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Best Display for Programming? (2017) (hackernoon.com)
142 points by kristianp 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 197 comments

The author lost me at "For programming I didn’t care about having a high pixel density..I wanted more text characters, not slightly smoother looking ones."

I guess it's just a personal preference, but my retina MBP's screen is so much easier on my eyes for long sessions than anything else I've ever used, and staring at a huge backlight like what he recommends seems like it'd be incredibly painful. I get all the "more text characters" I want out of a vertical monitor.

This. 4k matters much less for games and movies than for programming; it's hard to tell the difference when looking at moving images but the higher resolution changes everything when reading text. A high DPI screen puts much less strain on your eyes!

Is this really high DPI though? I think it has to do with font sharpness. What I've noticed is that Windows and Mac OS X both have poor font smoothing at normal DPIs - blurry fonts are the norm. When I swap to a modern Linux desktop however, the fonts look very good at regular DPI. The difference is apparent.

You can also prove the sharpness effect to yourself by using bitmap fonts - they will look great on regular DPI monitors on any OS.

I work on a weekly base on Linux, Windows and MacOS; mostly Linux. HiDPI does make a huge difference for me, and I'd say even more so on Linux, where without HiDPI I suffer Firefox font rendering a lot (Chromium is a bit better).

Sure some smoothing algorithm might work better for you and ease the problem; same with bitmap fonts. But try printing some text at 96dpi and at 300dpi and compare it side by side. 96dpi is not enough for comfort, and for years we've been pretending it is since there was no viable alternative. There is now. Hurray!

I'm all for higher DPI screens, but you need to take into account that typical reading distance for screens is larger than for text on paper. It is not really DPI that counts but dots per angular distance as seen from the eye.

> I work on a weekly base on Linux, Windows and MacOS; mostly Linux. HiDPI does make a huge difference for me...

How good is Linux support for HiDPI these days? I've been delaying making the upgrade for a few years, waiting for better native support. Also, any idea if you can mix HiDPI screens with regular ones?

Recent Gnome works very well with all-HiDPI; I had to leave XFCE when I switched to HiDPI because it hadn't good support.

Recent is key here; I have been using Gnome in HiDPI mode for a couple of years but I had to do some tweaks to have it working well; now it seems to work more or less out of the box. Same holds for Qt based applications.

Mixed DPI screens kind of works, but there are hitches; I definitely suggest going all in.

For me, "blurry" ie. antialiased is much better, so long as it results in better defined letter forms, as it does on MacOS or when using freetype with hinting set to low or turned off. HiDPI simply means there's no tradeoff.

I think nvarsj didn't mean no AA but that Linux uses a different AA algorithm.

The use and magnitude of font hinting is largely what makes the difference. Windows used aggressive hinting until Windows 8, and it's also the default in many Linux distributions.

You need to calibrate cleartype in Windows 10 to fix this.

> higher resolution changes everything when reading text. A high DPI screen puts much less strain on your eyes!

This may not be for everybody. I actually prefer low-resolution displays, and use beautiful bitmapped fonts (without need for "antialiasing"). It looks much cleaner to me.

Ditto. I stuck to 1650 x 900 for as long as I could, but alas, It's hard to get those monitors nowadays.

I've since switched to full HD-screens, zooming everything to 150%-200%. It's readable in most cases, but considerably less pretty than bitmapped fonts on a lower-res screen.

When you're doing web dev, it's important that devs test on devices similar to users'. FullHD seems most popular, how do you address that?

You don't have to test on your working setup. After all if you did mobile webpages, you wouldn't program on a smartphone!

If you did test there, you'd just tested one configuration (even if it's the most popular). There are services that allow you to test your web work in dozens of different configurations.

There are also Chrome tools etc to help you test different aspect rations and sizes. And you can always change the display to a non-native resolution.

4k users often use font scaling which makes things harder to compare to a standard full HD setup (different people use different font scaling options etc). When developers setup makes dogfooding more accurate (in terms of similarity to end hsers'), then more UI bugs are found sooner. Another thing is contrast and hue - many users use low quality screens (think office users) and they perceive the UI differently than a person on a high end monitor. Many subtleties are not visible at all.

Use the tools explicitly available for that purpose. Chrome, Firefox and Safari all have built-in responsive design modes with common resolutions available.

Or you can just resize the browser window :)

You can always downscale resolution to test for Full HD with a 4K panel but you cannot do the other way round.

You can fake it by setting low zoom level. Far from perfect, you won't have pixel perfect results, but you'll get general overview how layout gonna work.

If it's UHD (3840x2160) it's going to be exact. If it's actual 4K (4096 × 2160) then it won't be sharp at Full HD resolution (1920x1080) because the pixels don't align.

But many monitors have Marketing 4K which is UHD.

4K most commonly refers to 3840x2160. Which is of course not exactly 4000 pixels, but neither is 4096 :)

The original 4K standard is 4096

A good tiling window manager should let you easily make your windows 1/4th the size of your monitor in some corner.

> When you're doing web dev, it's important that devs test on devices similar to users'. FullHD seems most popular, how do you address that?

More users are now on mobile, with high res displays.

I agree with you. Had to work in another office without my main rig and the monitors had low pixel density, a bad pair of bad monitors or something. It was not as sharp as my others. After a few hours it started to get to me. It felt like my eyes were not focusing when in fact it was the monitors. That is a bad feeling.

In fact his display is at about 100 ppi, which is not bad at all.

Using the "Is this retina?" page, OPs monitor becomes "retina" at 86cm. And looking at his setup, that's probably how far he sits. His screen is way back, beyond the edge of the desk.

The MBP screen has 220 ppi but it is designed to be viewed from much closer.

As for the backlight, then again, it is relative. In a well lit environment like in a typical office, it simply matches the ambiant light. In a dark room, you'll probably want a dark theme anyways.

I believe 5K iMacs also have 220 PPI https://bjango.com/articles/macexternaldisplays/

Normally I would say it is overkill.

However, if I remember correctly, these 5k displays are explicitly made for video editing. So that you can show a 1:1 4k frame with space around it for all the controls and toolbars. I think it is a special case where that high resolution is definitely justified.

> In fact his display is at about 100 ppi, which is not bad at all.

It's only slightly better than the rather abysmal 91 ppi of 1080p at 24", which many people will be familiar with. It's really not good and a long shot from proper high ppi displays.

I don't agree with the author, but I have to say that I don't get a big advantage from "retina"-grade displays for coding. For web browsing, reading PDFs etc, the increased density is useful (kinda), but for code itself, I don't get a huge benefit.

I don't get a lot more lines on the screen, so most of what the displays do for me is sharper font rendering. And that is a lot better with my current iMacs 5K display, but I got by fine with bitmapped, non-antialiased fonts on 24" displays. They were sharp in a different manner, and I personally don't mind the pixelation, as far as I can tell (I don't feel more tired more quickly f. ex.).

Having said that, I used a 24" display in portrait mode for a while, and ditched that as it required too much eye and neck movement. Now a 43" display is higher in landscape mode than former portrait display, so I would have the same issues (and pushed farther back would decrease the whole point, never mind that the back of the desk would be quickly reached).

My mom still has my original Dell 24" 1920x1200 display I bought way back when, and I'd have no trouble using that right now. Heck, I probably wouldn't fare too bad with an old IBM 1600x1200 monitor, or two of them.

I got a 2K monitor (4K was too expensive) for this very reason.

Standard 1080p monitors seem so bad with text, and once you plop them next to an MBP Retina screen the difference is extremely pronounced,

I can't look into your wallet but the price difference between 4K and 2K is now so small that for our new office I bought 4K screens for everybody. Skimping on tools that you use every day for 8 hours is tough on the system in the longer run.

It depends a lot on where are you from and how experienced you are (which translates to how much money do you earn).

A tip from country where the price difference matters: Look for a TV, not PC monitor. They're often cheaper while having the same ports to connect it to a computer. But beware - some of them have always-on overscan which means you will get blurry effect and cropped picture. Make sure you can disable that (look for overscan, PC mode or something like that) before buying. Testing it on laptop before buying seems to be a good idea too - my mother's TV has option to disable overscan, but only on old VGA input. On HDMI it is always on anyway.

I picked up a 4k TV (Vizio D40u-D1) as a monitor after quite a bit of research a year ago and I'm quite happy with it. It's a bit large at 40", but all I had to do was adapt to thinking of it as multiple floating screens, and treat it as such, given I have the equivalent of four 1080p screens... using almost the same amount of area.

My browser always occupies the lower left quadrant, and event at 1/4 of the total screen it's still 1080p, or maybe a little more since I eyeballed it and didn't dock it there. It's easy enough to make any terminal larger and then I'm essentially gaining the same benefit of high pixel density.

I wanted to make sure the TV I got supported 60Hz at 4k, and had low input lag (for when I play games occasionally), so I found rtings.com[1] to be invaluable. Using a TV as a monitor has it's quirks (I turn it on separately with the remote on the desk because it's easiest), but at just over $400 when I bought it on sale ($500 now[2]) for a 40" 4k monitor that has 13ms input lag, I'm not sure how I could have done better.

Edit: Had the amazon price wrong, was looking at the 1080p one.

1: https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/vizio/d-series-4k-2016

2: https://www.amazon.com/VIZIO-D40-D1-Class-Array-Smart/dp/B01...

I'm not angry at you, but at the TV manufacturers...

Why the hell do we need overscan for anything that isn't an actual analog TV signal?

IIRC even digital streams sometimes include extra stuff on the edges for various technical reasons, with the assumption that the TV will hide it.

There is a circle of hell waiting for people who do that.

Personally I’ve been opting for 2560x1440 for 27” and will continue to do so until 5k 27” has become the standard. 4K feels like an awkward compromise with its inability to render at 2x 2560x1440.

1440p is an awkward compromise with it's inability to render at 2x the dominant 1080p content. 5K if ever will become standart resolution wouldn't last long as "the next big thing" will be 8K and it's not so far in the future.

edit: typo

1080p IS 2K, though; 1080p is 1920x1080, and 1920 is 5% less than 2K (and the 4K screens are actually 3840, which is 5% less than 4K)

"2K" is usually used to describe 2560x1440 or similar monitors. I find these ideal personally. I don't notice much difference much from higher resolution than that, gaming at 4K requires high end hardware, and scaling between different resolution monitors is a pain.

1440p seems like a good sweet spot between the two. But yes, 2K is a silly name for it.

The term "2K" came from the film industry and meant 2048x1080 (cropped to 1998x1080 for a 1.85:1 aspect ratio) . When 1920x1080 started to show up these where generally grouped in under the "2K" banner. I've never heard anyone use the term 2K when discussing 2560x1440 monitors.

Neither have I.

For displays, <value>i and <value>p are used to indicate vertical resolution. For displays, <value>k is used to indicate approximate horizontal resolution. I've not seen any other usage.

For projectors, especially theater projectors, I have seen 2K used to refer to 2048 horizontal resolution, and 4K used to indicate 4096 horizontal resolution. Projectors do not have the same aspect ratio as monitors, however. DCI 2K is 2048x1080, while "2K" Full HD is 1920x1080. DCI 4K is 4096x2160, while UHD 4K is 3840x2160.

For film, 2k & 4K describe the horizontal resolution as you state, but the vertical resolution is determined by the aspect ratio (1.85, 2.35, 2.40, etc). HD & UHD are fixed to a 1.78/16x9 aspect ratio which explains the difference in widths.

Yes, but any recent film (in the US at least) should be following DCI resolutions if they want to work on a digital projector. The native resolution for 2K DCI is 2048x1080. If there's a different aspect ratio for a 2K film, then either the horizontal resolution will be 2048 or the vertical resolution with be 1080. Thus, 1.85:1 is 1998x1080, and 2.39:1 is 2048x858. Obviously, you can do something else if you want, but then it's not 2K DCI. It may be outside the digital projector's native display resolution. It would be like pushing a 1440p movie to a 1080p monitor. It's going to look weird even if it has the correct aspect ratio because of mandatory down scaling the monitor has to do.

You can't really have a 2K film whose resolution is larger than 2048x1080 if you're following the DCI spec, and AFAIK the DCI spec is the only spec that actually uses the name "2K" as the official name for the resolution. That's the only point I'm making.

I'd personally just avoid using film spec terms for TV and computers and just stick to the old FullHD, Ultra Wide, UltraHD terms. Film tech is always a bit of an island doing their own thing for encoding, captions, hardware, etc.

Attaching terms like "2K" to a computer screen invokes legacy compatibility horror feelings for me.

There's also:

> I wanted more text characters

I often use a small, high res display (on a Surface Go, it's about 400 grams, and supr helpful when I need to fix production when out). Even if resolution isn't important to you, the ability to fit more things on screen is definitely a bonus of high res displays.

I tried to use a 30" 4K screen at nominal resolution, but the type is too small for me at normal distances. I find that the sweet spot is a 40" 4K TV. If it's curved, it's slightly better.

The thing is, you should pick a monitor also by its PPI (Pixel-per-Inch). In order to work with HIDPI on macOS, you should stay around 220 PPI: https://bjango.com/articles/macexternaldisplays/

In theory, you should pick a 5K display, but there only a bunch of models to pick from and they cost a lot (some are not even manufactured anymore)

I can use it with bigger fonts, but then it's less actual real estate.

You don't buy high PPI displays for additional screen real estate. You buy them for the same screen real estate with much sharper, crisper text rendering.

You should always assume that you'll be scaling your image at 2x when using high ppi displays. Take the iMac 5K for example - it offers the same screen real estate as a 2560x1440 display, just twice as sharp at 220 PPI.

I am surprised how small is a number of people that use vertical (portrait) display setup (I do). I have always found vertical space much more necessary than horizontal space. Most workloads will not fill a wide-screen display, and arranging multiple windows horizontally is usually a pain (the only case where it works well for me is for comparing two code windows or data sets which are organized in lines - comparing horizontally works much better in this way), as is looking at them. Vertical arrangement works much better for me. Downside - most displays are not able to rotate. It's a simple thing to do, probably costs nothing, but finding a rotating model is a pain - most manufacturers won't even tell if it rotates, you have to guess from the look of it. I wish this scenario was better supported...

I've been using 2 x 27" 1440x2560 (Dell U2715H) for 2 years now. (Dell monitors are typically a pretty safe purchase in this respect as all the mid range ones seem to come with rotating stand.) I've been very happy with this setup, and I've no intention of changing. It's a good aspect ratio for editing text and viewing PDFs and whatnot, and makes very efficient use of desk space. My 2 portrait monitors are only about 12 cm wider than one landscape one.

I also don't understand why more people don't use it - but perhaps people try it out with a 1080p monitor, find it a bit cramped, and decide against it. (I used 1200x1920 monitors for a while, and the screens always felt a bit too narrow even with that. A lot of programs and sites seem to assume you've got a monitor that's at least 1280 pixels wide, so you end up with extra scroll bars, cramped UI, or stuff that's simply inaccessible.)

How do you deal with the extra vertical effort that your neck needs to do ?

I was thinking about something similar but I am a bit concerned about having to move my head up and down to be able to focus on the entire screen.

I sit about 1m away from the screen, so I don't have to move my neck much anyway.

I do still find the full height a bit much, so I typically have each screen split half and half, or one third and two thirds. Depending on what I'm doing and which program(s) I'm using, this either means two windows, and I use a window layout program to arrange things, or one window split into panels, and I just put the split points where I want them.

(3 x 1/3 is also quite usable - 3 x 1440x850. On some laptops, that's about all you get in total...)

Yes, I also found Dell is pretty good in rotating display game (my latest display is Dell). I do encounter some sites which are to wide for 1080, but it's not too often.

Just as a data point: I tried vertical display but didn't like it because I like to have two panels of code open next to each other on the same monitor a lot of the time.

E.g. if I'm calling a function I love to be able to have its definition up on the same screen at the same time. Also when writing commit messages, love to be able to have the diff up next to the COMMIT_EDITMSG.

Plus, now I think about it, I don't think I very often operate on functions that don't fit vertically on my landscape screen.

I think it depends on the kind of programmer? As a web dev few of my files are more than double my screen height, so it's one keyhit to see the bottom. But, I usually want two or even three things widthwise - perhaps a JavaScript and template file, or css and the output, etc. My horizontal space is more valuable than my vertical.

Usually code works pretty fine for me (though sometimes I've had to fold some side panels). It gets a bit tricky with heavily nested code, because of indents, but this code usually needs refactoring for other reasons too :)

I hear you. In my office people have two 16:10 displays each. Everyone puts them side by side, making a long ribbon. A few people will setup main screen horizontally and second one vertically. Since I've got those with miniscule bezels I've set them up side by side, but vertically, one monitor 90° the other 270°. The result: almost square - 20:16 (2400x1920), in other words 5:4. I can see everything at glance, without awkwardly twisting my head.

Now, if I could only use tileing window manager with this setup...

> Most workloads will not fill a wide-screen display, and arranging multiple windows horizontally is usually a pain

Ultra-wide screens can fix that. And using Windows' auto-arranging two windows side-by-side makes them perfect for the kind of workflows that require switching between 2 windows (web dev).

Be careful with subpixel rendering settings. On a rotated display you have to rotate the subpixel order but for some reason X can't do that (there is just a global one for the whole desktop), so you'd have to manually setup 2 X screens.

2 horizontal, 1 vertical has always been my go to. Works with any arrangement /tasks you're doing. Having a mix of both is a must-have in my opinion, it gives you the widest flexbility of options.

Vertical monitor I usually use for taking nodes, referring to code, or splitting bottom / top. Horizontal monitors are great for watching videos or tutorials, or splitting left/right side.

I usually use 27" IPS monitors that can rotate as well, with VESA mount capability. Dell (U2415H) makes the best ones in my opinion, it's not the cheapest ($300 each), but if you're staring at a monitor all day long it's a cheap investment

I’ve been told my desk setup looks silly, but I use two 34” ultra-wides (LG 34UM95) rotated vertically flanking two 27” Apple Cinema Displays stacked horizontally. It’s absolutely perfect for my coding needs.

I'd love to see that. Care to share a photo?

You've been told right.

Many monitors have mount holes on the back, so you can get a desk attached monitor mount, and then try portrait orientation.

I tried to run with a configuration like this recently, but it didn't work out for me.

>I am surprised how small is a number of people that use vertical (portrait) display setup (I do). I have always found vertical space much more necessary than horizontal space

Try DAW or NLE work...

I do too

so far the best setup that works with me is 3 monitors: 1x landscape (left) and 2x portrait (right)

using something like Spectacle [0] to arrange the windows quickly

VSCode spread on the 2 portraits in a grid (2x2) layout is pretty roomy

I found out that 25" monitors work better than 27" (too high and not wide enough in portrait)

I like the Dell UtlraSharp but YMMV

[0]: https://github.com/eczarny/spectacle

With a wide 23-27" horizontal display, you can have multiple code windows arranged next to each other on the same monitor. Vertical displays let you see more text on one listing of course, but they're not as good for putting two code windows next to each other.

Vertical is very nice for programming. But not great for other things (like putting two windows next to each other). In the past, my favorite setup was two vertical 30" next to each other but you need a fairly large desk for that. These days I just use a 32" in landscape and it's fine.

I still usually write no more than 80 chars a line, so yeah, horizontal space means very little to me too.

I stick to 80-character line limits, too, but I highly value the ability to have two (or more!) source files side-by-side on the same screen. It's like having two vertical monitors, but with just one horizontal one :)

I've been on and off... The biggest issue I have with vertical is the difference in distance from my eyes to the text. Moving my head left/right is more natural than up/down.

Dude writes a massive article on monitors but Willy nilly strews his windows across the display, with random sized gaps between them. Gives me a bit of a chuckle - to each their own but I obsess over getting every pixel of real estate my display offers me, so I always thought it was odd to peer over a coworker's shoulder and see something like the first image in this blog.

I used to be like that. Then I switched to a 40" 4k TV as a monitor a year (or two?) ago. You quickly find that it works best less as a small display into some large space (as you might view a virtual desktop view) and more like a chunk of the wall in front of you has become much more dynamic.

It's much harder to see it all at once, so you end up just treating it as a free floating space to organize things, much like a real desktop (do you layer all your items our to maximize used space on physical desks as well?).

While not working, I'll spend most the time with a browser window utilizing slightly more than a quarter of the screen towards the bottom left, and not much else, maybe some small transient file folder windows.

While working, I keep the browser, but I add a few large terminal windows. Usually one mostly upper center, bottom right, but the upper center one might overlap other windows slightly (because why not? I can make it large without slight overlap and very little loss of passive usefulness of other windows).

It's fairly liberating. I now view tight control and maximizing utilized space as a response to lack of space, which is no longer my problem. In the beginning, I wasn't sure if I was going to regret this, and was looking for utilities to set screen areas that I could maximize to, or save presets for certain applications. Then I just let go, and it's been wonderful ever since.

If you're interested, I still recommend the TV I got (or something better maybe now). It's got low input lag (~13ms) and does 60hz at 4k, all for about $500 at Amazon[1] (I think it was ~$400 when I got it on sale).

1: https://www.amazon.com/VIZIO-D40-D1-Class-Array-Smart/dp/B01...

> It's much harder to see it all at once, so you end up just treating it as a free floating space to organize things, much like a real desktop (do you layer all your items our to maximize used space on physical desks as well?).

If it wouldn't take ages to properly align paper with a 1mm border but they would magically align themselves - yes of course I would :)

Not that I work a lot with paper anymore, but I see no advantage of not aligning stuff in the real world just like a tiling wm would...

> Not that I work a lot with paper anymore, but I see no advantage of not aligning stuff in the real world just like a tiling wm would...

That depends on how you like to switch windows. Virtual windows can do one thing that papers can't, they can magically move themselves in the Z space. If you size/space your windows so that no matter what Z order things are in, there is always part of every window visible, you can VERY quickly click on that part to bring that window to the front.

Yes, I know tiling WMs can give you awesome keybindings... but some people like using the mouse or work for shitty companies that don't allow WM installs.

The analogy breaks down a bit, because it's not easy to stretch papers to different sizes as needed. I used to do this much less often, either because it was maximized or it cut into the space I had allocated for something else. Now I'll just resize a terminal much larger temporarily if I'm looking at lohs where it's beneficial (but wouldn't be all that useful for coding sessions), or pop out a new browser winder to make it larger (a video of some sort, etc).

Since space is less constrained, the size of thugs ends up being much more fluid. Once you end up using many different sizes of things (do I still need ed to see that terminal while watching some video waiting for it to finish? Maybe the size is slightly different to account for that) spending time to accurately place everything very quickly hits diminishing returns past one or two core apps.

It would be a bit like having a large desk and then buying gigantic sheets of paper to write on because otherwise you would have wasted desk space.

Do the edges of the content fall under the bezel (i.e., get cut off by the frame)? I used to have that problem with 1080p TVs, so I switched back to monitors for everything other than entertainment.

No, it has a monitor mode where you get a full 3840 by 2160.

Tiling window managers are not the silver bullet they are often made out to be IMO.

I used tiling window managers for quite a while — two years at least, maybe even for four years.

There are several factors that made me abandon tiling window managers.

The main thing though is that I look at and work in a lot of different combinations of windows.

And often multiple of those windows are big enough that they wouldn’t tile together. But with floating windows I can easily drag them around so that the parts of current concern within each window are visible and I have a total overview.

When I was using tiling window managers I used to believe that I was being smart and efficient by doing so. It turned out for me that actually floating windows give me more freedom.

What matters, I found out, is not how efficiently I can pack windows on the screen to avoid “wasted space” (as tiling window managers help you do), but how easily I can rearrange arbitrarily windows to give me the total picture I need while I am thinking.

I use a MBP now, but I've never understood why a lot of macOS users seem to be happy doing that. Back when I was on Linux, I preferred how easy it was to use i3 or awesome or whatever WM would tile the windows so all the screen real estate maxed out according to the work layout I preferred at the time.

macOS' window management is still so remarkably bad. In fact it might even be worse than ever for me now; I used to be able to install some kind of "keep window afloat" hack, but the ability to do that disappeared with one of the version updates. I just try to keep everything in tmux these days and avoid the UI altogether.

You should try Slate (https://github.com/jigish/slate), it's great for window management once it's set up. I have hotkeys for positioning windows top-, bottom-, left-, and right halves, move windows to the right or left monitor and for displaying a grid that let you define the size and position of the current window by marking an area in the grid. It needs the Accessibility API, though, which may be an issue if your employer doesn't allow sudo access on their computers. Here's my dotfile: https://github.com/Jonasmst/dotfiles/blob/master/.slate

Or if you want something with zero set up, use Spectacle https://www.spectacleapp.com/

Thanks, I hadn't heard of this and it's an interesting project. One problem, though, is that if you're like me and a heavy user of iTerm2/tmux, Spectacle seems a bit jittery while it's trying to match the terminal window to the desired window dimensions.

Or if you want something close to i3, try https://koekeishiya.github.io/chunkwm/

Or if you want to write your own WM from scratch, try https://github.com/Hammerspoon/hammerspoon

There are a handful of nice window management tools, and chunkwm is a filing window manager for macOS

Perhaps not everybody is obsessive about "maximizing space" in this diminishing returns regard?

The fact that Divvy is so popular makes me suspicious.

I acknowledge that - though I'm being presumptive and calling that "failing to maximize tool effectiveness."

I have to stay organized because I have a dumb and chaotic brain. If I used the default osx windows management, er, "system" such as it were, I probably would get done a tenth of what I get done today on my Gnome setup.

Personally, I find things to be easier for my brain when there's a clear space between windows. Not nearly as extreme as in the article, sure, but I felt sufficiently in need of window gaps that I actually hacked them into my StumpWM config back before I switched to herbstluftwm (which is - you guessed it - configured with gaps).

I was super into tiling window managers for awhile, but now I'm firmly in the floating camp.

My local optimum was reached when I started using virtual desktops, one for each window, with each window fullscreen. A fullscreen terminal +tmux is where I do most of my work.

I don't see it as any different than "Massive 8GB of RAM, but willy nilly allocates JS objects all over (with a GC!)". I always thought the main point of having increasing specs is to have the luxury of not needing to obsess over every byte, or pixel.

Nobody except Chuck Moore pushes every piece of hardware to 100% of its capacity at all times. It's always easier to get beefier hardware than to be perfectly strict at all times.

I've a 27" iMac with a 5K display. I don't think I'd want anything larger as you're supposed to sit close to your display rather than have it at a distance, and if I ever need more screen real estate, I change the scaling factor in System Preferences.

Anyway, that was just to say that now I've gotten used to a HiDPI display with fantastic, accurate colour, I can't go back. I'm running a little low on funds and considered selling the iMac in favour of a 2018 Mac mini with a 24" 1080p display — can't do it.

I think a lot of people are spoilt by their Retina-display iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks; or their HiDPI Android phones and tablets. Now that I've been spoilt by a large Retina display, I'm ruined for anything else, even 4K at 43".

Yeah, can't go change back from my iMac Pro to anything else as well. I was used to a laptop for years (MacBook Pro Retina) before that, can't go back to that either.

I can’t wait for 5k 27” to become more common/standard. It really is wonderful.

> [If you’re the kind of person who loves programming on your smallish laptop, you can stop reading now.]

I was all about big monitors until . . . my eyesight started to go south. I'm not going blind or anything like that, but it slowly dawned on me that I was having a lot of trouble bringing all of that real estate into focus with progressive lenses. Switching back to a laptop made it a lot easier just to see what was going on without constantly moving my head around to bring things info focus.

Middle age sucks . . .

Oh, wow. I'd feel like I was sea sick if I used progressives to code. If you can swing it, I suggest to get a pair of single vision intermediate just for programming. Have someone help you measure the distance from your eyes to the screen when seated comfortable. Bring those numbers to your eye dr. It'll help figure out the best Rx.

Dedicated reading glasses is the proper solution.

I'd go one step further and say dedicated computer glasses. They're designed for about twice the distance as book readers, and they have more expensive coatings (anti-glare and blue light filter) that are unnecessary for book readers. Since I invested mine (they aren't cheap), I can actually get through an article without printing it out to read it.

If you need progressive lenses and spend a lot of time in front of a screen do yourself a favor and invest in some "office lenses", preferably "premium" office lenses: https://www.verywellhealth.com/progressive-lenses-3421915

When I first needed progressives I quickly developed severe shoulder pain. I was unconsciously tilting my head up to view the top of the screen through the middle of the lenses. It took two or three years to realize that my shoulder pain was caused my head tilt pinching a nerve in my neck.

"Office" progressive lenses have the middle of the lens focus at screen distance and the bottom of the lens focus at reading distance. Premium lenses are even better in that their region of sharpness is larger. When ordering glasses I also specify how far up on the lens I want the screen distance to be set so it's at my preferred screen distance.

Since I started using office progressives my shoulder pain has vanished.

I actually used a large screen for a while but have enjoyed the focus that my Mac Book Air requires. Just sublime on full screen. Also, your setup is then uniform if you travel a lot for work (as I do) so there is no context switching overhead.

I wish I could buy laptop displays as standalone monitors. Instead of 23" lumps with fewer pixels than a 15" laptop.

The selection isn't as big, but there are small external screens around, you should at least find 13.3" and 15" 1080p screens. There's also kits to run iPad screens over DisplayPort.

Don't forget, laptops are supposed to be closer to your eyes, monitors sit farther back, the bigger the farther I suggest

I would never use a large display like that. Way too much head movement.

Personally I found 25" at 2560x1440 to be the optimal set up (for me at least). It's a good balance between real estate and being super easy to read at 1:1 scaling, with no head movement at all really.

If anyone is interested, a few years back I put together a super in depth article on picking a monitor for development. It's located at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/how-to-pick-a-good-monitor-fo...

Most developers use multiple displays and two 27" or two 30" display means just as much (or even more) head movement - right?

At home I went from two 27" (1080p) to one 40" 4k and the workspace is not as wide (less head movement) and I get the extra vertical workspace (2k vertikal vs 1k vertical)

Yes, I have 2 displays too, but I don't treat the displays equally.

I spend a lot of time on my main left 25" 2560x1440 monitor and the second 21" 1080p monitor is used for things that I occasionally look at, or look at with intent to only look at that on its own. It's mainly operating as a separate workspace that is occasionally beneficial to have up with my primary workspace (but usually not).

With 1 big monitor, chances are you wouldn't want IRC (or whatever app) right next to your main workspace (ie. loaded to the right of your main coding environment) because it's too distracting.

You would typically dedicate 1 workspace for your main coding environment / etc., but now with a single 40" monitor you would feel compelled to keep things across the entire monitor because it would be weird to limit it to ~25" worth of windows while you keep the rest of the monitor empty, so you're stuck moving your head around like a maniac most of the time, instead of only occasionally when you want to shift focus to a 2nd monitor.

I suppose it comes down to your work flow.

> I like its menu system better, although its control buttons are inconveniently located on the back of the monitor instead of the front.

I have never touched the menus on my external displays since a few days after I acquired them, and I wouldn’t expect normal people to either except possibly to adjust brightness.

I adjust the brightness of the displays regularly (typically three or four times per day) from my laptop. Fun fact: Windows has two APIs for adjusting screen brightness, one of which only works for the internal display and one of which only works for the external displays; and sadly the brightness keys on the laptop are uninterceptable and I have not come up with any way of linking the brightnesses either. I went hunting and settled on some old freeware called ScreenBright which I can invoke from the command line, so that now I just run `b 0` for night time and `b 40` for most of the day (and up to 70% in certain seasons—but 100% is pretty much always too bright as the situation is not in direct sunlight); I have since also written a tiny Rust program that interacts with the APIs directly which could replace it.

I really wish external display brightness was better handled by computers and laptops.

I also yearn for the days of CRTs with physical brightness knobs that you could turn. So much simpler and more usable.

Laptops usually have it good (after you disable the automatic setting, why do people insist on automatic brightness at any kind of device?).

I wish desktops had even a passing thought about display brightness, ditto for TV manufacturers.

I‘m closely watching the E-Ink monitor space. There is already one that looks promising, but it’s monochrome and small and there’s still a lot of lag: https://youtu.be/Laa-cN15uGI

I wouldn’t watch movies on that one, but it _could_ be fine for programming already.

With f.lux and macOS‘ dark mode I‘ve noticed how my eyes like low-light UIs better (probably because of lower blue light emission?), and I think an e-ink monitor would be almost zero-strain, just like reading a book.

Yeah I'm also watching this for multiple years but there is not much progress in e-ink.

I would even like it on my mobile. I don't need a brighter screen I need a readable screen.

But right now I like my ultra-wide monitor for programming. All panels open but still space to code.

Lag or monochrome I wouldn't mind, but I'd need at least 21+ inches... Ideally something like 27 :/. I too am watching the e-ink space for some cool monitors, but I think it's not gonna happen, at least not any time soon...

> The Dell is more expensive, but it feels better built, with a nicer stand with more adjustments and some cable routing.

The Dell is ALSO non-glossy, so that might be a big factor for some people. This article is timely for me, as I'm about to buy the Dell 43" 4K to replace my ageing Dell 24" (1920x1200).

Like the author, I want more screen space for my windows (I never run apps maximised) and I do not see the point in buying a smaller 4K monitor, and then running the OS at HIDPI 200% scaling - if you are going to do that you might as well save some money and just get a 1080p monitor instead, as other than smoother fonts, you wouldn't be gaining anything. Additionally, the PPI needs to match my current PPI as my ageing eyes can't do smaller text/icons without glasses, and I hate wearing glasses when I compute, as they make the screen and all it's contents all fishbowly[1] in shape.


[1] Is this a word? What a better word for where the edges of the screen become bowed-out ?

> What a better word for where the edges of the screen become bowed-out?

like looking through a fisheye lens? just distortion, and sounds like your prescription needs checking as your brain should compensate for distortion from vision corrections (up to a point).

Oh OK thanks. I don't wear the glasses that often. I have astigmatism which is worst in my left eye. Does it take long for my eyes to compensate? When they do does that mean I have to wear the glasses for screen work all the time? All questions, I've struggled to find consistent answers on.

Try wearing them four weeks constantly. Your mind needs time to adapt!

I really like the 3:2 ratio display of my Surface Book. I just wish there was a fairly affordable way of getting 27-30 inch versions of the screen, and then put two of those side by side. That, would be my idea of perfection.

As it stands I just use a 27" 16:9 1440p display flanked by a 23" 1080p in portrait mode. (At my desktop workstation)

This. I have the dell P4317Q and I think it’s the best thing out there right now. But I would ditch it right away if a larger 3:2 screen existed maybe, 40” 4K at 3:2 something like that

The Surface Studio is perfect looking, 28" 3:2, 4500×3000 (192 PPI). The frustrating thing is that it's not a standalone monitor/touchscreen - the computer is built in, doesn't look all that powerful considering what you pay, and doesn't look upgradable.

There's gotta be a market for these types of monitor...

I am a colorist for movies and I prefer my Eizo CGxxxx over a cheap 4k display any time for programming.

Not only are the syntax highlighting colors less exhausting to look at, but despite less pixels you gain more clarity, which often has to do with the quality of the blacks.

On top of that I had only the best experience with Eizo Customer Support. Better than with any hardware manufacturer ever. On of the Eizos is running for over 15 years now without any issue and it still looks better than most modern displays.

I'm with you, here. That said, those are still a little bit above my budget. I generally buy the most color-accurate monitor that I can at a price point I can justify. Usually that's $600-700. This time around it was a LG 27UK850-W.

xmonad does a pretty good job splitting my screen into usable browser/application and terminal areas.

All that said, I'm using ZBrush a lot more lately and a Cintiq Pro 32 seems like it'd be pretty sweet.

thanks for that. i've drooled over their square model for a while now just for the proportions, but it's nice to know there's quality inside.

Yeah, we've been shipping Eizo monitors with our Baselight systems for the past 10+ years.

IIYama has very good and affordable 4K displays.

Much a matter of taste I guess; I like 11-12 inch displays with crazy high resolution. Unfortunately there are no ideal laptops that fit that criteria as far as I can see so I must be lonely in that demand. I really liked my 11 inch macbook air although the resolution was crap; that one with a very hd display and 15 hours battery life would definitely be my perfect machine. But I know i'm lonely in that; I never sit in a chair while programming; I program on the couch and have been for the past 30 years (I used to have a keyboard with a long cable and a couch in front of a low table when laptops were too expensive in the 80s/begin 90s); I shift position often and find screens that don't move with my line of sight incredibly annoying just as I find heavy things annoying and cables annoying. I use i3wm/ubuntu on my x220 which is currently my setup, but it's not ideal; too big and low res; great battery life though (19 hours). The resolution of the GPD Pocket is perfect but the screen too small and it's too slow; I used it when I do something urgent while travelling. If that would be 10 inch it would be perfect (I got used to the keyboard which was annoying at first; that would also benefit from a few sizes bigger).

Not quite as small as you'd like but my work issued Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is quite small and light with high res. I haven't tried running any Linux on it yet but it should have decent software support with a recent kernel and modern distro.

How is the battery life for a programmer? All machines I tried, esp Windows or Mac, have not given me more than 3 hours for my normal workload (while Ubuntu with i3wm on Pocket or x220 give me 19 hours with the same workload so I do not quite get it but whatever) while reviews give 15 hours on normal use.

I hear good stories about the xps 13 but the reviews and reddit stories about battery life vary very wildly; from excellent to absolutely miserable. I got a HP x360 something recently from work and reviews say excellent battery life under Windows: I get 2-3 hours for my workload, my wife max 4 and she does browsing and wordprocessing. Went to HP: called us heavy users, nothing wrong with the hardware. Same with the macbook pro I have.

I've not used my XPS 13 long enough to really have a great feel for it but I'd estimate somewhere in the 5 to 9 hour range for light CPU/disk load (ie: mostly typing in a text editor, sometimes compiling and executing, maybe some web activity). Definitely not 19 hours. Your x220 battery life is impressive.

Sadly, due to the form factor being super slim, there's no way to add-on or swap-in a bigger battery so it's not like you can improve upon the XPS with post-purchase mods/changes.

It sounds like you aren't so concerned about performance as much as form factor and battery life. I'm not sure I have a great solution for you, the XPS might not be a good fit, but you might have a look at some of the Intel-based Chromebooks where you can load your own UEFI firmware and then boot directly to Linux. Some chromebooks have enough storage to be useful, sometimes have high resolution screens, and use rather low power consumption CPUs so they might fit your bill. It's a bit DIY but if you're into that kind of thing it might be worth your effort.


The best part of that 43" Dell monitor is that it has a serial RS-232 input which you can control it through. Dell even has a programming guide showing all of the commands.


I have a Samsung digital signage screen that I use for a TV that has the same thing, quite useful as I can control the TV through my media PC.

My personal setup, 3x monitors:

iMac Pro 5k, LG 5K, Dell Ultrasharp 4K 27” in vertical layout/stand.

It’s very difficult to go back once you use a retina/5k screen. No ultra-wide, 4K etc can compare in font rendering. I’d replace the Dell if the LG or iMac weren’t so expensive.

Here’s a random pic I took a while back, I used to use two Dell 27” in vertical layout, but it was a bit overkill, I found I never used the 4th.


I'm with you on the 3rd being portrait - I usually use it for log output, or if need to see a whole page.

I actually prefer using two monitors, as I have a division of which programs I run where. It takes no mental overhead to find program X when I'm programming, because I know on which monitor it will be.

For example, when writing web assembly:

- Primary monitor: vim (in tmux, multiplexed for build and other commands) - Secondary monitor: Web browser to test the code.

Similarly depending on what I'm doing I have such a 'division'. I'd hate to miss that when using just one big monitor.

If I would use a 4k monitor, I'd hate to be using windows or mac because of the window management options. I'd definitely want to be on a decent tiling WM.

The Dell P4317Q mentioned in the article can take 4 video inputs (2 DP, 2 HDMI) and you can split the screen into up to 4 virtual screens where each virtual screen displays a given input. So you can do fun splits for side-by-side or 4 corners or even 1 tall on the left/right and 2 of 1080p on the other side stacked.

Some of the other monitors which use the same panel cannot do this splitting, as far as I can tell.

Oh, I hadn't actually heard of doing this before, but that's something I'll look into :)

you could get yourself a 32:9 monitor as well. literally 2 16:9 monitors but no bezel. Sure bezels are small but even 5mm in the middle of your setup makes the far edges 2.5mm further to the side.

If you like vertical I would recommend a large format 4:3 which would basically be 2 2:1 vertical monitors... but the world seems to hate good old 4:3

I have a pair of 27" 4K monitors and a pair of 2560x1080 monitors below them (ran out of budget and didn't want to buy a new multimonitor stand).

My monitors run at 100% scaling, and while I still wish I had a grid of 4x4k monitors (upon which I'd probably want more anyways), I am fine with how it works. With respect to the 100% scaling, most people look at the size of the text on my screens and think I'm nuts, but I have single vision glasses that allow me to see clearly for the distance range between the closest and furthest points of my monitors, so I don't get any eyestrain at all.

With respect to window management options, I use something called DisplayFusion on Windows. It lets me create monitor profiles that separate regions of each monitor that emulates physical monitors. The software is fantastic and well worth the price. Weirdly enough, the best way to buy it is via Steam.

I'm a big fan of multiple portrait-mode monitors. It makes organising multiple windows easy and the taller aspect ratio per screen is a natural fit for editing code and documents. It's not so great for CAD or graphics editing but still usable once you learn to tune out the bezels.

If you are going to get a monitor then you might as well get one that will last a few years, we are at that sweet spot now where the inputs do the refresh rates and the price isn't so expensive. Having two 'Full HD' monitors side by side doesn't cut it any more.

The big benefit of 4K is the vertical resolution, you really can work on a good chunk of code with the whole block you are working on fitting in the screen with your browser (full of Stack Overflow tabs) open adjacent to it.

Nobody likes land-filling monitors or having a cupboard full of dead ones. So my advice is to go for a 4K monitor that does justice to colours. A TV won't do.

I went 4K before the inputs did decent refresh so I have 'cinematic' 24 fps. This is fine for programming and I am not a gamer plus I have a laptop for watching video.

There is also a difference between 'cinema' 4K and regular 4K. Regular 4K is 3840 x 2160, 'cinema' gives 4096 x 2160, giving a whole column of extra 256 pixel goodness. I went for 'cinema' and 'real 4K' but the market has settled into not selling these beasts.

Size is also a thing, do you really want to crick your neck looking skywards to the top of your screen? Therefore 31" may be the sweet spot for you, your desk and your code. This has worked for me and I don't feel that a larger screen would help.

There are these ultra-ultra-wide monitors on the market with 1440 vertical pixels but after enjoying 2160 vertical pixels I am not going to want less.

Those that work on websites for a living should demand a 4K monitor instead of the side by side Full HD monitors everyone else in the office has. The website of today does have to look good on an iPhone as well as a 4K monitor so the budget reason for the upgrade is requirements.

I recognise that I'm in the minority here, but when I program on something high density but small (physically), I long for more screen real estate. I find this far more important to me than the DPI. I use 2x24" 1920x1200 (I do prefer that than 1920x1080)

I didn't like the 30" 4K screen that I had to use for work. When I used a 24" 4K the extra DPI didn't seem to impact me at all.

My big dilemma is do I go for a 3rd 24"

I use 2 x 24" monitors to. I've tried various other combinations, but this seems to be the sweet spot. The real advantage I find is you can maximise your apps to each monitor and just flick between them if needed. They're also cheap.

I have tried the 3rd 24" and I found I just leave mail and stuff open on it, mainly because it was there. Two seems to work for me.

I have one for my IDE to edit code, and the other one for other stuff. I keep thinking I should do something more sophisticated, but I always come back to this.

I find larger monitors I have to move my head a lot more as well, with the 24" eye movement is enough.

Currently I am running 3xDell U2412M in portrait for an effective resolution of 3600x1920. My next move will most likely be a 43" 4k+ monitor to replace them. A 30" is in a weird spot resolution wise but 4k over 43 is perfect for splitting the screen into 3 columns and 2 rows, or pulling up a code editor and seeing 108 lines of code without scrolling.

LG 5K UltraFine from the Apple Store is where it’s at. The thing is like reading printed text on backlit glass. It’s so nice to program on I can’t stand anything else.

I didn’t understand the eye strain I was putting up with till I bought this thing.

I love this screen, too. Sometimes a bit more real estate than its 27 inches could be useful. But my biggest gripe is really that my late 2016 Macbook Pro with a 2GB Radeon Pro 450 often seems to have too little horse power to drive all these pixels smoothly....

I don't see too much discussion about this fact, but I run a 1440p 144hz monitor and it's fantastic for programming. Testing myself in Vim, I actually move around and edit code faster with 144fps than 60fps. I'm not sure how big the benefits are overall, but I've recommended 144hz monitors to many people because of that.

I have dual 4K 27 inch IPS monitors (DELL U2718Q) and of all the setups I've tried this is the best one. Sufficient pixel density (163 PPI) for code to look crisp at any font size. Narrow bezels, so ultimately not much head turning is needed while at the same time having maximum screen real estate.

Do you feel like you have enough real estate?

I have a pair of the Dell P series 27/4k screens, and the moment I installed the second one, I wanted more real estate (I run them without scaling).

I have since added a pair of 23" ultrawides below them, but I just can't wait until 55" 8K curved monitors become affordable so I can have the equivalent of a 2x2 grid of 27" 4k monitors and fewer cables to deal with (but I also know I'll want more real estate the moment that gets installed).

"For programming I didn’t care about having a high pixel density" → close tab.

I use two cheap 4k offbrand tvs that were on clearance at Walmart for $300 each five years ago. Contrast is not great but otherwise I love them. I have two WUXGA side monitors in portrait mode too, mostly for nerd points but really it's nice to have one as a permanent outlook monitor and one as a permanent console. Usually I use the main monitors for two apps each side by side, but sometimes it's nice to use all 4k for visual studio or dashboard viewing. Occasionally will still need to float a few windows randomly, but hardly ever tile them vertically as shown in the op picture.

Whatever I'm looking at when writing I want it centered on the screen. More screens don't help since I don't want to twist my head for extended periods of time. A bigger screen would probablåy have the same effect. When I have 2 screens all I do with my second one is place things I don't care about on it, such as a mail client. It could just as well sit behind my active window.

My ideal solution is to just get nice quality screen that's big enough and has a decent DPI for its size. E.g. 27" 1440 or 32" 4k is nice for unscaled (100%) content.

I would like to try a 75" 4k screen across the room so that my eyes can relax by focusing closer to infinity.

now thats a blog post i would read

I recently got a 28" 4K monitor on sale for $250US, and it's almost too big to me, but I love the way fonts look under macOS's scaling. I'm farsighted, so when I wear glasses with a lower resolution, I really don't like seeing the lines between pixels. While not technically "retina", my new monitor is close enough.

Also, I do like working on a 13" laptop -- especially with workspaces. Switching the workspace is almost a complete replacement for the screen real estate of a larger monitor.

From the article

> I had been worried that a 43-inch monitor might feel too huge.

Have a friend at work with a 55inch TV/monitor. On his desk. At first, we were like "be serious, get rid of that thing". After a few weeks, we were all like "hrmmmm, I think I might need one of those things".

Having a single ancient monitor at home, and two 27" monitors at work, I always have the burning question: two wide screens, or one huge one (like the author of the article)?

I think also the author is showing off his nice keyboard :)

>I think also the author is showing off his nice keyboard

I think I have a better keyboard. This is what it looks like: https://www.svethardware.cz/klavesnice-acer-future-keyboard/... What is great about this keyboard is the touchpad in the center. This is great because you don't have to stretch you arm to reach the mouse. This reduces RSI for me. Unfortunately my keyboard is getting old and they don't make this (or anything like this) anymore. Keyboard-touchpad combinations are still being made but the touchpad is to the side which doesn't solve the problem of have to stretch your arm.

There are some laptop keyboards like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad-Compact-Keyboard-Trac... but I want a desktoppy split keyboard with a touchpad in the middle.

That is certainly not common. I am a mechanical kb enthusiast, and most splits I see rearrange the function/control keys... but the pad in the middle is quite different. That is an interesting take on it for sure. And the sidecar numpad is even more interesting.

The future is a waterproof 60" 8K touchscreen monitor set on a drafting table's slant.

With a cup holder

And motorised

Over the years I've found that I really dislike multiple screens, or huge displays. I've actually tried the 43 display the author had and it sucked for me. It required so much head movement that it's even worse than 2 monitors.

What really works for me is a single 27 - 32 inch, hidpi display. It gives enough screen real estate while keeping the content (mainly text) sharp and pretty. A tiling window manager helps too.

Yup, I've been quite content with my 27 inch 5K monitor. I use i3 on Linux.

I recommend one of the ultrawide monitors. It's so much nicer to have many windows open side by side, especially when you're editing multiple files

I had 2 monitors before and a 32" 4K monitor now. Despite the large real estate, I don't feel that the increased vertical space is as good as the increased horizontal space.

I will be buying an ultrawide next time to see if those are indeed better than a 4K monitor.

I have got a 55inch 4k Kogan curved screen TV which I drive via HDMI, so only 30Hz but it doesn't matter for any of my use cases.

It is totally awesome, really crisp and the curve makes a noticeable difference on the desk to bring the edges in.

Cost AUD$500 plus delivery, extremely hard to beat at that price.

Plus I have a 32 inch 3K landscape and a 24 inch HD portrait, set up emails and whatsapp web on the 24 inch and do work on the other two.

When I was a remote worker I had in my office two 27 inch QHD screens and a 39 inch 4K screen in between them. This had the nice property that the pixel density was very close to the same, and so windows moving from one monitor to the other (on Windows or Mac) didn't change much. I didn't have a lot of success setting this up nicely on Linux. For me, it turned out that three monitors in landscape orientation was too far to turn my head -- I ended up either leaving the right or the left monitor essentially unused.

Where I work now, I have my laptop and a 34 inch 21:9 (1440p) curved screen. I was surprised to find the curved screen so agreeable, and only wish that it was somewhat larger and higher resolution. Might look at 21:9 (1600p) curved screens.

I solved a problem with resolution just recently, on older macbooks. I refuse to give up my 2012 Retina macbook until it's dead in the water. Connecting a 4K monitor through HDMI didn't work: it either didn't wake up from sleep, randomly switched itself off or sometimes flat refused to connect. Displayport didn't give me 4K resolution. Fortunately I found SwitchResX[1]. $10 saved me from lugging my giant new 4k monitor back to the store - it lets me use the DisplayPort at high resolutions. I now have up to 3840x2160 though unless I'm working on media, I'm happier at 2560x1440.

[1] SwitchResX: http://www.madrau.com/

Best displays for programming I find useful are ultra-wide matte displays such as the LG 29UM68-P with a 21:9 ratio. I love having tmux panes side by side. Having a second one placed vertically allows you to easily read entire pages of source code all at once.

I know a lot of engineers who like the ultrawides. What I don't like is that they sacrifice vertical height. So it's not the best, in my opinion, for coding. An ultrawide that had the same height as a 30" would be really nice!

Some (expensive) ultrawides do address this (somewhat) - https://www.lg.com/us/monitors/lg-38UC99-W-ultrawide-monitor

3840x1600 instead of 3840x1440. If you long for more than that, you'd probably like standard 4k a lot more.

I have a 43" 4K Viewsonic as my primary display and it does work pretty well. I actually wanted something between 32" and 43" but there are basically no options for 4K displays in that range. I'd like to try something around 36-37" if it existed and I wish I'd been able to find a matte panel at this size but overall I'm pretty happy with it. Previously I was using a 32" and it was usable at 100% in Windows but some text was a little small.

On its own it fits comfortably on my desk but my second display is a 27" and I have to put it in portrait to fit both with my current desk setup.

LG 38" does it for me at the office. https://www.lg.com/us/monitors/lg-38UC99-W-ultrawide-monitor

I have a flat 34" ultrawide at home, and very much miss the curved screen from the 38". The 1600 vertical pixels is a nice step up from 1440 as well.

At this point I think I'm waiting for a VR/AR solution before I upgrade my display again...

I like ultra wides, I've got two 34" (3440 x 1440) stacked one on top of the other. I tend to put monitoring stuff, ancillary stuff up on the top one that I just need to be able to glance at and code on the bottom one.

I don't really have super long files normally, but will be jumping between files so its helpful to be able to have three or four side by side on a wide monitor. Then I just have my laptop open to the side (driving all of it) with fullscreen terminals.

Huh, now I’m kinda tempted to leave my 24” display behind when I do my upcoming move and get one of these. Maybe not the LG, what with the top comment on its page saying that it provides nowhere near enough power to keep a usb-c Mac powered, and a super slow usb bus...


i don’t think a 43” display would even fit on my desk, and i think i would personally prefer two smaller displays, but i would whole heartedly recommend dell’s ultrasharp or similar displays to anyone who wasn’t lookin for super high fps gaming. their stands are some of the best (most adjustable and stable) i’ve seen and the panels themselves have great colour reproduction and a good resolution/ppi.

“I liked the resolution of the 30-inch monitors, which is 2560 by 1600 pixels. That is 100.63 pixels per inch (PPI).” AND it was very easy on the eyes. My ten years old 30” seems to have blown a cap so I’m on the market for a new one. The 43” seems like a great alternative. Especially because 30” became only 50% cheaper over the 10 years, that means they are still (over) expensive.

No, take the opportunity to replace the cap! If you really just don't have the interest or the time, please give it someone that is willing to make the attempt. It's a great learning experience and maybe someone that couldn't afford a new one just got a good enough one on the cheap :)

I have a 34 inch LG 4k monitor cost about 400$, connected to my laptop. My only wish was if it was curved.

I eyeballed with the UHD ultrawide curved one but it was too pricy :)

Edit: funny, that when the heating automation for my home turns on with some electromagnetic switch, my screen goes black for a second or glitches the image. I suspect the USB-C > display port converter.

I don't understand the programmer's obsession with having as much screen as possible. Is dividing up your attention span with 8+ windows open at one time really helping you to work better? I prefer to have at most 3 windows visible at one time. Workspaces, alt-tab, etc. were invented for a reason.

I have two monitors now, I'm going to move away from that and go for a 21:9 display, the reason is that most IDE's (and OS:s for that matter) handles two screens very poorly.

For example in VS Code I can easily open editors in columns beside each others, but I cant distribute them over two screens.

That sealed the deal for me.

Most IDEs handle dual screens handle multiple screens very well, usually by supporting multiple windows and allowing tabs/panels to be detached and moved between them.

If not, it's a flaw of the IDE not the monitor setup.

I’ve got a 5K 27” iMac with a 4K 24” external monitor and find I prefer two distinct (high resolution) panels rather than a vast one.

Being able to have individual workspaces on each (and switch between then with a two-finger swipe on the mouse) is a great way to switch between individual contexts.

the Eizo ev2730 is a 1920 by 1920 square screen. A little pricey ...


Other factors that are likely as important as real estate are impact on vision and sleep.

I think this falls apart on Mojave. I use 27" Cinema Displays that are noticeably less readable even with the various font smoothing settings. Perhaps I haven't found the right combination.

From my personal experience, a single 32" 4k monitor is far better for my productivity than 2 x 1080p monitors.

And even better one is 2 x 1080p in vertical position and one 32" in the middle is quite pleasant!

Best programming I've ever done is on a 320x240 display. Display doesn't matter. Font doesn't make. It really doesn't. People love to convince themselves that these things matter, as someone that has programmed for over 20+ years. Let me say, your monitor, your keyboard, your font doesn't matter. What matters more is your computing hardware, OS, your tool chain and your brain. Not a popular opinion, but I firmly believe that from personal experience and from having watched and observed experienced programmers.

I feel like I've gotten pretty picky with monitors. Right now, I'm running two old 1080p IPS displays from years ago, and the reason why is because I have trouble choosing an upgrade:

- IPS or OLED would be preferable for the wider viewing angles, better color reproduction and significantly richer blacks vs TFT panels, but they cost more.

- High refresh rate panels offer a notable improvement in user experience. Even if '60hz is enough' that does not mean you cannot benefit from more, especially when it comes to lower latency and techniques like black frame insertion (which reduces ghosting.)

- Variable refresh rate is nice, too: in some circumstances (mostly gaming today I presume) it could basically eliminate stuttering and dropped frames. NVidia now supporting FreeSync to a degree makes this even more enticing.

- Higher pixel densities greatly improve text legibility and picture quality, which can be especially great when viewing denser glyphs such as Japanese kanji. Bonus points: at decent densities, subpixel rendering can be switched off.

- Curved/ultra-wide panels are fairly enticing because they might offer a solution to the problem of wanting a single optimal display for your line of sight, versus two smaller displays.

...but in reality:

- Panels satisfying even just a few of these constraints can be very expensive and few, if any, satisfy literally all of them.

- Operating system support for high pixel density varies. Linux can vary from surprisingly good to absolutely terrible depending largely on your setup, and Windows varies strongly, though it is a lot better in 10 than it ever has been. MacOS has relatively good DPI support.

- The combination of high refresh rate and high pixel density makes for heavy bandwidth usage requiring cutting edge display connector standards to be supported on your GPU. Some displays require multiple ports to be plugged in and this can be flaky and glitchy.

- High refresh rate support in OSes is also a bit messy. I've not tried but I've heard Windows DWM can be buggy especially in mixed refresh rate setups. I also believe variable refresh rate is mostly only useful in situations where you have a fullscreen application running, since not everything will push frames out at the same time.

- If you switch to a single display, versus multiple homogeneous or hetrogenous displays, you lose some utility. My dual display setup has a unique feature, in that it works together with my IOMMU passthrough. The right monitor is designated to whatever virtual machine has the secondary GPU attached. Display forwarding is handled with Looking Glass, so I don't need a physical output. However, I have it plugged into the physical output, which allows me to switch to it for lower latency/reduced screen tear/debugging/etc.

- Panels are still evolving at a decent pace. In a few years, OLED monitors may be superior to IPS monitors. Also, prices of cutting edge technology is definitely trending down in the monitor space. It just feels like it hasn't been a good time to buy.

So I sit here with my 1080p monitors. They may not be great, but they have good viewing angles, decent colors, and they were pretty cheap when I got them (it was around the time cheaper IPSes started to hit.) The market has plenty worth switching for, but there's so much more potential, and the user experience hasn't always kept up with the innovation here.

I agree with your comment. The OP is using a 43" TFT. I've had a TFT side by side with an IPS monitor, and I much prefer an IPS panel. I find it easier on the eyes.

The Dell website says the P4317Q is IPS so the author might be wrong here.

to each their own. laptop display only, fullscreen all the time, took some time to get used to, but now my desk has nothing but a charging cable and i'm comfortable in any environment. i found having multiple windows in eyesight too distractive.

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