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Evaluating monitors isn't as straightforward a process as benchmarking CPUs or graphics cards, which are easier to run through a well-established suite of real-world applications. Often, before we even start talking about a given display's performance, any debate about specific evaluation criteria gets lost in the discussion about how color behaves. That's why we aren't using test patterns that we need to measure with our eyes.
As a result, we rely on a more objective performance analysis by using a spectrophotometer and monitor calibration software (specifically, a Spectracal-certified i1Pro, Spectracal's CalMAN [luminance and gamut measurements], X-Rite's i1Match [default state], and ColorEyes Pro [calibration] to examine specific performance characteristics). This allows us to isolate specific traits, such as color space, luminance uniformity, and contrast ratios, without having to rely on subjective impressions. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, we'll explain the benchmarks as we start picking apart each monitor's performance characteristics.
If there are other benchmarks you'd like to see from a display round-up, let us know in this story's feedback thread. We'll try to accommodate your request in our next LCD-oriented piece. In the meantime, our current set of metrics gives you a good idea of what to expect, whether you are gaming or just watching video on Hulu.