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

The Monitors: Dell, Samsung, And Viewsonic

Dell ST2310

Mixed messages continue with Dell’s lineup. The ST2310 has the usual specs you expect from a 23” widescreen: 16x9 aspect ratio, 1920x1080 resolution, 250 cd/m2 brightness, 5 ms response, and a 50 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Dell bills this as an “energy efficient” model, and with a 30 W maximum draw (22.5 W typical), that would seem a fair description.

However, this is not an LED display—it’s CCFL. Dell also has it listed at $239.99. But ignore that. The last price we found online was $160, setting it close to the ST2320L (below). The ST2310 provides one port each for HDMI, DVI, and VGA, and there’s even an optional, clip-on “SoundBar” for better audio than what the integrated speakers can provide. But hold those power numbers in mind. This gets interesting.

Dell ST2320L

Second verse, same as the first—only this time with LED backlighting. The ST2320L is a near-match for the ST2310, but the backlight change pumps the dynamic contrast up to 8 000 000:1. Interestingly, this LED variant sheds just over three pounds compared to its CCFL counterpart, even though there’s no change in screen size and the stands are fairly similar. Power draw remains almost identical at 30 W max and 24 W typical. Yeah, you read that right. Keep going...

Samsung SyncMaster BX2350

Of all the comparisons we saw in this roundup, Samsung was closest to hitting our expectations. The BX2350 is a 23” 1920x1080 widescreen with 250 cd/m2 brightness, two HDMI ports, one VGA, 2 ms GTG response, and Samsung’s usual bevy of menu options and features.

It’s a shame that we can’t take you inside all of the features Samsung packs in here, because our testing depended on normalizing the settings between all monitors, and that meant disabling every possible image and power optimization. Suffice it to say that we appreciate the thought Samsung puts into promoting its greener-than-most manufacturing practices and the ways in which it makes image optimization according to content type and environment very simple. Samsung reports a static contrast ratio of 1000:1 and doesn’t bother with dynamic numbers—kudos to Korea. The power spec lands at 26 W.

Samsung SyncMaster P2350

The P2350 is Samsung’s 23” CCFL display in this group. Again, we see the older tech toting a bit of extra blubber, weighing in at 11.24 pounds to the BX model’s 8.15 pounds. More interestingly, the P2350 sports a brightness of 300 cd/m2 to the BX’s typical 250 cd/m2. Samsung lacks a few “Magic” features on this design, but the notable spec is a 43 W maximum power draw, making it potentially the least power-efficient model under review here. Let’s move on and see if these backlights and their energy draws add up in the real world.

Viewsonic VG2428wm

Our CCFL-based Viewsonic unit counterbalances the LED-backlit BenQ in this roundup. The 23.6-inch screen sports a slim bezel, fully adjustable stand, and only VGA and DVI output. Curiously, there’s no HDMI output on this display, although you do get a couple of 2 W speakers and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. Viewsonic specifies a typical power consumption of 45 W, placing it at the top of our environmentally unfriendly list. However, Viewsonic combats this with an Eco-mode, although product documentation gives no clue as to what this is or how it works, only that it’s accessible via the on-screen menus.

Viewsonic specs a 300 cd/m2 brightness (typical) and 5 ms response time. The VG2428wm also indicates a 160-degree vertical viewing angle (170 degrees horizontal), but we noticed this display was more prone than most to losing text clarity at only moderately elevated heights from center. Unless testing reveals some unexpected surprises, we’ve been more impressed by other Viewsonic models.

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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.