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Okay, here's an odd-stupid question. On a LCD, brightness, contrast etc can be configured either via the monitor's menu or using some software. Is there any difference in how either of these settings affect the display's lifespan?

Some background: My Dell 2209WA starts "buzzing" unless I manually set the menu-brightness to 99% or 100% (it is a reported problem with this model). After doing so, I re-lowered the brightness with Redshift.

Now, if the monitor's menu shows "99%" and the software declares "0.5" then what is the monitor's actual brightness? Are the hardware settings still somehow superior? Should I be worried about the "99%" with regard to the monitor's lifespan?

(Obviously, this should be the same as setting your headphones' volume knob to maximum and then lowering volume via the sound card driver. But I don't want to screw up an e-IPS monitor, so I still took the courage to ask :)

Thanks for any explanations!

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Depends on the setting:

Brightness: Assuming an LCD with CCFL or LED backlighting, changing the brightness of the display using the monitor's hardware controls is far better. This allows the monitor to actually brighten or darken the backlight of the display. This can help with light bleeding, power consumption, and won't affect contrast. There is no way to alter the backlight of an LCD from software, other than by dropping the signal - then the LCD will go into sleep mode and turn the backlight completely off ;)

Any software adjustments to brightness simply decrease the contrast and shift the output range to the top or the bottom of the spectrum to simulate a brighter or darker screen, which reduces saturation.

Most other adjustments (color correction, contrast, saturation, gamma) are implemented in software on the monitor's firmware just the same as they are on the computer, so there's little difference whether the adjustments are happening in software on the computer or in the monitor.

OLED displays don't have a backlight, and as such altering the brightness on the computer in software will have the same effect as altering it on the monitor.

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An excellent, very informative and interesting answer. Thank you very much! However, for the sake of perfection, could you also share your views on how running a CCFL/LDE monitor at 100% brightness actually affects its life span? –  marttt Apr 24 '13 at 5:59
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I can't say the exact effects, as I don't know if that will wear them out faster than 50% brightness. Ancedotally, all of my CCFL screens are 6, 4, and 2 years old respectively, and chugging along just fine. They are noticeably dimmer when placed beside my new LED monitor I just bought, but I think that may just be that the new monitor is really bright. FWIW, I generally don't worry about running my monitors at 100% brightness 24/7. –  Darth Android Apr 25 '13 at 14:34
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