by Lim, December 10, 2017 12:00 pm

In this article, I would like to talk about optimal monitor settings, as I am literally overwhelmed by this specific question and it takes a lot of time to answer the same question again and again.

It will not be the answer you’re looking for yet the answer you need. I want to tell you about a mistake many people make, a misunderstanding that occurs due to a lack of information on the internet. It all comes down to how the many monitors work.

  1. Difference: Gaming monitors vs (high priced) graphic design monitors

Gaming monitors are optimized for other features than portrait or graphic design monitors. This means that expensive monitors for post-production, for example, are used for different goals and clearly:

  • are more homogeneous in the illumination
  • show fewer color deviations after certain color spaces
  • Stable in brightness and hardware-based continuously to check the brightness
  • Mostly also are pre-calibrated
  • Can be hardware calibrated within the OSD (Todays TVs and Projectors mostly also are offering much more/accurate settings than gaming monitors)

  1. Deviations in individual units

Each monitor (especially “gaming” and “basic” monitors) have a different

  • Native color temperature
  • Max. brightness
  • deviation in color accuracy
  • deviation inhomogeneity
  • and even deviations in the gamma settings (or the native gamma value when the monitor does not offer different gamma settings)

Here’s an example:

My tested unit has a native color temperature of 6900K (RGB settings 100/100/100) and a max. brightness of 382 cd/m2 (Brightness settings 100 of 100). Now I'm calibrating a monitor to 6500K (color temperature / white point) and 120 cd/m2 (brightness) with following settings:

User Color Temperature:

Red: 100

Green: 98

Blue: 95


19 of 100

Now you do some research, see some recommendations on the internet, buy the monitor I've tested, and finally, you ask me for optimal settings. Here’s where the problem begins.

“Each individual unit will differ within the native color temperature (RGB 100/100/100) as well as in the max brightness”

This information will give you the logical result, that your unit will have a different color temperature and max. brightness as well as small deviations within gamma settings so that you will not come to the same result as I or other reviewers do.


So what do we learn with this information?

“Optimal monitor settings on the internet does NOT exist”

  1. Software calibrate a gaming monitor with specific hardware

The only way to calibrate for 6500K, gamma 2.2 and 120cd/m2 is when you purchase a hardware device to measure your individual unit. BUT! Here’s the next “problem” (Part 4) and why I do not recommend in general to buy such a device, as long as you don't need color accuracy for print, post-production or similar.

  1. The “power” of the monitor homogeneity

As already mentioned, gaming monitors are not developed to offer a “perfect” brightness and color temperature homogeneity. To explain this, I will simply give you an example:

In the middle of the screen, I've measured a color temperature of 5800K, a brightness of 122 cd/m2, and delta E deviations in a specific color space for many different colors (and values). Now I calibrate the monitor to 6500K and 120 cd/m2 (still with the calibration device in the center of the screen). After calibrating, everything seems fine, but when I measure now, let’s say 10 cm to the left, right, top, or even bottom of the center, I will have a different color temperature, brightness as same as delta E deviations.

“Gaming monitors are not developed and produced to reach a perfect uniformity in brightness and the color temperature -  That’s why you also cannot calibrate a gaming monitor perfectly even with a hardware device”

Does this mean that It makes no sense to calibrate a monitor with specific hardware? No. It’s just not that accurate because of the “bad” homogeneity within current gaming monitors. You still will be able to reach your aimed color temperature, brightness and gamma settings in the center of the screen, with the typical deviation in homogeneity at the rest of the screen.

thus, much fewer people would not be able to afford such an expensive monitor and manufacturers would make much fewer sales. I also think, that the most people even don't recognize such “deviations”. This again is logical, otherwise, manufacturers would not offer thinner and thinner panels except concentrating on the black uniformity for example (without clouding, blb and glow issues).

Example on the Viewsonic XG2703-GS

Currently, I have two units of the Viewsonic high refresh 1440p IPS gaming monitor where I can show you why optimal settings on the internet not really exist. You also can read this forum thread ("How reliable are optimal OSD settings?"), where I've had two Asus PG279Q units which differs much more compared to the Viewsonic. (This does not mean that Asus has a higher deviation in general, I just became two Viewsonic units with a closer native color temperature but still pretty clear different brightness and contrast values, as same as the homogeneity).


First Unit Viewsonic XG2703-GS:

Native color temperature: 7047

Max. brightness: 416 cd/m2

Blackpoint: 0,34 cd/m2

Contrast: 1223:1

Calibration to 120cd/m2 and 5800K

RGB (Red, Green Blue) Settings within the OSD: 100 / 91 / 86

Brightness: 19

Contrast: 996:1

Second Unit Viewsonic XG2703-GS:

Native color temperature: 7120

Max. brightness: 371 cd/m2

Blackpoint meaured: 0,34 cd/m2

Contrast: 1091:1

Calibration to 120cd/m2 and 5800K

RGB (Red, Green Blue) Settings within the OSD: 100 / 93 / 88

Brightness: 22

Contrast 1020:1

As you can see, both units differ and both units will also differ in:

  • “optimal” settings (whatever “optimal” settings means to you)
  • the homogeneity (on each measuring point the monitor will have a different brightness, color temperature, and contrast

Read the forum thread according to “optimal” monitor settings here:

How reliable are optimal OSD settings?

Future articles in progress:

- ICC profiles for gamer

- Why 6500K, 120cd/m2 and Gamma 2.2 is standard and most recommended?

- How to calibrate my monitor?

- IPS vs VA black level

- The power of lamps

- The IPS Glow and the panel frame construction
- Timeline Coating (Coating Database) "Guideline panel coating surface"
- Resolution vs graphics settings
- 1 MS TN vs 4 MS VA: The difference?!
- 6 ways to reduce the IPS Glow


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