35 comments on “Wacom Cintiq 20WSX Review.

  1. Randy, I saw your comments on John Beatty’s site which led me here. Excellent write-up and you touched on some details that haven’t been covered before. Thanks!

  2. Thx, Randy-

    I’m leaning more and more towards the 20WSX, since your review, along with Joe Bluhm and another friend of mine is using one too!

    Now…my PC is 3 years old…still running fine…but I was thinking of getting the 24″ iMAC this year…


    Decisions! [and $$$]

    I’ll be dropping by your blog…keep up the informative posts!


  3. Thanks for the information Randy.

    I also use a 30-inch apple cinema display monitor and have just invested in a 20 wsx. I connect both to the two DVI connectors that are on my geforce 7800GT video card I am also a little concerned about the mismatch in monitor resolution that seems to be keeping me from mirroring without loosing the benefits that the big screen and the graphics tablet have. Does anyone know of a solution out there that will allow me to use my 30-inch screen in its maximum resolution and yet also see the entire desktop on my 20 wsx running at the lower resolution? Would using separate video cards help for example???? Or do I just have to get used to the fact that I am not going to be able to have my cake and eat it????

  4. Hi Arthur,

    I emailed Wacom Support earlier about running the 30″ ACD and the Cintiq 20WSX in mirror mode and they said that it was not going to be possible. The 30″ ACD runs at a much higher resolution than the Cintiq. What they suggested that I should do is to match the resolution of the 30″ to the 1680 x 1050 resolution of the Cintiq.

    I did tried that kind of setup. Once I had the Cintiq installed, I went to the System Preference and changed the display resolution of the 30″ to 1680 x 1050.

    However, the desktop of the 30″ will look a bit funny because it’s aspect ratio is quite different from the Cintiq. And in my case, I can’t seem to make the tablet function of the Cintiq to work when I tried it in mirror mode.

    I ended up working in extended desktop mode, which I am starting to learn to like a lot. Flash launches and appears on the Cintiq and I have my reference images and storyboard up on the 30″ ACD.

    The extra real estate is a boon because I have an uncluttered desktop in the Cintiq; every other window panel I configured to launch on the 30″, making them easier to view.

    The flipside of this arrangement, as I mentioned in my post, is that you have to get used to toggling the cursor from the 30″ to the Cintiq and back, since some of the menu items and pop up windows would open on the 30″. But I got so used to the toggle function on the express keys of the Cintiq that my initial misgiving about not being able to run in mirror mode is now non-existent.

    I have thought about adding a separate video card too, but now that I am enjoying the luxury of having so much desktop space in extended desktop mode, I have decided to stick with it. You might find it beneficial too, especially if you are a multi-tasker and work with a lot of programs running simultaneously.

    Hope that helps. I am sure you will be enjoying the use of your Cintiq, because I sure am having a ball!


  5. Quick question, playing with one in the store I noticed a considerable lag of the cursor when drawing a line. Is this just a calibration issue or an inherent trait in the Cintiq? My Intuos is tolerable but I don’t think I could handle drawing a line then one second later the cursor passing drawing the line. TIA

  6. Hi John,

    There is a lag with the cursor when drawing a line, but it is not that troublesome and you will get used to it after a while. It’s not a calibration issue at all; it is just an inherent trait of the Cintiq. It is not so bad that as you think it is. In fact, once you use the Cintiq more and more, it would go totally unnoticed. I now work at a speed that is much faster than I did with an Intuos. The lag does not bother me at all.

    Hope that answers your query. Thanks for visiting!


  7. Hi,

    I’m posting searching for a litlle bit of help…

    Go for 21UX or 20WSX?

    Which are the advantages or disadvantages of each one? Pros and Cons?

    I’m an ID student (final year) …

  8. Hi Daniel,

    It does not matter which of the two you choose; they are both pretty good, in my opinion. However, the 21UX is a few dollars more expensive than the 20WSX and that is why I went with the 20WSX. The 20WSX is also sort of in a bit of a wide screen mode, but the difference is very minimal compared to the 21UX.

    I don’t think there is a clear advantage or disadvantage between the two. Try both at a store where they have any on display and just chose what you think feels good. If there is no store that has them on display, then I suppose vote with your wallet!

    Hope that helps.


  9. Update July 24, 2008.

    To anyone who is thinking of matching a Cintiq with any Mac that is running 10.5.4, DO NOT DO IT! I do not recommend it! I have been having issues since I’ve updated to 10.5.3: I would get kernel panics and crashes, most of them because of the tablet driver.

    And good luck asking for help from Wacom Support. The last time I had a crash and asked them for help, they told me to take my issues to Apple saying that it is Mac related. Now, to be fair, maybe I should do that. But imagine this: I talk to Apple Support and let them know that my Mac is crashing and that the crash report indicates that the cause of the crash is the Wacom Tablet Driver. Other guy at the end of the line would probably tell me to take the issue to Wacom Support.

    So if any of you are thinking of setting up an Intel Mac and a Cintiq, think twice. Run under 10.5.1, that seems to be stable because I had no trouble running under that version of Leopard. Update to 10.5.2 up to the latest version and you might encounter the same issues I am having.


  10. Randy,

    I have been using my 20WSX Cintiq since January 08 with my MacPro (late 2007) 2.66Ghz Quad, ATI X1900XT, 12 gigs ram and 2 TB of hard drive space. I am currently running Leopard 10.54 and I have not experienced the kernel panics that you describe.

    I have the latest Wacom driver installed (6.0.8-2) and my primary monitor is the 20″ Apple Cinema Display.

    I do not think the Wacom driver is the cause of your problems. It is more likely your video card and it’s ability to support both displays using different resolutions.

    Please note that I had to use the DVI-I to DVI-D adapter to get the MacPro to recognize the Cintiq as a Digital display (even with the Cintiq’s switch set to DVI). Without this adapter, the Cintiq would only run in VGA mode. After this little kink in my Cintiq set up, it has run without incident.


  11. Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for writing! I am glad to hear about somebody else that runs almost the same set up as mine. I am also glad to hear that you are not experiencing my troubles and that your set up runs fine. This makes me feel optimistic and makes me want to dig harder to find the culprit.

    Thanks for suggesting that it might be my stock video card that is causing the trouble. I have to make sure that it is before I decide on getting the next best video card from Apple, the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT.

    Thanks again,


  12. Randy,

    Have you resolved the issues yet? I’m thinking about getting a 20wsx, surfed around, found your site. The Cintiq seems like just the thing I need, but I don’t want tech issues to be a deal breaker.



  13. Hi John,

    Well, here is the thing that I found out. My troubles only appear whenever I upgrade to the latest version of Mac OSX, which as of this writing is 10.5.4. But when I downgrade to 10.5.1, none of the issues appear and my system is rock solid stable.

    If you plan to run a Cintiq with a Mac, I suggest running it only in 10.5.1. I only say that because as far as I have gone through my troubleshooting, something in the latest version breaks everything and makes my system unstable.

    I am currently back to Mac OSX 10.5.1 and have been running it for a couple of weeks now without a hitch. I do not have an answer if you are a Windows user as I have not tried using the Cintiq with a Windows machine.

    Hope that helps in your buying decision. Thanks for dropping by!


  14. Hello. I’m happy to have found your blog. I envy your job. I I’m interested in the Cintiq 20WSX. I don’t think there are any stores near me that carry them in store and I would love to try one out. I have to depend on what information I can get about the 20WSX on the web and I hope you can help me with a question. In your blog you have said to John “There is a lag with the cursor when drawing a line, but it is not that troublesome and you will get used to it after a while. It’s not a calibration issue at all; it is just an inherent trait of the Cintiq.” So, you are saying that the lag is due to the Cintiq? I would have thought it would be due to a “slow “computer. I have a quad core and a Geforce 8800 Ultra graphics card. Would this be enough to get rid of lag or would there still be lag no matter how fast a computer someone may have? Also, would you know of any websites/forums that discuss issues about the Cintiq line? Any information you can give me would be of great help.

  15. Hi Scott,

    The cursor lag is very minimal and you will only notice it if you nitpick on it. It is very minute and I only mentioned about it because I read it in someone else’s review of the Cintiq. I guess the lag is present because it does take a millisecond or something for the computer to recognize where you are placing the cursor at that time. It is not a deal breaker at all and like I said, you will eventually forget that it’s there as your usage increase.

    Unfortunately, I know no website or forums discussing issues about the Cintiq. Someone emailed me about the existence of one, but according to him Wacom shut it down. I am not sure about that as I have not tried investigating if it is true.

    If you have worked with a Wacom Tablet before, then you will feel right at home with a Cintiq. In fact, it is much better as you are drawing in the more natural position. The only thing you have to make sure is that your graphics card can support dual monitors as the Cintiq functions as a secondary monitor. I am sure the graphics card you mentioned qualifies.

    Thanks for dropping by!


  16. Thanks for the information. I tried looking on the internet for a Cintiq 20WSX but in my search I found out that the 20WSX isn’t being made anymore. I found this out from Toolfarm.com,one of the sellers of Cintiqs. I was sad to hear about this. the 20WSX looked like it had the features I wanted more than the 21UX.

    The following is one of the letters I sent to Toolfarm.com:

    “I’m suprized to hear that the Cintiq 20WSX is discontinued. Isn’t it the newer build than the Cintiq 21UX? Doesn’t the Cintiq 20WSX have more programmable buttons than the 21UX? Also, doesn’t the 20WSX work with another monitor in a way that the Cintiq 21UX doesn’t? In your phone message you said that the Cintiq 20WSX is obsolete. Is Wacom coming out with new Cintiq versions? I have never used a Cintiq and I only know what I have read about them. I would speak with you on the phone about these things but I have to be at work soon. I don’t want the Cintiq 21 UX now. If I am wrong about what I have read about the Cintiq 21UX then I will consider it.”

    Toolfarm.com sent me this letter back:

    “Hi Scott,

    Wacom informs me they had to discontinue the Cintiq20WSX due to a critical component, that is only in the 20, was discontinued by the manufacturer. So unfortunately the Cintiq20wsx had a short and unexpected life.

    As for functionality, the 20 & 21 are very comparable. The internal technology is the same (they come with the same pen and software suite). Though you are correct that the 20 does have more programmable buttons (14 versus 8), they report they have found that most users are happy with having 8 and in some cases do not use all of them. The 21 does have a slightly higher resolution than the 20.

    Please let me know if there are any other specific concerns with the 21ux, and I will try and get them addressed.

    Additionally, although Wacom declined to officially comment on any upcoming new products, they did say they do not have anything on the Horizon for Cintiq for at least 9 months.

    Please let me know your thoughts and concerns.

    Best Regards,”

    So, that’s were I am now. Do I get a 21UX now or wait nine months to see what kind of new babies they may come out with? I think I may go with the 21UX.

  17. Hi. Randy’s site and the comments convinced me to get the 21UX and I am very pleased with it. It’s been a major work/time saver on a rotoscope project I am working on now. I can have the matte that I’m painting on the UX, and the rest of the GUI on the big Cinema display, showing the effect of my painting in real time on the final image. Better than I expected! Setup is 8 core with 8 gig ram and the 8800GT video card. No problems using extended view mode, latest OS.


  18. “http://www.macpac.com/store.htm” This shop has couple of 20WSX left in the stock. I just bought one. Mostly for Zbrush and Photoshop, but I have really big hopes that it will be also better for working with Houdini and Modo.

  19. I too have the Cintiq 20WSX and was curious if any of you have tried mounting it to a radial desk mount? I have done a fair share of looking for a good mount, but had few results. One being the Turntablet which involves cutting a hole in a drafting table… And the iLift, which is looking like the direction i may go.
    Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

  20. Good page guys, very useful, I’ve just bought a 21UX and have a 30″ Apple Display and 2×3.2GHz Quad Core Mac Pro with the NVidia GeForce 8800 GT Card. Set up was no problem and the displays work well together. Bit of a tight fit for both DVI connectors into the ports on the card though – had to shave a bit off each connector with a scalpel – don’t try that at home kids.

    I couldn’t get the tablet function to work in mirror mode either – the cursor seemed glued to the right side of the Cintiq display, sliding up and down was as good as it got. The solution is to open Wacom Tablet in System Prefs (using your mouse of course) and under calibration make sure the Cintiq21UX (1) display is selected in the Monitor drop down menu, by default it’s blank.

  21. I have trouble with the Cintiq 12. Won’t run in mirror mode (cursor sticks to side of screen). Won’t allow you to move the menubar over to the cintiq (in dispplay setup pref) – doesn’t calibrate so there is 3 cm gap between pen and tablet.

    You end up doing that which you have mentioned… drawing on the tablet but having to use menu options on the LCD… I find that pretty inefficent…

    any ideas

    • Hi Theodor!

      Unfortunately, I have no suggestions on how to make yours work in that arrangement. I have learned to live with the inconvenience of selecting my menu options from my main screen. It was quite off-putting at first, but things came naturally later on once I got settled and used to it. You might find it is not that inconvenient at all once you try it out.

      Good luck!

  22. Sup Randy,

    This is a wicked product review btw – I like many others appreciate the time you’ve spent writing it even tho it’ll be 2 years old soon, and oh yes; we do all like additional pictures with our internet reviews.

    I’m a keen bean for one of these and also wish to purchase a new mac with it to replace my tiring Macbook pro. But with the high price of the Cintiq 21ux, I can’t go mad on a computer and was thinking of settling with a little mac mini to use with it.

    I mostly use Photoshop but have started learning Flash and hope to become a regular user in the next few months. My question is do you think the Mac mini will be fast enough for me to use with the Cintiq and Flash or am I kidding myself?

    My budget for a computer,after the Cintiq, is around £1000 and thats pushing it.. If you don’t do £ then this might help –

    I’ve use Macs since I was 12 (i’m 22 now) so couldn’t even fathom switching to using a PC. Plus “Once you go Mac…” You get my point. My bro is still a student so i should be liable for a 15% discount thru him.

    I’ve been thinking about getting an iMac but want something that is bound to last me a comfortable 4 years or so and I’ve always been a bit skeptical of those wafer thin Imac computers… Should I be?

    Any feed back would be very helpful

    Cheers Mate


    • Hi David!

      You are right about the Mac Mini: it might be too underpowered to take on Photoshop and Flash.

      My suggestion is to get the iMac; I used to have one and it was a reliable back up machine for my work. I was able to hook my Cintiq to my iMac once when I needed to do some maintenance on my Mac Pro.

      The latest ones are blazingly fast too, even faster than my Mac Pro, believe it or not!

      The new iMac would probably last you at least three more years. Mine conked out after almost a year and a half though, so I definitely recommend getting an Apple Care insurance for yours should you go ahead and bite the bullet to spare you from stratospheric out-of-warrantee repair costs (which I experienced).

      The Mac Mini definitely won’t cut it. The price might be appealing, but you will be treading in mud speed-wise me thinks.

      Thanks for dropping by and good luck!

      • Ahhh the perfect reply! Thanks man, that cleared up everything. I wouldn’t dream of not getting an Apple Care projection plan man, that was a school boy error mate. Although their almost immune to viruses, macs are like people; they get either poorly or really sick at least once a year! (with excessive use of course)

        I’ve sent my Macbook pro out for repairs at least twice in 2 1/2 years, its actually being repaired as we speak! well as I type… I will have saved around £700 in repairs by the time I get it back.

        Anyway… Thanks again, I can’t wait!



      • Me again…

        Randy do you know much about the difference between the 21UX and the up and coming second generation Cintiq 21UX (Intuos4 Technology)? Its coming out the at the end of this month (in the US no doubt… I’ll probably have to wait 3 months).

        You probably be have better judgment at a quick spot-the-difference looksy on the Wacom website, the price gap is that big between the two models:


        looks pretty similar to me, but I can’t help get that ‘I want’ feeling that new releases give you, they always make older models look dated. Apple are the WORST for that…


      • Hi David!

        If money is no object, definitely get the new release. Otherwise, if that big price gap maybe too much for you then the original one will still suit you fine. Don’t worry too much if you should get the older version; I think there’s not much difference that you will notice between them. The form factor is a bit different, yes, but all in all you will still get a highly advance equipment should you opt for the older version. A lot of studios still uses the original one and I don’t think they would be upgrading to the newer version except for new purchases.

        Good luck!

  23. Hi there,

    I am looking to get a cintiq as a gift and dont know if i should get the 20wsx or splurge for the 21ux..Have you tried the newest model? What are your thoughts?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Hello!

      I would go for either the 21ux as the 20WSX has been discontinued. If you have the budget and want the newer features, then go for the latest one, but if you want to save a bit of money, you should be fine with the 21UX.

      Hope that helps!



  24. Thanks for all the great info here! I’m looking into buying the new Cintiq 21UX. My iMac has the Mini DVI port, so I know I need an adaptor. What I can’t seem to figure out is if it should be a Mini-DVI to DVI-D or a Mini-DVI to DVI-I adaptor…I’m not even sure of the difference between DVI-D and DVI-I… Do you by chance know which one would be compatible?

  25. Hi, I have been drooling over the 21ux for a long time, and I am having a hard time justifying buying it. So I would love some input from anyone. What I do is convert sketches into svg files for crafters. I am working with a retired Disney Artist, and I am using a Wacom tablet, and would love to design directly on a screen. Here are my questions does the 20 work in Adobe Illustrator, and can you use it on a PC. Thanks a bunch, and I really enjoyed your blog, very easy to read and understand and very very informative. Thanks

    • Hi Suzan,

      The Cintiq will definitely fit the requirements of what you are doing, that is, converting sketches into SVG files. It does allow you to draw directly on the screen, very much like a digital drawing board. I am sure that it works with Adobe Illustrator, especially with Illustrator’s brushes. It definitely will work on both PC and Mac.

      Thanks for dropping by and good luck!



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