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

Quality Tests: Asus VW246 And Analysis

Interestingly, Asus shipped our VW246 with default control settings of only 90 brightness and 80 contrast. Despite color channel values of R100/G100/B100, we measured an initial temperature of 5800K and luminance of a surprisingly bright 263.8 cd/m2 (0.3 cd/m2 minimum). This was also the only display of the nine we reviewed that showed a defective (blue) pixel.

By the time the VW246 hit our bench, we were getting a bit antsy to experiment. Advanced mode calibration left us with an 86 contrast. Leaving the brightness at 90, an 80/80/80 combination of color channels had us looking cool at 6000K but still excessively bright at 200.7 cd/m2. We found this out as one of several steps on the way down to a surprisingly low 45 brightness setting, which finally gave us 120.5 cd/m2 with R87/G80/B95 yielding a perfect 6500K.

Kudos to this relatively antique CCFL for nailing a near-perfect center luminance and showing impressively little fall-off around any of the edges. Temperatures ranged between 6300K and 7000K as minimum luminance bounced between 0.1 and 0.2 cd/m. Gamma stayed rock steady at 2.2 everywhere.

ColorThink Pro reported a gamut of 883 808, and you can see in our graph how similarly the VW246 behaves compared to the Asus MS246H. Our Delta-E results are fairly middle of the road, averaging 1.55 with a 4.95 maximum. That 1.4 result on black should be a bit better.

After watching a range of content, from basic Windows productivity to hi-res photos to HD video, we can say that Asus' two CCFL displays look virtually identical. The VW shows slightly darker shadows more reliably; the MS246H sometimes loses more detail in the darks. Being slightly lighter overall, the MS246H also reveals a bit more compression banding. These points are almost an exercise in fishing for something to say, though. The screens are visually very close.

Setting the LED-based MS238H next to the MS246H, the LED unit looks strikingly red, almost sepia-toned in comparison. At the same time, this red is so vibrant that it makes the MS246H seem washed out. However—and this won’t be the only time we point this out—the MS238H sacrifices some shadow detail, particularly in black and white photography. The LED unit looks stronger and more vibrant to the eye, but the CCFL-based MS246 actually stays truer to the original colors and more faithfully conveys shadow detail.

Given all that, and adding back in power consumption considerations, we would pick the MS246H as the best option among the Asus triad for general content viewing. Yes, it’s a bit erratic on uniform luminance, but it does well with color, wins on detail, and stays toe-to-toe with the LED unit on energy.

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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.