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Display and Graphics Guide

Displays

For nine years, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) recommended a 17-inch cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor as the desktop standard. Beginning with the 2007-2008 desktop recommendations, the standard changed to a 19-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) and, for the 2020-2021 desktop recommendations, a 24-inch display is specified. While ISC believes that the 24-inch LCD standard will suit the needs of most users, it's important to be aware of other considerations that may influence your specific requirements.

ISC recommends purchasing displays that specify a 16ms or lower response time (gray-to-gray) and using a digital video input, such as DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, or USB-C, to reduce the effects of input lag—typically appearing as “smearing” or “ghosting” when on-screen items are in motion. Most users would also be well served by monitors using in-plane switching (IPS) display technology. IPS panels are often regarded as having significantly better color reproduction capabilities and viewing angles than competing technologies, and they are suitable for office use and for visual media where accuracy is paramount.

ISC strongly recommends purchasing displays toward the higher end of the market, especially since it is common practice at the University to retain the same display for two system life cycles. In particular, displays with a LED backlight are highly recommended, as LEDs keep useful brightness for a more extended period and typically use less electrical power both in use and in standby. Displays should support at least Full HD resolution. ISC has had good experiences with Dell's UltraSharp and Professional displays and with Lenovo's ThinkVision displays.

Graphics

For many years, ISC recommended purchasing desktop systems with discrete graphics cards. While discrete graphics cards can provide significantly higher performance than most integrated graphics solutions, Intel's and AMD’s recent mid-range to high-end integrated graphics (designated UHD 630 or Radeon Vega 8 and above) have mostly eliminated this advantage for typical office and light visual media work. Thus, for FY2021 the recommendation is for a discrete video card or Intel integrated graphics (UHD 630 or Radeon Vega 8 and above). This recommendation does not apply to lower-end integrated graphics such as HD 610 or Vega 3, which are insufficient for University use.

Since discrete graphics cards have their own processor and memory, they can offer more power and do not need to share the system's main memory. This provides a better user experience and support for highly graphics-intensive applications such as AutoCAD, LightWave 3D, and Maya. Discrete graphics cards also often allow more flexibility when using multiple displays. For visual media workstations, ISC recommends considering AMD’s FirePro or NVIDIA’s Quadro graphics cards, which are designed to accelerate graphically intensive applications while offering more flexible color output for better accuracy and calibration with high-end displays.

For most administrative systems, ISC believes that the integrated graphics available on the Apple Mac mini, the Dell OptiPlex 7070, and the Lenovo ThinkCentre M920 are appropriate choices. The Apple iMac recommendation includes a discrete graphics card, but this is only because Apple does not currently offer an integrated graphics configuration with a four-core processor.

Additional Information

The Computer Connection offers displays by Dell and Lenovo. Dell and Lenovo displays are also available in build-to-order configurations.

Dell's displays website.

Lenovo's displays website.