What are the most important criteria for determining LCD monitor quality?

The monitor on my MacBook Pro is noticeably easier to read than any of my other LCD monitors, and I believe this is primarily due to its high contrast ratio. That begs the question: what are the objective criteria for determining LCD monitor quality, and for comparing one monitor to another?

4 Answers 4


Size, Native Resolution, Refresh Rate, Contrast Ratio, and Cost.

A more exhaustive list exists here: http://www.epinions.com/content_4811563140

  • 1
    Don't forget refresh. Jul 16, 2009 at 16:58
  • I had it to begin with, but was wondering if it was more an issue of the video card.
    – Sampson
    Jul 16, 2009 at 17:00

Display type

  • TN - Twisted Nematic
  • IPS - In-Plane Switching
  • MVA - Multi-domain Vertical Alignment
  • PVA - Patterned Vertical Alignment
  • ASV - Axially Symmetric Vertical (Alignment)

Thx to Jeff Leonard

  • for people uninitiated with the display type alphabet soup: TN is Twisted Nematic, IPS is In-Plane Switching, MVA is Multi-domain Vertical Alignment, PVA is Patterned Vertical Alignment and ASV is Axially Symmetric Vertical (Alignment). Jul 16, 2009 at 18:42
  • Contrast ratio as you said (not just brightness - I generally have mine on minimum brightness anyway)
  • Refresh speed
  • Resolution / DPI
  • Colour agreement
  • Number of dead pixels (although I have one on this one, and it's not too annoying)

To me the most important specs (once you've decided on a size and resolution) are:

Contrast - Difference between black and white, which is important for all monitors

Response Time - Not to be confused with refresh rate (which is almost always 60Hz), response time is how long it takes an individual pixel to change from one color to another. If this is too slow, gaming and videos will "ghost" and look blurry. Not as important for photography and graphic design.

Color Space (Gamut) - Generally measured in percent of NTSC covered. A good monitor will have 90+ percent coverage, a great monitor will go over 100. This is less important for gaming (games aren't designed with a "wide" gamut in mind) but is critical for photography.

Sadly, there's often a tradeoff between the last two. TN-based models tend to have better motion, but they have worse color accuracy compared to an IPS-display.

There are other factors that are less directly related to the panel used, such as the coating on the screen. Also, Apple laptops tend to have some "baseline" calibration right out of the box, which can make the display more pleasing to look at.

If you're interested in the whole story, there's an extensive discussion on Anandtech

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