Sunday, August 27, 2017

HD vs 2K monitor for CAD

When it comes to CAD, you want to use a monitor that is sharp, clear, and hopefully causes less eye strain. Resolution of the monitor has always been an important factor when in use for CAD. 

Once LCD flat screens became more commonplace and affordable, many people switched to using them. However, many early affordable flat screens were limited to a resolution of 1024x768. Many CAD users, with higher resolution screens, preferred and continued to use their high-resolution monitors, like the (very heavy) Sony shown below. 

With the introduction of HD (1920x1080) TV's and monitors, most CAD people switched to this format size. However, even an HD monitor does not have as high of a resolution as the old CRT Sony shown above, which was capable of 2304x1440 resolution.

Here at the CADCADZen labs we originally used dual 1920x1080 HD monitors for our desktop computer. These were used for surfing the web, office tasks and also CAD/CAM. We chose a 25" monitor over a 24" simply because the size difference is noticeable, where the 25" truly measures 25 inches diagonally, whereas most 24 inch monitors were 23.6 inches diagonally. 

In January of this year, one of the 25" monitors stopped working, and we needed to replace it. This opens up the possibility of going to a higher resolution monitor, such as a 2K or 4K, or simply staying with a cost effective HD monitor. 

Since we always have to consider the budget, I found a good deal on a 2K (2560x1440) monitor.  In this case it was the ACER G257HU. These can now be found online for around $200. 

To see the difference in resolution between an HD (1920x1080) monitor and 2K, see the image below.

On the left is a window of Fusion 360 limited to 1920x1080 resolution. You can clearly see from the background around it how much additional resolution (pixels) are available for display purposes. On the right is the same part loaded into Inventor utilizing the full resolution.

The purpose of today's blog is not to push a particular monitor, but rather to show you the difference between a 2K and HD display for CAD. However, this monitor is an IPS display, has good brightness, is quite sharp and had good reviews. 

The difference in CAD is noticeable. The sharpness of the part is better, CAM cutterpath display is improved, and overall use is more enjoyable. Some other advantages of switching from HD to 2K include:

  • YouTube videos played in a window are crisper.
  • Excel, Word and Outlook all display more data clearly. 
  • Work on more charts and graphs on one screen at one time.
  • Pictures from Digital SLR and Camera phones look sharper.

If you are looking at CAD monitors, and are still budget minded, consider a 2K monitor. In the long run we believe you will be happy you did. 

Maybe in a few years, 4K monitors will be priced lower, and we can do a similar story. Until then, we will continue to use our 2K screens for CAD/CAM, internet surfing and basic business work. 

About CADCAMZen:
it's the occassional thoughts, projects, musings, and opinions of a mechanical engineer that has been involved with CAD/CAM products for over 30 years.