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alexqndr

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 18, 2018
211
179
London
Greetings, fellow Apple enthusiasts!

I had a bit of an epiphany today about the impact of pixel density on my visual comfort. To be more specific, I've noticed that the low PPI (pixels per inch) of my current monitor seems to be causing significant eye strain. When I switch to a monitor with a higher PPI, particularly one that aligns with Apple's native resolution, the strain dramatically lessens.

Now, I'm aware that my question might be a long shot, but it's worth asking. Is it possible to find a decent monitor with around 218 PPI for under $500? I'm flexible with the screen size, and wouldn't mind going below 27 inches if it comes to that.

The heightened clarity offered by a higher PPI monitor is a game changer for me. It enhances my focus and reduces fatigue to an extent that I can't quite put into words! However, breaking the bank for another high-end monitor isn't an option at the moment.

I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions you might have. Thanks in advance!

EDIT/ADDENDUM: Don't care about color accuracy. I just need to code... Decent brightness would be a plus, as my office is brightly illuminated. Matte finish is preferable.
 
Last edited:

BrianBaughn

macrumors G3
Feb 13, 2011
9,695
2,447
Baltimore, Maryland
Calculate PPI with this:


For a 4K monitor (3840x2160) to reach 218ppi it would have to be 20 inches diagonally…and nobody makes one to my knowledge.

The M1 iMac has a 23.5" 4.5K (4480x2520) and reaches 218ppi but I don't know of anyone selling a 4.5K 23.5" standalone monitor.

What's left is 5K 27" monitors and $500 would put you in the buyer beware used market.

But you could have figured all that out yourself, I'm sure.
 
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obesechess

macrumors member
Aug 1, 2023
45
21
New, this product does not exist... mostly. I'll get to that.

So, you can potentially find a used LG Ultrafine for $500 or less, but as the above poster said, "buyer beware" when buying used. If you were feeling really crazy, there's a few stripped-out shells of 27" iMacs for $200ish on eBay, the control board will set you back another $250-$300, and then you're at your $500 threshold.

Or: do you want to be insane? Are you a crazy person? Are you just totally, absolutely nuts?

Check it out: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/New-arrival-27-inch-5K-Display_62443935028.html

This showed up on Alibaba a few months ago and is in the master thread of 5k monitors. To my knowledge, nobody here has purchased one. There are no long term reviews - or short term, for that matter. Are you a bad enough dude to navigate the wild world of Chinese e-Commerce and spend approximately $530 of your own money to find out for yourself?
 
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MacGizmo

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2003
3,115
2,431
Arizona
You're most likely not going to find that high of a PPI display unless it's a 5k display, and even then it would have to be a high-end (read: expensive) model.
 

alexqndr

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 18, 2018
211
179
London
New, this product does not exist... mostly. I'll get to that.

So, you can potentially find a used LG Ultrafine for $500 or less, but as the above poster said, "buyer beware" when buying used. If you were feeling really crazy, there's a few stripped-out shells of 27" iMacs for $200ish on eBay, the control board will set you back another $250-$300, and then you're at your $500 threshold.

Or: do you want to be insane? Are you a crazy person? Are you just totally, absolutely nuts?

Check it out: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/New-arrival-27-inch-5K-Display_62443935028.html

This showed up on Alibaba a few months ago and is in the master thread of 5k monitors. To my knowledge, nobody here has purchased one. There are no long term reviews - or short term, for that matter. Are you a bad enough dude to navigate the wild world of Chinese e-Commerce and spend approximately $530 of your own money to find out for yourself?

You're most likely not going to find that high of a PPI display unless it's a 5k display, and even then it would have to be a high-end (read: expensive) model.
If I compromise on everything else but ppi, what could I aim for on the "new" market, rather than second-hand?

Thanks for your feedback! I know it's a long shot, but it was worth asking.

What are you currently using that is causing problems?
My monitor normally displays 3440 x 1440 at 109ppi

I recently factory restored my M1 MacBook Pro and only after 3 months I noticed that the display settings defaulted to a suboptimal resolution. This caused me to experience eye strain and headaches after prolonged use. After some research, I fixed the issue by changing the scaling in SwitchResX and enabling font smoothing. This made a huge difference. However, I can still feel a more strain when compared to a higher PPI (and native) resolution.

1691235701221.png
 

meson

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2014
497
485
About the only option not addressed is a used 27” iMac. You could find an older model at a fair price. Then use a combination of universal control (may need to use OCLP to install a more recent OS) and file syncing to code on the iMac and compile on your preferred machine.

It looks like you are using a widescreen display at 109 ppi. Do you have any access to a 27” or 32” 4k display through a friend or colleague? It wouldn’t hurt to try one out for a couple hours. 163 ppi and 140 ppi respectively are significant improvements over 109 ppi. There could be a compromise there that results in a significant reduction in eye strain that doesn’t break the bank while you save up for what you want.
 
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colodane

macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2012
1,030
470
Colorado
What are you using for a computer?

If PPI is your holy grail, and you are OK with going below 27 inches, then perhaps where you ultimately end up might be a 23.5 inch iMac.

But, of course, that assumes that the iMac has the performance and ports that you need.

It wouldn't be $500, but if you were going to need a new computer in the near future anyhow it might be worth considering.
 

obesechess

macrumors member
Aug 1, 2023
45
21
If I compromise on everything else but ppi, what could I aim for on the "new" market, rather than second-hand?

Thanks for your feedback! I know it's a long shot, but it was worth asking.


My monitor normally displays 3440 x 1440 at 109ppi

I recently factory restored my M1 MacBook Pro and only after 3 months I noticed that the display settings defaulted to a suboptimal resolution. This caused me to experience eye strain and headaches after prolonged use. After some research, I fixed the issue by changing the scaling in SwitchResX and enabling font smoothing. This made a huge difference. However, I can still feel a more strain when compared to a higher PPI (and native) resolution.

View attachment 2241787

If you are willing to compromise on everything except for the need for 218ppi, AND you want to buy new, your best best is the AliExpress one I linked. Otherwise, the next cheapest option is the Kuycon G27X available from ClickClack - it’s currently out of stock but they said they’d have more in a week or two when I asked. There arent many long term reviews of them out there, but if memory serves a teardown showed that it uses the exact same LG panel as the 5K Ultrafine and/or ASD (these themselves used similar or identical panels, though I don’t remember the specifics). That will set you back between $700 and $900 depending on options.

If you are willing to compromise slightly on ppi, LG makes a few 24” 4K monitors that can be had for around $300 that are right around 187ppi.
 

MacGizmo

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2003
3,115
2,431
Arizona
If I compromise on everything else but ppi, what could I aim for on the "new" market, rather than second-hand?
Unfortunately, it's not about compromise. The specs you want simply don't exist. In order to get anything close to 200+ ppi, you're going to have to spend significantly more than $500.
 
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PaulD-UK

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2009
610
283
Quote @obesechess: "If you were feeling really crazy, there's a few stripped-out shells of 27" iMacs for $200ish on eBay, the control board will set you back another $250-$300, and then you're at your $500 threshold."
@MacGizmo: " The specs you want simply don't exist. In order to get anything close to 200+ ppi, you're going to have to spend significantly more than $500."


You don't have to be crazy, but you have to be patient assembling all the various bits needed ( at the right price).
And you have to have basic electronic DIY skills...

My 5K 27" iMac (Pro) screen/iMac case/Chinese video board + PSU DIY monitor - which is gorgeous -
came in at £515 (not counting extra audio parts, control gear, and the the various tools needed).

I did a particularly fancy conversion, compared to the more minimalist designs other people preferred,
nevertheless since there is more or less 1$=£1 parity in electronics parts pricing in the UK,
I'm more or lass in the pricing ballpark that is thew subject of this thread.
 

Spaceboi Scaphandre

macrumors 68040
Jun 8, 2022
3,414
8,096
Now, I'm aware that my question might be a long shot, but it's worth asking. Is it possible to find a decent monitor with around 218 PPI for under $500? I'm flexible with the screen size, and wouldn't mind going below 27 inches if it comes to that.

Yes it is very possible. Mac Address already found some in this video

 

obesechess

macrumors member
Aug 1, 2023
45
21
Quote @obesechess: "If you were feeling really crazy, there's a few stripped-out shells of 27" iMacs for $200ish on eBay, the control board will set you back another $250-$300, and then you're at your $500 threshold."
@MacGizmo: " The specs you want simply don't exist. In order to get anything close to 200+ ppi, you're going to have to spend significantly more than $500."


You don't have to be crazy, but you have to be patient assembling all the various bits needed ( at the right price).
And you have to have basic electronic DIY skills...

My 5K 27" iMac (Pro) screen/iMac case/Chinese video board + PSU DIY monitor - which is gorgeous -
came in at £515 (not counting extra audio parts, control gear, and the the various tools needed).

I did a particularly fancy conversion, compared to the more minimalist designs other people preferred,
nevertheless since there is more or less 1$=£1 parity in electronics parts pricing in the UK,
I'm more or lass in the pricing ballpark that is thew subject of this thread.
I mean, hacking up a computer that can still be sold new for over $1k and wiring in a new control board from China in order to turn it into a monitor is a little bit nuts. :)
 

rumz

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2006
1,220
633
Utah
Greetings, fellow Apple enthusiasts!

I had a bit of an epiphany today about the impact of pixel density on my visual comfort. To be more specific, I've noticed that the low PPI (pixels per inch) of my current monitor seems to be causing significant eye strain. When I switch to a monitor with a higher PPI, particularly one that aligns with Apple's native resolution, the strain dramatically lessens.

Now, I'm aware that my question might be a long shot, but it's worth asking. Is it possible to find a decent monitor with around 218 PPI for under $500? I'm flexible with the screen size, and wouldn't mind going below 27 inches if it comes to that.

The heightened clarity offered by a higher PPI monitor is a game changer for me. It enhances my focus and reduces fatigue to an extent that I can't quite put into words! However, breaking the bank for another high-end monitor isn't an option at the moment.

I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions you might have. Thanks in advance!

EDIT/ADDENDUM: Don't care about color accuracy. I just need to code... Decent brightness would be a plus, as my office is brightly illuminated. Matte finish is preferable.
I'm using an LG Ultrafine 22" (21.5" diagonal) monitor, resolution is 4096 x 2304, which means 219ppi. On the used market it hovers around the $500 range-- again, like others have said, proceed with caution when buying used.
 
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eas

macrumors regular
Oct 7, 2005
149
105
How are your eyes? What's the distance between them and your display? You might find a 4K 27" monitor difficult to distinguish from a 5K 27" monitor.

Try this spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1omb6ggvRcoVuLyrXIFS0ab-cLZgYXmWS41HW_ENPuYU/edit#gid=0. It takes DPI + viewing distance + visual accuity and tells you whether the resolution of your vision exceeds that of a display, or not. In my case, I assumed that my vision with reading glasses was ~20/20. I concluded that a 4K 27" display won't suck. I haven't put it to the test, yet, though.
 

rumz

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2006
1,220
633
Utah
How are your eyes? What's the distance between them and your display? You might find a 4K 27" monitor difficult to distinguish from a 5K 27" monitor.

Try this spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1omb6ggvRcoVuLyrXIFS0ab-cLZgYXmWS41HW_ENPuYU/edit#gid=0. It takes DPI + viewing distance + visual accuity and tells you whether the resolution of your vision exceeds that of a display, or not. In my case, I assumed that my vision with reading glasses was ~20/20. I concluded that a 4K 27" display won't suck. I haven't put it to the test, yet, though.
Yeah that's possible huh. Some people have no issue with 27" @ 4k.

Unfortunately it's not just a matter of whether you can discern individual pixels at your viewing distance and visual acuity. It's also a function of the resolution you set and the way Mac OS renders any resolution that is not 1x or 2x of the panel's native resolution. The UI is just too big for me on 27" @ 4k at default resolution; and scaling to something in between yields artifacts in the image, especially for things like non-black text and 1px lines, such that a 1440p 27" is more usable than 4k 27" is at the scale I want.

But, depending on what you do on a daily basis, 27" 4k @ default scale / resolution might be just fine. It's definitely easier on the eyes for me, just not useful in terms of screen real estate.
 
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