

The problem with VA panels is their poor response times. In standard modes they’re low, and while a technique called ‘pixel overdrive’ is sometimes used to speed it up, it creates inverse ghosting effects and large input lag. Despite these flaws, VA panels are generally accepted to be of a higher quality than TN panels and are used in many high-end TV sets, where their best qualities can take center stage and their flaws are minimized.

Good for

Watching TV and movies.

Bad for

Gaming and design.

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