CCFL Versus LED: Is There A Downside To Going Green?

Quality Results: Dell ST2320L And Analysis

Our LED-based Dell pops out of the box with the exact same settings as its CCFL partner. We see the same 6500K brightness, but with LED that brightness gives us a pounding 290.1 cd/m2 luminance and a 0.3 cd/2 minimum. Clearly, this is way too high, although we should add that, to the untrained eye, it looks strikingly good when you first turn it on. Too good, apparently.

With calibration, we actually raised the contrast all the way to 92. Just to show you the difference, a brightness setting of 100 here still yields a luminance of 264.2 cd/m2. To hit our 120 cd/m2 target, we had to dial the brightness clear down to 19. That’s almost unbelievable. At this level, we ended up with a final calibrated luminance of 121.4 cd/m2, a minimum of 0.1 cd/m2, and a 6800K color temperature. Note that this yielded a bit more separation in the color channels than we expected, with green noticeably leading red and blue.

Even with a 19 brightness setting, the ST2320L still ran a bit strong across most regions, only dropping under our luminance target in the top-left corner.

Sure enough, that stronger green channel comes back around in the volumetric gamut graph. From this nearly top-down view, you can see how far in the ST2320L exceeds in the greens and yellows, but, as mentioned earlier, that isn’t necessarily bad if the other colors compensate. In this case, the red and blue channels counterbalance well enough. The monitor ends up with a total gamut volume of 909 126.

Finally, we once again see a big pop in the teal and blue Delta-E bars. Still, despite topping out at 4.87, the display’s overall average remains an unshabby 1.46.

Now, we couldn’t stand the BenQ at 45 brightness. Even though it was calibrated, the screen looked hopelessly bland and muddy alongside both of our Dell screens. The whites looked gray, the vibrance had all the vitality of overcooked pasta, and the detail loss in shadows was massive. On a direct head-to-head against Dell’s LED, BenQ got its brains bashed in.

At 75 brightness and 75 contrast, the BenQ still feels like a CCFL display, meaning that the blacks aren’t as deep. With a CCFL, normally sacrificing deep blacks means getting more detail, but not so here. The EW2420 even loses some detail in bright whites, and we noticed less pop in yellows compared to the Dells. The only place where we felt BenQ had an advantage was in showing less banding and blockiness through mid-tones, especially grays.

The Dell ST2310F (CCFL) similarly shows much muddier blacks compared to its LED counterpart, but now we get into the expected trade-off. For example, in one test photo showing a night sky within a black border, the line between sky and border was obvious with the ST2310F. With the ST2320L, there were places where we couldn’t distinguish the two dark shades. In watching videos, we found that the CCFL showed more color banding, particularly in blue and violet regions, but the LED was more prone to drawing attention to blockiness in DVD artifacting. The increased contrast makes the darker artifacts more noticeable.

With that said, both monitors exhibit very natural color. You really see this in photographs. In a direct comparison, the ST2320L shows a bit more of a reddish cast, but it’s not bad, and the screen doesn’t lose the same amount of shadow detail as our other LED options.

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    Top Comments
  • nevertell
    How about doing this with IPS panels ? :>
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    In the "Wrapping It Up" section, perhaps you meant "LED" instead of "LCD"?
  • nevertell
    How about doing this with IPS panels ? :>
  • nforce4max
    I am going to get such a monitor later this year. Imagine the leap from CRT to Led LCD.
  • Ragnar-Kon
    I personally can't wait until the OLEDs manufacturing process becomes cheaper. Having seen Sony's new OLED displays at this year's NAB in Vegas, I can say they are VERY VERY impressive.
  • scook9
    I know that I have been rocking a pair of Gateway FHD2400's for a few years now and love them as they meet all my needs and have never left me wanting
  • g00b
    Ummm ... LED? They are all LCD :).

    "Ultimately, we’d pick LCD for media consumption, but we’d pick CCFL for editing work where detail and accuracy are paramount. LCD is more fun to watch; CCFL is more reliable."
  • Anonymous
    Please substitute "LCD" with "LED" everywhere in the conclusion section!
  • theshonen8899
    Basically the differences are very dramatic right? I'm gonna sound like a hippie for this but I'd definitely go for the greener option. Just being polite for our future generation is all.
  • Anonymous
    what g00b said. At the end you start saying LCD instead of LED, might confuse some poor soul.
  • wrxchris
    May not be too relevant here considering that this article was based around image quality, but as a gamer, I'm still plenty satisfied with my trio of 25.5" Asus TN monitors. Yes, they bleed a bit of light around the edges and the colors may not be very accurate, but they handle fast moving images with no problems and only cost $750 for the set. And my favorite feature is the 16x10 aspect ratio, which is becoming quite hard to find these days; not sure why people are so willing to give up vertical screen space.
  • haplo602
    still does not beat a high quality CRT in image reproduction. size/weight/power are another thing.
  • pirateboy
    if you check the evidence of osama's death on a ccfl screen you would discover he isn't really dead but it's just some random bearded dude they shot
  • Kisakuku
    X-Rite's iMatch software doesn't have a correction for LED backlighting. A colorimeter like i1 Display 2 is not a spectrophotometer and can't just measure any screen thrown at it. It requires corrections for LED and WCG-CCFL backlighting. Not sure how you can make far-going conclusions from these inaccurate measurements.
  • LuckyDucky7

    It's starting to look bad- if you're spending 200+ dollars you might as well be buying a REAL screen instead of these ones.
    Even 40 more dollars buys you a screen FAR superior to these crappy TN panels.

    So why aren't they being reviewed?
  • g00ey
    It would be interesting to look at which LED lit panels use local dimming and which ones do not.
  • masterbinky
    The funny thing in the opening of the article, it typically isn't the CFL that goes out in monitors. It is the power inverter, that powers the CFL. When I did dell repairs, it's funny they didn't let you just get the inverter to replace, you had to replace the whole panel.
  • masterbinky
    nforce4maxI am going to get such a monitor later this year. Imagine the leap from CRT to Led LCD.

    I image it's a leap off a cliff. You'll be dissapointed if you place them side by side. Well, depending on what your looking at, but try a dark image with detail in it,hint: you'll have to use the CRT to identify that image. Black crush sucks.
  • mcd023
    great article. thanks.
  • bildo123
    I was going to make the switch from a 24" VA panel to a newer LED panel (in which I tried two). The first was an Acer LED 23" and the blue hue this thing put off was gross. It didn't how much I calibrated it the colors were dull and the blue hue remained. The next LED I tried was the Samsung BX2450, 24"; the colors were better and the blue hue was less noticeable but it was still apparent (at least to me). I realize both are TN panels as well but I think I'll wait it out until a nice LED-IPS panel comes out for sale in the States.
  • haftarun8
    @ masterbinky Have you looked at top quality IPS panel LCD's calibrated compared to a CRT lately? The HP LP2475w at work beats out an old NEC Multisync 22" CRT with darker blacks even though the whites are brighter, has very accurate colors after calibrating, and has zero black or white crush - every shade of extreme blacks and whites can be discerned on test images. If you don't want crap for LCD's you still have to spend over $500 for your monitor, no getting around it.