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Programmers, what kind of monitor do you program on? And why?


#1

I have a chunk of money from Christmas that I would like to invest toward my major. and the biggest (and really only) low point in my setup is the monitor. I’m a college programmer with a good chunk of programming experience with three years of programming classes, research teams, and lots of casual projects in between.

I’m in a process of getting myself a monitor because I’m sick of this 19" 900p dell monitor for everything including raw python and java development, android studio development, audio editing, typical homework, and the occasional gaming and P&R binge.

I just wanna know:

  • What kind of monitor(s) you use (work and/or home)
  • What you use it for
  • General thoughts on what you use
  • Any unknowns

#2

Work? 2 24 inch dell 1440p display.

Home I have a 27 inch 4k display as my main with two 24 inch 1080 p displays, one in landscape, the other in portrait.

In all honesty, 24 inch, 1440p is the sweet spot for me. Not too large and good screen realistate.

The 4k 27 inch is a bit big and hard to see without scaling which messes up the 1080p displays.


#3

Monitor does not matter as much as the colour’s they display.

All the “eye-care is hugging not working” It simply sets a lower blue light level on the monitor (slightly lower)

For longer periods of any monitor it’s recommend turning of Blue entirely. Green replaces blue light without the damage of blue light to the eyes. (research it)

With blue disabled entirely green replaces it well, with blue colour still being clearly visible.

Optimally you do not want to turn green or red off, red could be slightly higher than green as to not turn the colours into a “cold colour” Also brightness and contrast, would probably be a lot more optimal beneath 50% even 30%. Tinker around with the colours to suit your needs.


#4

Save it for hardware.

For programming I think real estate is better than refresh rates and UHD resolutions. For example: I have my text editor on 1 screen in Full screen mode. Browser in another, and main window for a terminal or whatever related to my project.
For casual use I could have a pdf/ comic book/ my terminal/ browser, A VM for Adobe Illustrator etc.

As a Side note I use Gnome or i3wm so workspace is what is important to me, and fullscreen for those applications on my TV works well.

I would honestly get 2 or 3 monitors. I work on my TV (39inch Samsung) at home and at work have 2 Dell 24inch that are average and a Dock.

Dell makes these near bezel-less 24 inch ones I saw in a lab once. I would ove those.


#5

Wife used Dell 34" ultra wide and a 24" in portrait , She is eyeing my dual 32" set up tho, but was not interested in my 42"/24" set up

In her current set up she runs email and non work stuff on 24 and work only on 34"


#6

BenQ XL2720Z 27in LED 144Hz Gaming Monitor is my main display.

Attributes relevant to programming:

  • A native resolution of 1920x1080. This lets you sit 1.4m away from the screen, still see everything without scaling, and save your eyesight in the process.
  • Low Blue Light setting to reduce eye fatigue and help you get to sleep.
  • DP/HDMIx2/DVI/VGA inputs for connecting servers and other devices.
  • Portrait mode — for those times when that comes in really, really handy.
  • Non-PWM back-lighting for that lovely, steady, flicker-free image — less eye strain.
  • 144Hz helps track moving pointers — even when the screen is congested.

It’s not perfect:

  • The touch controls for the OSD are flakey. This isn’t actually a problem though, as you get a USB switch that lets you control the menu and flip between user-defined presets. A godsend, really.
  • Being a TN display, you get a fair bit of colour-shift if you don’t point the panel right at your head. Not really a problem unless you sit with other people (go with an IPS if you do that).
  • No Picture-in-Picture facility. I love having server dashboards visible via PiP.
  • Hardcore Photoshoppers/graphic designers should probably skip this for a variety of colour-related reasons.

All-in-all, a really good display. You can code for 16 hours a day all-month-long in front of this thing and not bat an eyelid. It performs well as a gaming display when you need a bit of a break.

Tip: Don’t wait until your glasses are as thick as Coke bottles before you start taking care of your eyes.


#7

Picking the right monitor is tricky. A lot of trade-offs to make, unless you want to spend major cash. Just want to highlight a few points.

  • High refresh rate is not only for games. It looks very pleasant for desktop work: scrolling, moving windows as well.
  • Hard to know what you’re buying from a spec sheet. If possible, go see a panel live. Good TN might look better than an IPS.
  • 4K is probably too much for desk use, although YMMV. I think you need at least 32" for 4K, which may be too big. 28" might be OK if you scale the UI up, but some apps have compatibility issues with that.
  • 4K looks super-crisp with text. 1440p at 28" starts to look a bit grainy. Non-native resolutions will look a bit blurry.
  • Be mindful of physical stuff like the size of the stand, type and number of inputs.

Personally I work on three displays, main one being 28" UHD scaled to 1080p which is not optimal, but that’s what I had available in the office. If you’re going to use it at home and want to play games as well, then I think 1440p is the sweet spot. Remember that 144Hz or 4K both have significant graphics card requirements, if you would want to fully leverage them.


#8

2x 24” 1920x1080 and 1x 27” 1920x1200 arranged in a row with the bigger one in the middle.

Aside from general computing and light gaming, I mostly do hobbyist development (might have something up on the iOS App Store soonish, but I’m not expecting to make a living off of it or anything).

The two 24” 1080p monitors were purchased after the one 27” 1920x1200 monitor. I wish I’d spent a bit more and gotten more of the same size & resolution as my existing monitor (or at least the same vertical size & resolution) so that there aren’t any “corners” for the cursor to get stuck in.

Dual monitors are night & day better than a single monitor. The ability to have a “space” for what you’re working on and a separate “space” for researching what you’re working on (API docs and algorithms, for programming) is flat-out better and worth the extra cost for essentially anyone who uses their computer to actually do stuff (as opposed to only using it for browsing the web, YouTube, etc). Even with gaming, you can have one monitor for the game and the other monitor for Discord, etc, or iTunes or walkthroughs (if those are your thing).

One thing I don’t know, though, is whether an ultra wide monitor provides the same benefits. With 16:9 screens, they’re not really wide enough to comfortably fit two apps side-by-side, but from what I’ve seen in some of the reviews, it’s entirely possible (depending on the apps in question of course) that there is room for that with 21:9 monitors. Personally, I’m inclined to get one and find out the next time one of mine dies, but that’s a moot point for now.

Triple monitors are better than dual, but the difference isn’t nearly as pronounced. I typically end up using one of them for email, iTunes, chat, etc — all stuff that’s kinda neat to always have visible, but arguably isn’t actually necessarily better (especially email). The only use case where I would say it’s definitely worth it is for multi-monitor gaming where you don’t want a bezel in the middle (X-Plane is neat across three monitors, for instance, although I’m not sure it’s neat enough to be the only reason to get a third monitor unless you’re really into flight sims).

HiDPI screens are fantastic, on a Mac, anyway. Dunno what’s taking so long for Windows and Linux to figure out scaling, but if your OS does scaling well (or if you think it will much before you intend to replace your new monitor), I’d recommend it. Not nearly as much as I’d recommend dual monitors, though… those are sooo good IMHO.

Whether I have any clue how similar our wants & needs are WRT what makes for a good computer monitor?


#9

Back in the days I had two huge CRT 21" IBM P260 running at 1600x1200 - was lucky to get them second hand with little wear. They were essentially Sony Trinitron with completely flat glass. Lovely! I used them for a bunch of years.
Later on bought an Apple Cinema HD 30" 2560x1600 IPS (hooked up to a ThinkPad running Windows!) and immediately fell in love with having just one huge monitor with a high res. Gone were the days of any sort of dual monitor setup for me. I even sort of hate using more than one monitor these days, lol.

At home I use an EIZO FlexScan EV3237, a 31.5" IPS at 3840x2160. It’s essentially four 1080p displays in one. Due to its size it is great for anything fullscreen like movies and graphics, and I don’t have to deal with a non-seamless experience when doing other tasks. The high resolution makes even tiny text look great! It works well with no UI scaling due to its size.
I commonly have my code editor taking up half the screen, leaving the other half for 2x 1920x1080 windows.

I’ve put it on an Ergotron HX Desk Monitor Arm and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought. Clears up space on the table and allows me to easily position the monitor so it’s perfect for any sort of odd working position I might enjoy.

This is the closest I’ve come to what I feel is “the ultimate setup” so my recommendation is to go in this direction. Get a large high-res display and some sort of mounting arm. It doesn’t have to be EIZO and Ergotron, any sensible non-TN display can work and a cheap stand will do the job though less elegantly.

When I’m on the road I have a 14" 2560x1440 IPS on my ThinkPad X1. It works very well with the high resolution, great clarity and more space for stuff! Not great for any sort of extended sessions but for minor on-the-go tasks it works.

At work I usually hook up my laptop to an AOC 31.5" 3840x2160 MVA (not IPS) and it works alright. Same res and size as I use at home but definitely not the same visual experience as a proper IPS panel.

Considering the low prices of large high-res displays I believe everyone should give it a try, even if they’ve previously used like 3x 1080 displays.

TL;DR I’m a fanboy of a single large high-res IPS display, and multi-monitor setups twist my brain with their non-seamless experience.