I am on the verge of building my 3rd 'puter in the last 7 years.
Things have really changed in that time.
Before building, I will wait for the new processor and X58 boards to come out and decide from there which route I take (old: Q9550 vs new: 920 or better). It will be a rig to play Crysis, FarCry2 and my wife does a lot of photo editing. I also manage different Harley sites with many windows opened. Money is no object but would not flush it either.
My present dilemma is in knowing what size of Video Display to get. 22" or 24"? I was looking at them at BB and that 24" takes a lot of room estate. I also understand that it offers HD but I do not watch any movies on the 'puter.
A 22" would get away with a 4870 and a 24" would call for a 4870x2. I do not need to play in 19xx X 12xx. I also understand that the 24" could be more future proof.
My question to the board is as follows: What size monitor would the majority recommend, and why?
Have you considered the possibility of multiple monitors? With "many windows opened," you may find it more useful to put different ones on different monitors, instead of trying to make them all usefully readable on just one. Consider your working area. It may limit the size of the LARGEST monitor you can place, but still allow placement of more than one.
Perhaps your best choice would be a 22" monitor as your primary, and a smaller 19" as a secondary.
You could get a 24" or 25.5" monitor and just play Crysis at 1280x1024 on it if the HD 4870 isn't good enough to play it at 1920x1200. Or lower the eye-candy level until the HD 4870 can play it at 1920x1200 with decent fps.
I like jtt283's idea with the multiple monitors too. I'm using two monitors with 1680x1050 and they do increase my productivity a lot.
depending on the type and quality of the photo editing you do, you could get away with a cheaper TN panel. I'd personally recommend a 24 inch (it's marginally bigger than a 22inch, about 1.5inch taller / wider) and then at least you get the capability of running 1920x1200. If a particular game doesn't play well at that resolution (which I doubt), then you can always go smaller. This isn't possible to do the other way around.
Another thing to consider: buy your monitor locally, after you've actually looked at it and checked it for dead pixels. Look at it from an angle too (especially horizontal). For example I saw a Viewsonic 25.5" monitor at my local Best Buy recently, $500 (Canadian currency), and it was just fine. You could watch it even from a side, something I can't really do with my current Samsung 216BW.