[Display Quality] new 21.5" vs old 20"

Discussion in 'iMac' started by cman-uk, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. cman-uk macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Hi All,

    First post here, from a PC convert, looking to get his first iMac...:cool:

    [Background info]

    Obviously am leaning heavily towards the new iMac, specifically the 21.5".
    The lower end model (£949 in UK) meets my requirements perfect, all apart from the graphics/video capabilities. Severely disappointing.

    The next one up is a huge price increase (£1149) and makes me wonder whether its worth it, as I'd only be going for it due to the ATi GFX option.

    [The dilemma]

    As a result of the above, the discounted/discontinued 20" spec 2009 models seem attractive. Not only would I get it for the price of the new 21.5" model but it would come with a dedicated GFX card, so both boxes ticked. The CPU, RAM, HD are all satisfactory.

    [The question]

    Now the biggest difference between the two is obviously the display screen.
    But apart from the physical difference...

    1] ...is there a quality difference?
    2] Realise the newer one exhibits a true 1080 HD resolution, but in terms of quality and appearance, is the 20" option worse?
    3] Or would I just be loosing pixels (but of the same quality)???
    4] Not sure now IPS comes into the equation. Did the 20" iMacs have IPS technology? Were they backlit?
    5] What does the newer one possess that the old one doesn't? apart from the added pixels.
    6] What would you do?

    Help would be massively appreciated, this is a lot of money :eek: :confused:

  2. nOw2 macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    The 20" has a TN panel screen. The usual TN issue of viewing angles is a problem, I personally find watching TV/movies bad as the top of the screen is significantly darker than the bottom if you happen to be lower than the screen. This is universal for ALL TN panels, of course, Mac or not.

    However I've had a 20" for a couple of years and for anything but movies it's a very good screen. Bright and clear for desktop work or when looking straight flat on.

    It is backlit, of course (it is an LCD). It's not LED backlit though, but brightness is even. I notice no unevenness or bleed.

    What would I do? Get the 27"..
    However the older 20" models must be fantastic value now. Apart from the IPS panel, I can't see there's much in the new 21.5" that's particularly better than the 20". The core technology of the computer itself is the same.
  3. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Thanks for the prompt reply!


    Old 20"
    - TN technology
    - LCD technology

    New 21.5"
    - IPS technology
    - LED technology

    I am guessing that as LED display technology is newer than LCD, it is considered better.

    This is exactly the issue I am facing.
    I am just not sure if its worth it.
  4. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    TN panels are garbage. Night and day difference.
  5. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    i'd second calls to save up for a bit more n get the 27" the 27" screen.. well i seen pictures, n its just unreal how nice the freaking screen is. It has a better GFX card than the 21". It also has the quad core if you lean that way :)

  6. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    If you can, go in and see them for yourself. TN, IPS, CCFL and LED are useless acronyms if you cant tell any difference.

    If I was buying the computer, i'd go for the new 21.5" over the old 20", because;
    • I can see a difference in display quality
    • The new ones support up to 16GB RAM
    • the new ones have a wireless KB+M stock (worth about £100?)

    I really reckon you're better saving your money and getting the 21.5" model with the 1TB HDD and GPU.
  7. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    I have no idea if that's a sarcastic comment or not :confused: - can you tell I'm new to the iMac world? :rolleyes:

    Unfortunately I don't have cash growing out of my ears. Luckily also, my room is too small to really reap the benefits of such a large screen. Hence I ruled the 27" out. Hence the title of this thread :p ;)

    Thanks for your thoughts, Scarlet Fever..

    Believe it or not, I have been in to see both, earlier today. Unfortunately both were displayed so far apart , it was difficult to draw a true comparison that I may if they were placed side by side, etc.

    I even had a 'personal shopping appointment' booked at Apple's flagship store on Regent St (London) this evening but they informed me they cannot demo anything to me as their iMacs are straight out the factory and that their 'visuals' team have not yet had the chance to install anything to demo to me (I specifically asked for graphics/intensive demo's which would demonstrate to me the iMac's capabilities and limits....as well as Parallels ).

    Looks like the 21.5" is in the lead at the moment. More so as the difference in the two is apparently quite noticeable..
    Keep your comments coming; am finding your opinions very useful.
  8. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    I'm not being sarcastic at all. The TN panels are the ones where when you move your head an inch, the entire screen changes color/inverts.

    An IPS panel (I haven't seen the new iMacs in person) should look excellent from all angles.
  9. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Thanks for clarifying. I wasn't sure due to the fact that I thought all iMac panels have been TN thus far - and all I've heard about them is rave reviews.
  10. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Supposedly the iMac Core Duo I have sports a TN panel but the viewing angles are greater than every Dell TN display I've used.
  11. gjw4u macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2008
    New iMacs also have the following benefits:
    - 4 compared to 2 RAM slots (16GB max)
    - an SD slot
    - Magic Mouse instead of Mighty Mouse
    - 16:9 LED LCD HD Widescreendisplay
  12. nutritious macrumors 6502

    Mar 1, 2008
    Um, the display in the imac is still an LCD. It's just led backlit. It's not an "led display"
  13. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Can you clarify that in a little more detail please?
    i.e. just what 'LED backlit' means in terms of benefits over non-LED backlit / TN display?
  14. SmugMac macrumors regular

    Sep 25, 2009
    Just check out this link: LED vs. LCD: Which is better?
  15. DrewG5 macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2009
    I have all 3 types of LCD screens in front of me. The bottom line is anything with a LED back light will give you by far better contrast. The new screens found in the newer iMacs will also have better viewing angles. The best way for you to know if the screen will meet your needs is to look at them through your eyes.

    If you where looking at laptops I would 100% tell you to go with the newer screens as I almost never hold my laptop at the same angle every time and, the led back lighting can be a huge help in the sun.
  16. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Core duo or core 2 duo? many older (white) imacs including core 2 duo had far better displays than the aluminum 20" TN.
  17. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    No - many older iMacs had better displays than the aluminum 20", and the 24" always had a non-TN panel.

    Edit - sorry for the double post- I didn't think my first one went through.
  18. RexTraverse macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2008
    The 24" panels have always been S-PVA. Back in 05-06 during the Intel switch, were the 20" panels in the iMacs the same as the 20" panels in the ACD? If so, they were S-IPS.
  19. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Ok, so can someone clarify whether the 20" (2009 model) iMac's have the IPS technology or not?
  20. nOw2 macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    All 20" iMacs have TN screens. All have viewing angles of around 160 degrees compared to IPS which is usually 178.
  21. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Thanks, I'm still torn between the 21.5" or the 20" (cheaper with high spec). I just don't know if the new 21.5" is worth it... :confused::eek: ..decisions decisions...
  22. aliher macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2009
    Check displays yourself in the store where they have old and new ones.

    Set background to red, move your head up-down, left-right and check how color changes in different parts of the screen. Do the same with green and blue backgrounds.
    If you don't notice the difference why bother yourself with getting an IPS.

    LED is LCD as well as CCFL, because LED is a type of backlight for LCD panel.
  23. G-Force macrumors 6502a

    Nov 25, 2006
    As far as I know:
    24" white iMac: "X"-IPS (not sure if it's S- or H-)
    24" Alu iMac: H-IPS
    20" White: S-PVA (Samsung) or S-IPS (LG.Philips)
    20" Alu: TN

  24. think-different macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    The new 21.5" iMac is a way better product than the 20" in all respects.

    First, the LCD panel of the current iMac is an high end IPS type with a power efficient LED backlighting, very wide viewing angles (178 degrees vertical and horizontal), excellent color reproduction (which means more saturated colors) and higher resolution (1920x1080 / HD 1080p).

    The previous 20" iMac used a cheap TN type LCD panel with narrow viewing angles (I think it was 170 degrees horizontal and 160 vertical) which produced non-uniform color across the entire screen, CCFL (fluorescent) backlighting that consumes more power than LEDs and also offered a lower screen resolution (1680x1050).

    The new iMac comes as standard with wireless keyboard and mouse (the Magic Mouse is multi-touch capable, so it's better than the old Mighty Mouse of the old iMacs) and its speakers sound considerably better than the previous iMacs.

    Plus the 21.5" uses desktop CPUs, has much more hard disk and RAM capacity, includes a SD slot, all aluminium unibody enclosure, edge to edge glass screen... it just mades the 20" completely outdated.
  25. cman-uk thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2009
    Many thanks for the really informative responses. Being a new guy it is appreciated (considering you've probably heard the same questions/thoughts before??!!)

    I'm leaning heavily towards the 21.5" option. Just need to convince my head and bank balance. :D

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