When buying a new monitor most people just look at the resolution and the refresh rate while ignoring other important details like the brightness, panel type, color gamut, etc. These things have as much of an impact on the picture quality as the resolution, and when considered together perhaps more.
When it comes to the monitor panel, there are three dominant technologies in the market: TN, VA, and IPS. While some flagship laptops have recently started including OLED panels, they aren’t mainstream yet. Moreover, OLED panels have their own set of pros and cons which we won’t get into this article. There are some key differences between a TN, VA and an IPS panel. In this article, we’ll examine each of them and then decide which panel is the best for gamers.
TN Panel (Twisted Nematic) :
Twisted Nematic or TN panels are the most common and cheapest kinds of panels used in monitors. Compared to CRT monitors, they are less bulky. TN panels are most suited for fast-paced eSports and shooters that require high refresh rates and low response time. TN panels have the lowest input lag and response time among the LCD panels while offering refresh rates as high as 240Hz. They are also the easiest to produce, making them the best budget-friendly option. However, on the downside, the brightness and viewing angles are much worse compared to IPS panels, although the pricier models have started to make improvements on this front. These are recommended for games like CSGO, PUBG,
IPS Panels (In-Plane Switching)
IPS panels are the flagship panels when it comes to gaming monitors. They offer the best viewing angles, excellent color accuracy, and decent refresh rates and response times. Conventionally, with higher refresh rates, an IPS panel will have an increased response time. However, a lot of modern monitors feature 144Hz 1 ms displays with an IPS panel as well. These, however, do cost quite a lot and can be hard to get at times. However, if video editing and graphic design are your forte, IPS panels are the way to go. If you aren’t into competitive games and prefer picturesque RPGs like Skyrim and Witcher 3, then you can easily opt for a 60Hz IPS panel. Keep in mind that are various different types of IPS technologies like AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle), E-IPS and PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching) which can have a huge difference in the picture quality. So, look up specific models before purchasing one.
VA Panels (Vertical Alignment)
Modern VA Panels can be thought of as a better TN panel. They offer high refresh rates with better visual quality. While not as sharp as an IPS panel, they offer faster response times at higher refresh rates. One key feature of VA panels is that they offer the most accurate blacks (not that it matters though). In conclusion, if you want better picture quality than a TN panel but don’t have enough for an IPS, a VA panel is your best bet. These are ideal if your workload is versatile and you like to dabble in video games as well as content creation.
Each panel type brings along with it certain advantages and disadvantages, and thus there is no clear winner. If your purpose is primarily gaming, the VA panels provide a good balance between picture quality and response times, while IPS panels are most suited for professionals where accurate color reproduction is of utmost importance. For the general office worker, the high contrast ratio can be beneficiary. With improvements in each of the technologies though, the disadvantages of each panel are ever so slightly going away, with some TN monitors featuring displays with not so bad viewing angles, and IPS monitors with refresh rates of over 144 Hz and response rates as low as 1ms.
Check out our guide on FreeSync vs G-SYNC monitors and our gaming monitor buying guides.