Can you use a Cintiq as your main monitor?

Sounds like a dumb question, let me explain further: I have a Mac Mini plus Cinema Display bought years ago, but since I never anticipated buying a Cintiq 21, I now have them side by side on my huge desk, but they both take up a lot of space.

I was thinking of ditching the Cinema Display and strictly using the Cintiq as my sole monitor attached to my Mac Mini (or Macbook pro laptop). I know a Cintiq doubles as a LCD monitor, but since I use my Cinema Display a lot more than my Cintiq (which I usually fire up every now and then to render/sketch), I wasn’t sure how durable the Cintiq was to have it on for hours on end, daily and high traffic use, such as browsing the net, Creative Suite, etc… like with my Mac monitors.

Anyone use their Cintiq as their sole monitor and if not, is there any detriment to using the Cintiq long-term? Overheating issue?

Thank you

Cintiq is god awful at color display Cinema Display handles it really well (why a lot of graphic designers insist on using Apple monitors). The colors are all effed on the Cintiq, no matter how you calibrate it. The Cinema Display will give you the most accurate display. Cintiq’s also a lot lower res, which is kind of annoying for me.

At work, I have two monitors (most of us do, actually), and I really hate doing anything other than working on the Cintiq: reading, watching videos, using the web all suck on the Cintiq.

In the end, the detriment to using the Cintiq as your sole monitor is: your eyes might not like it after using Cinema display for so long, and all your colors will be completely not what you intended them to look like after you send your files to your client.


I hadn’t thought about the resolution issues. I tried browsing the net, reading on a the Cintiq, etc, and did notice a difference in quality compared with my Cinema, which is a brighter and crisper for graphics, reading, etc. I just thought maybe it wouldn’t matter, but in the long term it just might and I would end up regretting my decision to rid of the Cinema.

I will just rearrange or add more horizontal space on my desk so that it isn’t so cluttered. Thanks for replying and pointing out issues I wasn’t clearly seeing!

Sure. For me personally the biggest issue is color. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rendered something on the Cintiq, and when I drag it over to my other monitor, it looks like complete shit.

A cintiq is a regular monitor, I’m using it right now and I haven’t turned my computer off in 4 years - so it will be just fine.

Regarding color - what generation is yours tarn? There have been many different revisions of the Cintiq which have all used different panels.

The resolution on a 21UX is 1600x1200 which is pretty much as high as you can get in any 4:3 aspect display. These days most monitors will be 16:9 and will only be 1920x1080 unless you jump to an IPS 1920x1200 panel or a super high res 2560x1440 panel.

Ah. That may make sense. My last Cintiq was a 12WX I got 3 years ago (used). The one I’m using now is real old. It’s the light grey kind. I guess it really depends on how new it is. How old is yours, CJS?


Mine is a year and half old, a 21 ux.

Cyber, I remember what you told me a long time ago, in one of my previous posts, about calibration and color and that my Mac screen is not the correct color and to focus on the color on my Cintiq because it IS the most correct.
I am paraphrasing, but is that what you meant?

Thanks guys. I might just hold off for now and just make more space for the Cinema. Nothing wrong I guess with having two screens. I just hate clutter though. :slight_smile:

Think about it this way: more clutter physically, but less digitally. I love having two monitors.

Cinema displays are actually pretty good, but if you haven’t actually purchased a Spyder or some other calibration software then calibration is only as accurate as your eye balls.

Most monitors these days use much cheaper panels then the Cintiq. Frankly a lot of times you’ll calibrate a screen and find out it looks worse - most people love Apple displays, even the cheaper panels on laptops because they are glossy and the lack of matte coating makes the colors all seem clearer and more vibrant.

Most of the Newer 21" Cintiqs have pretty decent panels. So while colors might not be perfectly calibrated on it. You can pretty much guarantee the client will have a monitor that’s more far off than you. And the printer always screws things up. So it’s not that big of an issue.

As for the lifespan of the monitor. Its pretty much like any other LCD. So it should last you several years before it craps out. The ones here at school have used regularly for the past 5+ years and they are still holding up. Longevity shouldn’t be a problem. So using it as main monitor isn’t a big problem.

As for space, Using something like an Ergotron, makes it super easy to just swing the Cintiq out of the way when working. Plus gives you a bit more comfort when rendering as you have a bit more mobility with the Cintiq. I highly recommend them

Yeah the new Ergotron LX arm is great and very affordable. I used several arms before that never quite nailed it, but the LX is great in that it rotates both ways, has a long enough reach and enough force to properly support the display.

The Cintiq’s use IPS panels which are the premium type of display panel, but if you really start to geek out on displays you’ll realize quickly that even the best LCD panels have their flaws. Inconsistencies in backlighting, uniformity, etc are all common. Wacom also multi-sources their panels because if you’ve ever dealt with the supply chain of LCD’s you’ll know it’s a mess. I guarantee if you took each of our Cintiqs apart every one would have a different brand LCD inside - which can lead to a lot of inconsistency.

I’ve also seen a bunch of workstations set up with only a cintiq as the monitor, they seem fine.

If you ever find yourself actually concerned with color, and by concerned with color, I mean you have a swatch book that you replace regularly, and one of the special viewing boxes nearby that gives you consistent light, then you will need to also buy a screen calibrator from pantone or someone like that, it’s a little device that plugs into your computer, and sets directly on the screen and runs a set of tests and auto calibrates your screen.

Until you need that type of color, don’t worry about it too much, just make sure that you can actually stare at it all day. Like someone said, those calibrators are only as good as your eyes.

Also I think graphic designers like apple monitors because they make your work look amazing, and because they come with apple computers that have advanced typographic features. Don’t trust the color of any monitor, get a proof made.

Apple’s glossy screens are generally better than most blue-tinted panels, but they also oversaturate the color, which can also throw you off. I’d love to have a cintiq as a display, whether primary or secondary. In school we had a computer lab with machines that all had 20wsx’s for primary monitors, it was great.

I use my cintiq as my monitor, but I will agree with the above. I have two issues with the cintiq.

One, like mentioned above the color is not great. Working in packaging, color is very important. fortunately my graphic counter part has a nice hi-def monitor and if I have any questions I send it over to her. This is pretty annoying.

My second complaint with using it as my monitor is that it does not sit UP RIGHT!!! This is extremely annoying. I actually prop it up on two books so I do not get glares. I don’t understand why Wacom has not fixed this. This can be extremely annoying when it comes to discussing designs on screen.

It is however a great tool. I also have to say that I find multiple monitors a bit of a hassle. I run two computers at work anyway and if I have to have multiple monitors on my design computer it takes up too much room on the very small desk.

Sounds like you need to get an arm for the Cintiq.

The arm is fantastic:

1-It allows the Cintiq to go upright, and you can position it directly next to/in line with your second monitor if you have one. Rather than looking at your display, then looking down at the Cintiq.

2- It frees up desk real estate from the giant stand. You can mount the arm to a desk or a wall and put things underneath it without much of an issue.

I’m on my third Cintiq.

I use as my main monitor a 23" Apple Cinema display, it’s older from 2006 and due for an update shortly. Since I only turn on my Cintiq when I do sketching and rendering, it’s off and sitting on my desk in front of my monitor, or to the side.

My first Cintiq is a 2008 21UX. I loved it and I thought the color issues were minor. If I drag a window between the two, they were really close, though I think my Apple monitor is not as bright as the Cintiq.

Late last year I got a 12" Cintiq for work with my client at their studio. I have to say, after I got used to the size difference, it’s not bad for color, though it’s dim compared to my 21". I use the 12" with a 2009 Macbook Pro and that’s got a very nice screen.

A few months ago I got a call from my Cintiq dealer, (might as well call him a crack dealer :smiley: ). He had a couple of the newest Cintiq models in stock, the few units actually in northern California! They’ve been hard to get. So I traded mine in for it as I was curious about the higher pressure levels.

This new Cintiq is really nice! The ID is much better and is more solidly built. Though sure, it’s not of a higher resolution and technically, not that advanced. My impression of the screen is it’s even brighter then my old one! White looks really white. However, compared to my old 21UX and the 12", the color is greener, while my older one and the 12" had a cooler look. I noticed it when in Sketchbook Pro, if I draw a faint black line, it tends to look greener then on the older unit. The older unit looked like light gray. If I increase the pressure on the new stylus and draw a darker line, it looks black. So I am talking about a minor bit of green. If I drag the image onto my Apple display, it looks cooler and the faint lines look cool gray. Gray’s tend to have a greenish cast on the new Cintiq. I’m used to it now, but it was a disappointment at first.

I’ve considered the Spyder device to see if I can color correct. But I may just let it go. The ability to adjust color on the Cintiq doesn’t look easy.

FYI, As far as the increase in pressure sensitivity is concerned, I can see a difference. I left my settings in Sketchbook Pro the same, more of less. On my old Cintiq, I had SBP set-up to draw a very faint line with minimal pressure. This was with a custom pencil. On the new Cintiq, the line is even fainter with less pressure! May not be important to everyone, but I thought I’d mention that.

And one last thing on this mini review of the newest Cintiq, not sure yet, but this new screen seems to be tougher. As careful and anal retentive as I am to keep the screen clean and the stylus clean, I had small faint scratches on my old one. And could feel them. This new one, while still perfect, has not gotten a scratch yet. It feels a little different. It’s probably still plastic and not glass. The finish is glossy and smooth. While the old one is a bit matte.

The touch strips are great to have on the bottom, though it took me a while to get used to that. The extra buttons are nice, though I have not gotten into how to use that round button that cycles through 4 options.

All in all, I am very happy with the new Cintiq. Though it’s still not my main monitor.

The arm is a good idea, I’ve considered it. But will it bounce if you’re leaning on the Cintiq or when you are sketching on it?

There is a bit of bounce, but if you set the tension up correctly and aren’t putting your full weight onto it when drawing it’s fairly easy to stabilize. I usually hold the screen with my opposite hand anyways since that hand rotates the display around when I’m sketching.

If you had it floating, the monitor would have a bit of play. But would still be usable. I would rest it against the edge of the table. So it never really bounced on me. As long of a part of the monitor is in contact with the table it’s stable as a rock.

Thanks guys.

I see one by Ergotron.

The one you want is the NEW (there are still old ones floating around) Ergotron LX.