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TN vs IPS vs VA Panels

TN vs IPS vs VA

There are handful of panel types available on the market, but in this article, we will discuss only TN vs IPS vs VA Panels.

So, let’s get started either you should pick TN or IPS or VA panels for gaming, video editing, or other professional activities.

You can check our guide on the best IPS monitor under $200.

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TN vs IPS vs VA

While purchasing a monitor, you come across extensive technical specifications out of which several are unknown to you. This confusion leads to investing in the wrong computer monitor that fails to serve your desired purpose effectively. Therefore, you must be very well aware of all the technical features a monitor has and how are these features important.

Since our topic revolves around the monitor panel technology, we will guide you through the monitor panels in detail in this article so that you know which one to opt for while making a purchase. Monitor panels play a vital role in the overall performance therefore, we have explained in depth what TN, IPS and VA panel technologies are and which one you should choose.

Types of Panels

There are three different types of panels as explained below:

TN Panels

Twisted Nematic or TN Panels is the first-ever panel type that was produced and used in the monitors. The thing that made those bulky Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors popular a couple of years back was the integration of TN panels. However, the TN panels are still used commonly by various manufacturers because of several reasons out of which the most prominent ones include, comparatively less manufacturing cost and impressively higher response time as compared to other panels.

Viewing angles

The biggest difference noted among all the panel technologies is probably in the viewing angles and the TN panels reportedly offer the lowest viewing angles. The restricted viewing angles offered by TN panels are 160-degrees vertical and 170-degrees horizontal. Due to such viewing angles, you will see an inversion and shift of colors from below, above or sides of the monitor screen. Furthermore, due to the shift in color and contrast, TN panels are pulled off from the list of best monitors for color-critical work especially if you are a professional. Due to this reason, most professionals that require accurate colors and wider viewing angles are glued to the IPS monitors. However, the latest monitors integrated with TN panels have lesser color shifts.

Brightness

In regard to the brightness, the TN panel does not have a significant difference as compared to the other two technologies. The main reason for the negligible difference is the backlight, which is responsible for determining the brightness of a monitor display.

Contrast ratio

Now this is something worth looking at because the contrast ratio makes a huge impact on the overall picture quality. With a higher contrast ratio, you get deeper blacks and brighter whites. Talking about the contrast ratio offered by TN panels, it is the standard 1000:1.

Color quality

Color quality is probably one of the most highly prioritized factors in a monitor. Unfortunately, TN panels do not offer strong color quality as compared to the other two. The color quality is of a monitor is measured through two things i.e., color or bit depth and color gamut.

A lot of entry-level TN panels offer as low as 6-bit color depth however, in order to increase the depth to 8-bit these displays use frame rate control (FRC). The 6-bit color depth often results in color banding whereas, the color gradients produced by 8-bit are smoother and more vibrant.

Note that, only the entry-level TN models have 6-bit native color depth otherwise, the newer versions are installed with 8-bit depth. But, if you are in search of an even higher color depth, we would recommend you look for another panel since TN panels do not have the capability for it.

Color gamut

TN panels do not offer an extensive range of color gamut, in fact, the best of TN models are also restricted to sRGB only. However, they do cover 100 percent sRGB color space but again, some entry-level TN models lack the ability to cover the sRGB entirely. Though the possibility of finding TN monitors with a wider color gamut is rare, you can try your luck.

Refresh Rate

The TN panels do not perform outstandingly in terms of color quality and viewing technologies but, they do offer a brilliant refresh rate. TN panels are considered the ideal choice if you are looking for monitors with a higher refresh rate because these are able to hit the refresh rate of 240 Hz at the resolution of 1080p as well as 1440p.

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Response time

Refresh rate and response time are the two major selling points of TN monitors. This panel has exceptional responsiveness i.e., only 1 ms. However, the newer versions might have an even lower response time. This impressive feature has made the TN panels the fastest technology among all three.

IPS Panels

The term IPS stands for In-plane Switching, which is a type of screen technology for Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels. IPS panels were originally designed as an improved version of other panels like Twisted Nematic (TN) and Vertical Alignment (VA). Compared to these panels, IPS panels have an impressive viewing angle along with sharp colors and accuracy. Let us jump in straight to the important features of an IPS panel. 

Viewing angles

The key difference that separates IPS panels from others is the viewing angle. For a wide-angle experience, IPS panels should be your go-to choice. IPS panels provide an extensive large view angle of 178 degrees that ensures a crystal clear view close to every possible angle. Whether you have a movie planned with your friends or want an ultra-wide gaming experience, IPS panels would be the ideal choice for your plans.

Brightness

When it comes to brightness, there is no vast difference between the three panels. The reason for this is the technology used. For brightness, backlighting is used which is unrelated to the LCD panels. Backlights increase the readability in dim light conditions. Generally, you will find a brightness value ranging from 250 to 400-nits in these panels.

Contrast ratio

Between the three panels, IPS tends to sit on the 2nd position in terms of contrast ratio. In most of the IPS panels, you will find a contrast ratio around 1000 to 1, which is comparatively more than some TN panels. However; one of the main issues in IPS panels related to contrast is the IPS glow. It is said that best panels display minimum glow however this is an issue in all three especially in IPS panels as there is an ostensible white glow that occurs in dark pictures at a certain angle, which can be unpleasant and irritating for the viewer. 

Color quality

IPS panels have a major advantage in terms of color quality. The panel has the capability to deliver 256 shades of each color i.e. 8-bit color and more with supreme quality. That being said, you will also find a majority of IPS panels for 10-bit colors that deliver crystal clear colors and accuracy. Because of their vibrant colors and accuracy, professionals like AutoCAD engineers, media editors, photographers and graphics designers tend to go with IPS panel monitors.

Color gamut

So far there are no panels developed that tend to display the entire color gamut to the human naked eye. However; IPS panels go a long way in a gamut of colors. Every panel of IPS displays colors 20 to 30% more than the TN panels. They range from the value 95% to almost 100% in terms of DCI-P3. For sRGB coverage, IPS panels generally have 95% or less and 98% or more for Adobe RGB color coverage. Ideally, the larger your gamut of colors, the more accurate and vibrant display you will get. 

Refresh rate

IPS usually lacks in providing high refresh rate displays. With the passage of time, they sure have improved their speed and can match their refreshing rate to that of VA panels. Usually, you will find IPS panels having a refresh rate of 75 Hz. The maximum refresh rate you can get on an IPS panel would be 160 Hz hence you will be playing videogames with a comparatively high frame rate as compared to other panel monitors. 

Response time

For gamers, having a minimum response time is significant. In IPS panels there are numerous options for response time. You will find average monitors that have a response time closer to 10 ms. Similarly, you will also get high-end monitors that have a swift response time of 3 ms but are relatively expensive that’s why pro-competitive gamers mostly opt for TN panels as they provide an impressive 1 ms response time. Nevertheless, IPS panels are trying to reach the level of TN panels to deliver a response time of less than 3 ms.

VA Panels

VA stands for “Vertical alignment” which refer to the position of molecules that flow inside the LCD or Liquid Crystal display of the monitor. Since the movement of these molecules shifts upon applying voltage, it is also the same factor that determines the attributes of the panel and how it normally works. 

To find a middle ground between the TN and IPS panels, VA panels were invented where all the compromising features from both panels were integrated. The VA panels lie somewhere in the middle of both TN and IPS panels, whether in terms of performance or features. Let us take a look at the following list of features present in the VA panels and decide whether it is suitable for us or not:

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Viewing angles 

It is no news that IPS panels have already surpassed all the other panel types where viewing angles are concerned but it also doesn’t mean that VA panels exhibit any lesser performance. Different viewing angles deliver different visuals for the users which is not particularly impressive but not bad either for a VA panel user. For instance, if a viewer watches a VA monitor from the side angle, he will definitely notice a drop in the image accuracy of the screen. Being a compromising panel, the viewing angles delivered by this one is acceptable. 

Brightness

VA panels have comparatively less brightness levels than IPS panels but when compared to the TN panels, VA panels deliver better brightness levels. For regular work, the brightness levels of TN panels exhibit the required performance which is more than enough for any user.

Contrast ratio

The contrast ratio of VA panels is better than the contrast ratio offered by IPS panels and TN panels. The VA panels Have dark contrasts levels which enable you to enjoy contrast levels of 3000:1 or even 6000:1 in a VA panel and enhance your pictures for media-related projects or just improve your cinematic experience while watching a movie. A special feature called “local dimming” is present in the high-end models of VA panels which improves the black levels and is mostly used in the manufacture of VA panel TVs. 

Similarly, Black uniformity also stems from the contrast ratio and as mentioned earlier, VA panels do a much better job at contrast ratio than any other panel in the market.

Color quality

When compared to TN panels, VA panels deliver better color quality. The VA panels utilize a full sRGB spectrum to achieve excellent Color reproduction results and even better visuals. This feature is also available in lower-end models of VA panels so that the user does not have to worry about color coverage in case he is running low on budget. 

Color gamut

The color gamut offered by this particular panel is very impressive. Mainly it depends on the model of the panel you are using in your monitor. For instance, with a lower-end model of VA panel, you can enjoy full sRGB coverage, and similarly, with higher models, you can enjoy even better sRGB coverage. For VA panels that are made up of quantum dot film, the color gamut delivers a much higher gamut up to 125% sRGB coverage and DCI-P3 mark up to 90%. 

Refresh rate

The refresh rate of Vertical Alignment panels can vary according to the different models of VA panel integrated monitors. The refresh rate of VA panels can go as low as 60 Hz and as high as 240 Hz. While most people believe that this panel is suitable for gaming purpose but considering the competitive gaming sessions, we suggest that these panels are best left untouched during competitive gaming sessions as competitive gaming requires higher refresh rates, high resolution, and high response time, Therefore, with VA panels, the gameplay might suffer and experience lag due to compromising refresh rates. 

Response time 

The response time of VN monitors is comparatively slower than that offered by TN monitors. VN monitors offer a response time of a minimum of 5 ms which is not suitable for fast or real-time games that usually require high response times to deliver excellent performance. Even the latest IPS monitors have a better response time up to 1 ms which is way faster than that offered by VA panel monitors. For many people, VA monitors can be used for gaming purposes, provided that those games are regular games and do not require any extraordinary set of requirements to deliver good performance.

Common drawbacks of panels

Each panel type has different drawbacks as mentioned below:

TN Panel

  • These panels do not provide wider viewing angles hence result in poor color accuracy and contrast.

IPS Panel

  • Because of higher backlighting, the inevitable backlight bleed bothers the users in darker environment. 
  • Slower response time
  • Extremely pricey 

VA Panel

  • Comparatively slow response time

Which type of panel is right for you?

We can’t really pick one type for you since the best panel for everyone differs as per their needs. For example, if you are a competitive game who cannot compromise on the motion of visuals then, the TN panel is surely for you.

If you are a professional gamer or graphic designer and desire premium quality visuals with sharp and crisp images along with fine details, nothing would serve in a better way than the IPS panel.

However, if you are looking for something in between the TN and IPS panel, the VA panel must be the choice. They produce color with high accuracy and offer wide viewing angles as compared to the TN panel. On the other hand, these are faster than the IPS.

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Is VA or IPS better? 

For regular work, VA panels work best for a monitor but where brightness, high color reproduction, better viewing angles, performance, better refresh rates, and comfort are concerned, IPS monitors are definitely a better option. Since VA monitors deliver excellent performance in contrast levels and are more suitable for dark environments with average response time, players do not usually prefer them, instead, people with regular work prefer it more.

Is VA panel better than TN? 

VA panel is only better than TN in terms of contrast ratio as its excellent contrast levels are unmatched with both IPS and TN panels. Where other features are concerned like color reproduction, viewing angles, refresh rates, brightness, and especially the response times, the TN panel is undoubtedly better than the VA panel. Serious gamers prefer TN panels because they offer excellent services for an improved gaming experience.

Is VA or IPS better for gaming? 

VA panels are considered to be the compromising panels that lie between the TN and IPS panels. Despite good wide viewing angles, contrast ratio, and a variety of refresh rates, VA panels are still less compatible for gaming purposes. With IPS panels, the user not only gets to have perfectly bright and vibrant visual results but also gets to enjoy fast transition and response time during gaming sessions.

 While the IPS panel is the perfect choice for experiencing rich color display or watching cinematic movies, the VA panel is the perfect choice for completing your daily work tasks or watching movies in a dark room on any regular day.

Do pros use TN or IPS? 

The professionals definitely use TN panels because of the exceptional response time. Response time is the only factor that pulls the users from opting for IPS panels because obviously, the eyes of pros cannot overlook the input la of 4 ms offered by IPS. 

Is IPS worth it over TN? 

The answer to this question simply depends on your requirements and budget. IPS panels are relatively expensive than TN panels because of their impressive display, accurate colors, and wide-angle display. If you are working in media or videography, then an IPS panel should be your ideal choice as it brings an impressive color gamut and contrast ratio as mentioned above. While there are certain IPS monitors present for gaming, the response time they give is pretty average if compared to TN panels. The maximum response time an IPS panel can provide you would be 3 ms. Hence, if you are not into gaming and looking for high-quality and vibrant colors then IPS panel surely worth it over TN panels.

Is IPS good for eyes? 

Yes, IPS panels are very good for your eyes because they provide accurate colors along with an impressive wide-angle view. Unlike other panels, the LCD in IPS panels shift in a horizontal way, which results in creating precise images with vibrant colors. Furthermore, the wide-angle view of 178/178 is aesthetically pleasing to the eye that minimizes stress and irritation.

Do TN panels have ghosting?  

Because of the incredible 1 ms response time, the chances of ghosting in TN panel monitors are eliminated entirely. 

Is IPS Panel good for gaming?

Although IPS panels are not renowned for their gaming monitors because of their average response time and refresh rate, they still are relatively good for gaming and will provide you with the best vibrant colors with accuracy and sharpness. If you value image quality over response time, then the IPS panel is the best answer to your gaming. 

However, with the advancement in technology, IPS panels are also delivering gaming monitors that have a response time of 3 ms and are perfect enough for first-person shooting games (FPS) games. Although E-sports professional gamers prefer TN panel monitors for gaming to have an edge with a response time of 1 ms.

 

About the author

Robert Smith

Robert Smith is a technology lover and loves to write about laptops, monitors, printers, tablets, and anything that's related to computers and games. He is passionate enough that he maintains this blog regarding tech updates on a daily basis.