Monitor Buying Guide; Best Monitor for Graphic Design

Every graphics design pro knows he needs a high resolution LCD monitor with excellent color precision, superb all-around performance and generous set of connectivity. Digital artists, designers, and photographers definitely need the most accurate colors to pair with their computers. Though there are many good all-around monitors out there, the average display typically falls short in meeting the requirements of color-sensitive tasks of graphic design. Those who are serious about graphic design can’t simply walk into electronic stores and buy the most affordable display. In this entry of Dual Monitors Guide, we will break down the qualities of the ideal graphic design monitor and share some of the best monitor for graphic design in the market today.

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Believe it or not, many graphics designer get the wrong computer monitors. Some choose the fanciest and coolest-looking piece, overlooking the hardware and specs. Some spend a lot of money in displays packed with bells and whistles, and seldom or don’t even use those extra features. Some think faster response time, which provides smooth transitions in games and action movies, can translate quality to graphics design. Choosing a monitor is generally a personal preference, but choosing a monitor for a specific purpose is a different story. When it comes to professional-grade monitor meant for graphics design, the experts have laid out the guidelines and the must-have features.

 

Get the Right Panel

Here at Dual Monitors Guide, we have discussed the different types of computer monitor panels, and how each type differs from one another. Here’s a quick round up of different types of panels:

TN (Twisted Nematic) Panel – This is the cheapest panel available today, and it’s widely used among different brands as it helps pull overall monitor prices down. Most gaming-monitors use this panel for its fast response time and input lag, but it’s not a good choice for designers, as it doesn’t have the color accuracy needed for such task, and viewing angle easily distorts images.

 

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The ViewSonic VX2452mh is one good example of quality TN-based monitor. It’s a reasonably priced monitor that meets almost all your gaming needs. It runs games with blazing fast response time, like most TN panels and offers spectacular resolution for better clarity. It has narrow viewing angles and slightly skewed green, which is common among TN-based panels gaming monitors.

 

VA (Vertical Alignment) Panel – This is a mid-range panel, not as popular as TN. It is more expensive than TN, but in terms of performance, most monitors with this panel can justify its price.

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Acer B326HUL is one of the newly introduced large screen displays that uses VA panel. It’s a 32-inch professional-grade monitor that lets you open and see multiple windows and pages in one screen. Great for home desks, office spaces and even for entertainment such as watching TV shows, movies and playing games. It carries a 2560 x 1440 resolution. But it’s middling color is inferior to top-tier IPS panels.

 

IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panel – This is by far the best choice for graphic design; it is the most expensive type, but it certainly has significant difference in color accuracy, color rendition, grayscale performance, and viewing angles.

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The Asus VS229H-P is good, affordable option for people looking for straight-up business monitor. It’s unassuming, but it makes everything on its screen look amazing with accurate colors, sharp definitions and good response time. It delivers with high color fidelity and impressive viewing angles, making it good for gaming and watching movies, and can be a good tool for photographers and graphic designers.

 

Super IPS Panel – This panel is the new breed of professional-grade monitor; it has the excellent color accuracy and reproduction of IPS, and the quick response time of a TN panel. This means users of this display can get the best of both worlds of gaming and working. There are however, very few options in the market using this type of panel.

These are just four of the many different types of panels out in the market today. More and more computer brands and display manufacturers come up with their innovative versions, expanding the list to more sophisticated and capable panels. To know more about the different types of computer panels, click here.

 


Color Accuracy and Gray-scale Performance

As a graphics designer, you definitely need you work to appear on print exactly as you see it on your computer screen. This means the monitor should have the high-end technology to support such demand. Some newer panel technologies, such as AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) panel,

Monitor for graphics design should at least have 10-, 12, or if possible 14-bit LUT (look up table) to allow frequent calibrations, which is crucial for color and detail-sensitive tasks. Also, it should cover 99% Adobe RGB color space.

Grayscale performance is crucial as well, as it determines the highlight and shadow details of images displayed on screen. Thus, a graphic monitor should have no issues showing all shades of light and dark grays.

 

Calibration Ready, Preferably Calibration Tools Made by the Same Manufacturer

Many professional-grade monitors from various brands come with software and hardware calibration tools. These displays are tailor-made for color-sensitive tasks, as they help users maintain color consistency day in and day out. The best part about it is they work perfectly with the monitor, as they’re made by the same manufacturer. Some brands have built-in calibration software in the monitor, while some ship external colorimeter for users to drape over their display to calibrate their screen. Calibration interface show series of color patches and uses software to make ICC profile and properly adjusts colors in the monitor. 

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The HP Dreamcolor Z27X uses AH-IPS panel and is tailor-made for graphics professionals. It has its own calibration system for each of the six color-space presets, and even allows users to make their own custom color profile using their own settings for color, gamma, white point and luminance.

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The NEC MultiSync PA322UHD takes pride on its outstanding color accuracy and gray-scale performance, alongside with killer set of feature. It’s a colossal 32-inch display that sports 3840 x 2160 resolution, and delivers highly detailed imagery through extremely accurate colors and superb gray-scale reproduction. But what sets this monitor apart from its competition is its wide array of precise calibration option

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There are however, good monitors that don’t come with manufacturer’s calibration tools. With this, your best option is to get your monitor third-party calibration solutions such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which lets you see how the end-product will look on paper through your display.

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Datacolor Spyder4 PRO is also a great calibration tool designed for photographers and creative professionals. It’s affordable, quick and easy to use, and can easily improve your display’s quality. It automates and simplified monitor calibration. However, it doesn’t come with automatic brightness adjustment.

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Another great calibration tool is X-Rite ColorMunki Display. It works perfectly for both novice and advanced users. It provides accurate results, and has profile optimization based on ambient light measurement. It is however, expensive and it’s not the fastest calibration device out there.

 

Screen Size and Resolution

Screen size is relative to resolution, and just like in most aspects of life, size does matter. A detailed UHD image is maximized on a bigger screen. Of course, you can only go as big as your workspace will allow you. The rule of thumb here is to get as large as you can so you can work efficiently; open multiple windows and apps, multi-task and maximize your screen real estate.

If you want a WQHD or UHD display, the best size for you is 27 inches to 32 inches. If you’re looking to use two display for dual monitor setup, then two 24-inch monitors will be great. However, if you’re saving precious workstation space, then a 29-inch ultra-wide WQHD monitor with 21:9 aspect ratio will be enough for graphics design tasks.

(image from Amazon)

When it comes to color-sensitive and detail-sensitive tasks, the more pixels a monitor has, the better. As of today, the best we can get is the UHD or Ultra High Definition resolution, which is at 3840 x 2160 pixels with 16:9 Aspect ratio. But there’s a new wave coming called Cinema 4K, which packs 4096 x 2160 pixels, and led by LG 31MU97-B, which also brags 19:10 Aspect Ratio.

Following the UHD is the WQHD (Wide-Quad HD) which is at 2560 x 1440 pixels. The typical resolution most people use today is the Full HD which is only at 1920 x 1080 pixels, good for everyday use, playing games and watching moves, but definitely falls short for highly detailed work.

 

I/O Ports

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As said in the earlier part of this post, graphics design will need generous set of connectivity options, especially if you’re going to connect various gadgets and workstation peripherals to your PC. Ideally, you need a monitor with HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 and dual-link DVI inputs. If you’re working on dual monitor or triple monitor setup, then you need to daisy-chain your multiple monitors to have a consistent image quality across all your display. You want to keep your calibration setting across all your monitors. For this, you will need either Thunderbolt-inputs and outputs or DisplayPort 1.2 port.

Should you decide to buy a UHD monitor, make sure PC’s graphics card support two HDMI ports and/or DisplayPort 1.2 input and can support MST (Multi-Stream Transfer). This will give you maximum resolution with 60Hz refresh rate.

The NEC MultiSync PA322UHD comes with wide array of connectivity options, basically all I/O ports you will ever need for your workstation. It also comes with built-in KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch, allowing users to easily control two computers with a single set of keyboard and mouse when using with two upstream USB ports.


Comfort and Ergonomics

As a designer, you spend lots of hours in front of your screen. The least you can do for your body is to provide the comfortable and ergonomic station to work on. You can invest in a good quality office chair and height-adjustable sit-stand desks where you can sit and stand to keep your body active and minimize the negative effects of sedentary lifestyle to your body. Another important aspect most people overlook however, is the ergonomic features of the monitor. Look for a monitor that comes with an ergonomic stand and allow versatile and flexible adjustments. Swivel, tilt, height adjust and pivot are the four basic adjustments you need to have. Look for a product that offers good range of adjustability that fits with your preferences and unique needs of your body structure.

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If you want to improve your ergonomics with third-party ergonomic solutions, or if you’re looking for a better stand or LCD monitor arm for your dual monitor or triple monitor setup, then you need products like fully adjustable monitor stand, desk mount with articulating arm, wall mount or then choose a monitor with VESA mounting holes.

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USB ports are essential for professional work setups. You’re going to connect your flash drives, external hard disk, handheld devices, camera, etc. to your PC, might as well have the USB ports conveniently placed for hassle-free plugging. Many professional-grade monitors have their USB ports at one side, making them easy to reach. A card reader slot may not be a must-have port, but it can sure provide convenience for uploading and downloading image and various files, especially if your PC is placed under your work desk.

 

Price

The cost will always be a consideration, but as a graphics pro, you definitely need to invest in a good display to help you in your daily job. Expect high-end professional-grade monitors to be expensive, the best 32-inch UHD display out there can have a price tag of up to $3000, depending on its screen size and added features. 27-inch WQHD monitors can cost somewhere around $800 to $1200 price range, some even cheaper like the BenQ GW2765HT comes with quite a cheap price tag. 24-inch models are at $500 minimum.

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The AOC i2757fh affordable 27-inch display with unhampered high picture quality with elegant design for your workstation or home computer setup, then you will love the border-less display. It has gorgeous IPS panel and has good overall performance for almost all types of computing.

You can find a lot of great deals when you shop around online. We all want to get the best bung for our buck. But if your work revolves around heavy graphic-design, then save yourself from trouble and don’t settle for mediocre monitors just to save a few bucks.

 

Bottom Line

The requirements needed for a good graphic design monitor is almost similar with photography monitor; both require excellent color accuracy and on-point grayscale performance. They can be expensive, yes, but as a professional, you know you need to invest on these kinds of stuffs to equip yourself and perform better.

For more buying guides like this, in-depth product reviews, etc., check out Dual Monitors Guide today!



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