2010-2011 Display and Graphics Guide
For nine years Information Systems & Computing (ISC) recommended a 17-inch cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor as the desktop standard. For the 2007-2008 desktop recommendations the standard was changed to a 19-inch liquid crystal display (LCD). While ISC believe that the 19-inch LCD display standard will suit the needs of most users, it's important to be aware of special considerations that may influence your specific requirements.
Some lower quality, primarily older LCDs fall victim to a phenomenon known as "ghost images" where the images on the screen appear to streak or blur during fast motion, a result of slow response times or low refresh rates. Response times and refresh rates are the rate at which a display updates the image it is showing. Slower response times and lower refresh rates, aside from the ghosting phenomenon, can also cause headaches for certain individuals. When looking for a monitor, you want a fast response time (16 ms or less) and high refresh rate (75 Hz or greater).
ISC strongly recommends purchasing LCDs toward the higher end of the market, especially since it is becoming common practice to keep the same display for two system life cycles. In particular, displays with an LED backlight are highly recommended, because this backlight will keep usable brightness and accurate color for a longer period. ISC has had good experiences with Apple's Cinema Displays and Dell's UltraSharp and Professional displays.
ISC highly recommends purchasing a desktop system with a discrete graphics card. Discrete graphics cards continue to afford significantly higher performance than integrated graphics solutions. This consideration is especially important with newer operating systems such as Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.6.
Since discrete graphics cards have their own processor and memory, they offer more power and do not need to share the system's main memory. This provides a better user experience and support for more powerful features and programs, such as Windows 7 and Windows Vista's Aero interface or graphics-intensive software such as AutoCAD and LightWave 3D. Furthermore, it "future-proofs" them - over time, ISC has found that systems with discrete graphics are far more usable toward the end of their life cycles.
For most adminstrative systems, ISC believes that the discrete graphics cards available on the Dell OptiPlex 780, the Dell OptiPlex 980, and the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90 are appropriate choices.
With the iMac, ISC believes either integrated or discrete video to be acceptable for a 4-year administrative system. This change in specification is because of the excellent performance of NVIDIA's 9400M integrated graphics. This change in specification does not apply to other administrative desktop systems, which almost always have integrated graphics subsystems with substantially less performance.
The Computer Connection offers displays by Apple, Samsung, and Viewsonic. Apple and Dell displays are also available in build-to-order configurations.
Apple's Studio Display web site.
Samsung's LCD monitors web site.
Viewsonic's web site.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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