July 26, 2012
When I wrote about TN LCD panels 5 years ago, I considered them acceptable, despite their overall mediocrity, mostly due to the massive price difference.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of LCDs on the market now are TN. You can opt to pay a little bit more for one of the few models with *VA – if there are any available in the size you want. *-IPS is widely considered the best all around LCD display technology, but it is rapidly being pushed into the vertical "pro" graphics designer market due to the big jump in price. It's usually not an option, unless you're willing to pay more than twice as much for a monitor.
But when the $499 iPad 3 delivers an amazingly high resolution IPS panel that's almost reference quality, I found myself a whole lot less satisfied with the 27" TN LCDs on my desktop. And on my laptop. And everywhere else in my life.
I'll spare you all the exposition and jump to the punchline. I am now the proud owner of three awesome high resolution (2560x1440) 27" IPS LCDs, and I paid less than a thousand dollars for all three of them.
(If you're curious about the setup, I use Ergotron monitor arms to fit everything in there.)
I won't deny that it is a little weird, because everything is in Korean. I replaced the Korean 3 prong power cord in the power brick with a regular US power cord I had laying around. But a monitor is a monitor, and the IPS panel is stunning. The difference between TN and IPS is vast in every measurable dimension. No bad pixels on these three panels, either. Although, as my friend Scott Wasson of Tech Report fame says, "every pixel on a TN panel is a bad pixel".
How is this possible? You can thank Korea. All three of these monitors were ordered from Korean eBay vendors, where a great 27" IPS LCD goes for the equivalent of around $250 in local currency. They tack on $100 for profit and shipping to the USA, then they're in business. It's definitely a grey market, but something is clearly out of whack, because no domestic monitor of similar quality and size can be had for anything under $700.
I wanted to get this out there, because I'm not sure how long this grey market will last, and these monitors are truly incredible deals. Heck, it's worth it just to get out of the awful TN display ghetto most of us are stuck in. Scott Wasson got the exact same model of Korean LCD I did, and his thorough review concludes:
Even with those last couple of quirks uncovered, I still feel like I won this thing in a drawing or something. $337 for a display of this quality is absolutely worth it, in my view. You just need to keep your eyes open to the risks going into the transaction, risks I hope I've illustrated in the preceding paragraphs. In many ways, grabbing a monitor like this one on the cheap from eBay is the ultimate tinkerer's gambit. It's risky, but the payoff is huge: a combination of rainbow-driven eye-socket ecstasy and the satisfying knowledge that you paid less than half what you might pay elsewhere for the same experience.
There are literally dozens of variants of these Korean 27" LCDs, but the model I got is the FSM-270YG. Before you go rushing off to type ebay.com in your browser address bar, remember that these are bare-bones monitors being shipped from Korea. They work great, don't get me wrong, but they are the definition of no-frills:
- Build quality is acceptable, but it's hardly Jony Ive Approved™.
- These are glossy panels. Some other variants offer matte, if that's your bag.
- They only support basic dual-link DVI inputs, and nothing, I mean nothing else.
- There is no on-screen display. The only functional controls are power and brightness (this one caught me out; you must hold down the brightness adjustment for many, many seconds before you see a change.)
Although the noise-to-signal ratio is off the charts, it might be worth visiting the original overclock.net thread on these inexpensive Korean monitors. There's some great info buried in there, if you can manage to extract it from the chaos. And if you're looking for a teardown of this particular FSM-270YG model (minus the OSD, though), check out the TFT Central review.
In the past, I favored my wallet over my eyes, and chose TN. I now deeply regret that decision. But the tide is turning, and high quality IPS displays are no longer extortionately expensive, particularly if you buy them directly from Korea. Is it a little risky? Sure, but all signs point to the risk being fairly low.
In the end, I decided my eyes deserve better than TN. Maybe yours do too.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I am wondering how the display looks when the monitors are rotated vertically? I have seen some monitors that get terrible viewing angles when rotated vertically. Please tell me that is not the case with these.
I have three dell 3011 and I like them a lot. I paid 3 or 4 or 5 times what you paid (I bought them separately so I never really added it up). I would pay it again. I also used my video card (nVidia) to split two of my monitors in half and that works really nice too.
I think you would enjoy those 3 even more if you put them in a PLP configuration - I have 3 24" widescreen dells at home running 1920x1200 and the 2 side monitors are rotated 90 degrees (portrait) - those 2 monitors are for long sections of code or sites where content scrolls long (facebook/reddit/forums, etc). It's the best thing I've ever done besides moving to 3 monitors in the first place. Do it!
Oh, and also - get DisplayFusion if you haven't already.
Man, seeing setups like that makes me want to go back to desktop computing. Drooool.
These are pretty beautiful. I've had one of these (different repackaging, but...) for a few weeks now, and I'm thrilled. There are occasional flake outs on the Macs I've used it with, but they're substantially less bad than the old Acer 26" that I used before, so I blame Apple.
As for viewing angles - IPS displays generally have very good viewing angles. I temporarily flipped mine, and at a glance it looked fine.
I picked up a Dell e-IPS last year. In an interesting trade, it performs markedly better than TN but certainly not as good as an iPad3. Also, it's that silly 16:9 "HD" ratio which means a mile wide and still cramped. (Or just ridiculously tall when rotated.)
@Mike Kitzman, one of the advantages of the IPS technology is the great viewing angles it provides. If these weren't el cheapo monitors from Korea they'd probably have rotation built into the stands. I know my Lenovo IPS monitor does.
I'll take my 120hz Samsung TN any day - CRT blacks, gorgeous colour and you can actually read the text in PixPerAn.
It's basically the closest you can get to a CRT today.
I have to wonder if these are made from leftover panels from Samsung and LG. You know, something that is generally ok but some spec does not meet a well known brand's criteria.
That said, pretty much any IPS panel will trounce a TN. I find it baffling that so many people will buy a several thousand dollar computer and then pair it with the cheapest monitor they can find.
You missed Scott Wasson's link to www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0384780 in his article, which is an American version for slighly more money. I picked it up for $400 at Microcenter yesterday after reading his entire review and so far (~4 hours of use gaming and web browsing) I am super happy with the purchase.
Reading this from my 23" 1920x1200 IPS, which was made in 2004, because I haven't found anything to replace it yet. And if you really want to dive down the rabbit hole, I use it pivoted/rotated so I'm actually on a really tall 1200x1920 which is awesome for coding and web surfing, as both of which are tall layouts, not wide.
I'm the envy of all my office nerds (I use my person monitor at work).
The monitors are nice but the Jerker desk is majestic!
Such a resolution and using Windows??? You will need a jeweler eyepiece to click small 8x8 pixel icons.
@Christopher, thanks. The extra cost is definitely worth being able to take it back if something's wrong, without shipping it across the world. The particular model they have is DVI/HDMI only, but I hope they get one with a built-in DP (converter cables are so expensive), because DVI is rapidly going the way of the Dodo. I have seen that older HDMI can drive it at full size at sub-30Hz, and current Ivy Bridge HDMI can drive it at full 60+Hz, if the monitor uses HDMI 1.4.
I've really been itching to get one of these, but I can't settle on an exact model until I decide on a particular laptop, so I know which inputs to get.
@DarkImmortal, pretty much anything LED backlit looks nearly that good these days. We're a long way from the dark ages when CCFL bled through every corner and contrast ratios of 600:1 were awesome; now that's the absolute minimum and I see monitors with 10,000:1 coming out. These ones are about 1000:1 typically. The main downside instead is color calibration, if you need that.
I have bought a Korean 27" Crossover a month ago and I'm happy with it, it's a lot better than my previous TN screen. The difference shows best when playing a game like Diablo 3 or the Witcher 2, the colours look way better than on my old screen.
The only downside is still having a 20" screen at work, the difference is huge, I can now clearly see that the white is more of a grey on that screen.
How much for 3 dual-link DVI adapters?
I'd get two of those monitors, don't have the space for three.
I was reading Scott's review and I had to chuckle when he recommended them, and the next thing he knew you were buying 3. Anyways I'm convinced, though that 6ms response time is considerably slower than my asus which gets 2. But that price is the deal maker.
The resolution seems massive, but that's only because the screen is reasonably large. It works out to 108 DPI, barely more than the 96 DPI Windows assumes you're using.
@DanM, the only 4:3 LCD panels being made are legacy. Stick with them if you prefer, but you won't find them in IPS or large sizes.
@Mark Ransom, that was a response to Factor Mystic's comment and was intended mostly in jest. That said, I do think 4:3 was a better fit for a lot of business and programming tasks than widescreen, especially if you only have one screen (like on a laptop).
the 3 monitors setup look great. What is the video card you are using to drive the 3 monitors? If you could give some more detail on how this set up work, a write up would be awesome. I'm looking to do the same.
I got a Dell u2410 monitor (24" 1920x1200 IPS) just this past spring, but returned it for various reasons (a bit bright, old TN monitors seemed to display dark color/detail better, went to gray when looking at it diagonally (better viewing angles my butt)).
Over the past month or 2, I've got 2 Acer B243PWL monitors (24" 1920x1200 IPS LED backlit). Much better and look great! Took my old monitors into work.
@DanM, sorry I jumped on you like that - I recently had an argument with someone on another forum on the subject. I would prefer the 4:3 format myself, but when the monitor makers price them the same as 16:10 or 16:9 monitors with similar vertical height and resolution you'd be a fool to throw away those extra "free" pixels.
@Deany Nasseri - IPS is slower redraw rate than a TN panel, that's it's only "pro" well that an price. But here's some basic math for you....
1000ms / 6ms = ~166 updates a second
That's a pretty good number to me, so as you can see, figures like 4,3,2 are just pointless marketing figures. My IPS is 16ms so that gets me
1000ms / 16ms = 62
Once you do the math, you realize that even 16 isn't a high number
PS: I don't experience any ghosting, but then I don't game on this setup, it's for coding, and as stated in my first post, my monitor is from 2004.
@DanM, It's really not hard to create a 4:3 region in a 16:9 monitor, with a spare chunk of screen for something else, using something like GridMove: http://jgpaiva.dcmembers.com/gridmove.html
(My favorite template is axrusik's, with most windows at positions 4 and 6.)
Fortunately, software developers are (finally) getting the idea to get rid of excess top and bottom chrome and either move information to the side or separate it into new windows - browser vendors pushing the hardest. With any luck, Office suites will move into the widescreen world in, oh, five years or so. Sigh.
My problem: If I buy a great screen for at home, I will be annoyed every single day at work when I have to deal with a shitty old low-res TN. My current monitor at home is a cheap BenQ, and still looks far better than my screen at work. I cannot imagine my boss actually offering to pay for the monitors, and I don't want to buy half a dozen of the things out of my own pocket.
Yes yes Atwood, that's all well and good but HOLY HELLS WHAT KIND OF GUITAR IS THAT?
Nice Rock Band guitar. I have the same one.
@Travis Owens I'm now even more convinced :). Thanks for the info.
@Mark Ransom & @Silverback Networks, given that we're now stuck with the 16:9 standard, I agree we should definitely make the best of it, but my point is that we could fit more total pixels on our desk (or lap in the case of laptops) if the standard for computer monitors were still 4:3. And Jeff would probably be able to fit three 27" monitors on his desk without the need for special arms and brackets. It's basically the same reasoning that leads cities to build skyscrapers--there's no room to add more buildings (monitors) so you make the buildings taller (4:3 monitors).
Vertical mounts, portrait layout. If the web were designed for that, you'd see it a lot more often. Imagine that desk above with four vertical mounts.
Most TVs are IPS. I got some refurbished 32" visios for $200 apeice. They work great, bright and sharp.
So, I wasn't aware that that ergotron setup could hold 3 27" LCD models. Some product customer reviews threw me off. Glad to see that.
Interesting article, as usual. One thing i noticed is you're using a Razer keyboard. Do you use it only for gaming or for regular typing/programming too? I'm considering buying one myself, and i'd appreciate your feedback on it.
I am sick to death of short screen.
I've got two ViewSonic 16:10 monitors, they aren't bad, though they don't even tell you anywhere what type of panel they have.
Also they cannot be rotated and with the weird plastic backing you cannot mount it on something else easily.
Jeff, where did you get that awesome wallpaper from? I can only find the 1000+ px wide version, but I'd like something more in the 2560 x 1440 range.
What kind of IPS panels are they? eIPS are considered pseudo IPS as they are limited to same 6-bit per color.
Thanks for the tip I had one dell 27" IPS monitor and two cheap 24" in portrait. Just gone and bought two korean panels I went with ones that have displayport, HDMI and some other connectors, a little more but worth it for me.
If they work well I may sell my Dell and get another save myself some money as the sale of the Dell is probably equivalent to two of these at least.
Have you tried them in portrait mode some people prefer the side monitors in portrait?
IPS is nice, but I must admit that I prefer S-PVA panels, which usually have a higher contrast ratio.
Even Milo was using one single monitor with his desktop! (Milo from the antitrust movie) However, Jeff, I wonder when I could work on such a big resolution monitors, 2560x1440 and 27" god, that is too big.. and there are three of them!
I blog at http://www.darssh.com
Is there any solution for full-screen games when you're running in portrait mode? I'd love taller monitors but I sometimes game.
LCD technology is a fantastic, in truth dla quality and comfort of LCD devices in comparison with the old is very good. And now they are much cheaper compared to some years ago. The technology of televisions, monitors, etc.., Going very fast and the good thing is that now the LCD is on its price.
Joe Hobbs - Recetas Faciles
Do you think you could check if these things have adjustments via DDC?
that app may open them up to be further adjusted even though their isn't an OSD (and it will probably be in English as well).
Why glossy Jeff? It seems like glossy monitors and TVs are the de-facto standard these days and I don't get it. Is there something I'm missing, some amazing feature of glossy that makes up for the glare?
OK, I was really happy with the giant size of my 27" Viewsonic TN until I read this thread. :-)
After a bit of research it looks like the Davi D279SV-VGQ2 would be my preferred choice, since it has anti-glare coating. Apparently there were two vendors selling this monitor on eBay, but I don't find them anymore.
Any clues where I can buy one of these, or if there's an alternate 27" anti-glare Korean IPS display?
Nice, almost like my room setup, except for my other Rock Band peripherals. Three monitors ftw.
I purchased two. One was perfect the second had light grey lines running horizontal across the screen that fades out towards the right half of the monitor. I've contacted the company, but they are on vacation, hopefully there are no issues with an exchange.
I Just got a FSM-270YG from eBay. It causes an immediate shut down and restart when I plug the monitor into my 2011 macbook Pro or 2010 iMac. Using Apple mini-displayport to DVI adapter.
They shut down occurs even when the monitor is not plugged into power. Tried different DVI cable and that did not help. Any ideas?
This is "the" local Korean shopping site for electronics; essentially the website for Yongsan Electronics Market, the biggest in Seoul. It basically comprises 4 or 5 buildings, about a four block radius of tech shopping heaven.
Your model is on the lower section of this list at about $240. The company is called "First" and it is pretty low-end. All of the monitors on the linked page are IPS and 27". To convery the currency, just take off one zero and move the decimal left (not exact, but a right guide).
Anyhow, glad you like it. I guess I am lucky to have access to a nice variety of stuff 40 minutes away from me here in Seoul (no, I am not Korean), but there is a lot of questionable stuff out there. Personally, I would never have taken the risk you did buying an unknown brand - I know the brand and still wouldn't buy it - but I am glad it is working out for you. A better choice for similar cash would be the lower-end Achievas, but that's just me.
Let me know if you need any parts sent! :)
does anyone have any idea why sellers don't recommend them with laptops and HDMI to DVI converters? Can something be done about this?
I cannot get this monitor to work under linux (nouveau).
It just doesn't recognize it.
Has anybody had any success?
120hz for me is a must even when using TN screens, due to eyestrain at 60hz is horrible for me. getting old I guess.
IPS with 120hz, count me in.
I am Dong Whan Koo as the seller that Scott Wasson wrote the review about Korean monitor linked in the webpage of
[ http://techreport.com/articles.x/23291/2 ]. On behalf of my company, I would appreciate to all the international
customers who had bought our products so far. And we did not expect that Korean monitor would have been so popular in
the quality and the price. In some of cases that had come with faulty goods in screen, we deeply regret that we could't
do the better process of delivery system since we had tested all the monitors before sending overseas. As you all know
about LCD panel, they are sometimes too fragile in a particular impact or pressure although it happens only 3% in the
way of sales. We hope that all the customers are satisfying 100% in what we try and what you get in future. And we think
that it might be better in situation if we have a proper logistics agency in there. If you don't mind, we are wondering
if you could recommend any corperate companies to sell, dealing with electronics and computerwares. If so in any possible
way to give you better warranty, I think we might do better customer services for all customers.
Two of mine (FSM-270YG LED) just arrived yesterday. Seemed all was well until the second monitor warms up after 30 minutes to 1 hour and then randomly turns blank (appeared like signal loss).
Turning the screen off and on again yields a picture for about 30 seconds or less until it happens again.
I've just contacted the seller so I'll see what happens. The other monitor works fine though. Can't fault the panel though it seems the circuitry behind it can be a bit shonkey.
The only downside to IPS panels is burn-in.
People usually don't realize that LCD panels would exhibit it, but with IPS panels, it can happen. The manufacturers mention this in their warranty notice and they say that any burn-in damage is not covered by warranty.
My years-old IPS panel retains the Windows 7 taskbar for quite a long time after one year of use of Windows 7. The ghost image disappears in time, but it seemed to be getting a bit worse. The display, however, went crazy so I cannot see what would happen in another year.
What model of Ergotron are you using? They seem to recommend MX for any monitors >24 inches, but if the LX is possible, that's the one I'll get.
Does anyone know how to remove the stand arm on these monitors?
Sincere congratulations on your site, it is a real pleasure to browse. Especially keep it up. Thank you for this wonderful sharing.
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What is the Video card your using or others are using to hookup 3 of the korean dvi dual-link 2560x1440 monitors?
I've just been mulling over purchasing one of these monitors. A word of warning; if you are buying off eBay ensure you review the seller ratings. There are a number of 'Top Rated Sellers' who have achieved this status by selling other items aside from monitors.
For instance, I was checking out a Wecube model from one seller and could find no positive feedback for this monitor in the past month, only negative feedback regarding bleed etc.
So take your time and check out your seller carefully.
@Binarymist I strongly suspect Jeff isn't using *a* video card to power those three monitors; more likely than not he is using multiple cards (probably two monitors on one and one monitor on another).
@Jeremy, You can drive up to 4 of these monitors with a single gtx 670/680 or a radeon 7970. They feature 2 dual link DVI outputs, plus HDMI and Displayport outputs, all of which can be used simultaneously.
Recent workstation replacement laptops like the Dell Precision/HP Elitebook series with quadro km series are also capable of driving 4 WQHD displays.
I bought some of the Auria panels from MicroCenter which Christopher mentioned above, they are A- panels just like the Korean ones (ie all have some minor defect). They were good monitors for a great price but ultimately I found the glare too distracting and returned them for some of the new ASUS PLS 27" panels.
The PLS panels were double the cost of the Korean IPS panels but well worth it in my opinion because of their semi-glossy coating which provides good contrast and minimal glare without the grainy 'screen door' effect present on matte IPS panels.
Question for Jeff and/or those who don't speak Korean... how do you make an order on those Korean sites? :-)
Hi I wanted to get high quality US IP but there was a problem right after some days. I searched on google and discovered a very useful link proxyrental.net. They are very supportive. Believe me, my problem has resolved.
when the $499 iPad 3 delivers an amazingly high resolution IPS panel that's almost reference quality, I found myself a whole lot less satisfied with the 27" TN LCDs on my desktop. And on my laptop. And everywhere else in my life. Sección Amarilla
In regards to portability the Zenbook is awesome. Just like the Macbook Air, it is easy to carry with you on air planes. Brought mine to China a few months back, I felt sorry for the guys lugging around old style Macbook Pros and PC Notebooks. Looks like they came straight out of the 90ies china manufacturing
One more datapoint... ordered a FSM-270YG for $350 from an eBay seller with a good rep. It showed up a scant three days later. Zero dead/stuck pixels. Tossed the Korean power cord and used one of the dozens of PC cords I've got lying around. Works magnificantly.
How can I get a monitor from eBay with NO dead pixels absolutely?
Even one dead pixel is unacceptable for me.