When deciding between IPS vs. TN vs. VA display panels, there is vital information you need to know to decide which one is the best fit for you. Because in addition to resolution, the type of display panel is also crucial for overall image quality.
So by understanding the basics behind each type of panel, you’ll know how each display will perform and pick the one that meets your needs.
This is your complete guide to understanding how display panels work, the critical differences between IPS vs. TN vs. VA, and our suggestions for picking the best display panel.
How Do Display Panels Work?
First, when it comes to deciding between IPS vs. TN vs. VA, let's talk about how display panels work. The panel type is a critical piece of information that can reveal what you can expect from your computer monitor.
Behind any computer display are several layers comprised of backlight, polarized filters, and the critical layer of liquid crystals. That liquid crystal layer will determine the brightness and intensity of light transmitted through the backlight. The liquid crystals also dictate what levels of red, green, or blue come through.
When voltage is applied, the liquid crystals will move in specific ways, and that's how we can see the images on our displays.
IPS vs. TN vs. VA Explained
Every IPS, TN, and VA display has liquid crystals. So why are they so different?
It all comes down to how the liquid crystals are positioned. So when the voltage comes through, depending on how the liquid crystals are stacked will provide different results in showing images on your display.
We'll start with the oldest of the three types of display panels, the TN display. TN stands for “twisted nematic," and it’s the original LCD technology that debuted in 1968.
“Twisted nematic" refers to how the liquid crystals react to voltage. When there is no voltage going to the liquid crystals, they are twisted, allowing light to pass through. However, when voltage surges through the liquid crystals, they untwist, blocking light.
The second type of display is the VA display, which stands for "vertical alignment." So, as you can guess, the liquid crystals in a VA display are vertically aligned and perpendicular. The liquid crystals tilt when voltage is applied, which allows the light to shine through.
The last type of display is the IPS display, which stands for "in-plane switching." Like the other two types of displays, voltage determines how the liquid crystals align, and for an IPS display, the liquid crystals are also stacked vertically.
However, the main difference between IPS and VA is the liquid crystals are parallel. And when voltage is applied, the liquid crystals rotate.
Which Display Should You Choose?
There are pros and cons when it comes to TN, VA, and IPS displays. Here's what you need to know.
- Best For: New gamers and office professionals on a budget
- Not recommended for: Multiplayer games, designers, or photo editors
The TN display can be an excellent fit for anyone on a budget, even gamers. These displays have fast and reliable signals, perfect for games that require you to be on your toes. You can find TN displays with response times between 1-5ms! So if you pair with a high refresh rate, you're looking at an ultra-smooth experience.
But there are some limitations to consider as well when browsing TN displays. For example, the color reproduction isn’t the greatest and what colors you see can change based on your viewing angle.
And speaking of viewing angle, TN displays only look normal when you look directly at it. Not ideal for multiplayer games or if you’re trying to show someone a video.
Games won't look their best on a TN display. And we don't recommend TN displays if you're a designer or involved in any colorwork. However, if you need a basic monitor for work or you're a novice gamer on a budget, a TN display can deliver the basics while providing a fast response time.
- Best For: Watching movies and shows, everyday use
- Not recommended for: Gamers, designers
Depending on your needs, the VA display has some advantages over TN and IPS displays. One of the biggest perks of a VA display is that it can handle a high refresh rate of up to 360Hz while being more budget-friendly than an IPS display.
Plus, the viewing angle is definitely a step up from a TN display. However, there may still be a slight shift in colors depending on your viewing angle. Only the most trained eye would be able to tell the difference.
Another perk with VA displays is that they can display deeper and brighter colors, especially blacks and whites, thanks to their high contrast ratio. However, while they have the same refresh rate as an IPS display, they can have a slower black to white pixel transition.
This means for your super-competitive gamer, super-fast objects on your screen may leave behind smearing, blurring, or ghosting, which can be annoying and distracting. You'll find that, actually, most LED televisions use VA panels because of their amazing ability to show deep and bright colors.
- Best for: Gamers, designers, and video enthusiasts
- Not recommended for: Anyone with a limited budget
Finally, we reach IPS displays, which is the top choice for any gamer or designer. They can deliver consistent, vibrant colors, ideal for complete game immersion or editing a photo masterpiece.
Thanks to the vertical and parallel-stacked liquid crystals, the viewing angle is also superb over TN displays and better than VA displays. This means IPS displays have the widest viewing angle, so you and your friends can have the perfect view playing co-op or watching that funny video on YouTube.
Alas, no display panel is perfect. One of the drawbacks of an IPS display is the slower response time. However, this is only the case with the lower-priced displays. If you invest in an IPS display with a higher response time, you can enjoy super-fast response rates that are just as good as any TN monitor.
However, this leads to another possible drawback of an IPS display: budget. While IPS displays deliver everything you need for gaming, design, or video viewing, they are more expensive than TN and VA displays.
The Final Word: IPS vs. TN vs. VA
If you're a gamer, we recommend you look at IPS or TN displays. The IPS display is an excellent investment, especially if you can afford one with a high response time. However, if you're on a budget, a TN display will also deliver if you're willing to sacrifice color accuracy.
If you’re a designer or photo editor, your best bet is an IPS display. And if you’re looking for everyday use, any monitor will deliver; it just depends on your budget.
When looking for any display, you’ll want to follow these simple rules:
- The higher, the better: Brightness, contrast, refresh rate
- The lower, the better: response time
At The Monitor Lounge, we’d be more than happy to help you pick out the perfect display. We offer the best Iiyama displays and safely ship directly to your door. So browse our entire selection, and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.