Are you on the market for a new computer monitor and only want the very best? Well, the best monitor greatly depends on how you use your computer. Do you use it mostly to play games (even competitively) or are you a designer who uses the computer for work?
If you are looking for an LCD panel, you have 3 types to choose from. To help you with your choice, you might want to understand the differences between TN, IPS, and VA.
TN (Twisted Nematic) Panels
These were the first flat-screen monitors, and they sent the bulky CRT monitors into retirement. Because they are the older versions of LCD panels, they are not as advanced. This includes the limited viewing angle, specifically on the vertical axis. In fact, when you are looking from an extreme angle, you will see the colours totally inverted.
Compared to other panels, the colour reproduction is weaker, as they cannot display the 24-bit true colour. To simulate the colours, they rely on interpolation and results in visible colour banding and lower-quality contrast ratios.
These panels are also inferior when it comes to colour gamut (or the range of colours it is able to display). While high-end TNs display the whole spectrum, most models do not. It means TN displays are not the best choice for photo editing and other work that requires colour accuracy.
While it has a whole list of disadvantages, it is popular because it is the cheapest out there. They are not expensive to manufacture, which is why you can be sure to get what you pay for. Still, if you are not very particular about colour reproduction or viewing at all angles, it should be enough for daily use.
Do you like playing games? TN panels have the lowest input lag of just 1 millisecond. They are able to handle higher refresh rates (up to 240Hz), so it is an excellent option for competitive games and eSports.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panels
IPS was manufactured with the goal of improving on the weak points of TN panels. Thus, the IPS monitors have better colour reproduction and better (much better) viewing angles. Therefore, you can view the panels even from extreme angles, without compromising on accurate colour reproduction.
Another improvement is the excellent black reproduction of IPS panels, which is tons better than the washed-out look of TN panels. Despite this, it is no match for the spectacular contrast ratio of VA panels.
IPS panels are catching up to TNs when it comes to refresh rate. Not only can they match the 240Hz of TNs, but they can also handle up to 280Hz. While TNs used to have the least input lag, IPS technology has caught up, with some models matching the 1 millisecond response time.
While some IPS monitors can match the response time of TN monitors, you will need to shell out much more money. More affordable versions will still have about 4 millisecond response time. One other disadvantage of IPS panels is the IPS glow, which means you see the backlight shining through when viewing at extreme angles. Still, it only happens when you view it from the side.
VA (Vertical Alignment) Panels
When it comes to VA panels, it is that sweet spot between TN and IPS monitors. For example, they have great contrast ratios like IPS monitors, even going beyond the usual 1000:1 of IPS panels, up to 3000:1 or 6000:1.
Viewing angles are better than TN though not as good as IPS panels. However, you will no longer experience the so-called IPS glow.
When it comes to response times, they cannot compete with TNs and the newer IPS panels with 1-millisecond response rates. VA panels may be found with 240Hz refresh rates, but because of latency, you will notice some motion blurring and ghosting. It is not entirely the best for gamers who love multiplayer and fast-paced games, but it is enough for single-player games.
Do you use your computer for photo or video editing work? Then the VA panel is a perfect choice, with its superior colour reproduction and full sRGB spectrum that is found even in the cheaper models. But if you want to splurge on the best, some panels offer 125% sRGB coverage.
In general, VA panels are considered to be the most well-rounded. They are appropriate for some gaming but make up for it by offering a better contrast ratio and colour reproduction.
IPS vs TN vs VA: Which Panel Is Right for You?
In most cases, computers are used for several purposes, especially if it is being shared by the whole family. So, you need to ask yourself, “what is the most common use of your computer?“ and start from there.
1. You Use It For Work Or Studying
In this case, you might not need to invest a lot of money on features you do not really need or will not use. VA or TN panels are the best bet, especially the former, because of its superior viewing angles.
2. You Are A Digital Artist Or Photo/Video Editor
VA panels boast up to 125% sRGB, but they have higher chances of motion blur when you are playing or viewing fast-paced action (not suitable for video editing). Thus, IPS panels are the go-to monitors of artists.
3. You Are A Programmer
Because of the bad viewing angles of TN panels, you might not want to get one, especially if you mount the monitor vertically. Instead, you might find an IPS monitor better.
4. You Are An Online Gamer
TN panels are hands down, the best for you, thanks to the quick response time and high refresh rate. If you want to shell out more, then an IPS display with low-latency is another good choice.
If you play non-competitive games, though, meaning without that fast action, a VA Panel is suitable.
Would you prefer an all-rounder or do you use your computer for a specific purpose most of the time? Once you figure this out, you will know what to buy. In terms of being well-rounded, VA is the winner, followed closely by IPS. For other purposes, there is always the best monitor for you.