IPS vs TN vs VA: Exploring Display Panel Technologies and Their Differences

IPS vs TN vs VA

If you’re planning to buy a monitor or TV and want to know what type of display panel can serve your needs the best, you have come to the right place. Whether you need it for gaming, professional work, or everyday use, choosing the right kind of display is important. 

To compare the three types you must have an understanding of what IPS, TN, and VA actually mean. All of these are panel types that use LCD technologies. All of them have the same general idea that liquid crystals react to electric current determining the amount of light that passes through them. 

IPS (in-plane switching) has crystals parallel to the glass substrate. IPS panels are the most popular at present. TN (twisted nematic) was the first of the three to appear in the market. The crystals in it are sandwiched between two polarizing filters and twist when the current is applied.

VA (vertical alignment) uses vertically aligned crystals that are perpendicular to the substrate and tilt to allow light through them. VA panels aren’t as popular for monitors but they are a common choice for televisions.   

To answer precisely, which one of them is the best depends entirely on what you intend to use it for. IPS displays are the best for color-critical work, TN displays are the best for fast-paced applications, and VA displays are great for HDR content.

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Keep reading for a detailed explanation of each and a comparison between them: 

IPS vs TN vs VA

Let’s discover the differences between IPS, TN, and VA display panel technologies!

IPS vs TN vs VA

Pros and Cons of IPS 

Short for in-plane switching, IPS has liquid crystals arranged in rows sandwiched between two glass surfaces. The liquid crystal molecules are aligned parallel to those surfaces. The crystals have the ability to shift horizontally as well allowing impressive viewing angles.

IPS displays have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that you must keep in mind before purchasing a panel.

Pros

IPS PROS

IPS displays are generally considered the best overall LCD technology. They are quite popular and preferred especially by professionals whose work requires accurate color reproduction. Why exactly are IPS panels so popular? Take a look:

Accurate Colour Reproduction:

A significant advantage IPS displays have over other LCD displays is a more accurate color reproduction that results in better image quality. IPS panels were actually designed to resolve the poor color reproduction of TN displays. 

A typical IPS panel has an 8-bit RGB color depth that allows it to reproduce up to 16.7 million different colors. The high-end ones have an even higher 24-bit RGB color depth. This makes IPS panels an ideal choice for work that requires detailed color composition such as graphic designing, photo and video editing etc.

Wide Viewing Angles:

If a wide viewing angle is something you want, an IPS display will not disappoint you. IPS displays offer wider viewing angles than both TN and VA. They can be viewed from any angle without compromising the image quality as happens with TN. Although VA tried to resolve this issue, VA panels show color shifts when viewed from different angles. With IPS panels the color shifts have been reduced to a minimum. This means you can view your screen from any angle. This offers a better visual experience compared to TN or VA displays.

Good Color Consistency:

IPS panels are popular for their consistent color performance on the entire screen meaning that the colors are accurate and consistent at different points on the display.  The colors also remain visible even under direct sunlight. 

This is very useful for work that involves large images, videos and requires precise color matching.

Enhanced Image Quality:

Above mentioned factors (Wide viewing angle, accurate color reproduction, and good color consistency) help in enhancing the image quality on IPS panels. In addition to these, IPS displays have reduced motion blur compared to TN. That is suitable for tasks involving fast-moving visuals. Although the contrast ratio isn’t very good, it still somehow helps in enhancing the image quality.  

Reduced Eye Strain:

IPS display is known to reduce eye strain as it has very good color accuracy that makes the colors close to natural and realistic. Factors such as the wide viewing angle also help in reducing eye strain and you won’t constantly have to adjust the angle. Many IPS monitors also have flicker-free technology that minimizes the flickering of backlight and therefore provides a comfortable viewing experience.

Cons

Although IPS technology has some impressive qualities, it’s important to remember that IPS has its drawbacks as well, and is not an ideal choice, especially for gamers whose gaming style is fast and competitive. Here’s why:

Slower Response Times:

Response time is the time taken by the display to change its colors. IPS panels typically have a slow response time of 1-2ms, which makes them unsuitable for fast and competitive gaming. This also leads to lagging as well as increased motion blur.   

Lower Native Contrast Ratio:

With backlight bleeding, IPS displays are unable to produce deeper blacks. At best they display a darker gray. This leads to a lower native contrast ratio. Even though it’s higher than TN displays because of a better color depth, VA displays stand first with respect to contrast ratio. IPS displays have a contrast ratio of 700:1-1500:1, much lower than the VA display.

Backlight Bleeding:

Backlight bleeding is the light that you see around the corners of your screen. IPS displays have the potential for backlight bleeding. Normally it shouldn’t be very visible except in dark environments and is called IPS glow, but in some cases you can see light even around the edges and it’s quite intense.

Higher Cost:

IPS displays have a higher production cost and hence a higher market price. They are usually featured in high-end monitors and mobile phones. This might seem like a bad thing but they do have a longer life span and don’t need to be repaired as often. So the higher prices seem justified and may actually lead you to save money in the long run.

Limited HDR Performance:

HDR monitors offer a higher contrast ratio. With a lower contrast ratio, IPS displays do not offer the distinction between bright and dark areas of an image. This leads to limited HDR performance and a poor visual experience. 

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Pros and Cons of TN

TN stands for twisted nematic. It is the earliest LCD technology and got popular quickly. In this technology the liquid crystals are twisted between two glass substrates when no current is applied, blocking the backlight. In the presence of an electric field, the crystals re-align themselves along the field. TN panels are still common even after new LCD technologies arrived. If you’re looking to buy one, here are the pros and cons that can help you decide:

Pros

TN PANEL PROS

TN displays have been preferred by gamers over IPS or VA displays for a long time now. Let’s take a look at the factors that make it suitable for gaming and that have made it possible for TN technology to still remain popular, long after it was introduced.

Fast Response Times:

Response time is the duration taken by a single pixel to transform. TN display has a response time of 1-2 ms. The faster response time allows a TN panel to display almost twice as much information as IPS panels in a second. This makes it suitable for gaming.

High Refresh Rates:

Refresh rate is the frequency in which an image in a display is refreshed. The higher the number, the better. TN displays have high refresh rates such as 144Hz, 240Hz, 280Hz. This is another factor that is ideal for gaming.

Lower Input Lag:

Input lag is the time duration between sending an electrical signal and the occurrence of a response. TN panels have the lowest input lag. This is yet another factor making them suitable for fast-paced gaming.

Cost-Effective:

TN panels are comparatively easy to manufacture and have a cheaper market price. They’re an affordable alternative to other displays including IPS and VA. They’re known for being the fastest and cheapest of all. 

Good for Competitive Gaming:

With much shorter response times, higher refresh rates, and lower input lag, TN panels are really good for competitive gaming. They have been preferred by gamers for many years. The suitability, of course, depends on the type of games you’re playing but with TN display you’ll never have to see ghosting effects and motion blurs.

Cons

TN panels have survived long and are an ideal option for gamers. With various qualities that will help in making your gaming experience amazing, they still have some flaws.

Limited Viewing Angles:

TN screens can only be viewed head-on. They have poor off-axis image quality. Viewing them from any other angle than a straight up 90 degree will result in image distortion and color shifts. You’ll have to sit dead straight in front of the screen and that can be problematic for larger displays where changing the viewing angle is sometimes inevitable.

Poor Color Accuracy and Reproduction:

TN panels have a dull color reproduction compared to IPS or VA. The limited viewing angles also add to this problem. Poor color reproduction translates to color inaccuracy. This makes TN display unsuitable for color-critical tasks such as graphic designing, photo, and video editing. 

Limited Contrast Ratio:

TN display has a low contrast ratio ranging from 600:1-1200:1. Because of this TN display fails to produce luminance and deep shades closer to natural. This results in a poor visual experience. 

Limited Color Depth:

TN displays typically have a color depth of 6-bit per RGB, lower than IPS. This means the number of maximum colors an image can contain is lower for TN panels. This is not ideal for modern graphics and content, and can also lead to a poor gaming experience with respect to visuals. 

Less Suitable for Colour Critical Work:

With poor color reproduction, inaccuracy of colors, low color depth, and contrast ratio, TN displays are not the best option for color-critical work including photo manipulation, image and video editing, and graphic designing. The colors produced by TN displays are not life-like and may cause problems with work that requires precise color matching. 

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Pros and Cons of VA

Vertical alignment represents another type of LCD technology that is especially used in TVs where it outnumbers its counterparts. The liquid crystal cells in it are vertically aligned to the glass substrate.

The technology behind panels actually determines what a monitor can do, and like each type VA also has certain benefits and drawbacks.   

Pros

PROS OF VA

VA panels are quite popular as they offer a good, if not the best viewing experience. They’re known for their high contrast ratios that give them an edge. Here are the advantages they have over other displays:

High Contrast Ratio:

VA panels typically have a contrast ratio of 3000:1 and can even go up to 4500:1. This figure is much higher than both IPS and TN displays. This means VA displays can produce much deeper blacks and much brighter whites that make them ideal for watching movies and other content.  

Good Colour Reproduction:

VA panels support a wide color gamut. They have a better color reproduction than TN displays covering around 90% of the widest color gamut. Some even compete with certain IPS monitors. With a color depth of around 8-bit RGB and high contrast ratio, VA panels have good color reproduction.  

Better Viewing Angles than TN:

VA displays have better viewing angles than TN and the image distortion is reduced. However, they do show color shifts with changes in angle that make them inferior to the IPS display. You can view them sitting or standing directly in front of them but viewing them from the sides may cause problems.

Reduced Backlight Bleeding:

Backlight bleeding, the light leaking around the edges or corners of the screen, is considerably less in VA display than IPS. Although it’s not entirely eliminated, it’s somewhat reduced and is only noticeable in darker rooms.

Immersive Gaming Experience:

With their high contrast ratio that allows VA displays to show deeper blacks and luminant whites, they offer an immersive gaming experience. They’re good for slow-paces, non-competitive games as for the opposite they may cause problems due to their slow response times and low refresh rates.

Cons

When choosing a monitor to purchase, things can get really confusing. You have to see if the pros outweigh the cons and if the technology actually offers what you need. Remember that weaknesses of each type can help you get a clear idea of that.

Like every other category, VA displays also have their own set of drawbacks that you must note.

Slower Response Times:

VA displays have a response time of 4-5ms that is slower than both IPS and TN displays. This means VA displays take longer to show a response to the input signal. This makes them unsuitable for high-paced and competitive gaming as they create problems like motion blurs.

Color Shifting:

Color shifting is a noticeable drawback in VA displays. Viewing VA screens from sides causes the colors to shift as it affects the perceived gamma. Due to this the color saturation changes at different viewing angles. The colors on the display are not as consistent as IPS. A certain shade of any color will look different on the top of the screen than at the center.  

Potential Image Smearing:

VA panels have a slow black-to-gray pixel transition speed, resulting in noticeable trailing or ghosting behind fast-moving objects. This problem can be reduced with optimal response time and refresh rate settings. 

Limited Refresh Rates:

VA panels have the standard refresh rate of 60Hz and may sometimes have 120Hz. Refresh rates are important for a smoother display and a higher FPS. VA screens have limited refresh rates that make them unsuitable for anything that involves fast-moving visuals.

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Less Suitable for Colour Critical Work:

Even though the contrast ratio is higher, problems such as color shifts and inconsistency make VA displays less suitable for color-critical work like graphic designing, photo and video editing etc. For work that requires precise color matching, the best option is an IPS display. 

Types of IPS

Only LG can use the IPS name, which is why other companies use IPS-type to describe their products. IPS monitor variations are collectively called “IPS-type” panels. They claim to offer the main qualities linked with IPS monitors.

AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance IPS):

AH-IPS is a subtype that has a faster response time, improved color accuracy, higher refresh rates, and better viewing angles. 

e-IPS (Enhanced IPS):

e-IPS is cheaper and hence is an economical variation of IPS. They also have faster response times and higher color accuracy.

H-IPS (Horizontal IPS):

H-IPS is a subset that has an improved aperture ratio. It also overcomes certain other limitations of the previous IPS models. It has a wider viewing angle and better color accuracy. 

P-IPS (Professional IPS):

P-IPS is a variant that is specifically designed for professional use. It has exceptional color accuracy, wide viewing angles, higher resolution and advanced color management capabilities. P-IPS panels are usually found in high-end graphic monitors and professional displays.

S-IPS (Super IPS):

S-IPS is yet another subset that is known for its excellent color accuracy and a wide viewing angle. S-IPS panels are also found in professional-grade displays.

TFT IPS (Thin Film Transistor IPS):

TFT technology works by controlling brightness in red, green and blue sub-pixels through transistors for each pixel on the screen. TFT IPS display has improved contrast and image quality.

Types of TN

TN is the oldest LCD technology but with time many variations came out which had improved in certain areas. Here are some notable types of TN display:

Standard TN:

Standard TN panels are the most basic and widely used. There are no specific enhancements or improvements in this technology. 

With their fast response times, they are suitable for applications that require quick pixel transition such as fast-paced games.

TN Film:

TN film is one of the oldest and most basic LCD technologies. TN film panels incorporate additional layers that somewhat improves their performance. 

TN+ Film:

TN+ film is an enhanced version of the TN panel technology. This also incorporates additional layers and modifications to improve the panel’s performance. TN+ film panels offer a wider viewing angle and better color reproduction. 

Super-TN (S-TN):

Super-TN is a variant of the TN panel technology that is rather uncommon. Little is known about this technology but it also has certain advantages over the traditional TN technology. 

Advanced-TN (A-TN):

Advanced-TN has many improvements including shorter response time, wider viewing angle, enhanced color reproduction and higher refresh rate. All these make it a good option for gaming.

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Types of VA

Initially released in the 1990s, VA panels have steadily improved since then. Many variations have come along the way. Some of the commonly encountered types of VA include the following.

Standard VA:

It is the basic VA panel technology without any specific modification. As mentioned, it has a high contrast ratio making it popular for use in computer monitors and TVs.

MVA (Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment):

MVA panels were one of the earliest variations in VA technology. They utilize multiple domains within each pixel to achieve improved color reproduction and wider viewing angles. They also have a better contrast ratio.

AMVA (Advanced MVA):

AMVA panels are often chosen for professional work where accurate color reproduction and wide viewing angles are needed. They have improved color accuracy and shorter response times.

PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment):

P-VA panels incorporate a patterned alignment layer to improve viewing angles, contrast ratios, and color reproduction.

ips vs va vs TN

FAQs

Is VA better than IPS 4K?

IPS 4K panels have a high resolution, faster response time, wider viewing angles, and more accurate color reproduction. The only advantage VA has over IPS is a better contrast ratio and affordability. What you consider to be a better option depends on your needs but in my view IPS 4K is the clear winner here.

Is VA or IPS better?

What you label better is all about your preferences. If you prioritize deep blacks and image depth then VA is certainly better. On the other hand, if you keep in mind factors like color reproduction and accuracy, viewing angles, response times, and refresh rates then IPS is better.

What panel is best for gaming?

The best panel for gaming depends on your gaming style and your personal preferences. If you want a panel for competitive and fast-paced games then TN panels with their fast response time is the best option for you. If you prioritize immersive visuals then VA panels with their high contrast ratios as ideal. If color accuracy and wide viewing angle is something you demand, then IPS is the way to go.

Is 144 VA better than IPS?

VA panels have a slightly slower response time but with 144Hz refresh rates, they can still offer a smooth gaming experience. VA panels are also more affordable and have high contrast ratios. The only drawback is color shifting and hence a narrower viewing angle than IPS displays. The better choice depends on your own preference but I’d say 144 VA has more advantages especially if you want to keep budget in mind.

Is IPS better than HD?

IPS and HD refer to different aspects of display so a direct comparison isn’t possible. IPS is a display panel technology whereas HD is resolution. It is possible for you to get an IPS panel that has HD resolution combining the benefits of the two.

Is LED or IPS better for the eyes?

LED refers to a backlighting technology used in most LCD displays, including IPS. Neither LED nor IPS technology directly determines eye comfort. Other factors such as brightness, blue light, and flicker play a role in determining eye comfort.

Is IPS or OLED better?

OLED panels show better picture quality, motion handling, and a faster response time compared to IPS panels. However, IPS panels are more affordable, offer better viewing angles and have a low burn-in potential. Which is better ultimately depends on your needs like if you want to buy a panel for gaming then of course OLED is a better choice but if you need it for general use then IPS is a better option.

Who is the Winner

There can not be one winner as each has its pros and cons which is why they all are popular in the market. Still, if I have to choose I’d go with an IPS panel as it offers great visuals with a wide viewing angle and better color reproduction.

To choose a winner you must have in mind what you want to get a panel for. Creative professionals should go for IPS monitors. TN monitors are good for competitive gaming and are cheap as well, but gamers lean towards VA panels as they can offer a smooth and immersive gaming experience with a much better contrast ratio. Hopefully, this article has helped you in your search for the best panel technology for your needs.   

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