True 10-bit vs 8-bit + FRC Monitor | What is the difference?

True 10-bit monitors offer 1024 shades of color per channel (Red, Green, Blue). Therefore, these monitors can display 1024 x 1024 x 1024 = 1.07 billion (approx.) colors overall. 8-bit + FRC monitors, on the other hand, actually have 8-bits (or 256 actual shades) per channel but still, they can display up to 1.07 billion (approx.) colors. How? They feature a frame rate control technique to virtually display the same number of colors as a 10-bit monitor. Let’s go a bit further into true 10-bit vs 8-bit + FRC monitor comparison.

To understand more about bits and how they are calculated, you can visit this article where we also covered True 8-bit vs 8-bit+FRC monitors.

True 10-bit vs 8-bit + FRC Monitor | Basics

As discussed above, a true 10-bit monitor can actually display 1.07 billion colors. In contrast, 8-bit + FRC monitors use adjacent colors to the original color and then flash these two colors back to back to fool our eyes into seeing the original missing color. This is called Frame Rate Control and it is dependent on the color and the refresh speed. Modern displays support quite fast refresh rates, and hence the flickering due to FRC is not visible in most cases.

The first row gives how true Cyan is generated in a display, and the second row shows the FRC technique that causes flickering.
Credits: Wikipedia | Licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

In the above animation, the flickering is clearly visible as it is a magnified representation. In real-time, these pixels sizes are very small and we might not be able to differentiate the flicker most times. Yes, you read that right, most times. Flickering is prominent in darker shades and you don’t want to see this when playing a game or editing a video.

True 10-bit vs 8-bit + FRC Monitor | Application

We wish choosing a monitor was easy, but it is not. As discussed, the flickering could ruin your viewing experience. Many manufacturers are using a 10-bit tag for an 8-bit + FRC display. It is crucial to understand which one do you need. Therefore, let’s split this discussion into two parts, a casual user, and a pro user.

Are you a Casual User?

Understanding your usage is important before closing in on any kind of product. Make sure that you understand the product, know its pros, and cons. The same idea applies while buying monitors. What is a casual user? If your work does not require precise color generation or extreme video or photo output quality, then let’s say you are a casual user.

A high-end monitor with true 10-bit support is not required for a casual user. You can go for an inexpensive 8-bit or 8-bit + FRC monitor. We would recommend going for an 8-bit + FRC monitor at least as it produces less banding issues than a monitor with just 8-bit color depth.

Or a Professional?

If you’re a professional video editor, color editor, photo editor, or any type of content creator that deals with color-critical tasks, you definitely need a true 10-bit monitor instead of an 8-bit + FRC monitor. A monitor with a true 10-bit color depth will display more accurate colors than an 8-bit +FRC monitor.

You may find this post useful if you’re looking for a True 10-bit monitor as a professional: Best True 10-bit 4k Monitor for Color Grading (32 Inch).

The process of selecting a monitor comes down to what you need. Once you breakdown your requirements based on your work, it will be easy to come to a solution altogether.

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Adarsh R

A blend of a photographer, a movie lover, and now a writer.