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

Quality Tests: Asus MS238H

Let’s get to the meat of the matter. Out of the box, the Asus MS238H defaults to settings of 100 brightness, 80 contrast, and “normal” color.  Here is an example of Eye-One Match Easy results showing a color temperature of 5800K, 2.3 gamut, and a true factory luminance (measured at middle-center) of 272.0. The minimum luminance, which is essentially the deepest black the screen can provide, was 0.3 cd/m2 before calibration.

You’ll notice the diagonal line on the graph on the left of this screen capture. This is actually three overlapping lines, indicating the strength of the red, green, and blue color channels. The fact that they’re overlapping so closely shows that they are all outputting at about equal levels. The strength of these color channels and the color temperature of the display are inextricably linked. Change one and you change the other. In general, it seems that such evenly balanced color lines yield the best-looking display, but this isn’t inherently true. There could be cases in which, say, a weaker blue channel could yield a superior image for a certain application. This is why many monitors come with various color presets in their on-screen display controls.

When we switched into User mode for color, the MS238H showed 100/100/100 for the three color channels. Running through calibration had us end up with a contrast of 98, color values of R52/G50/B58, and brightness at 100. This delivered final readings of 6500K, 2.2 gamma, 115.5 cd/m2 luminance, and a minimum luminance of 0.3 cd/m2. From here forward, we’ll only note gamma in cases where it’s not 2.2.

We found early on that there is some leeway in adjusting brightness versus color channels. We achieved nearly the target luminance here because we dialed way back on color channel strength, but left the backlighting strength at 100%. Subsequent experimenting showed that we could alternatively reduce some brightness and bring up the color channels to get similar results. However, pursuing this put us in a tedious loop of calibrating and recalibrating, trying to strike the right compromise between temperature and luminance. It’s much trickier than it seems at first glance. Ultimately, we decided to stick with our original calibration results.

After calibration, we see some interesting results. The above graphic shows the nine luminance readings taken across the MS238H. That’s a little bigger spread that you might have thought, right? Yeah, we’ll be seeing more results like that. The good news is that in real life, you don’t perceive a 20% to 30% variance in post-calibration brightness across the screen. That said, a 104 cd/m2 luminance in one area could conceivably skew your work in a task like photo editing.

For the post-calibrated display, color temperature ranged from 6400K to 6800K, gamma only varied up to 2.3, and the minimum luminance dropped to 0.2 cd/m2 across the board. This is another good reason to calibrate your screen. Once you get down to a reasonable luminance level, you’ll probably find that your blacks improve.

Finally, the sRGB gamut volume for the calibrated MS238H was 882 665. In these gamut images, the wireframe represents the monitor’s output range, while the red-shaded object (as well as the corresponding red outline on the 2D plot) shows the sRGB gamut. Ideally, we want to see the monitor’s range volume be smaller than the wireframe. Areas in which the monitor range is significantly less than sRGB could signal a noticeable deficiency in color coverage. In short, we want to see the rainbow lines be outside the solid red. The MS238H does reasonably well here, but we’ve rotated the ColorThink Pro graph to illustrate light green, one of the monitor’s weaker areas.

Last up, the MS238H chimes in with an average Delta-E of 1.56 and a maximum of 4.45. Overall, this is pretty decent. Don’t let the spikes in the deep blues unnecessarily prejudice you. Human eyes are less sensitive to color differences in deep blues and reds than they are with greens. We’ll discuss subjective impressions in a couple of pages.

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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.