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

Samsung And Viewsonic Power Draw

The first thought that crossed our minds when testing the Samsung BX2350 was that it looked eerily similar to the Asus MS238H. At 100% brightness, the two are essentially indistinguishable. Given that there are only a handful of true panel manufacturers on the planet, we wouldn’t be surprised if both companies were using the same glass. With the BX2350 selling for $260 on Amazon as of this writing, and the MS238H floating around at $170, you can examine Samsung’s perks and see for yourself if they add up to a nearly $100 price premium.

Monitor Test
Samsung SyncMaster BX2350
Samsung SyncMaster P2350
Viewsonic VG2428wm
Blank screen saver
29.2 W
46.2 W
40.7 W
Video, 100% brightness
28.5 W
45.0 W
39.8 W
Video, 75% brightness
24.6 W
37.6 W
26.6 W
Video, 50% brightness
20.8 W
31.1 W
22.3 W
White, 100% brightness
26.5 W
42.9 W
38.8 W
White, 75% brightness
22.7 W
35.7 W
25.7 W
White, 50% brightness
19.0 W
29.3 W
21.4 W
Black, 100% brightness
28.7 W
44.8 W
39.5 W
Black, 75% brightness
24.9 W
37.7 W
26.6 W
Black, 50% brightness
21.1 W
31.4 W
22.5 W

Similarly, the Samsung P2350 lines up very evenly with Asus' VW246. The Samsung pair is our best representation in this roundup of a typical old versus new tech match-up. The CCFL design clearly lags LED by 55% on total draw across all test scenarios. So, are Viewsonic’s claims of 50% savings typical of what we should expect from LED monitors in general? Absolutely. Our widest divergence from Samsung was 62%. Relatively speaking, that’s a massive advantage. If you’re saving 15 W per screen in a triple-head display that runs 15 hours per day at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, that’s a $30 annual savings on your electricity bill. Over the life of the triple-head rig, you’ll likely save enough to pay for one of the monitors. That’s not bad, especially if the screen looks better than its CCFL alternative. But let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.

At this point, we had a chance to query an unnamed BenQ product manager about our power assumptions and findings so far. This is what we received in reply:

  1. Power savings of up to 80% sounds amazing, but you’re not going to get that from the LED backlighting alone. For most LED applications, we rarely see power saving benefits up to that much.
  2. CCFL structure efficiency is less than with LED circuits. For example, the efficiency of the “converter” for LED is around 90%, while the “inverter” for CCFL is around 80% to 85%. In other words, not only does LED contribute to power savings, but the structure of the power circuit does this, too.
  3. In reality, four-lamp CCFL consumes more power than LED, but for two lamps, it consumes similar power as LED. That is because of the contribution from optical film inside the two-lamp backlight unit.

As for Viewsonic, power results are in line with what we would now expect from a conventional CCFL display. In fact, the VG2428wm undercuts the Asus and Samsung CCFL options by a significant margin. So, while we can debate whether Viewsonic should have followed Dell with a two-lamp design, we’ll at least compliment the company for doing a better job than most with the four-lamp option it delivered.

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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.