How to Choose a Monitor for Modeling, Graphics, and Design Work

15 february 2022 year

Architects, Designers and CG Artists spend a lot of time sitting in front of a monitor - and the quality of the display affects not only the pleasure of the process, but also the result of the work. Especially when it comes to working with color and graphics. So the choice of the screen of your working machine should definitely be treated with attention.

But for different specialists, even within the same architectural bureau, displays with different characteristics may be required - in this article we deal with the main parameters.

How to Choose a Monitor for Modeling, Graphics, and Work

1. How the Display Works

Computer monitor or laptop screen is a multi-layered sandwich packed in a case and covered with protective glass or plastic. The most important part of the screen is the matrix: it forms the image and most of all affects the performance of the display.

The matrix consists of the smallest elements - pixels (dots). Pixels form the image on the screen, so the more pixels, the higher the screen resolution, or, in other words, the sharper the picture.

Other important screen options:

  • Resolution and diagonal.
  • Brightness and contrast.
  • Color depth.
  • Frequency and response time.
  • Screen coverage.
  • Matrix technology.
  • Color gamut.

Display device

2. Resolution and Diagonal

Why is it important: Affects the clarity and detail of the image.

The monitor screen is a rectangle, and its size would be logical to set to a width and height in centimeters. However, historically, the dimensions of the monitor are measured by its diagonal and in inches. But the technical specifications, also indicate the width, height in centimeters, and aspect ratio of the monitor.

The diagonal of the laptop screen, as a rule, remain in the range from 13 to 18 inches, monoblocks and, monitors - from 24 to 32 inches. The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9 such monitors are considered widescreen. There are also ultra-wide models with 21:9, 32:10, and 32:9 ratios - here everyone chooses convenient screens for their tasks.

The principle “the bigger the monitor, the better” does not always work. On the one hand, more windows and details are placed on a large screen, and on the other hand, for comfortable work, the distance between the screen and your eyes should be approximately 1.5 diagonals.

Therefore, it is better to choose the screen size based on your height, the size of the workplace, and a comfortable fit.

A more significant role is played by screen resolution - the size of the image on the screen in pixels. Everything is simpler here: the more, the higher the quality of the picture. It's like with a mosaic: the smaller the size of its fragments, the more realistic the image looks.

Display device

A high-resolution display requires a good video card, as it is the video card that draws the image on the screen. This is especially true for laptops: if the video card turns out to be weak and cannot support displaying a heavy picture on the screen, the display simply will not show anything or it will, but with a delay and artifacts.

Most monitors come with resolutions of 1920x1080 - 16:9, 2560x1440 - 16:9 and 3840x2160 - 16:9. Moreover, such indicators even have their own separate names.


Full HD / FHD

Quad HD / QHD or 2k

Ultra HD / UHD or 4k



Size in pixels

1920 / 1080

2560 / 1440

3840 / 2160

5120 / 2880

7680 / 4320

Total number of pixels

2 mill

3,7 mill

8,3 mill

14,7 mill

33,2 mill

The resolution and screen size indicators are interconnected by a complex parameter - pixel density, or ppi: the higher the ppi value, the better. Screens with small dimensions are more demanding on ppi values, since small elements can occupy only 1-2 pixels and may be indistinguishable at low ppi.

Comparison of image quality at different ppi values: 110 ppi (left) and 190 ppi (right)

Display resolution difference

Screens with small dimensions are more demanding on ppi values, since small elements can occupy only 1-2 pixels and may be indistinguishable at low ppi.

For laptops, 130-140 ppi is considered a standard value, and more than 180 ppi is considered excellent. For monitors, the standard value is 110-120 ppi, excellent - more than 140 ppi.

3. Brightness and Contrast

Why is it important: Responsible for the correctness of color reproduction and the number of colors available for display.

Brightness is how wide the monitor screen shines. It is measured in nits or candela per square meter (1 nt = 1 cd/m²).

Brightness is of two types:

  • Constant - Primary setting: Indicates the maximum brightness of the screen.
  • Peak - an additional parameter: shows how brightly a part of the screen will glow under certain conditions. For example, when playing HDR content.

monitors contrast difference

For a stationary monitor or monoblock, a constant brightness indicator of 300-350 cd / m² is considered standard. For laptops, this parameter is higher, since a laptop can be located both indoors and outdoors: 300 cd / m² on the street on a bright day will not be enough, so it’s better to look at options with an indicator of 400–500 cd / m² and higher.

Screen contrast is the ratio of white to black brightness that a monitor displays. For example, for a display with a maximum brightness of 200.5 cd/m² and a minimum brightness of 0.5 cd/m², the contrast ratio is calculated as (200.5 − 0.5) / 0.5 = 400:1.

Monitor contrast is:

  • Static - displays the ratio of the brightness of the darkest and brightest points on the screen. The optimal value is 2000:1 and above.
  • Dynamic is a marketing ploy, meaning the black level when the screen is completely off to the white level at maximum backlight. You can ignore this parameter.

static dynamic difference

4. Color Depth or Color Quality

Why is it important: Responsible for the correctness of color reproduction and for the number of colors available for display.

Color quality is determined by the total number of colors that the display matrix can reproduce, and is measured in bits per channel. Each pixel of the matrix consists of three subpixels, or channels: red, blue, and green. And each subpixel has glow gradations, or bits - the more gradations, that is, the more bits per channel, the more colors the display reproduces.

To date, the most common 8-bit and 10-bit monitor matrices.

  • 8-bit - a necessary minimum for working with graphics (for example, for the web) and for watching videos. However, they are not suitable for professional work with printing, graphic, or interior design - the color depth is too small.
  • 10-bit - reproduce 64 times more colors than 8-bit. Such matrices already provide the highest quality picture with smooth color transitions. Ideal for graphics work.

8bit and 10bit  difference

There are also matrices with support for 12, 16, 24, 32, 36 and 48 bits - they are already used in medicine, astronomy and cinema for image and video processing, where every pixel is important.

Channel depth

6 bit

8 bit

10 bit

12 bit

Number of gradations per channel





Total number of possible colors

262 thousand

16.7 mill

1,1 bill

68,7 bill

In the 2000s, when video cards learned to display "honest" 8- and 10-bit color, and matrices did not yet support it, FRC technology appeared - it allowed increasing the bit depth of the screen. FRC (Frame Rate Control) is a frame rate control technology, that is, the blinking frequency of the matrix subpixels. The sub-pixels flash quickly, because of this, their brightness is muted and you can mix colors in different proportions and get additional shades.

How FRC technology works

How FRC technology works

In the characteristics of the monitor, the use of this technology is indicated as 6 bit + FRC or 6 bit + 2 bit FRC, also for 8 bits. FRC technology is controversial: on the one hand, FRC matrices are cheaper, on the other hand, regular screen flickering can be uncomfortable for the eyes, and for a trained professional eye it can be too noticeable and annoying.

5. Frequency and Response Time

Why is it important: Responsible for the smoothness of movements on the screen. Not the most important parameter for an architect or designer, but it affects the cost of the monitor.

The screen refresh rate, or hertz, indicates how many frames per second the screen is capable of displaying. For example, the frequency of the most accessible and common models is 60 Hz, that is, in one second they manage to change the frame 60 times.

This parameter affects the smoothness of the picture - the higher the refresh rate, the smoother and more natural the movement on the screen looks. This is important for games and films, but it does not particularly affect the work of an architect. But it has a good effect on the cost of the monitor: the higher the hertz, the more expensive.

You also need to understand that the image output is provided not only by the screen refresh rate but also by the video card - if it is weak, then a large hertz will not provide greater smoothness of movement.

The Smoothness of movement at different screen refresh rates - the effect of hertz on the smoothness of animation on the screen

How FPS technology works

Another useless but costly parameter for an CG Artist is response time, which is the time it takes for a monitor to switch from one color to another. Typical display response times are less than ten milliseconds (10ms), and sometimes as little as one millisecond.

This characteristic is more important for advanced gamers, but it does not affect the work of architects, designers, or CG Artists.

6. Monitors Screen Coating Types

Why is it important: Responsible for how much the screen will glare - and therefore for the comfort of work even in bright light.

The overlay is the topmost layer of the display. It is of two types:

  • Glossy - transmit light and color better. Therefore, glossy displays are brighter, with richer, more intense, and contrasting colors - blacks are especially deep. However, in the sun they shine - and when working outdoors or near a window, glare can interfere.
  • Matte - dampens glare due to a rough texture, so it is more comfortable to work with such monitors in rooms with bright lighting. The disadvantage of matte displays is fading: the colors on them look a little duller.

Both types of coating should have an anti-reflective layer: on a glossy surface, it reduces the total amount and strength of glare, and on a matte surface, it reduces the size of light spots.

Conclusion: glossy screens with a good anti-reflective coating are more suitable for working with color. But you need to be careful: sometimes such screens have artificially high contrast and saturation. There are more matte options on the market and among them, you can also find good options with dullness correction.

7. The Technologies of Matrix

Why is it important: Affects many other monitor parameters: color depth, brightness, contrast, viewing angles.

Matrix technology is the main parameter of any screen. There are two main types of matrices:

  • On liquid crystals (LCD / LCD).
  • On organic light-emitting diodes (OLED).

LCD, or LCD Matrix


The matrix based on liquid crystals works on the principle of coloring white light: the main illumination of the matrix passes through a layer of sub-pixels of different colors and is colored by them. The degree of luminescence of the pixels is controlled by the liquid crystal layer, which can block some of the light.

LCD matrix structure

LCD technology works

There are three main types of LCD matrices:

TN-like matrices are one of the first mass matrix technologies. Today it is considered obsolete but is still widely used in inexpensive screens.

The only advantage of such matrices is the fastest response (1 ms), which makes them the most popular in gaming laptops. Otherwise, they, unfortunately, are much worse than other options: a small vertical viewing angle than for laptops, it is especially critical, and in general, rather a poor color reproduction (about 6 bits per channel, and 8 bits per channel is achieved due to FRC technology).

VA-like matrices - they can produce a better image. Unlike TN, VA matrices have a slower response speed (3–5 ms), but on the other hand, they have excellent viewing angles vertically and good horizontally. For laptops, it is vertical viewing angles that are critical, it is unlikely that you will often look at the screen from the side.

The VA-matrix also has good color reproduction: an honest color depth of 8 bits per channel (or 8 + 2 bits FRC), and the main advantage is deep blacks and, therefore, high contrast. They are suitable for working with color, but still not at a professional level.

IPS-like matrices - matrices with the best color reproduction. They deliver the true color depth of 10 bits per channel and are therefore best suited for professional colorwork. But this technology has a drawback: IPS matrices do not block backlight well, which can cause blacks to have a slightly purple tint. This is especially noticeable on large screens, but this effect is less pronounced on monitors and laptops.

Liquid crystal matrices have been on the market for a long time, and various manufacturers began to develop their matrix technologies to distinguish their products from competitors - as a result, slightly improved versions of existing technologies were obtained. Hence the huge number of similar names with different technologies under the hood.

The problem with IPS matrices is especially acute. IPS is not only the name of the technology but also a trademark that belongs to LG, that is, only LG can produce matrices and products with the IPS mark. Other manufacturers use similar names, technologies or indicate the type of matrix as IPS-like, IPS-level, or "IPS-level matrix". Sometimes these are honest statements, sometimes VA matrices are hidden under these names. To understand and be confident in the purchase, you have to look at the rest of the characteristics.

Another example is the marking "SVA-matrix". So the usual TN-matrix can be designated, and the name can be decoded as Standard View Angle (standard viewing angle) and have nothing to do with the real SVA-matrix (Super Vertical Alignment), which refers to VA-like matrices.

Types of designation of different matrices
































OLED, or Organic Light-emitting Diode Matrix


OLED matrices are fundamentally different from LCDs: each subpixel of an OLED matrix is a separate LED that glows or turns off independently of the others. Due to this, you can completely get rid of the backlight and provide the ideal depth of black on the screen.

In addition, OLED panels provide high brightness and contrast ratios, excellent viewing angles, as well as low power consumption and high response speed - faster than TN panels.

The structure of the OLED matrix

OLED matrix

Despite the impressive performance, OLED screens have some serious drawbacks:

  • Price - such matrices are more expensive and difficult to manufacture than LCDs.
  • Burn-in - due to the organic material of the LEDs, the OLED matrix tends to burn out the matrix, that is, the destruction or change of pixels, followed by a violation of color reproduction.
  • The need for calibration - inexpensive matrices can turn yellow, green, blue, or red both at angles and when viewed directly. This is due to the lack of careful color calibration during manufacture since each individual LED has to be adjusted.

Matrix technologies. Comparison

Type of Matrix

Response time

Viewing angles

Color depth


Black depth


Less than 1 msec

150 - bad

6 bit - bad

1000:1 - bad



Avarage 3-5 msec


8 bit




Slow 5-10 msec


10 bit




05-09 msec

179 - good

10 bit - good

1000000:1 - good


8. Color Gamut

All display matrix technologies must be summed up in an excellent color gamut, that is, the ability of the screen to reproduce a certain range of colors. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes a great IPS 10-bit matrix supports only 60% of the sRGB color space. Usually, this applies only to inexpensive and mid-budget models of laptops, all-in-ones, and monitors.

Why does it happen? The process of manufacturing matrices is not without defects, because of which the general backlight, the layer with liquid crystals, or some other layer suffers. Some matrices can be animated with calibration, some cannot. Ideal components are installed inexpensive models, calibrated components are installed in medium-priced ones, and worse options are programmatically cut down and put in inexpensive models.

It happens that some manufacturers are cunning and do not indicate a small color gamut directly, but use in the descriptions, not the most common color spaces - for example, NTSC. If you see this, then you should refuse to buy

Coverage of color spaces. Comparison


How do you know which monitor color gamut is right for you? As usual, it all depends on the type of work:

  • Classical architectural tasks: creating drawings and models where there is no special work with color, and you need to print something rarely or in black and white - in this case, 100% sRGB is enough.
  • Interior design, web design, and visualization require more accurate work with graphics, rendering, and post-processing, but color printing is not needed often and with minimal prepress preparation - for everything where there is work with color, sRGB space is no longer enough and a variant is needed wider. A good solution would be 100% DCI-P3. This space is 30% wider than sRGB and allows for good colorwork.
  • To work with printing, regular prepress, layout, and image processing, you need an even wider color space, for example, 100% Adobe RGB (50% more than sRGB) - its parameters cope better with the CMYK typographic space.

It is worth noting that sRGB display models are the most common. DCI-P3s are less common and tend to cost more. And Adobe RGB options are the rarest and most expensive and are very rare in laptops.

What conclusion can be drawn from all the technical features? And how do you choose the right monitor? The most important thing is to decide on the specifics of your work.

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