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Product Survey: 30'' LCD monitors

The Benefits and Extra Costs of a 30-inch LCD

The Tests

Style, design, color rendering measured with a colorimeter, reaction time in games and movies: there are many criteria.

Ideally, a monitor will excel in all domains. But this is rarely the case, and the buyer will have to make a compromise based on individual needs. Prioritize colors if you want to edit images, or put reaction time first and foremost if you are into gaming.

A 30-inch LCD has a resolution 2560 x 1600, which totals more than 4 million pixels. This is equivalent to the amount of information displayed on five 15-inch LCDs, or two 24-inch screens in a dual monitor configuration.

As big as 30 inches sounds, these screens measure only 27 inches in length and less than 8 inches in width.  For comparison, a 24-inch measures just under 20 inches long and is only 20%  shorter.  The gain in pixels is much more significant with the Samsung 305T, Dell 3007WFP HC and Apple Cinema Display 30-inch displaying almost 80% more pixels than a 24-inch.For graphic design, large spreadsheets, 2D and 3D creation, development, or even just playing movies--this size is amazing.  Graphic artists will appreciate being able to easily see all of their tool palettes, and in the office you'll no longer need to scroll in documents. And gamers will be as happy as can be with the benefit of an extraordinary panorama. World of Warcraft, Toca Racer Driver 3, Lock On, Far Cry and Civilization, just to name a few, are particularly impressive.  But try to save your eyes by stepping back a little.  For work, we think the ideal distance is about three feet, and for play we suggest 5 feet.

But you've got to upgrade more than your screen.

Rare will be the person who is able to simply replace his current screen with one these 30-inchers. Their use requires a recent high-end graphic card equipped with the latest DVI port, called Dual Link.  And then to play comfortably, given that the number of pixels to process is more than double that on already big 24-inchers, it’s strongly recommended that you use a double graphic card SLI (NVIDIA) or CrossFire (ATI). Also for gaming, you will need one of the latest motherboards capable of managing these solutions.   Another essential requirement is a colorimeter to calibrate the screen.We use the LaCie Blue Eye Pro.

  • Spanky Deluxe
    30" screens are worth every penny. I broke the bank when I bought my Mac Pro back in 2006 by buying a 30" ACD at the same time. I had to scrimp on my RAM and graphics cards for ages, running with just a single 7300GT and 512MB RAM, all because I'd forked out the extra for a 30" display. Honestly though, in all the years of owning all kinds of different hardware, different CPUs, different graphics cards, hell I even have a Prometia Mach 2 phase change cooling system in the garage, nothing has compared in levels of satisfaction to that I get from my 30" screen.
    Its remarkable how nice it is to work with that much screen real estate. The only problem with a 30" screen is, of course, gaming. I've run two 7300GTs in SLI and now have two 3870s in Crossfire. Both solutions have let me play most games at the full 2560x1600 resolution. Honestly, you don't need much antialiasing - if any at all - on a 30" screen, the pixels are simply too small for you to notice.
    I don't play all the top games anyway. I haven't played Crysis yet simply because I dislike the fact that I don't think game manufacturers should produce games that can't even run at 2560x1600 smoothly on graphics cards brought out *two generations later* than when the game came out.
    My bottom line: If you use your computer to work then the 30" displays are simply unbeatable and if you can scrape the pennies then they're worth the extra cost. If you use your computer largely for playing the latest greatest games then you might want to save your wallet a little and get a 24" since otherwise you'll be hurting too much with constantly buying new graphics cards.

    Reply
  • jwl3
    8 inches in width???? Get your facts straight.
    Reply
  • moullas
    A Dell 3008WFP here... and every bit satisfied with it, after a lot of research before plunging my money for it (from sites that had it compared with both the Samsung and the Apple)

    Honesltly though, this article wasn't really up to Tom's hardware standards.... very generic comparisons between models, without hard data supporting the 2-3-4-5 stars given to each monitor, a table for comparing the models, or coming up with a winner in the end so that someone actually shopping for a 30" can have some help in the subject
    Reply
  • avatar_raq
    I had to roll back to re-view the scores of each monitor to know the winner for sure...A conclusion section could have been so handy you know!!
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    moullasA Dell 3008WFP here... and every bit satisfied with it, after a lot of research before plunging my money for it (from sites that had it compared with both the Samsung and the Apple)Honesltly though, this article wasn't really up to Tom's hardware standards.... very generic comparisons between models, without hard data supporting the 2-3-4-5 stars given to each monitor, a table for comparing the models, or coming up with a winner in the end so that someone actually shopping for a 30" can have some help in the subjectThe winner is the Dell 3007WFP HC --5 stars at the end of the review.
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    avatar_raqI had to roll back to re-view the scores of each monitor to know the winner for sure...A conclusion section could have been so handy you know!!We will keep your formatting suggestion in mind, thanks!
    Reply
  • ravenware
    because I dislike the fact that I don't think game manufacturers should produce games that can't even run at 2560x1600 smoothly

    LMAO!

    I would sooner hook up a 32" LCD TV. Better contrast ratios and response time for less.
    Reply
  • I don't understand what it means for non-Dell-computer-owners to use the 3007. Is access to the OSD simply a matter of convenience, or does its absence severely limit control of the monitor? Can non-Dell-computer-users still have full control over the 3007 via their graphics card driver software or some other mechanism? Thanks much.
    Reply
  • cjl
    ravenwareLMAO!I would sooner hook up a 32" LCD TV. Better contrast ratios and response time for less.
    With nowhere near the resolution.

    The point of a 30" monitor is the phenomenal resolution - no HDTV can really match that.
    Reply
  • Luscious
    No mention of HP or LG panels = weak comparison.
    Reply