LCD Monitor and CAD

CAD users generally consider the switch to an LCD monitor to be a worthwhile upgrade. Just make sure the rest of your system is ready for it. March 25, 2007

How well do LCD monitors display CAD drawings compared to a CRT monitor? I am setting up a home work station, but have limited desk space, so I am thinking an LCD monitor would be a great space saver. But having never used one for CAD, I'm worried how well it will display CAD line drawings. I do mostly 2D cabinet plans (floor plan, elevations, and sections)... a lot of lines. Will an LCD monitor give me crisp diagonal lines? Any recommendations?

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor A:
We switched over to LCD two years ago and will never go back.

From contributor M:
CRTs are dying out. Get wide screen LCD. You will have lots of space to fit all your toolbars.

From contributor A:
My next move is to go to the wide screen. When we bought ours they where still very pricey, but I definitely see the benefits to them now. My wish list is a 23" wide and two 19". You've got to love that split screen.

From contributor Y:
Just bought a 24" Dell. Best screen for the money. Excellent image quality. Works very good with AutoCad for line quality and renderings.

From contributor B:
I'm no big fan of Dell, but so many people recommended the Dell 19" LCD when I asked this same question a year ago that I went with it. I am very pleased. There is an issue you need to be aware of, though. LCD monitors are clear and sharp only at their native resolution. On my 19" Dell LCD, that's 1280 x 1024. What this means to you is that you'll either have to get used to smaller text, icons, etc. on screen or do a lot of adjusting of Windows and independent programs.

In AutoCAD there is a setting for running large icons. I use that and it helps a lot. Other programs, though, like my CAM software, don't have that option. I used to use 800 x 600 on my old 19" CRT, so the step to 1280 x 1024 was a significant screen image size change. For my old eyes it was an issue that continues to give me some difficulty… not enough, though, to get rid of the great 19" flat screen.

From contributor J:
LDCs are the best in my opinion. I love both of mine but I keep the old CRT in the closet just in case. No one has mentioned the video card yet. Make sure if you get a LCD your video card is strong enough to run it at the recommended resolution and has plenty of memory. If not, you will have to buy a new one. It’s only money.

From contributor M:
Oh yes. A good video card is absolutely necessary. Especially with the latest 2007 version of Autocad, you are going to need at least a 256mb video card.

From contributor B:
Everyone is right about the video card. I want to add to make sure it has a DVI output. Most good cards now seem to have both VGA and DVI, and your new monitor will probably support both as well. DVI is the more sophisticated technology though, so double check to make sure you have it. There is also a DVI to VGA adaptor available if you had to go that route.

From the original questioner:
I knew I'd get the straight stuff here! Thanks for your valuable input. I popped for a new system from Dell with a 20" screen. Can't wait to put a few hours in at home in the evening - after a shower and dinner - instead of grinding it alone here at the shop until 8, 9 or even 11 o'clock at night! I am even hoping to get to know my family again.

From contributor D:
I bought a 19" Dell Ultrasharp about 2 years ago (bought a Compaq Presario and have been happy with the set). At the time it wasn't much more than a 17". You may wish to review a 21" with a similarly high resolution. The cheap ones that ship in the standard packages leave much to be desired. Be sure to check that the monitor has digital connections.

From contributor N:
Notice that the native resolutions of these LCDs are typically either 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 assuming you don't get a wide screen model. When I went to buy a monitor I ended up getting the Dell 20" Ultrasharp that's 1600 x 1200 native resolution. That's a lot more usable viewing area than 1280 by 1024 and I'm grateful for every additional pixel. Working in Autocad makes you wish for a lot of space. I think you have to go up to 20" to get the 1600x1200, as all of the 19" monitors on the market are the lower resolution, and even the 23" wide screen models are not showing you as much area (as many pixels) as the Dell 20". Or at least I think this is correct.

From contributor T:
Additional benefits of LCD over CRT is no eye strain trying to compensate for the curve in the CRT screen. This can cause some good headaches but you will suffer eye fatigue, especially when you are staring at lines all day. Also, no radiation. The benefits here are obvious. The Ultra Sharp screen is superior and worth the extra investment. Dual monitors is the way to go if you are doing drafting.