Monitors panel types: VA vs IPS vs TN: Which Panel Is Best for Gaming?

LCD Panel Types Explored | PC Monitors

Author: Adam Simmons
Last updated: July 8th 2022

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Most people are familiar with the fact that monitors come in various resolutions and screen sizes, can have a matte or glossy screen surface and can offer specific features such as 120Hz refresh rates and 3D capabilities. The range of displays and variation in specification can be rather daunting and what’s more; you can’t necessarily trust the ‘on paper’ figures in the first place. One fundamentally important aspect of an LCD monitor which will dictate how it performs and what kind of tasks it would be best at performing is the panel type. Although there are various sub-divisions all modern screens will generally fall into one of three categories with distinct performance characteristics.

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TN (Twisted Nematic) panels

Until fairly recently the TN panel monitor has been the most ubiquitous on the market. Manufacturers will often be keen to point out in their specifications whether an ‘alternative’ kind of panel is used; if in doubt assume its TN. General attributes include a relatively low manufacturing cost and a relatively high level of responsiveness; the pixels change their state quickly which helps make moving images appear smoother. Some Twisted Nematic displays have double the usual refresh rate (120Hz instead of 60Hz) allowing them to take advantage of ‘active 3D shutter’ technologies and allowing them to display twice as much information every second for a smoother gaming experience. This has gone further now, with more recent releases featuring a 144Hz or higher refresh rate and aiming this purely at a fluid 2D rather than 3D (stereoscopic glasses) experience.

The Acer XN253Q X – a 240Hz TN panel monitor

Although it has improved leaps and bounds in this department over the years the image performance is often considered a relative weakness of TN technology. A good TN monitor can provide a crisp and vibrant image with respectable contrast – typically 1000:1 with any ‘dynamic contrast’ mode disabled. The main drawback comes with relatively restricted viewing angles. These are often quoted as 170° horizontal and 160° vertical which is only marginally lower than that quoted for other panel technologies. In actuality you will see a marked change in colour and even ‘inversion’ if you view the screen from the side but also from above or below, in particular. You can see this shift demonstrated in this video taken using what is regarded as one of the more capable TN monitors (the Dell S2719DGF).

Particularly but not exclusively on larger TN models, the relatively restricted viewing angles actually affect the performance if you are sitting directly in front as well. Your eyes subtend different viewing angles if you observe the centre of the screen compared to observing peripheral regions. You will see a given shade represented differently depending on its position on the screen – most notably being darker (more saturated and higher perceived gamma) towards the top of the screen and lighter (less saturated and lower perceived gamma) towards the bottom. Because of this, the colour accuracy and consistency suffers making them a poor choice for ‘colour critical work’ such as design and photography. You can see this in the image below, captured on the ASUS PG278Q in a way that is fairly representative of what you would see when observing the monitor from a normal viewing position at a desk. These shifts in perceived gamma and saturation are greater if you sit closer to the screen.

The image below shows the Dell S2716DG, another TN model, displaying the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 test patches. There is a printed sheet of shades, all of which are contained within the sRGB colour space. The screen is displaying a reference photograph of the printed shade board, provided by Datacolor. This should match the printed shade quite closely if the monitor is accurately outputting shades within the sRGB colour space. Although there is always some disparity between how emissive objects (monitor) and non-emissive objects (printed sheet) appear. The shades are displayed in the same order as the printed sheet on the right of the screen, whilst the order is inverted on the left side of the screen. Whilst the exact shades you see will differ from those you’d see in real life, due to the camera used and the screen you’re viewing this photo on, it still gives a good idea of the relative differences. It also provides a very clear visual demonstration of the colour consistency issues described earlier. The light chocolate brown shade and golden yellow (gamboge) shade next to it, for example, look far deeper when displayed near the top of the screen. The golden yellow shade is actually a fairly close match to the printed shade at this point. When displayed near the bottom, the brown shade appears far more clay-like. And the golden yellow a brighter yellow shade, more closely matching the other yellow shade on the printed sheet. The shades have what should be a very subtle texture to them due to the material they’re printed on. This is captured in the reference photographs and is most obvious for the black block. It’s brought out far too strongly when the shade is displayed lower down the screen and is much better-blended when it’s displayed further up the screen, due to the perceived gamma shifts.

VA (Vertical Alignment) panels

If an LCD monitor is trying to display black then the colour filter will be positioned such that as little light as possible (of any colour) from the backlight will get through. Most LCD monitors will do a reasonable job at this but the filter isn’t perfect and so the blacks may not appear as deep as they should. A definite strength of the VA panel is its efficiency at blocking light from the backlight when it’s not wanted. This gives deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios of around 2000:1 – 5000:1 with ‘Dynamic Contrast’ modes disabled – several times higher than that of the other LCD technologies. This can have a positive effect by giving a more atmospheric look to dark scenes in games and movies, whilst adding definition and depth to shadows and other fine details in the image. VA models can also provide a relatively solid or ‘inky’ appearance to some medium shades, particularly when compared to models with significantly weaker contrast. They’re also less susceptible to ‘bleed’ or ‘clouding’ towards the edges of the screen, which can make such screens good candidates for movie lovers and nice to use for general purpose work. Such issues still can, unfortunately, still plague some units of any panel type and tend to be more common with the curved VA panels many manufacturers are now pushing.

A modern VA monitor

Another key advantage of VA is the improved viewing angles and colour reproduction compared to TN. The shift in colour across the screen and ‘off angle’ is less pronounced, whilst shades can be produced with greater precision. In this respect they are better candidates for colour critical work, but they are not as strong in this area as the IPS and related technologies explored subsequently. There is a weakening of saturation when comparing a shade in the centre of the screen vs. that same shade towards the edges or bottom of the screen, from a normal viewing position. This loss of saturation can also be observed further up the screen, particularly on larger screens or if your eyes are in line with the centre of the screen or below. There’s also a shift in gamma that is most noticeable on greys or pastel shades but can also be observed elsewhere, with said shade appearing to lighten or darken quite readily with even slight head movement. Some VA models almost have a ‘cone’ or ‘tunnel’ effect due to these shifts, with the peripheral regions appearing noticeably duller than the central mass of the screen. This also masks dark detail centrally (‘black crush’, high perceived gamma) and can reveal extra unintended detail peripherally (low perceived gamma). The image shows the same SpyderCHECKR 24 system used for the TN example earlier, this time on the AOC PD27 with VA panel. The vertical shifts in saturation and colour representation are less extreme, but certainly still there. These gamma and saturation shifts are more pronounced if you sit closer to the screen.

Some of the modern VA panel types used on PC monitors include SVA (‘Super’ Vertical Alignment), MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment) and AAS (Azimuthal Anchoring Switch) VA-type panels. Regardless of the panel technology used, a common weakness with many VA models is with their slow pixel responses for some transitions. In some severe cases things can appear as ‘smoke-like’ trails. Recent models using AU Optronics VA, CSOT VA and Samsung SVA panels generally use effective pixel overdrive and don’t suffer from widespread ‘smoke-like’ trails. They are actually on par with modern IPS models for some pixel transitions, which is something manufacturers will latch onto by giving misleading and overly optimistic specified response times. 4ms is commonly specified, as some pixel transitions can be expected to be performed at this kind of speed. Other pixel transitions, particularly where darker shades are involved in the transition, are still relatively slow. Enough to significantly increase perceived blur with some ‘smeary’ trailing – generally falling short of ‘smoke-like’ in appearance, but still extending quite far from the object during motion. The video section below shows some nice visual examples of such trailing from our Gigabyte G32QC review.

There has been an increasing drive towards high refresh rate VA panels, including 34″- 35″ UltraWide VA panels with 100Hz+ refresh rates and various sizes of screen with 144Hz+ 16:9 VA panels. Models such as the AOC C24G1 and LG 32GK850G employ effective and flexible pixel overdrive and can deliver a reasonable 144Hz – 165Hz experience. Users benefit from the decreased perceived blur of running the high refresh rate at suitably high frame rates, with many pixel transitions performed fast enough for a decent performance there. But there are still some weaknesses, with some pixel responses substantially slower than optimal and giving some ‘heavy powdery’ or ‘smeary’ trailing in places. Some models, including the AOC C24G1, have another trick up their proverbial sleeves. They include strobe backlight modes (called MBR or ‘Motion Blur Reduction’ on the AOC) which can greatly reduce perceived blur caused by eye movement, provided the frame rate matches the refresh rate. This concept and related aspects are explored in detail in our article on responsiveness.

The pixel response time weaknesses common on VA models can also manifest as a sort of ‘flickering’ effect or blending together, where some brighter shades appear to darken during movement and blend into neighbouring dark shades. The shade brightness returns to normal when the movement ceases. There is a demonstration of this effect on the AOC PD27 in game and also on the desktop on our video review of that model. That’s actually a relatively fast VA model, but there are still some distinct weaknesses – especially at higher refresh rates, where the pixel responses can’t keep up with the rigorous requirements there. This can be reduced by increasing the overdrive setting, but that introduces strong overshoot. The video below taken from our AOC CQ32G3SU review also shows this ‘flickering’ or blending effect.

Only a small handful of VA models deliver rapid enough pixel responses to really avoid these sorts of traditional VA weaknesses at high refresh rates, without strong overshoot. The best examples of that with appropriate data and real-world experiences to back this up are the 240Hz Samsung Odyssey models. With the 27″ versions being particularly impressive in that respect.

IPS (In-Plane Switching), PLS (Plane to Line Switching) and AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) panels

When it comes to the end result these three technologies are essentially very similar; the key differences being that IPS technology is developed chiefly by LG Display, PLS technology by Samsung (no longer manufactured) and AHVA by AUO. These are sometimes simply referred to collectively as ‘IPS-type’ panels. Other panel manufacturers have their own ‘IPS-type’ technologies, including Innolux with their AAS (Azimuthal Anchoring Switch) technology – which, confusingly, also has VA-type iterations. And BOE with their IPS-ADS technology. The real selling point of these is their superior colour accuracy, consistency and viewing angles when compared to the other LCD technologies. Each shade remains distinct with its own ‘identity’ regardless of its position on the screen. This is combined with extended colour gamuts (increasing potential shade range and saturation) on some models for a vibrant and saturated look throughout the screen. Gamma consistency is also strong, ensuring dark shades appear largely appropriate throughout the screen rather than appearing too visible in some regions of the screen and far too masked in other regions. This consistency in both gamma and saturation makes IPS-type panels particularly good candidates for ‘colour critical’ work. Those who appreciate colour-richness that’s well-maintained throughout the screen may enjoy using them for gaming, movies and general desktop work as well. The image shows the same SpyderCHECKR 24 system used for the TN and VA examples earlier, this time on the ASUS PA278QV with IPS-type panel. The consistency is far superior to the TN example and improved compared to the VA example as well, with the shade sets on the left and right of the screen appearing relatively similar to one another.

There’s a very good range of affordable IPS-type monitors available from most major manufacturers, including Dell, LG, Acer, AOC and ASUS. This means that photographers, designers or just regular users on a lower budget can take advantage of the technology too. Many modern IPS-type monitors are also far more responsive than their VA counterparts and in some cases are effective rivals to many TN monitors. Responsiveness was traditionally an area of significant weakness for IPS panels. Due to dramatic improvements in pixel responsiveness and refresh rate, some modern models have found favour amongst gamers who take advantage of the colour performance in their favourite titles without lots of unsightly trailing. 144Hz+ panels of this type are now common. Another area of traditional weakness was contrast. There have been some improvements there, with most panels of this type similar to their TN counterparts in that department now (around 1000:1 contrast ratio without dynamic contrast). Some are a bit stronger, some a bit weaker. One troublesome issue that some people have noticed is a sheen or ‘glow’ when viewing dark content that is caused by the behaviour of light in these panels. This is typically most obvious when viewing ‘off angle’ as shown on the BenQ PD2705Q in the video below. You will generally be able to observe this on the corners of 21.5″+ models whilst viewing from directly in front, unless you are sitting quite far back from the screen. The majority of time you will be looking at brighter and more colourful shades where these displays excel but it is always worth looking beyond figures on paper.

Conclusion

There are three main categories of panel used on modern LCD monitors; TN, VA and IPS-type. Up until quite recently TN was the most prevalent, offering decent image performance and high responsiveness at a decent price. VA sacrifices responsiveness, generally being the slowest current panel type but offering relatively strong contrast and improvements in colour performance over TN technologies. IPS and related technologies are the kings of colour offering the most consistent and accurate performance in this area whilst sporting excellent viewing angles, respectable responsiveness and reasonable contrast. Really it is up to the individual user to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the monitors they are comparing; understanding the general performance characteristics of different panels is a great starting point.

Further reading

  • This post explores some of the key points of comparison between IPS and VA panels. More recent discussion is included further into the thread, but the original post is still relevant.
  • This post from the same thread (and a few preceeding posts) explore how enhanced contrast can affect more than just ‘dark scenes’. And how complex local dimming solutions such as Mini LED can aid IPS models in that respect.
  • This video offers a visual comparison between an IPS-type panel and a TN panel. First perceived contrast differences are discussed and demonstrated, then colour performance is analysed in a similar way.

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IPS vs VA vs TN: Comparing LCD Types Found In Monitors

Differences Between IPS, VA, and TN

Almost all monitors use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panels lit by LED backlights. There are three main types of LCD panels: In-Plane Switching (IPS), Vertical Alignment (VA), and Twisted Nematic (TN). The general idea of each panel type is the same: liquid crystals react to an electric charge, controlling how much light is allowed to pass through and reach each of the three colored sub-pixels.

For this article, we’ll take a look at three recent high-performance gaming monitors: the LG 27GP950-B, the Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T, and the ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM. We’ll compare a few aspects of their performance, including picture quality and motion handling.

IPS Monitor

LG 27GP950-B

What is IPS? 

IPS, which stands for in-plane-switching, uses a different crystal orientation compared to VA and TN. While TN and VA twist the crystals, IPS crystals are parallel with the glass substrate, and they rotate within the plane of the substrate to let light through, similar to the shutter on a camera. IPS panels are by far the most common on today’s monitors.

VA Monitor

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T

What is VA?

VA, or vertical alignment, uses vertically aligned crystals that tilt to allow light to pass. While IPS crystals are parallel with the glass substrate, VA crystals are perpendicular to the substrate. Although VA panels aren’t as common as IPS panels for monitors, they’re one of the most common choices for TVs.

TN Monitor

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM

What is TN?

TN, or twisted nematic, was the first LCD technology on the market. TN panels consist of liquid crystals sandwiched between two polarizing filters. When an electric current is applied, the crystals twist and allow light to pass through. TN panels are by far the cheapest, but they’re also a bit out of date and not as common.

What’s The Difference?

It can be hard to generalize how each LCD type performs. In most cases, the difference between each type is pretty minor, but there are a few key areas where one type is consistently better than the others. We won’t be talking much about extra features or design elements, as these vary depending on the overall market context of the monitors you’re looking at. There are high-end and low-end models of each, and the feature sets and performance vary accordingly.

Picture Quality

Although most monitors today look pretty good, there are some noticeable differences, depending on the type of LCD used. The most significant differences between the different LCD panels are in their contrast ratios and viewing angles, but there can be some subtle differences in other aspects of the overall picture quality.

Contrast

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

Native Contrast 1,194:1

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

Native Contrast  3,912:1

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

Native Contrast 1,107:1

VA panels have the clear advantage here. TN panels have the worst contrast by far, typically in the 600:1 – 1200:1 range. IPS panels are slightly better, ranging between 700:1 – 1500:1, but they’re still not as good as VA panels. Most VA panels on monitors have contrast ratios above 2500:1, with some as high as 5000:1 – 6000:1. Newer monitors even use local dimming to achieve much higher contrast ratios. Even with local dimming, IPS monitors aren’t able to produce blacks as deep as VA panels. In short, if you’re often using your computer in a dark room, a VA panel is the way to go, as it’s the only LCD panel type that can produce deep blacks in a dark room. If you’re not in a dark room, the difference in contrast is hardly noticeable, especially since many monitors have anti-glare coatings that can reduce the effective contrast ratio of the display.

Of the three monitors shown here, the Samsung has the best contrast, at nearly 4x the contrast ratio of the other two. We measure contrast at a fixed white level of 100 cd/m², so this means the Samsung’s blacks are, on average, 4x darker than the others. The other two are about what we expect from TN and IPS displays, but the ASUS is at the upper end of the range for TNs. Most TN monitors we’ve tested are much worse than this one.

Winner: VA

Brightness

Since the brightness is controlled by a backlight behind the LCD layer, the type of LCD used has essentially no impact on the peak brightness of the display. That said, there’s a difference between TN and VA/IPS, but it has more to do with market limitations than technological ones. TN monitors aren’t nearly as popular as they used to be, and the remaining models tend to target high-performance gaming, so there’s less of a focus on brightness. Because of this, almost all high-end monitors currently on the market use VA or IPS panels, so if you’re looking for a very bright image, especially for HDR, chances are it’ll be either VA or IPS.

Winner: IPS and VA

Horizontal Viewing Angles

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

IPS is the clear winner here, as the image remains accurate even at a wide angle. VA and TN monitors usually perform much worse. Color accuracy generally remains good on VA monitors, but TNs have a slight shift in color accuracy at moderate angles. They both usually show a decrease in brightness at moderate angles and gamma shift at a small angle, causing the image to appear washed out. Panel manufacturers came out with curved panels to compensate for this image degradation, as the curved screen reduces the viewing angle to the edge of the screen, meaning that the image appears more uniform if you’re sitting up close. Most curved monitors are VA, but there are a handful of TN panels as well. Unfortunately, we measure the viewing angles from the center of the screen and rotate the monitor while still measuring in the center, so any advantages from the curve aren’t apparent in our test results.

Some manufacturers have started adding wide-angle filters to VA panels used in TVs. These filters significantly improve viewing angles, but come at the expense of contrast. We haven’t seen any VA monitors with this technology yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if manufacturers started adding wide-angle filters to some high-end monitors.

Winner: IPS

Vertical Viewing Angles

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

Chroma inversion on a TN monitor – Dell S2716DGR

Again, IPS is the clear winner here. The vertical viewing angles are very similar to the horizontal ones on both IPS and VA panels. Unfortunately, this is one area where TN panels are usually much, much worse. TN monitors degrade rapidly from below, and colors actually inverse – resulting in a negative image that can be distracting. For this reason, if you decide to buy a TN monitor, look for one with an excellent height adjustment, or consider buying a VESA mounting arm, as you should mount TN monitors at eye level. Even when mounted properly, larger TN displays can appear non-uniform at the edges.

Winner: IPS

GRAY Uniformity

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

50% Std. Dev. 3.434%

50% DSE 0.104%

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

50% Std. Dev. 2.769%

50% DSE 0.107%

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

50% Std. Dev. 7.622%

50% DSE 0.121%

There’s usually not much difference between VA and IPS panels in terms of gray uniformity. It’s rare for monitors to have uniformity issues, and even on monitors that perform worse than average, it’s usually not noticeable with regular content. TN monitors tend to perform a bit worse than usual, though, and the top half of the screen is almost always darker than the rest, but that’s an artifact of the bad vertical viewing angles.

Winner: VA and IPS

Black Uniformity

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

Native Std. Dev. 2.957%

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

Native Std. Dev. 1.667%

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

Native Std. Dev. 1.815%

Black uniformity tends to vary significantly, even between individual units of the same model, and there’s no single panel type that performs the best. It’s rare for monitors to have good black uniformity, and almost every monitor we’ve tested has some noticeable cloudiness or backlight bleed. IPS and TN panels can look slightly worse due to their low contrast ratios, as the screen can take on more of a bluish tint when displaying dark scenes. Like with contrast, black uniformity issues usually aren’t very noticeable unless you’re looking at dark content and you’re in a dark room. If you only use your monitor in a bright environment, generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about black uniformity.

Winner: VA, but not by much.

SDR Color Gamut

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

sRGB xy 100%

Adobe RGB xy 88.1%

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

sRGB xy 98.2%

Adobe RGB xy 83.2%

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

sRGB xy 95.8%

Adobe RGB xy 79.9%

Historically, TN panels used to have the worst colors, as many of them were cheaper models that only supported 6-bit colors or used techniques like dithering (FRC) to approximate 8-bit colors. Most displays today, including TN models, are at least 8 bit, and many of them are even able to approximate 10-bit colors through dithering. New technologies, like LG’s Nano IPS and Samsung’s Quantum Dot, add an extra layer to the LCD stack and have significantly improved the color gamut of modern IPS and VA displays, leaving TN a bit behind. Between them, NANO IPS is slightly better, as it tends to offer better coverage of the Adobe RGB color space. Although the difference is minor, IPS panels still have a slight edge over VA and TN displays.

Winner: IPS

HDR Color Gamut

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

DCI P3 xy 95.2%

Rec. 2020 xy 70.1%

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

DCI P3 xy 86.3%

Rec. 2020 xy 67.6%

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

DCI P3 xy 49.8%

Rec. 2020 xy 56.3%

Although TN panels have caught up a bit in the SDR color space, they’re far behind when it comes to HDR, so if you’re looking for a good HDR color gamut, avoid TN panels. Between VA and IPS panels, the difference isn’t as significant; however, IPS panels still have a slight edge. The best VA panels top out at around 90% coverage of the DCI P3 color space used by most current HDR content. IPS panels go as high as 98% coverage of DCI P3, rivaling even some of the best TVs on the market. Due to the very high coverage of DCI P3 on both VA and IPS, the difference isn’t that noticeable, though, as most content won’t use the entire color space anyway.

Winner: IPS

Motion Handling

Although not necessarily as noticeable to everyone as the differences in picture quality, there can also be a difference in motion handling between IPS, VA, and TN displays. TN panels historically offered the best gaming performance, as they had the highest refresh rates and extremely fast response times. Manufacturers have found ways to drastically improve the motion handling of VA and IPS panels, though, and the difference isn’t as pronounced.

Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate

LG 27GP950-B (IPS)

Rise / Fall Time 4. 0ms
Total Response Time 7.3ms
Overshoot Error 0.0%
Dark Overshoot Error 0.0%
Overdrive Setting: Normal

Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T (VA)

Rise / Fall Time 2.8ms
Total Response Time 7.0ms
Overshoot Error 5.5%
Dark Overshoot Error 3.0%
Overdrive Setting: Faster

ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM (TN)

Rise / Fall Time 2.9ms
Total Response Time 7.5ms
Overshoot Error 4.8%
Dark Overshoot Error 7.8%
Overdrive Setting: Level 3

Winner: TN & IPS

Black smear behind moving objects – ASUS TUF VG27VQ

LCD panel technology has changed drastically over the last few years, and the historical expectations for response time performance don’t necessarily hold anymore. For years, TN monitors had the fastest response times by far, but that’s started to change. New high refresh-rate IPS monitors can be just as fast.

VA panels are a bit of a strange situation. They typically have slightly slower response times overall compared to similar TN or IPS models. It’s especially noticeable in near-black scenes, where they tend to be significantly slower, resulting in dark trails behind fast-moving objects in dark scenes, commonly known as black smear. Some recent VA panels, such as the Samsung Odyssey G7 LC32G75T, get around it by overdriving the pixels. It results in much better dark scene performance but a more noticeable overshoot in brighter areas.

The examples listed above aren’t perfect. The average response time metrics shown don’t necessarily show the whole picture. Monitors also usually offer a certain level of control over the pixel overdrive, so it’s possible to adjust the response time to match your usage and personal preference. Some overdrive settings deliver a sharper image but introduce overshoot and reverse ghosting artifacts, while other modes might not be as sharp but have no distracting artifacts. You can learn more about our response time testing here.

Other Panel Types

Within each of the three types of LCD we mentioned, other related panel types use the same basic idea but with slight differences. For example, two popular variants of IPS panels include ADS (technically known as ADSDS, or Advanced Super Dimension Switch) and PLS (Plane to Line Switching). It can be hard to tell these panels apart simply based on the subpixel structure, so we’ll usually group them all as IPS, and in the text, we’ll usually refer to them as IPS-like or IPS family. There are slight differences in colors, viewing angles, and contrast, but generally speaking, they’re all very similar.

OLED

There’s another display technology that’s growing in popularity: OLED. OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, is very different from the conventional LCD technology we’ve explored above. OLED panels are electro-emissive, which means each pixel emits its own light when it receives an electric signal, eliminating the need for a backlight. Since OLED panels can turn off individual pixels, they have deep, inky blacks with no blooming around bright objects. They also have excellent wide viewing angles, a near-instantaneous response time, and excellent gray uniformity.

OLED panels aren’t perfect, though. There’s a risk of permanent burn-in, especially when there are lots of static elements on screen, like the UI elements of a PC. There aren’t many OLED monitors available, either, but they’ve started to gain popularity as laptop screens and for high-end monitors, but they’re very expensive and hard to find. They’re also not very bright in some cases, especially when large bright areas are visible on screen. The technology is still maturing, and advances in OLED technology, like Samsung’s highly-anticipated QD-OLED technology, are promising.

Conclusion

As you can probably tell by now, no one panel type works best for everyone; it all depends on your exact usage. Although there used to be some significant differences between panel types, as technology has improved, these differences aren’t as noticeable. The two exceptions to this are viewing angles and contrast. If you’re in a dark room, a VA panel that can display deep blacks is probably the best choice. If you’re not in a dark room, you should focus on the other features of the monitor and choose based on the features that appeal to your exact usage. IPS panels are generally preferred for office use, and TN typically offers the best gaming experience, but recent advancements in VA and IPS technology are starting to change those generalizations. For the most part, the differences between each panel type are so minor now that it doesn’t need to be directly factored into your buying decision.

Which matrix to choose – TN, VA or IPS?

When choosing a gaming monitor, you need to pay attention to many characteristics – screen size and resolution, refresh rate, response time, and type of matrix. In this article, we talk about what matrices exist in modern monitors, and in the same place we consider their features, pros and cons.

What types of matrices are there?

Modern liquid crystal LCD monitors use three main types of matrices: twisted nematic (TN), vertical alignment (VA) and in-plane switching (IPS). Although thanks to recent technological improvements, the differences between matrices, especially VA and IPS, no longer seem so huge, the difference between them still exists. Monitors with TN are suitable for competitive gamers, while IPS and VA are for those who care about graphics.

TN Matrix

TN is the oldest type of liquid crystal matrix. The biggest advantage of this type of matrix is ​​its affordable price and the responsiveness of the monitor to user actions.

Until recently, only TN matrices provided fast response times, as low as 1ms. And so for competitive games or e-sports, it was an obvious choice. TN panels also provide a maximum screen refresh rate of 240Hz, other types only operate at a maximum frame rate of 150-200Hz.

On the negative side, TN panels have fairly limited color reproduction capabilities, as they cover only about 100% of the standard sRGB color gamut, as well as limited viewing angles. In real life, on monitors with a TN panel, viewing angles reach a value of 170/160 degrees, and therefore, when the monitor is rotated, the colors on the screen are distorted.

Who is a TN monitor suitable for?

Because of their speed, TN matrices remain the best choice for gamers who enjoy shooters and other fast-paced games, as well as those interested in competitive gaming where every split second counts.

4K HDR gaming monitor EL2870U with TN panel

  • 4K resolution (UHD) 3840×2160
  • HDR support
  • Response time 1ms

VA panels

VA panels support a much larger color space than TN and offer the highest contrast of any LCD panel. VA sensors outperform standard RGB and often cover the wider Adobe RGB color gamut as well as wide 178/178 viewing angles. Because they have an impressive contrast ratio (usually 3000:1 or more), they are great for HDR content.

Another distinct advantage is that VA monitors are often curved.

VA sensors, however, are not as fast as TNs, although they can achieve response times of 2-3ms and refresh rates of 200Hz.

Who is a VA monitor suitable for?

VA monitor for almost any game. A monitor with a VA matrix will suit fans of games of different genres. You’ll get good performance and excellent image quality no matter what game you’re playing. The exception will be those gamers who participate in competitions and those whose focus is victory.

IPS arrays

IPS arrays have been developed to overcome the shortcomings of TN arrays. IPS monitors are widely recognized for their lack of image distortion when viewing angles and for their color display abilities. This is the only sensor type that provides 95% or even 100% DCI-P3, the color space used in digital cinema. Even basic IPS panels offer 20-30% more color space than the most advanced TN panels. In addition, IPS panels offer wide 178/178 viewing angles, which means the picture will be the same from any angle. They reproduce HDR content much better than TN.

Who is an IPS monitor suitable for?

IPS monitors are best suited for gamers who enjoy games that require graphics and color reproduction, such as the popular interactive cinema genre.

BenQ EX2780Q IPS Gaming Monitor

  • 27″ IPS Panel 2K QHD
  • HDR technology and FreeSync support
  • USB-C™ Connector

TN, VA, IPS 9 matrix comparison0008

Matrix type

Speed ​​

Color reproduction

Contrast

Viewing angles

Suitable for…

Matrix type

TN

Speed ​​

The fastest option. Support for refresh rates up to 240Hz. Very fast response time, typically less than 1ms.

Color reproduction

Limited color space – typically standard RGB, but excellent deep blacks.

Contrast

Lowest contrast.

Viewing angles

Changes in colors and fading of the image when changing the viewing angle.

Suitable for…

Competitive gameplay. Ideal for those who focus on winning.

Matrix type

VA

Speed ​​

Response time has improved significantly to 2-3ms. Refresh rate up to 200Hz.

Color reproduction

Good color reproduction with wider gamut than TN – often Adobe RGB and sometimes even DCI-P3 00:1.

Viewing angles

Viewing angles are noticeably better than TN-178/178.

Suitable for…

Ideal for gamers of all genres, movies and TV.

Sensor type

IPS

Speed ​​

The slowest option with the highest total input lag due to more complex processing for each pixel.

Color reproduction

Support for color spaces, DCI-P3 and Rec. 2020. Excellent color reproduction.

Contrast

The contrast ratio is between TN and VA. Bad blacks.

Viewing angles

Great for viewing from various angles.

Suitable for…

Gamers who want to enjoy beautiful graphics.

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In the past, monitors did not have built-in speakers, and if they did, the sound quality left much to be desired. Today, many modern monitors designed for entertainment and gaming have found speakers with an independent subwoofer, also known as 2.1 acoustics.

How is a gaming monitor different from a regular office monitor?

This article explains what makes regular displays different from gaming monitors and what to look for when choosing a monitor for a gamer.

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tn, ips, pls, va, mva, oled

Contents

  1. Monitor matrix types, their characteristics, similarities and differences
  2. TN matrix
  3. TN+Film matrix
  4. TFT
  5. IPS or SFT
  6. Types of Ips matrix:
  7. PLS matrix
  8. VA, MVA and PVA matrix
  9. OLED displays
  10. How to find out which matrix is ​​in the monitor?
  11. Which matrix is ​​better, how do they affect vision?
  12. Conclusions

Currently, the two most basic, so to speak, root, matrix manufacturing technologies, LCD and LED, are used for the production of consumer monitors.

  • LCD is an abbreviation for the phrase “Liquid Crystal Display”, which translated into understandable Russian language means liquid crystal display, or LCD.
  • LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”, which in our language is read as a light emitting diode, or simply an LED.

All other types are derivatives of these two pillars of display construction and are modified, modernized and improved versions of their predecessors.

Well, let’s now consider the evolutionary process that displays went through when becoming at the service of humanity.

Types of monitor matrices, their characteristics, similarities and differences

Let’s start with the most familiar LCD screen. It consists of:

  • Matrix, which at first was a sandwich of glass plates interspersed with a film of liquid crystals. Later, with the development of technology, thin sheets of plastic began to be used instead of glass.
  • Light source.
  • Connecting wires.
  • Housing with a metal frame that stiffens the product

The point of the screen responsible for forming the image is called pixel and consists of:

  • Two transparent electrodes.
  • Interlayers of active substance molecules between electrodes (this is LC).
  • Polarizers whose optical axes are perpendicular to each other (depending on the design).

If there were no LC between the filters, then the light from the source passing through the first filter and being polarized in one direction would be completely delayed by the second, due to its optical axis being perpendicular to the axis of the first filter. Therefore, no matter how we shine on one side of the matrix, it remains black on the other side.

The surface of the electrodes touching the LC is processed in such a way as to create a certain order of arrangement of molecules in space. In other words, their orientation, which tends to change depending on the magnitude of the voltage of the electric current applied to the electrodes. Further, technological differences begin depending on the type of matrix.

TN matrix

Tn matrix stands for “Twisted Nematic”, which means “Wriggling Threadlike”. The initial arrangement of the molecule is in the form of a quarter-turn spiral. That is, the light from the first filter is refracted so that, passing along the crystal, it enters the second filter in accordance with its optical axis. Therefore, in a quiet state, such a cell is always transparent.

By applying voltage to the electrodes, it is possible to change the angle of rotation of the crystal up to its complete straightening, at which light passes through the crystal without refraction. And since it was already polarized by the first filter, the second one will completely delay it, and the cell will be black. Changing the voltage value changes the angle of rotation, and, accordingly, the degree of transparency.

Advantages of – low response time, low cost.

Disadvantages of – small viewing angles, low contrast, poor color reproduction, inertia, power consumption

TN+Film matrix

It differs from simple TN by the presence of a special layer designed to increase the viewing angle in degrees. In practice, a value of 150 degrees horizontal is achieved for the best models. It is used in the vast majority of budget-level TVs and monitors.

Advantages of – low response time, low cost.

Disadvantages of – viewing angles are very small, low contrast, poor color reproduction, inertia.

TFT Matrix

Short for “Think Film Transistor” and translates to “Thin Film Transistor”. The name TN-TFT would be more correct, since this is not a type of matrix, but a manufacturing technology and the difference from pure TN is only in the way pixels are controlled. Here it is implemented using microscopic field-effect transistors, and therefore such screens belong to the class of active LCDs. That is, this is not a type of matrix, but a way to control it.

IPS or SFT matrix

Yes, and this is also a descendant of the most ancient LCD plate. In fact, it is a more developed and modernized TFT, as Super Fine TFT is called (very good TFT). The viewing angle of the best products is increased to 178 degrees, and the color gamut is almost identical to the natural

.

Advantages of – viewing angles, color reproduction.

Disadvantages – the price is too high compared to TN, the response time is rarely below 16 ms.

Types of IPS matrix:
  • H-IPS – increases image contrast and reduces response time.
  • AS-IPS – the main quality is to increase the contrast.
  • H-IPS A-TW – H-IPS with “True White” technology that enhances whites and whites.
  • AFFS – increased electric field strength for large viewing angles and brightness.

PLS matrix

Modified IPS version to reduce costs and optimize response time (up to 5 milliseconds). Launched by the Samsung concern and is an analogue of H-IPS, AN-IPS, which are patented by other electronics developers.

More information about the PLS matrix can be found in our article:

PLS matrix type – manufacturing technology, features, pros and cons. IPS vs PLS

VA, MVA and PVA matrices

This is also a manufacturing technology, not a separate type of screen.

  • VA Matrix is short for “Vertical Alignment”. Unlike TN matrices, VA matrices do not transmit light in the off state
  • MVA matrices . Modified VA. The goal of the optimization was to increase viewing angles. Reducing the response time was possible thanks to the use of OverDrive technology.
  • PVA matrix . It is not a separate species. It is an MVA patented by Samsung under its own name.

There is also an even greater number of various improvements and improvements that the average user is unlikely to encounter in practice – the maximum that the manufacturer indicates on the box is the main type of screen and that’s it.

In parallel with LCDs, LED technology has evolved. Full-fledged, purebred LED screens are made from discrete LEDs either in a matrix or cluster way and are not found in household appliance stores.

The reason for the absence of full-weight LEDs on sale lies in their large dimensions, low resolution, and coarse grain. The destiny of such devices is banners, outdoor TV, media facades, a ticker device.

Attention! Don’t confuse the marketing name like “LED monitor” with a real LED display. Most often, this name will hide a conventional LCD of the TN + Film type, but the backlight will be made using an LED lamp, not a fluorescent one. This is all that in such a monitor will be from LED technology – only the backlight.

OLED displays

A separate segment is OLED displays, which are one of the most promising areas:

Advantages

  1. low weight and overall dimensions;
  2. low appetite for electricity;
  3. unlimited geometric shapes;
  4. no special lamp required;
  5. viewing angles up to 180 degrees;
  6. instantaneous matrix response;
  7. contrast exceeds all known alternative technologies;
  8. the ability to create flexible screens;
  9. temperature range is wider than other screens.

Disadvantages

  • short service life of certain color diodes;
  • the inability to create durable full-color displays;
  • is a very high price, even compared to IPS.

For reference. Perhaps we are also read by lovers of mobile devices, so we will touch on the sector of portable equipment:

AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) – a combination of LED and TFT

Super AMOLED – Well, we think everything is clear here!

Based on the data provided, it follows that there are two types of monitor matrices – liquid crystal and LED. Combinations and variations are also possible.

You should know that the matrices are divided by ISO 13406-2 and GOST R 52324-2005 into four classes, which we will only say that the first class provides for the complete absence of dead pixels, and the fourth class allows up to 262 defects per million points.

How do I know which matrix is ​​in the monitor?

There are 3 ways to verify the type of matrix of your screen:

a) If the packing box and technical documentation have been preserved, then you can probably see a table with the characteristics of the device, among which the information of interest will be indicated.

b) Knowing the model and name, you can use the services of the manufacturer’s online resource.

c) Use our recommendations:

  • If you look at a color picture of a TN monitor from different angles from the side-top-bottom, you will see color distortions (up to inversion), fading, yellowness of the white background. It is impossible to achieve completely black color – it will be deep gray, but not black.
  • IPS is easy to identify by the black picture, which turns purple when the eye deviates from the perpendicular axis.
  • If the listed manifestations are absent, then this is either a more modern version of IPS or OLED.
  • OLED is distinguished from all others by the absence of a backlight, so the black color on such a matrix is ​​a completely de-energized pixel. And even the best IPS has a black color that glows in the dark due to BackLight.

Let’s find out which is the best matrix for a monitor.

Which matrix is ​​better, how do they affect vision?

So, the choice in stores is limited to three technologies TN, IPS, OLED.

TN matrix is low cost, has acceptable time delays and is constantly improving image quality. But due to the low quality of the final image, it can only be recommended for home use – sometimes to watch a movie, sometimes to drive a toy and from time to time work with texas. As you remember, the response time for the best models reaches 4 ms. Disadvantages in the form of poor contrast and unnatural color causes increased eye fatigue.

IPS is, of course, a completely different matter! Bright, juicy and natural colors of the transferred picture will provide excellent comfort of work. Recommended for printing works, designers or those who are willing to pay a tidy sum for convenience. Well, it will not be very convenient to play due to the high response – not all instances can boast even 16 ms. Accordingly – calm, thoughtful work – YES. It’s cool to watch a movie – YES! Dynamic shooting games – NO! But the eyes do not get tired.

OLED . Ah, the dream! Such a monitor can be afforded either by fairly wealthy people, or those who care about the state of their vision. If not for the price, we could recommend it to everyone and everyone – the characteristics of these displays have the advantages of all other technological solutions. In our opinion, there are no drawbacks here, except for the cost. But there is hope – the technology is improving and, accordingly, cheaper so that a natural decrease in production costs for manufacturing is expected, which will make them more affordable.

Conclusions

To date, the best matrix for a monitor is, of course, Ips / Oled, made according to the principle of organic light emitting diodes, and they are quite actively used in the field of portable equipment – mobile phones, tablets and others.