Looking for a new gaming monitor for your new PC build or just an upgrade but are thoroughly confused? With so many options with different resolutions, refresh rates and features, it can be quite daunting to choose your next gaming monitor. Since you will be using it for a long time, it’s important to know the basics. While refresh rates and input lag is important, your experience will be primarily dependent on the panel.
As of now, there are three dominant display panel 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. Each panel will have support for different aspect ratios and native resolutions. There are some key differences between a TN, VA or an IPS panel. In this article, we’ll help you find the right fit for you.
TN (Twisted Nematic) Panels:
Twisted Nematic panels are the most common type of LCD panels used. Compared to CRT monitors, they are much less bulky. TN panels tend to have higher refresh rates, but worse viewing angles and color reproduction compared to the other LCD panels. They also usually have the lowest input lag and response time among the LCD panels, making them an optimal choice for competitive games. They are also the easiest to produce, which generally makes them the cheapest monitors on this list. This also results in them being a great budget-friendly option. However, the niche 240Hz 1ms displays will set you back a pretty penny. While they’re great for competitive gaming, they’re a complete no-no for editing or graphic design. So, choose wisely.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panels
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 is the way to go. If you aren’t;t into competitive games, you can easily opt for a 60Hz panel and it’ll look just as good. 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 (Vertical Alignment) Panels
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.
Each panel type brings along with it certain advantages and disadvantages, and thus there is no clear winner. If your purpose is primarily gaming, TN panels are likely the best bang for your buck, similar to IPS panels 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.