Looking to upgrade my team's hardware and wondering what display would be the best alternative in terms of color accuracy, resolution and hardware design?
Seeing as Marc Edwards hasn't commented here yet — he's thought pretty carefully about it: https://twitter.com/marcedwards/status/795040052904505345
I think there’s a few decisions to make.
1. Which size would you like?
This will likely be set by your budget, desk space and personal preference. I’m currently using a 24-inch Apple display and will probably get a 27-inch, when the time comes (I’m waiting to see what happens with the iMac and Mac Pro next year).
2. Would you like non-Retina or Retina (size and the ports you have will dictate if Retina is even an option)?
Proper Retina simply isn’t possible right now when you go beyond 27-inch, due to bandwidth on most of the ports we use. You may have to research to see what’s possible for your Mac model. Thunderbolt 3 improved this a lot, but I believe higher resolutions still need to be split over two DisplayPort streams. I’m not an expert on the topic and it seems to get fairly complex fairly quickly.
DisplayPort 1.2 has a maximum resolution of 3840×2160 at 60 FPS, which means non-Retina resolutions up to 34-inch are supported by most current Macs.
3. Would you like wide colour support?
You probably just need and just want good sRGB support (and an IPS LED display). Wide colour — Adobe RGB, Display P3, and DCI-P3 — are really only needed if you’re editing wide colour photos or building non-sRGB assets. If you’re doing web design, mobile UI design or game design, you probably only need sRGB.
Going beyond sRGB really requires 10-bit per channel colour, too (more bandwidth!).
Right now, the best options seem to be 27-inch or 34-inch non-Retina. For 27-inch Retina, I think you need Thunderbolt 3.
And yep, the best display PPIs are ~110 (non-Retina) or ~220 (Retina). If you get a display with a pixel density that’s not close to those, everything will be too big or too small, and the only solution is to run a scaled display setting (doing so means everything is blurrier, and not mapped 1:1).
tl;dr don’t buy a display from the bad zone below, if you don’t want to also run a scaled display.
Good onya Marc
This was great Marc, thank you.
Would it be accurate to say that the above only applies to a subset of designers, namely ones who do a lot of app design and only for iOS devices?
There’s benefits for print designers, developers and the rest of the population, too.
You really want to avoid running a scaled display, if you can. Scaling means macOS will render using the 2× UI scale to a virtual screen. If you have a “more space” option, the virtual screen will have more pixels than your display. Once the virtual screen has been rendered, the GPU scales it down to the resolution of your actual display.
As well as looking blurry, there’s a performance hit associated, and the GPU has to work harder. Apple’s System Preferences pane says “using a scaled resolution may affect performance” for a reason. And, the additional performance hit will also affect battery life on laptops, too.
The short version: If you use a scaled display resolution, you’ll have blurry pixels, worse performance and shorter battery life. The best option is choosing a display you can run at 1:1 pixel mapping, which is why I made the chart. :D
It might also be worth noting that if you have poor eyesight, you can also use the chart to intentionally choose a display that is lower PPI than the typical Mac display, and end up with 1:1 pixel mapping and larger UI.
Interesting, so to make sure I'm getting this right:
You're talking about a quirk of the macOS desktop environment. You're saying that macOS will not be content to display the graphical shell at whatever the native resolution of the display is, but will attempt to show visual elements at the same physical size regardless of display size or pixel density. The goal is that an image which happens to render as a 1 inch square on an Apple-branded display is always a 1 inch square on any display. Is that right?
I'm using a Dell P2715Q at home and work. I've been real happy with the clarity, scaling to 1440, and overall price. We ended up outfitting all our designers with them here at Skookum recently.
+1 to this monitor, I have the 24" version and I love it!!!
Good to hear! I'm planning to get the 24" when I get the new MBP. This is the "Dell P2415Q 24" Ultra HD 4K Monitor", right?
Yep. This is the one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PC9HFNY/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Have you had an issues with the 1440p scaling for actual design work? I've got an Asus PB279Q at the moment and wondering whether it'd be best to have true @2x or to use it on the 1440p scaling option.
None whatsoever. I design at 1x and haven't had any problems. I sometimes run it at 2x, but prefer having more screen real estate.
Thanks for asking this- I've been curious as well. Does anyone know of all the solutions recommended, if any are a Matte finish as opposed to a Gloss finish? I love my Thunderbolt display but that high-gloss finish drives me nuts, especially with early morning sunlight from a window that sits opposite my monitor.
This may be a completely stupid question but it is something I've been wondering about. Are there gotcha's or things to consider as a web designer moving up to a 4K or 5K monitor? Will that 50px x 100px button I need to design be a tiny smudge in Photoshop?
The biggest gotcha to moving to a 4k, 5k, or ultrawide monitor is the increased graphics requirements for basic computing. That said, you need a newer computer (perhaps released in the last two or three years) to run it comfortably if you are also using GPU accelerated programs.
As for the retina issue, yes, if you are designing in a raster program at points resolution, this will be an issue. That being said, at this point you should be working in a vector based program, like Illustrator, Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, etc.
I have the Dell monitor hooked up to my MBP and it's great. And it's pretty hard to beat that price for the quality.
I got the LG 34UM95-P last year and still love it. It's not 4K, but it is Ultrawide and has Thunderbolt support as well as HDMI and others. Been really happy with it so far. Great quality in both colors and black levels.
I've been using a Dell U3415W (34" ultrawide) display for about a year and LOVE IT. It's totally revolutionized how I get my work done. I can have 3 full-size application windows side-by-side-by-side (Photoshop, Xcode, Chrome) and it's incredible. It's seriously the best tech purchase I've made in years. I feel like I'm in the Matrix. It's not retina, because retina at that size would be 6-7K pixels and that doesn't exist yet :)
The Thunderbolt display has good colours and ergonomic except for the horrible reflections catching any bit of light. They are however really nice docking stations for MacBooks.
The new LG "recommendations" only have USB-C connectors, which makes them useless as docking stations. The DELL from The Wirecutter have nice docking features but no USB-C.
Based on specs only, I'd say this one should be really nice http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/60E2GAR1US/460/13A439ED5F5F4D00B060758E4FA2D734
Our company has just kitted us out with Asus PB279Q 27-Inch 4k's. Once calibrated in expert mode they appear to be super accurate.
I've tried running it at the scaled 1440p mode but it just makes everything feel a bit fuzzy. So running it at true @2x retina now and it's a delight :)
I recently bought the ASUS BL2711U for approx $700 CAD (~500 USD) and it seems great to me ... good enough color reproduction for UI design and 4k 60fps through mini display to display port cable ( cable not included with monitor ). I think its a good budget 27" 4k monitor.