Most, if not all avid gamers know that monitors come in an array of types, sizes, and resolutions and can offer many features like 60 to 240Hz refresh rates, 3D capabilities, Freesync or G-Sync and much more. However, the average user doesn’t know the LCD panel technology used in their monitor (despite LCD being the heart of every monitor out there).
When choosing a gaming monitor, the panel type is a vital feature as it determines how it performs and the task it is best suited for. That said, it’s important to learn about the different panel types so that you can pick the best monitor for your gaming needs.
Picking the right monitor type may seem like a hurdle at first, but the panel technologies are not too hard to understand. In this read, we are going to help you understand these technologies by discussing what they have to offer, their differences and things you need to consider when picking a monitor panel type.
Things To Consider When Picking Best Panel Type For Gaming
1. Your Budget
It goes without saying that your budget is a key factor. If you have a budget of $200 or less, your options will be limited than when you are working with $500 or more. If you have $200 or less to spend, chances are you’ll have to settle for a TN panel. On the other hand, if you have $500 or more to spend, you will have more options to pick from.
It’s important to keep in mind that different monitors are for different requirements and so, there is no one-size-fits-all monitor. Some monitors are made for gaming while others are excellent for graphic design and editing. Others are for people who want the best performance while others are for those who want photorealistic graphics.
With that out of the way, let us take a closer look at the different panel technologies, their key features and how they compare between each other. This will again help you pick the best panel type for your gaming needs.
2. What is The Use? Gaming or Editing
If you spend most of your time playing games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, CS: GO and similar competitive games, a panel with low response time and a high refresh rate (TN panel) will be the best option.
On the contrary, if casual gaming is your preference or intends to use the monitor for more than just gaming, then you may want to choose between an IPS or VA panel. These panels don’t feature the same response time as TN panels and cost way more for higher refresh rates, but they offer superior image quality.
So, if you will be using the monitor for graphic design and video editing in addition to gaming, IPS and VA panels are your best bet.
3. Casual or Competitive Gaming
This point is tied to the one above, but it certainly deserves its own spot. If gaming is the sole reason for getting a monitor and participates in games where a split-second could be the difference between winning and losing, then sacrificing better visuals for performance makes sense.
As such, you’ll want to settle for a TN panel. If you are not into competitive gaming and like to enjoy immersion through outstanding graphics, then visuals should be your top priority. In this case, you’ll want to go for a VA or IPS panel.
What is the TN Panel Display?
Chances are you’re reading this post on a monitor equipped with a TN display panel. That is because TN panels are the most popular in the world today. They are found in almost all laptops and a substantial number of PC monitors. They are the most affordable and that’s why they are readily available.
The acronym TN stands for Twisted Nematic, which is the technical name for the LCD technology that the panel utilizes. The crystals in this panel twist when an electrical current is applied and the image is controlled by turning up the juice and allowing the crystals to twist away as well as stepping off the juice and allowing them to calm down.
Twisted Nematic panels are popular for their affordability, but that’s not the only pro. They are also renowned for having higher refresh rates compared to both VA and IPS panels. They ideally have a low response rate, something that gamers, particularly PC gamers really appreciate.
However, as with anything else, TN panels have their fair share of drawbacks. The most significant one is poor image quality, especially when compared to other competing technologies.
A decent TN panel can produce vibrant and crisp images as well as a sharp contrast, but the viewing angles are downright poor.
The viewing angles of TN panels are usually 170 degrees horizontal and 160 degrees vertical. These are way lower when compared to VA and IPS panels and considering the fact that they come in bigger sizes nowadays, the restricted viewing angles tend to be poor even when you’re seated right in front of the display.
They do not display a wide range of color and that’s why you will notice a shade appearing darker on the upper side of the display and lighter when it’s towards the bottom.
What is an IPS Panel Display?
In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel is a type of liquid crystal display that was created to improve on TN panels by enhancing image quality. You might be familiar with these types of panels already as smartphones use them as well. They are capable of producing sharp color detail and crisp images, which make them ideal for content creation, editing and for gamers who want the best visuals possible.
Another pro is that they have excellent viewing angles. Regardless of the angle that you view the screen, the color will always be accurate and there’s barely any blueshift. These panels also rarely run into problems like ghosting or backlight bleed. However, they have some downsides that you might care about as a gamer. First, they have a response rate of 4ms, which isn’t bad for gaming, but it fails, compared to TN panels.
The major downside, however, is in the performance. Most IPS panels come with a 60Hz refresh rate. Of course, there are faster IPS panels, but they tend to be very expensive compared to TN displays.
What is the VA Panel Display?
A VA or Vertical Alignment display panel is another type of LCD panel that uses liquid crystals paired with electrical current. Their manufacturing process is similar to TN displays, but feature some improvements in order to produce better visuals. These panels are often ignored by gamers, but they offer a number of pros without sacrificing much and actually act as a middle ground between IPS and TN panels.
The best thing about VA Panels is that they block light from the backlight when it’s not required and this results in deeper blacks and high contrast ratios. As any monitor enthusiast will tell you; when an LCD monitor needs to display blacks, the color filter will be positioned in a way that very little light from backlight will pass through and that’s where VA panels shine.
These panels ideally have good color reproduction abilities and excellent viewing angles. This makes them ideal for those who wish to play games with the best image quality possible. However, VA panels are notorious for poor responsiveness and this causes noticeable blurring. Fortunately, these displays nowadays come with a pixel overdrive feature, making this issue less of a problem.
Viewing Angle Comparison: TN vs IPS vs VA
Ready to choose your monitor? Check out our Gaming Monitor Buyer’s Guide!
TN Vs IPS
When it comes to comparing TN and IPS LCD monitors, it becomes tricky to state the best as they both have their fair share of pros and cons. Here’s a closer look at how they compare to each other in regards to performance and image quality.
If high resolution is your main concern, then it goes without saying that you should pick an IPS panel. Of course, higher resolution means paying more and so, if you are going to buy a 4K monitor, you might as well settle for the panel that’s renowned for great visuals.
However, if you want a lower response rate and still want high resolution, it’s best to sacrifice a bit on the visual department and go for a TN panel.
2. Response Rate
As mentioned earlier, TN panels are beasts when it comes to response time with some brands featuring marks as low as 1ms. This responsiveness makes TN panels ideal for competitive gaming, where every split-second makes a huge difference. The response time of most of the TN panels out there ranges between 2ms and 5ms, with the exception of high-end ones that hit 1ms. This feature alone paired with a high refresh rate is why you’ll come across many gamers rocking TN displays.
On the contrary, IPS panels don’t feature appealing response times when compared to TN panels, even though they aren’t mediocre when it comes to casual gaming. Fortunately, IPS technology is improving every year and we are bound to tell a different story in the next few years.
3. Viewing Angles
IPS panels take the crown for having the excellent viewing angles. Ideally, they are not prone to color washout when viewed at an angle, an issue that is prominent with conventional TN display panels. The latter suffers from restricted viewing angles, particularly in the vertical position. Colors tend to change so much that they will even invert past a particular angle.
IPS Vs VA
As we already know, both IPS and VA panels are LCD types. However, there’s a significant difference when it comes to their performances, particularly in response time, viewing angles, contrast and black uniformity.
1. Response Time
When comparing response time, none is ideal if it’s one of the primary features in your list. However, VA display panels tend to have faster response times than IPS displays (even though the technology is gradually improving).
2. Viewing Angles
IPS display panels are without a shadow of a doubt the winner. As we explained earlier, IPS panels have a wide color viewing angle without any blueshift. VA panels, however, have substantial depravity of around 20 degrees to the side, which is considered to be a significant saturation loss.
This is where VA panels really shine when stacked up against IPS panels. Contrast is a key factor when it comes to image quality and VA panels surpass IPS in regards to that. The contrast ratios of VA panels often range between 3000:1 to 6000:1 and the IPS ones are about 1000:1. In a dark environment, black shades tend to be on the gray side on IPS panels, while VA panels boast very deep blacks. Of course, the winner here is VA display panels.
TN vs VA
When it comes to comparing these two, the important things to consider are overall performance and balanced offering.
1. Response Time
As we already know, TN panels are undisputed in regards to response time. However, it’s important to note that VA panels were designed to specifically address the downsides of both IPS and TN panels. Their response time is poorer than that of TN panels but slightly faster than IPS panels.
2. Visuals & Graphics
When it comes to visuals, VA display panels are better than their TN counterparts as they have wider viewing angles and are capable of 8-bit color depth. They ideally boast a superior contrast ratio and black uniformity when compared to TN panels.
3. Viewing Angles
VA display panels have wider viewing angles, but there have been improvements to make TN panels ideal for color-critical work like graphic design and photo editing. However, even so, they are far behind when you look at what VA panels have to offer.
Picking between a VA and TN panel is just like choosing between an IPS and TN panel. Pick a TN display panel if you’re mostly into fast-paced games and go for a VA if you’re in it for the visuals.
Which Panel Type is Best For Gaming?
As you may have already concluded, it all boils down to your requirements and personal preferences. If you are into fast-paced games a TN panel will serve you justly. These types of panels may have low contrast, weaker picture quality, and limited viewing angles, but they are beasts when it comes to response time and refresh rate.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy vibrant colors, crisp images, and exceptional detail, then the IPS panel is a perfect choice. These panels are excellent when it comes to color reproduction and feature a wide viewing angle, something that you will appreciate when using the monitor for not only gaming but also graphic design. Also, IPS panels are known to last longer, thus being a better value for your money.
VA panels are the middle ground. They have wide viewing angles and offer accurate colors. Their response time is a bit faster than IPS panels, but quite slow when compared to TN panels. So, if you are on the search for a panel that will balance what IPS and TN panels bring to the table, then VA is your best option.
All these panel types have their advantages and disadvantages and so, your gaming needs will determine which weigh more than the other