When buying a new monitor you come across a lot of different specs. One of them being either TN, IPS or VA. This indicates what type of panel the display uses. Each of them has its own pros and cons. So, let’s see which monitor panel is best for you.
The first type of panel we are going to cover is the TN panel. This is short for “Twisted Nematic”, which refers to how to screen is built. The screen is made up of nematic liquid crystals that sit between 2 sheets of polarized glass. Most of the LCD monitors out there have a TN panel for numerous reasons.
The first reason being that these screens have a cheap production cost. A lot of cheap monitors or the ones that go on sale a lot have TN panels. The reason why a lot of gaming monitors have TN panels is because of the high refresh rate it can offer. TN panels can deliver much higher refresh rates at a lower cost than its competitors.
At this point, TN panels sound like the best out there. But sadly that is not the case for most people. Because of the way nematic liquid crystals work the image quality is not very good compared to IPS and VA panels. And the decent panels, that can deliver a decent image, suffer from bad viewing angles. While this is not too noticeable in daily use for people sitting right in front of their monitor.
The image quality is very dull, especially when compared to IPS panels. Having a good image quality is essential to anyone who works with design or photo/video editing. Apart from that, you will not see backlight bleed like on IPS and VA panels. Backlight bleed is when you can see a light source on a black screen, this is very annoying when playing certain games or watching a movie.
Moving on the next panel. IPS stands for “In-Panel Switching” and can be seen as an improvement of TN panels. They have much better image quality in every aspect. These panels also improve on the bad viewing angles of TN panels. You are able to look at an IPS panel from basically any angle with the same image quality.
The color accuracy is amazing on IPS panels. Most of these panels have a color accuracy of 97%-99%. An IPS panel can produce 16.7 million colors, which is the most colors we can currently represent. Even when compared to AMOLED panels, which is the newest TV panel, IPS panels have better color reproduction. All of the colors are very realistic which is perfect for color critical work.
The downside to all of this is that monitors with an IPS display are very expensive. An IPS monitor with the same refresh rate and response time as a TN panel can sometimes be double the price. IPS monitors also have lower refresh rates which is not ideal for gamers. Even worse for gamers is that the response time of IPS monitors is also not as low as TN or VA panels.
A lot of professionals who need very accurate colors will benefit a lot from IPS panels. This is because IPS panels currently produce the most realistic colors on a computer screen.
But the major disadvantage of IPS displays is backlight bleed. When buying an IPS monitor you are basically gambling whether you will have backlight bleed or not. The worst part is that some sellers won’t replace monitors with backlight bleed
Last but not least we have VA panels. This is short for “Virtual Alignment” and a lot of people see this as the middle ground between TN and IPS panels. Which is kind of true as these panels have good color reproduction and good specs for gaming.
One of the strong selling points VA panels have is the ability to block out light from the backlight. This means that you will see deeper and more contrasted blacks. It is not quite at the level of OLED displays, as these completely turn off black pixels, but it is fairly close. VA panels are built very similarly to TN panels which enables the high refresh rate and low response time. But like IPS panels, VA panels also improve on the picture quality of the TN panels. Not quite as much as IPS panels but good enough.
Sadly, like IPS panels, you will also find backlight bleed on VA panels but luckily not as much. There are also some sellers who won’t replace you monitor with backlight bleed, like with IPS panels. Another downside is that VA panels are basically panels filled with compromises. They have good image quality and gaming performance. But they are really good at something.
Like we mentioned earlier, VA panels are basically the best of both worlds. Good image quality and gaming performance at a good price point. The catch, they are good at both things and not exceptional at anything.
Which One Is Best For You
The main pros of a TN panel are its high refresh rate. low response time and cheap price point. The main con is bad image quality so you shouldn’t really do any color-sensitive work with such a monitor. So, who will benefit from a TN panel?. Well, FPS gamers that don’t really care about image quality will have no reason to not to use a TN panel.
A lot of the major tournaments have TN monitors as they offer great performance for a low cost. If you are an FPS gamer that plays games like Battlefield 1, and you really like the graphics, maybe you should look for a monitor with another panel.
IPS panels are pretty expensive, so what are they good for. Well, their gaming performance is not the best as this panel focuses more on the image quality side of things. Most of these monitors have 99% color representation which means you are able to reproduce almost any color.
Anyone who works with color-sensitive material should really pick up an IPS monitor. People who do photo/video editing or graphic design will benefit the most. While you can game on an IPS monitor you won’t get the best experience, and you will be paying much more when compared to another panel.
Lastly, we have VA panels. These monitors are perfect for people who need good image quality and gaming performance. These monitors offer great response time, refresh rate and image quality at the same time. The contrast on VA panels is even better than on IPS panels.
So, we recommend VA panels for the casual gamer who does some graphic design or photo/video editing. If you are only a gamer or only work on color sensitive material than there is no point in buying a monitor with a VA panel. This is because you will only use half of the monitor’s features and you would be better off buying a TN or IPS monitor.
To conclude, every panel caters to its own audience. TN to gamers, IPS to image sensitive material and VA for people who do a bit of both.