Turns out that a set of good brand-name gauges approaches the price of some flat dashes. One big perk of some flat dashes is that they connect to the ECU, displaying the same values that the ECU is actually using versus only reading their own sensors. The advantage is that what the dash displays is what’s being used by the ECU rather than a copy. If there’s wiring or sensor problems it’s readily apparent instead of reading fine from the gauge’s sensor while the ECU sensor has a loose connection. Then there are the configurable alarms which is real nice because if any parameter has a problem it flags it Right Now rather than driving a couple more laps before noticing.
I’m not sold on this one way or the other but am surprised that flat dashes are getting close to being cost effective. On the other hand I read about unhappy flat dash users discussing flaky software (with some dash brands.) There is something to be said for the simplicity of traditional gauges though there’s plenty of time to think about which way to go.