Color Depth

Submitted by skipclarke on 28 August, 2008 - 17:33

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Finally, color depth of most LCD monitors these days are either 6-bit or 8-bit. The more colors a LCD monitor has to display, the slower the pixel response rate is bound to be. Colors are comprised of three layers of dots that make up the final pixel. For each color to display, a current is applied to each color layer to give the desired intensity which generates the color that is needed. What does all this mean? While most of all this take place in milliseconds, it all builds up and the more colors being used, the longer it can take to display the proper image on your monitor. Most LCD monitor manufacturers sacrifice color for speed, so most cheap LCD monitors tend to be 24-bit instead of True Color of 32-bit.

So what is this 6-bit vs. 8-bit nonsense then? Well LCD monitors work with a number of levels that each color can render. Only mathematics can explain how it works, and the equation goes as thus for 8-bit:

28 x 28 x 28 = 256 x 256 x 256 = 16,777,216 (Also represented as 224)

That is a True Color display of 24-bits. Most LCD monitors that sacrifice color for speed get this for 6-bit:

26 x 26 x 26 = 64 x 64 x 64 = 262,144 (Also represented as 216)

Which is a 16-bits color depth. For most professionals that work with images and art a lot, this is unacceptable, but for gaming and movies, manufacturers considered it acceptable. However, the whole thing is entirely subjective, and it all depends on how sensitive you are to colors, but the average consumer is not likely to notice much of a difference, if any at all between 6-bit and 8-bit.

So how do you tell whether a monitor is 6-bit or 8-bit? Unfortunately most manufacturers do not list the color depth for their display unit, and some that do do not list the actual color depth. Usually if they list 16.7 million colors, then that mean it's 8-bit. Anything lower than that is likely 6-bit. If they do not list anything, a pixel response of 12ms or lower will likely be 6-bit, and those with higher pixel response times will likely be 8-bit.