Pros vs. Cons: 2x23" vs. 1x30" monitor config? at DVinfo.net

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Old May 4th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #1
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Pros vs. Cons: 2x23" vs. 1x30" monitor config?

There has been some interesting discussion about brands vs. prices, but I am interested in knowing more about the ups and downs of dual-monitor vs. (larger) single-monitor configurations, all other things being equal.

In one corner we have one 30" digital monitor with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. Cost is $2,000.

In the other corner we have two 24" digital monitors each with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. Cost is $2,000 for the pair.

The graphics card is the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, which supports either configuration. So, where are the strong points and weak points between the two?

My intuition says the smart money is on the two 24" monitors -- you get more screen real estate for the same buck. But, what am I not considering? I don't know how graphic cards really do their thing. To me, they are magic. How is that 512MB of memory being managed between the two monitors? Are both getting 512MB each, or are they sharing to effectively get 256MB each?
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Old May 4th, 2008, 03:25 PM   #2
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I'd go for the dual 24" any day. Firstly, you get more for your money - but two smaller monitors is generally considered more productive that one larger one (maybe because of point one?!).
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Old May 4th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jo Potts View Post
two smaller monitors is generally considered more productive that one larger one
Other than the mathematics of a bit* more screen real-estate, how do you substantiate "generally considered more productive"? I have worked in a dual-monitor situation before, but I can't quantify any increase in productivity other than the fact that I had more room to work with on two 19" monitors than i did with my single 17" monitor at home -- but that comparison doesn't translate to a contrast between two smaller vs one bigger.

Also, I am very curious to know about performance. How does it impact on the performance of the graphics card, that's what I really want to know.



* FYI, two monitors with 1920x1200 resolution yield 4,608,000 pixels^2 compared to a single monitor with 2560x1600 resolution yields 4,096,000 pixels^2. The dual-monitor set-up has 512,000 pixels^2 more, for an increase of 12.5%. Dollar for dollar, and all other things being equal, that's not too bad. However, there is more power consumption in the cost of running a second monitor. And the whole graphics card resources question still looms.
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Old May 4th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #4
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This type of question has no perfect answer, it really comes down to personal preference and how your own brain assimilates information.

For myself I definitely prefer multiple monitors; I have (2) 30" inchers, one has the viewer/canvas/timeline and the other contains all my asset windows and browser. This gives me a lot of real estate for the timeline (more is better I've found) and super-fast visual access to all assets. Whenever I've moved to a single-monitor station (or laptop) I feel cramped and lacking information.

Some editors actually stretch the timeline out between two monitors and some want massive screens for secondary color correction (film workflows).

Generally speaking a multi-monitor setup is more beneficial because of the added real-estate for timelines and the ability to have editing and color-correction windows open simultaneously but that in no way means a single-monitor station isn't as productive - it's all up to the editors personal preferences and exactly how that editor configures the display windows.

With respect to any performance hit on a multi-monitor station: There really isn't any measurable difference that I can think of. If you use a GPU that has a minimum of 256MB of VRAM then you'll be fine; more VRAM will only help the advanced apps such as Color and Motion but you won't see much if any difference with just FCP.
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Old May 4th, 2008, 05:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
With respect to any performance hit on a multi-monitor station: There really isn't any measurable difference that I can think of. If you use a GPU that has a minimum of 256MB of VRAM then you'll be fine; more VRAM will only help the advanced apps such as Color and Motion but you won't see much if any difference with just FCP.
That's precisely what I am keeping in mind, performance for Color, Motion, After Effects, etc. I've been taking my time pondering this whole move (everything is a Chess game for me, I'm a huge nerd) for upgrading my suite. I want to make sure my money is spent wisely, especially knowing this investment is going to be with me for a few years to come.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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I would suggest that you stick with a supported GPU with 512MB of VRAM that will work in your Mac, that way you're guaranteed best performance with even (2) 30" inchers. If you have Leopard the performance boost is most definitely measurable when compared to 10.4 especially since it allows the apps to address more CPU RAM.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #7
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Another vote for 2 smaller versus 1 larger. There is definitely a benefit in being able to visually organize some stuff on one monitor, and others on the other monitor.

My personal set-up is a 23" and a 30" Cinema Display. I keep my timeline and my canvas on the 30", and try to keep all of the other "utility" windows and palettes on the 23". This allows me to better focus on actual work, and less on the window clutter.

If you find that you need more performance out of your graphics card, that's a simple upgrade to add a second card. Again, if you find you actually need it.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #8
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2 monitors works better for me. I went for 2x23. I wanted 2x30 but heard voices that it would be overkill and if I want to add monitor for color accuracy, it would be too much.
I have a lot of window layouts saved and that helps. Different for raw cut, then another one for playing with the whole sequence (I stretch the timeline between two displays), different for coloring etc.

Now it would be sweet to add 30" on top of two 23s and use it as preview.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 03:25 PM   #9
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Just to be contrary...

I'd vote for a single 30.

At the proper distance it fills your field of vision really well and you won't have to get accustomed to a "bezel break" down the center of your work.

Now understand that I edit video all day, and that means that in addition to my computer monitor, I have a 14" broadcast monitor just right of the computer screen, and a 32" High Def LCD television suspended above my Cinema Display.

So I already have 3 places to glance for reference or to see how my output picture looks on the appropriate display.

Still, a good 30" display is all I've ever needed for editing - and I think it gives you plenty of room for bins and tabs and workspace - particularly since the Mac OS makes it keystroke easy to shuffle finder windows around or temporarily hide them to reveal desktop assets or other alternate workspaces.

FWIW.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #10
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Bill brings up an interesting factor: at a point you get diminishing returns with both size and number of screens. Bill's setup is highly efficient; one, large-size screen for all the user interface with the app and 2 diverse screens for monitoring.

At one time the rumor mill has Apple releasing a 40" inch ACD; although it may yet come to pass it does bring up the question of how big is too much? It all comes down to personal preferences and usability; some people, like Bill, can manage and scan a single monitor more efficiently for the main UI than two whereas others would rather fill the room with as many monitors as their budget and CPU's can handle. I know a network editor that has no less than 6 monitors for his setup - and he still wishes for more. Go figure.

A good way to gauge what monitoring setup would work best, is during an edit session if you find yourself always wanting more continuously displayed information than your current setup can handle then it's probably time for more than one monitor. If you don't mind using the quick-switch method of hiding displays UI's behind each other then another monitor might be overkill.

Two words: personal preferences.
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