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there have been some threads on problems with 4K monitors and scaling in windows. ... hp?t=53129 ... hp?t=52968

My question takes a different approach so I decided to start a new thread.
It's more of a lengthy blog post than a forum question, but bear with me, I've tried to tackle the issue as completely as possible. I had prepared it for myself, so took a bit of extra effort as I guess this is relevant to a lot of you.

I'm currently working on a 24" 1920x1200 monitor and I really miss more desktop real estate. So I've decided to buy a bigger monitor. There are many choices to be made:

1. ratio: 16:9 / 16:10 / 21:9
2. resolution: WQHD 2560x1440 (16:9) / WQXGA 2560x1600 (16:10) / 3360x1440 (21:9) / UHD ('4K') 3840x2160 (16:9)
3. size: 27" / 30" / 32" / 34" / 39.5" / 43"

All possible combinations yield different viewport sizes and pixel densities as you can see in the included spreadsheet (.ods & .xls in the zip).
The spreadsheet is very basic, but you can adapt it to your own workspace to see what it would look like on other screens.

What is important to me:

1. DPI - windows at 100% to avoid scaling issues - ideally around 100dpi. That reduces choices to the following available monitors:
2560x1440 @ 32" - 92dpi
2560x1600 @ 30" - 101dpi
3360x1440 @ 34" - 108dpi
3840x2160 @ 39,5" - 112dpi
3840x2160 @ 43" - 102dpi

2. viewport size/ratio/resolution - I have a lot of toolbars & pallettes open. The size, ratio & resolution of the viewport depends on the screen resolution and on the workspace layout.
If you have your tool info box at the top of the screen, it makes no sense to buy a 21:9 because you will have a long and narrow viewport. If, like me, you prefer to have columns on the left and right of the screen and maximise the height of the viewport, it makes more sense.
I made the spreadsheet to see if a 21:9 monitor made sense with an appropriate workspace. I measured the toolbars on my 24" screen, calculated the pixels width and translated that to different screen sizes and resolutions.
I've tried different workspace, you can see printscreens in the tabs 2-5 in the spreadsheets.

All 3 parameters have a different effect and importance to me:

*viewport size: the bigger, the more 'immersion', the more you are engaged with the architecture on screen (close all you toolbars so your viewport is fullscreen to see what I mean, huge difference in experience)

*viewport resolution: I use a lot of printscreens for communication, or paste 3D documents at viewport resolution in layouts. So upping the resolution from 1MP to 3 or 6MP will greatly increase the quality of my 'base material'. This is important with the windows rendering of linework. 1MP gives you staircase low quality lines...
AC also renders at 100% resolution in the viewport. At the current resolution you cannot see the complete image which is annoying.

*viewport ratio: that's a difficult one. I mostly work on A3 landscape layouts, so for layouting a viewport ratio of 5:7 is ideal.
For modelling and 'taking 3D pictures' it all depends on the project. For longer, more horizontal buildings, a wider viewport is a bliss. For small and high constructions - not so ideal...
In architectural photography, I shoot a lot of wide-angle portrait shots in order to fit the complete building. In that sense the viewport should not be too wide. I guess just like photo formats (4:3, 3:2, 16:9, portrait, landscape) it's a matter of personal preference and of the subject.
I shoot pictures in 4:3, so that might be a good ideal viewport ratio as well.
But if the screen is high enough and has enough resolution you could work with a wider viewport and use cropping.

My conclusion for now?

With my current workspace, a 2560x1440 @ 32" or 2560x1600 @ 30" will already be a huge upgrade. The viewport will be the size of my current 24" screen and will have double resolution.
Plenty of choice, although the 2560x1600 choice is more limited and more expensive. I've always liked 16:10 (golden ratio:) more than 16:9 though.

If I go 21:9 @ 34" I can add an extra column on the left, make my favorites column wider (double row of icons), have my navigator on the entire height of the screen and add some extra pallettes. I might expand my workflow with new tools this way. But even with the extra pallettes, the viewport is still quite horizontal. And dropping my toolbars at the top and the bottom might not be the best idea as I'm used to them now.
But adding a row of columns is also possible with larger 16:9 monitors.

Con's: not ideal for other single screen apps like photoshop and the like
Doubts: straight (seems logical for architecture) or curved (easier on the eyes, more immersion)

Surprisingly UHD @ 40-43" turns out to be quite an interesting option. The higher the resolution and size, the less impact the workspace has on the viewport ratio. For the workspaces I tried, the ratio ranges between 3:4 and 5:8. Extra advantage: double resolution (a 6MP viewport!) and a big viewport.

Risks of UHD @ 40":
* The monitor will be at the same distance as my current 24" monitor as my desk is only 80cm deep. If it's too close I might have to consider a monitor stand/arm to put it a bit further. Which is feasible @100dpi I think.
* AC performance. I have a new quad core laptop with 32GB ram and a GTX1070. I have no idea if AC will work as fluently as it does now at a much higher resolution.. I work with point clouds (although I reduce their resolution to have them under 1GB). My models are not overly big or complex though.
Should be fine I guess, but it will put higher loads on the system.
* eye fatigue? Higher resolution should be better for eye strain, but the DPI, scaling and viewing distance will remain the same, the screen will just be much bigger.
* choice: lots of glossy screens with bad colour reproduction, bland design, no tilting... Haven't found a model here with the right specs for me.

I'm leaning towards 30" 16:10, but 43" and 32" 16:9 are still open as well. Next step is to go look at screens and test with my AC workspace.

So for all of you who have made it up to here:
- What are your experiences? Anyone using an ultrawide or a very large UHD display?
- anything changed in AC21? GS promised to fix the scaling in windows in a future update, but AC33 is also a future update. AFAIK it is not solved in AC21, correct? In that case, the choice is limited to +- 100dpi screens.
- anything important that I did not cover here? 8)

cheers, patrick
(27.06 KiB) Downloaded 79 times
I recently upgraded to a 25'' Dell Ultrasharp monitor with the resolution of 2560x1440 and It's great. My opinion is that bigger than 25/27 is too much ... I tried it and I felt lost in the space of the monitor ... too many movements of the head and the eyes ...
Thanks for your feedback!

I have worked on the first generation of 30inch dell monitors about 12 years ago in another job and I loved it then!
I think it was 1280x768 (4:3 ratio), which was state of the art back then.. It was used mainly for photoshop work and 3D modeling.
I know I'll be perfectly fine with 30-32". 43" might be too much, but I guess I can only tell after a couple of days testing and getting used to the size...
And here's my current workspace with the toolbars grouped by theme.

I would like to add one column at the right, so I have the viewport centered, I need less scrolling in the navigator because it is full height (an issue with renovation projects) and I add can extra pallettes.
workspace scheme PS sm.JPG
I would add one more thing to the monitor selection criteria: refresh rate.
I will be buying monitors soon and I decided I will buy a monitor with 120 Hz or higher refresh rate. Better on the eyes on the long run, in my opinion.
laszlonagy wrote:I would add one more thing to the monitor selection criteria: refresh rate.
I will be buying monitors soon and I decided I will buy a monitor with 120 Hz or higher refresh rate. Better on the eyes on the long run, in my opinion.

More intenside light can't be better for eyes. For static picture there is almost no difference between 60 and 120.
If we talk about size, I find 2560x1440 30" the most suitable for me. Bigger size is too much, higher resolution is not needed, lower resolution does not look good.
laszlonagy wrote:I would add one more thing to the monitor selection criteria: refresh rate.
I will be buying monitors soon and I decided I will buy a monitor with 120 Hz or higher refresh rate. Better on the eyes on the long run, in my opinion.

Another long post I'm afraid :roll: But here we go!

Eye strain is indeed another important aspect to consider when doing too much computer work.
And there are lots of conflicting parameters...
Panel type, dimming method, brightness, monitor distance, resolution, ..


But refresh rate is not one of them I think. It determines how often the image is refreshed from the GPU. Refresh rate is important for a smoother gaming experience, not so much for CAD work. It's not the same as the Hz the monitor backlight is 'refreshing' of flickering, which is usually around 200Hz.

That should be fast enough, but it can get problematic with lower brightness. Your screens brightness should be adjusted to the brightness of the room. Ideally, a piece of white paper and white on your monitor should have similar brightness. The difference during the day is quite spectacular. Some monitors have an ambient light sensor and adjust automatically, might be useful. But having your brightness at the right settings is important for your eyes.

Most affordable monitors use PWM for dimming, meaning you get more flickering by reducing brightness. They flicker at the same interval, but stay on for a shorter period, which causes a more noticable flickering.

Some brands (benq, eizo) use different dimming methods to tackle that problem. There is also software (iris) that 'darkens' the colors at GPU level while maintaining full brightness at monitor level.

So when choosing a monitor, make sure you can set it to a low brightness if you sometimes work in a more dim environment - some monitors cannot go low and only the max brightness levels are mentioned in the specs!
And make sure it doesn't use PWM for dimming..

List of flicker-free monitors (updated a year ago...)


Windows users need a "100% screen" for AC. This means the ppi should be around 100. Depending on viewing distance and your vision of course.

Some reports say it's better to have a high resolution because that is easier on the eyes. So from that perspective, 4K is better than HD. It's a relative matter, it is based on viewing distance and resolution combined. That comes down to ppi and we're restricted by AC in that regard (mac users are not)

Websites on ergonomics recommend viewing distances of 20-25", but that is probably based on the generally used monitor sizes of 24" max.

In absolute terms it's better to have a bigger viewing distance. In this "old" article the author recommends a VD as large as possible.
There are two problems with the usual VD of 20-25 inch
1. single eye: focus distance (accomodation) is not comfortable
"resting point
of accommodation (RPA)" "The RPA averages 30 inches for younger people and gets farther away with age"
2. stereo vision / convergence: short VD makes your eyes squint
"The RPV averages about 45 inches when looking straight ahead and comes in to about 35 inches with a 30-degree downward gaze angle."


1. A larger viewing distance is better! From 30" on, 35" should be ideal.
My 24" monitor is normally at 26", with the foot at the back of my 80cm/31.5" deep desk. I've just set it 5" farther (secured with two screw clamps) and it feels ok - see picture. The ppi of 94 is still comfortable to read and work in AC. Around 100ppi should still be OK at this VD. But now the 24" size feels even smaller.

2. At this viewing distance, 43" UHD would make sense, although I would have to get a vesa mount to hang the screen level with the backside of my freestanding desk.

The problem is: the choice of 43" screens is limited and they are not optimised for eye strain. The Dell P4317Q for example uses PWM as you can see here:
LG 43UD79-B uses PWM as well apparently.
So they would have to be combined with Iris software.

The Philips BDM4350uc uses DC and is a better option in that regard.
Unfortunately it has a glossy screen...

For this screen size, I would also need a desk mount. But most desk mount arms are designed to bring the screen nearer, nor farther! And most don't take screens this size..

3. The bigger you go, the more you have to compromise on IQ and 'eye relief features". After looking at a lot of screens, it seems like it's impossible to get all the specs right.

32" 16:9 - lots of choice, affordable, would prefer more vert res though
30" 16:10 - less choice, expensive
43" 16:9 - less choice, affordable, IQ compromises, viewing distance might be problematic on a normal desk

As you see on the picture, 32" 16:9 has less pixels, but is a bit wider than 30" 16:10. The benq monitors with eye relief features and CAD mode might be a good choice in that size.
PS desk screen size.jpg