[lug] Monitor/Card tweaking - was Re: Color tweaks

John Starkey jstarkey at advancecreations.com
Fri Feb 23 12:54:06 MST 2001

Thanks Dan and Tkil. After a lot of playing around I've determined I need to
get a new monitor. Even the best color I can get still looks foggy. I swore
that once or twice I had decent color but it's hard to judge without a ref
point after all this. I did manage to get better color than Windoze :}

I was thinking one other thing which I can't try at the moment would be to
split the 60v circuits, I've got 4 computers plugged into the same 3 power
strips on the same circuit. Even the iMac looks like it might be a bit weak at
the moment.

Regardless, the info you guys posted was a really big help in understanding
what I was doing. I was able to confirm that this thing sucks :}

Thanks again,


Tkil wrote:

> i remember thinking that ESR's discussion of monitor tweaking was very
> helpful to me:
>    http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/XFree86-Video-Timings-HOWTO/
> the tradeoff i tend to make is for maximum horizontal resolution,
> until i start losing vertical single-pixel lines.  a toy i put
> together to help me test this, as well as color convergence, is at:
>    http://slinky.scrye.com/~tkil/xcalib.tar.gz
> it just draws a grid of white lines on a black background; i resize it
> to fit the screen, and then look to see that everything looks square
> (tests for aspect ratio) that there aren't any blue fringes (color
> convergence problems) and whether the vertical lines are the same
> apparent brightness and sharpness as the horizontal lines (tests to
> see if i'm pushing one of the components past its limits).
> things to think about, to make sure you have good X:
> 1. video card.  for coding work, you want cards that have top-notch 2d
>    display capabilities.  3d benchmarks (pixels or polys per second)
>    don't matter at all; rather, it's the speed and quality of the DAC
>    that matters when you're talking to most monitors.  i've been very
>    happy with all the matrox cards i've ever had.
>    having said all that, most of the current crop of 3d-accelerator
>    cards have more than adequate RAMDACs for most 2d work.
> 2. cable / interconnect.  if your monitor supports it, the use of BNC
>    connectors (preferable 5-tail) is a good thing; i can notice the
>    difference.  i can also notice the negative impact of using a
>    keyboard / video / mouse (KVM) switch.
> 3. monitor.  there are very good monitors available for not much money
>    these days.  even if you can't afford super-duper top of the line
>    things (say, like a sony GDM-FW900 ... drool.), there are many
>    reasonably priced ones that give a good tradeoff on usability.
> since the keyboard, monitor, and mouse are all things i use very much
> continuously, it's worth a reasonable investment to me.
> having said that, here are my tricks for getting the most out of
> marginal or out-of-date hardware.
> a. use a light-on-dark scheme for text whenever possible.  especially
>    if you choose a color primary on black, this removes any issues
>    with color convergence, and it drastically reduces any strobing
>    from low refresh rates.
> b. consider non-standard resolutions, if your monitor supports them.
>    i run my Sony Multiscan 20se (GDM-20SE1, same exact hardware as
>    apple two-page color display, and as the HP monitor i have at work)
>    at 1360x1024, since that's closer to 4x3 than 1280x1024 is.  given
>    the constraints of the rest of the system, this gives me a vertical
>    refresh of 78.08Hz (horizontal is 82.76, pixel clock at 145MHz).
>    my mode line for this is:
>       Modeline "1360x1024"  145    1360 1381 1491 1752  1024 1027 1030 1060
> c. don't use KVM switches for machines you're spending lots of time
>    at.  for an admin console on a couple of different machines, sure;
>    for your primary development box, forget it.
> d. prefer sans-serif fonts.  serif fonts are easier to read *on
>    paper*; i've found that switching to helvetica and lucida
>    drastically improves the legibility of on-screen text.
> e. arrange your colors so that they don't clash with each other.  a
>    snapshot of my current color scheme (fvwm2 and xemacs) can be found
>    at:
>       http://slinky.scrye.com/~tkil/color-scheme.png
> f. when balancing resolution vs. refresh rate, pay attention to the
>    image quality.  usually this will start to degrade as you get
>    closer to the specified limits; i've had best results by staying
>    within the bottom 90 to 85% of the specs at all levels (RAMDAC,
>    monitor bandwidth, monitor hsync freq range, monitor vertical
>    refresh freq range.)
> anyway.  my personal recommendation would be to buy a quality video
> card (G200 PCI or AGP with 8MB of RAM is fine for development work,
> and either one is available for less than 100 USD), buy a quality
> monitor (i've had good luck even with 300 USD 19" CTX monitors from
> Sam's club, and the Hitachi "elite" 19" monitors are very nice as
> well.)  finally, if your monitor supports it, buy or scrounge a PC-VGA
> (HD15 sub or whatever it's called) to 5x BNC cable.  they're about 60
> USD new, but you might be able to find one lying around if you work
> somewhere there used to be lots of unix workstations.
> hope this helps,
> t.
> _______________________________________________
> Web Page:  http://lug.boulder.co.us
> Mailing List: http://lists.lug.boulder.co.us/mailman/listinfo/lug

More information about the LUG mailing list