Help me go shopping for a big 'ol monitor
May 16, 2013 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a 27" monitor with some specific requirements in mind.

I'm looking to buy a 27" monitor to get some extra desktop space on my home computer. I'm going to be using this mostly for programming and writing, two activities where I often find it useful to have lots of screen real-estate to display lots of files for reference. I also occasionally need to do some work in Photoshop. I am woefully ignorant of computer hardware, so I would appreciate a bit of advice.

My main concerns:
- I have an "Early 2011" MacBook Pro with 8gb RAM. I'm not going to have any performance hit for rendering X-times more pixels, right? (Dumb question, probably, but figured I'd ask.)
- It seems like the trade-off with monitors these days is resolution versus refresh rate. If I'm mostly using my screen to type things and look at text, am I going to notice the refresh rate at all?
- It needs to not be another huge, hulking thing that cannot be moved when my girlfriend wants to use the desk.

My desired model:
- 27"
- 2560 x 1440 resolution
- Reasonably future-proofed (in terms of connectors, etc.) to use this for the next 5-6 years with a new computer, if and when I replace my current one.

I do not want to optimize for:
- Gaming or high-def video.
- Built-in speakers or other bells and whistles.
- Extremely accurate colors. As long as it doesn't have a weird hue, I will probably not notice $100 worth of RGB-correctness.

Of course, I also don't want to spend more money than I need to. NewEgg has some models that seem to fit the bill for around $600-$700. Is this a good deal? What brands should I look at/avoid?

Throw this hardware-clueless software guy a bone.
posted by deathpanels to Technology (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The best in quality would probably be a Dell Ultrasharp. As good as Apple monitors but not as expensive. They usually have many inputs so you can plug in a variety of sources. Colors are very good and you can definitely tell if you do any graphic work.
posted by xtine at 6:58 PM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: Seconding the Dell Ultrasharp monitors. You can currently get the 27" versions for ~$600. More expensive than you'll pay for some other monitors, but worth it IMO: they tend to have better color representation, be less "hulking" than some other large monitors, and just generally look more professional. This one looks pretty good; I guess the one thing it's lacking is a HDMI input, but the DisplayPort input means you could get a cheap cable and plug your Macbook Pro right in without adapters.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:18 PM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: The Wirecutter likes the Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM, and, as a cheaper option, the Crossover 27q.

Also: I've got a 2008 MBP with 4gb RAM powering a 27" ACD, and it isn't a problem (although the 4gb is in general a problem I need to remedy soon - but it doesn't seem to be because of the monitor - it's still a bottleneck when I'm running without the ACD).
posted by backwards guitar at 7:30 PM on May 16, 2013

Response by poster: So what's the difference between the UltraSharp U2711 and U2713?
posted by deathpanels at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2013

You won’t have to worry about performance with your laptop. You have not one, but two video cards.

Your unaddressed problem is “big monitor, but easy to move.” Your solution is not in the monitor, but in the stand. For a monitor in excess of 25 inches, I would recommend something like this Ergotron mounting arm.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:43 PM on May 16, 2013

The Dell Ultrasharp post/review I linked to compares it to the 2711:
The newer U2713HM, though, makes the switch to LED backlighting, cutting the panel weight down to 12 pounds [from 23 pounds]
There's more in the article, and a link to another review with a detailed comparison.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:13 PM on May 16, 2013

Future-proofing is not something to worry about; Apple is still making adaptors for VGA, which was standardized in 1987! You will always be able to connect your laptop with a relatively cheap dongle.

You are correct that refresh rate is essentially not an issue except for gaming. For most people, IPS panels have better viewing angles, color quality, etc., though they are somewhat slower than cheaper TN panels. The Dells referenced above have high-quality IPS panels and are frequently recommended as mid to high-end monitors.

Depending on the size of your MacBook Pro, you may or may not have a speedy discrete video card. The 13" has an Intel HD 3000, which is perfectly serviceable for non-gaming use, though you may find scrolling large web pages somewhat unsmooth. If you have a 15" or 17" then you shouldn't notice any display hiccups at all. I'm not under the impression that Photoshop is especially demanding of graphics cards.
posted by wnissen at 9:02 PM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: U2711: made in 2011
U2713: made in 2013

Literally. It's U27XX. They are all good. Older years are cheaper but still generally the same in quality.
posted by xtine at 12:50 AM on May 17, 2013

We get 27" Dell Ultrasharps for our guys at work, who mostly spend their days looking at big screens of numbers and code, so n'thing.
posted by phunniemee at 6:40 AM on May 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I bought a U2711 as it seemed a good combination of the features I wanted without the extra $200 worth of bleeding-edge technology that comes with the newer models. I'm excited!
posted by deathpanels at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2013

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