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We Uncover the Dead Pixel Policies for Every Major LCD Maker

By Wesley Fenlon

While all display companies operate within industry standards, there's still surprising variation between dead pixel policies.

Today’s 1080p monitors pack a truly incredible number of pixels into a high-resolution liquid crystal display--more than two million, in fact. High-end monitors even exceed 1080p and tack on an extra million pixels or so. And, unfortunately, there’s a pretty good chance that one out of those two or three million tightly packed pixels will be a dud. It’s a gamble we all take buying a new LCD screen--probability gets us all eventually, leaving us with a gorgeous display marred by a few dead pixels.

If this happens to a brand new display you picked up from a brick and mortar retailer, chances are good you can take it back for an exchange. But what if those pixels go dark weeks or months later? What if you bought it straight from the manufacturer? Depending on the number of pixels, you may be able to get that screen repaired or replaced on the company’s dime--but some laptops and TVs come with much more lenient pixel policies than others.


 

Understanding Dead Pixel Policies

ISO 13406-2 guidelines which specify an “acceptable” number of dead pixels by display category. By this standard, Class 1 displays tolerate exactly zero dead pixels or sub-pixels which makes them expensive and uncommon. Class II monitors--the kinds we actually use--are allowed to exhibit two malfunctioning pixels and five malfunctioning sub-pixels per million. On a 1080p display, four dead pixels and ten dead sub-pixels would be within ISO tolerances.

We wouldn’t consider any display with ten always-on or always-dim sub-pixels to be acceptable--good thing quite a few display companies follow far more reasonable policies. One thing to note about most of the policies listed below: assume these apply only to displays within warranty. Most of these companies likely won’t give you a free replacement for dead pixels outside of your warranty period. However, these policies may not be set in stone, and it’s always worth contacting customer support if there’s a chance you could get dead pixels repaired.

Apple

recently leaked document outlines Apple’s current dead pixel policy, though it’s essentially identical to the way Apple’s been operating for years. On iPod and iPhone screens, Apple runs with a no-tolerance pixel anomaly policy. Up to two light or dark sub-pixel problems are acceptable on an iPad, but no combination of the two. The larger the screens, the more anomalies Apple considers acceptable. However, Apple is willing to replace any display, no matter how few anomalies it’s presenting. But if the replacement unit happens to be plagued with more dark or light sub-pixels still within acceptable range, they’re not going to replace it again. 

Acceptable pixel anomaliesRepair/replace
LCD Size Bright Dark Both Bright Dark Both
1.5” - 3” 0 0 - 1+ 1+ -
9.7” 2 2 - 3+ 3+ -
11.6” - 15.2” 3 5 7 4+ 6+ 8+
17” - 20” 4 6 8 5+ 7+ 9+
22” - 30” 8 10 15 9+ 11+ 16+

Dell

support forum, doesn’t make exceptions for bright/dark dead sub-pixel combinations. It takes six or more dead pixels, dark sub-pixels or bright sub-pixels to warrant a replacement from Dell. Some of its monitors--the UltraSharp, Professional, and Alienware OptX--are covered by the “Premium Panel Bright Pixel Defect Guarantee.” A single bright stuck sub-pixel warrants a screen replacement, but this guarantee doesn’t cover any other pixel anomalies.

HP

HP’s dead pixel policy for monitors pretty much hits it out of the park. The company tolerates zero full dead pixel defects and is harsh on sub-pixels, too: a maximum of five combined bright/dark anomalies is within HP’s tolerances. Like Dell, HP also offers a premium guarantee for more expensive displays--its LP2475w, LP2480zx and LP3065 monitors are allowed only 4 dark sub-pixels and zero bright sub-pixels. Unfortunately, there’s an entirely different policy for notebook panels, and it’s not quite as awesome as HP’s monitor quality control. Their laptop rules tread pretty closely to the ISO standards.

Acceptable pixel anomalies
Screen type Bright Dark Both Full
Post-May 2009 monitors 2 5 5 0
Pre-May 2009 monitors 3 5 5 0
Laptops 720p or less - - 6 -
Laptops up to 1600x900 - - 7 -
Laptops up to 1080p - - 8 -
Laptops up to 1920x1200 - - 9 -

HP doesn’t specify its policy regarding full pixels in notebook displays. Their site also notes that two bright or dark sub-pixels in close proximity (25 mm for bright, 15 mm for dark) warrant a new display.

Samsung

generally acceptable, but follows up with “Samsung does have a Dead Pixel Policy. Receiving warranty service depends on: The number of dead pixels, the location of the dead pixels, the color of the dead pixels, the size of the LCD screen.”

If you’ve got a Samsung display under warranty, contact customer service--you might be able to talk them into fixing you up.

Asus

zero bright pixel policy. Otherwise, it sticks pretty close to the ISO standards with a three year warranty on its panels. If you own an ASUS LCD monitor with fully dead pixels, contact customer service--the chart below refers to sub-pixels, as usual. 

Acceptable pixel anomalies
Screen type Bright Dark Both Full
Monitors 3 5 5 -
Zero Bright Defect monitors (first 12 months) 0 5 5 -
Zero Bright Defect monitors (12-36 months) 3 5 5 -

ViewSonic

We love ViewSonic’s dead pixel policy because it’s detailed, fair and clear. Right off the bat, there’s a 30 day Zero Dead Pixel policy. If your new ViewSonic has a single blemish out of the box, they’ll take it back. Bam. After that, a three year warranty period applies, and the acceptable number of dead pixels varies by location on the screen. Take a look at their handy diagram: 
              

In area 1 (the center of the screen) a single dead pixel warrants a replacement. In 2, 3, 4, and 5, one dead pixel is acceptable. And in the corner areas, two dead pixels are acceptable. Bright dots, dark dots and fully dead pixels all warrant the same treatment under ViewSonic’s policy. Final note: those numbers only apply to ViewSonic monitors. Hit the link above for the terms that apply to its TVs and all-in-one computers.

Acer

Acer’s policy doesn’t give us much to cover--it sticks right with ISO standards and doesn’t distinguish between dark and bright malfunctioning sub-pixels. 

Acceptable pixel anomalies
Resolution Bright or Dark
1024x768 4
1280x1024 7
1600x1200 10
2048x1536 16

IBM/Lenovo

Perhaps the briefest pixel policy we’ve encountered, we have to hand it to IBM--they’re classy when it comes to display quality. On any ThinkPad purchased starting in 2008, three or more dead or malfunctioning pixels warrant a new screen. Two dead pixels gets you nothing but heartbreak.