Review of Monitor Panel Types – IPS vs TN vs VA

Gaming these days have become more and more mainstream. It’s no longer a fancy way of enjoying the time. In fact, it’s a serious business now. There are all the pro players at all the competitive games with crazy skills. Hardware vendors like AMD, Intel, NVIDIA and others are pushing the field of hardware so hard. The game developers are also pushing the games to the limits. For example, the Crysis was such a major thing at its time that started the legendary “But Can It Run Crysis?” meme.

However, it still seems like the monitor is STILL one of the most neglected parts of every system. The trend is on the change, thanks to all the benefits different monitor techs offer. The industry is also pushing hard on the monitor tech.

IPS vs TN vs VA

With all the revolutions ongoing, we now have several types of monitor panels at the market: IPS, VA, and TN and others. However, these 3 types are the most common for gaming rigs.

It’s time to find out what these panels are, what features they offer and finally, which panel to go for.

The basics

IPS

IPS stands for in-plane switching. It’s a screen tech for LCD. It’s become widely popular because of its high-quality image outputs. It also offers better viewing angles without any issue. The original purpose of IPS panels were to solve the limitations of TN panels. Compared to TN panels, IPS panels offer far greater visuals with more accurate color reproduction and deeper contrast ratios.

IPS

If there’s something to gain, something has to be sacrificed. In this case, for making IPS technology successful, the response time had to go higher. IPS panels can offer response time down to 4ms. You can still get a high refresh rate IPS panel (144Hz). However, the pricing isn’t attractive to those.

TN

It’s the most common display technology LCD displays use. TN is the short term for “twisted nematic”. As you may already know, TN panels are tagged as the fastest and cheapest panels out there. It’s cheaper than both IPS and VA. For their lightning-fast speed, TN panels are most suitable for gamers. It’s the best to combo TN panels with gaming rigs (desktops and laptops).

TN

The reason it’s most suitable for gaming is the faster response time accompanied by a faster refresh rate. The fastest TN panels can go even sub 1ms! The highest refresh rate possible is 240Hz while 144Hz is available almost everywhere.

However, color reproduction isn’t as great as others. The viewing angles aren’t as good as either VA or IPS. In fact, TN is the worst panel for visual quality. There’s no support for HDR.

VA

This is an interesting panel that sits in-between IPS and TN. VA stands for “vertical alignment”. VA is labeled as the best panel for contrast and image depth. Unfortunately, the response time isn’t great for VA panels. In fact, the response time even doesn’t compete with a good quality IPS or TN panel. That’s why if your sole purpose is gaming, then you should stay away from VA.

VA

 However, if you’re willing to get the best image quality, then you should definitely consider VA panels. With better contrast, it’s more enjoyable to watch the movies and other contents on VA panels.

What to consider?

When you’re going to get a new panel, it’s important to consider what you’re going to do with it. Depending on your usage target, the panel decision should be made. Money is also an important factor to remember.

Refresh rate

Refresh rate plays a huge role in deciding which panel to go for. It indicates how many images or “frames” the monitor can refresh and display per second. Every single moving object we see on the screen is actually the result of a stream of still images showed one after another very fast. So, the more images per second, the smoother the visual.

Refresh rate

There are countless options in the market these days that can offer different refresh rates. Because refresh rate accounts for the smoothness, if you’re a gamer, then you should be getting an edge in the battlefield. However, if you’re just willing to spend your time sliding through your Facebook feed and watch Netflix, then you’re better off getting a cheaper, low refresh rate monitor.

TN panels are the champion of refresh rate. As mentioned earlier, they can go up to 240Hz! 120Hz and 144Hz are also available at a reasonable price. However, if you’re willing to get a monitor with both higher refresh rate and better image quality, then IPS is your go-to. If you don’t care about high refresh rate at all, then VA is the better choice.

Response time

It’s another important factor that people (including me), often times, get confused with. Response time is the time that a pixel of the monitor takes to change its color from white to black and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how high the refresh rate is; if the response time isn’t good, things will become pretty annoying.

Faster response time ensures that there will be less ghosting in your monitor. Once the monitor starts changing the frame, the pixels may not be changing their colors as fast. The result is a noticeable trail behind the moving object. That’s a pretty annoying feature, right?

TN panels still RULE!!! If you’re a gamer, TN panels are always your go-to. You don’t want to see the ghosting while you’re shooting your enemies or aiming your next shot.

However, if you’re not interested in competitive gaming, then go ahead and get an IPS or VA panel monitor. IPS is better for those who are casual gamers while the VA is more suitable for the binge movie watchers.

Summary

 IPSVATN
Pros
  • High-quality image
  • Best viewing angles
  • Widest color range
  • IPS-like color reproduction
  • Best contrast ratio
  • Fastest in terms of refresh rate and response time
  • Cheapest
Cons
  • Not as fast as TN
  • The higher refresh rate is rare and costly
  • Very high response time
  • Not a common display tech
  • Poorest image quality
  • Extremely poor viewing angles

Final thoughts

There’s no simple answer to which panel is the best. Each of them offers different features. Depending on your target usage, the choice is ultimately yours.

For average to mediocre gamers, IPS panel should be enough. With better image quality and color reproduction, you can easily enjoy the best image quality with reasonable response time and refresh rate. However, for hardcore and competitive gamers, TN panels are must to get the most out of your gameplay.

In the case of VA panels, it’s not a popular option and monitors supporting VA isn’t available that much. It’s not an interesting choice to explore. I would personally stay away from getting a VA panel for my rig. With lower refresh rate, response time with visibly not so different feature than IPS makes it a poor choice.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Enjoy!