IPS panels offer the best color accuracy and the best viewing angles; TN panels provide the best prices; and VA panels have the best contrast and offer a good balance between visuals and performance, but their response times tend to be higher.
There are multiple factors to consider when getting a monitor: refresh rates, pixel response times, contrast ratios, and color gamut, to name a few.
These are all affected by the type of panel used by the monitor.
By knowing precisely what to expect from each type of panel, you can make the search for your ideal gaming monitor a whole lot easier.
In this guide, we will offer brief explanations regarding the three dominant panel types mentioned in the title and discuss the pros and cons of each one.
Keep on reading to find out what type of monitor you should get based on your needs, and ensure you make the right purchase decision.
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- Superb visuals
- Best viewing angles
- Best color reproduction
- Most have response times of 4ms or higher
- Panels with high refresh rates are pricier
IPS stands for “in-plane switching,” and is a very popular type of panel used by a wide range of devices, be it monitors, TVs, smartphones, or others. Its primary benefits are superb visuals, excellent color reproduction and great viewing angles.
In this regard, they are a much better choice than TN panels, although VA panels tend to have a better contrast ratio. Moreover, most IPS panels come with response times of 4ms or more, although there are now models out there that can manage response times as low as 1ms.
As for the downsides, IPS panels usually have some backlight bleed issues, such as the infamous “IPS glow.” If you’re after an IPS monitor with a high refresh rate, you’d have to spend a little bit extra, as 144Hz monitors start a bit higher than their TN and VA counterparts.
- Fastest type of panel
- 1ms response times
- Subpar colors
- Poor viewing angles
TN, short for “twisted-nematic,” is the best-performing panel of the three, supporting the highest refresh rates and the lowest response times.
In addition to that, 144 Hz TN monitors are usually cheaper than their IPS-equipped counterparts, and only TN panels can go as high as 240 Hz.
Moreover, while they are no longer the only panel that can achieve 1ms response times, they are still the most affordable choice for those who primarily look for performance in a gaming monitor.
But as mentioned above, TN panels don’t exactly offer the best visuals. Colors tend to look washed out, and the viewing angles are rather weak, so they won’t be appealing for users who prioritize visuals over performance.
On top of that, it should also be noted that very few TN panels support HDR, and those that do rarely have the kind of contrast necessary to make full use of it.
- Color reproduction comparable to IPS
- Best contrast ratio
- Good balance between pricing and performance
- Tends to have higher response times
- Potential ghosting and backlight bleed issues
And finally, VA (vertical alignment) panels are something of a middle ground between IPS and TN panels. The color reproduction and the viewing angles offered by VA panels are generally close to what IPS panels can achieve. Still, VA panels also have superior contrast on top of that.
However, these panels are usually the slowest of the three, as they tend to have higher response times and can suffer from ghosting issues, something that can be particularly distracting in dark scenes or fast-paced games.
Apart from that, some VA panels can also have issues with clouding and backlight bleed, but again, all of this depends on the quality of the panel itself.
Which Should You Choose?
When it comes to picking the right type of panel, the first thing you should consider is what’s more relevant to you: visuals or performance? And secondly, there’s always the matter of pricing.
What are Refresh Rates?
Measured in Hertz (Hz), a display’s refresh rate refers to the number of frames it can display per second. Most monitors come with a 60 Hz refresh rate, but many gaming monitors go beyond this.
The most common refresh rates that you will encounter today are 75 Hz, 120 Hz, 144 Hz, 200 Hz, and 240 Hz, though 144 Hz is by far the most popular as far as gaming monitors are concerned. Why are refresh rates important?
As mentioned above, a higher refresh rate means that the monitor can display a higher framerate. So, while a 60 Hz monitor can only display 60 FPS, a 144 Hz monitor can display 144 FPS.
A higher framerate means a more fluid and more responsive gaming experience, plus it can give you a valuable edge in multiplayer.
Just bear in mind that you’ll need a GPU powerful enough to push such high framerates in the more demanding AAA games! Thankfully, eSports games aren’t very demanding so that they can be pushed to triple-digit refresh rates more efficiently, even with weaker GPUs.
What Are Response Times?
A pixel response time, measured in milliseconds (ms), refers to the time it takes for a pixel to change color from white to black and vice versa, or from one shade of grey to another.
Much like high refresh rates, low response times can influence a display’s responsiveness. However, high response times can lead to some potentially problematic motion blur and trails that are commonly referred to as “ghosting.”
Just keep in mind that some people hardly even notice (or simply don’t mind) the several-millisecond difference between 1ms and 4ms.
Generally, people only find a high response time problematic if it’s higher than 10ms, and rest assured, you won’t find a gaming monitor with a response time that high.
The best way to determine if response times are important to you is to test it out personally. Still, if you haven’t had the opportunity to get used to gaming on a 1ms monitor, chances are you won’t mind using a monitor with a 4ms response time.
Ultimately, there is no single right answer. All three technologies have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re looking for the best possible performance, potentially at a lower price, TN would be the way to go, since they are the fastest and cheapest type of panel currently available.
IPS is the go-to solution for anyone who prioritizes visuals over performance. However, as mentioned in the article, you can always get the best of both worlds with a 144 Hz IPS monitor, provided that you’re willing to spend a little more.
And finally, VA panels will be most appealing to those who want both visuals and performance at a more approachable price point. However, keep in mind that a jack of all trades is a master of none, so a VA panel will not quite match an IPS panel in terms of color reproduction nor will it be as responsive as a TN one.
With that said, only you can decide which panel is right for you based on your needs and preferences.