When purchasing a new monitor, one of the most important factors that plays a role in the decision-making process is the monitor’s panel type. Because the screen panel type is a factor that directly affects how the monitor will perform. There are three types of display panels in common use today. These are TN, IPS and VA. Knowing the features and differences of these panel types before buying a monitor will help you choose the right monitor.
Basic Working Principle of LCD Monitor
Monitor LCD panels; It consists of many layers such as backlighting, polarizing filters and liquid crystal layer. The liquid crystal layer inside the display panel determines the intensity and color of the light from the backlight. To control this light intensity, a voltage is applied to the liquid crystals so that the liquid crystals literally move from one location to another. Here’s how these crystals are arranged and how they move when voltage is applied; TN is the main difference between IPS and VA display panels.
TN is the oldest LCD panel technology and Twisted Nematic stands for “convoluted nematic”. Convoluted nematic is an effect that allows the liquid crystal molecules to be controlled by voltage. While the actual operation of an LCD with a convoluted nematic effect is somewhat more complex, essentially the convoluted nematic effect is used to change the alignment of the liquid crystals when a voltage is applied. When no voltage is applied, that is, when the crystals are in the closed state, the liquid crystal molecules bend about 90 degrees and together with the polarization layers allow light to pass through. When a voltage is then applied, these liquid crystals do not curl and block the light.
VA stands for “Vertical Alignment”. As the name suggests, this display technology uses vertically aligned liquid crystals that bend when a voltage is applied to allow light to pass through. Here is the main difference between IPS and VA display panels. In IPS panels, the crystals are parallel to the substrates, while in VA panels, the crystals are perpendicular to the substrates. Many VA panel versions are also available, such as AMVA by AU Optronics and SVA by Samsung.
IPS is an acronym for in-plane switching. IPS display technology, like any other display panel technology, uses voltage to control the alignment of liquid crystals. However, unlike TN display panels, IPS panels use a different crystal orientation, where the crystals are parallel to the glass substrates. Rather than twisting the crystals to change the amount of light transmitted, IPS crystals are actually spun, which brings a host of benefits.
These technologies are also available in a variety of sub-variants that can improve things even further, and you may find that they are named differently depending on the panel manufacturer. Samsung makes its own IPS display panels PLS, while some brands such as LG directly IPS
They prefer to use the term . When it comes to VA display panels, we see that Samsung uses the name SVA, while AU Optronics uses the name AMVA.
Long story short, TN display panels bend; IPS display panels use parallel alignment and rotation; VA display panels, on the other hand, take advantage of vertical alignment and tilting. Let’s take a look at how these display panel technologies differ from each other, how they perform, and which one is the best for each category.
Point of View
When viewing a TN, IPS and VA panel for the first time, the most obvious difference between them is undoubtedly the viewing angles. This is an issue that has not changed significantly since these technologies emerged.
TN panels have the weakest viewing angles, with significant color and contrast shift in both the horizontal and especially vertical directions. Overall viewing angles are rated at 170/160 but to be realistic, you’ll get pretty bad gradations when viewing anywhere other than dead spot. While the highest quality TN panels do slightly better in this regard, overall this is an area where TN panels are extremely weak.
In terms of viewing angles, VA and IPS display panels perform significantly better than TN display panels. However, IPS panels generally provide the best experience in this regard. You’ll usually see 178/178 ratings for viewing angles for these two types of panels. However, although there is still some color and brightness variation when viewed from off-center angles, this is much less noticeable when compared to a TN display panel.
VA display panels also have great viewing angles, but not as much as IPS display panels. Also, VA panels can have a higher degree of contrast variation than IPS. But what affects the viewing angles of VA display panels more than that is that most VA monitors today are curved, making the viewing angles smaller. This is a criterion to consider when choosing between IPS and VA display panels.
Brightness and Contrast
Since the liquid crystal layer is separate from the backlight layer, there is no technical reason why TN, IPS, and VA monitors should differ from each other in terms of brightness. The average SDR brightness was determined as 385 nits for IPS display panels, 367 nits for TN display panels, and 346 nits for VA display panels. Long story short, there is practically no significant difference between display panels in terms of this criterion.
On the other hand, there are important differences between these three display panels in terms of contrast ratio. TN display panels, which are not very good at producing deep blacks with the curl technique, have the worst contrast ratios. At best you’ll see a contrast ratio of around 1000:1 on a TN panel, but generally after calibration this ratio drops back to the 700:1 to 900:1 range. An average TN display panel has been found to have a contract ratio of 872:1, which we can safely say is an extremely low ratio. We recommend purchasing an OLED monitor directly, especially if you want rich and beautiful blacks. However, if you are considering buying an LCD monitor for this purpose, rather than an OLED monitor, make sure that the display panel is not TN.
In terms of contrast ratio, IPS screen panels do not perform much differently than TN panels. Even in the worst-case scenarios—particularly with LG’s current line of Nano IPS panels—you won’t see any different contrast performance than a typical TN display panel. However, outside of these worst-case scenarios, it is more likely to see a contrast ratio of 1000:1 or higher. Even the best examples of IPS display panels can push a 1500:1 contrast ratio. The average contrast ratio among IPS displays has been determined to be 1037:1, which is 19% higher than the average contrast ratio of a TN display panel.
Although TN panels do not perform badly in terms of contrast, if you want an LCD monitor to produce deep blacks, you should choose a monitor with a VA display panel. The design of these panels provides more possibilities for achieving higher contrast ratios. Contrast ratios of VA display panels generally start at 2000:1; which is higher than even the contrast ratios of the best IPS display panels.
Contrast ratios of up to 5000:1 can be specified for VA displays. In some TVs, this rate can even go higher. The range of contrast ratios typical of VA display panels is wider compared to that of TN and IPS technologies. But if any manufacturer states that a VA monitor has a 3000:1 contrast ratio, they are usually right. On average, a contrast ratio of 2898:1 is detected for VA displays. As you can see from these ratios, VA display panels are up to 2.5-3 times more successful in producing black colors compared to IPS and TN display panels.
So, do these differences in contrast ratios really matter? Almost all monitors use some type of matte, anti-reflective coating that can reduce the effective contrast ratio in brighter viewing environments. So if you are using your monitor during the day or in an environment with artificial light sources, the difference in contrast ratio between TN, IPS and VA display panels will be less noticeable. However, if you use your monitor in a dim environment in general, you will more easily realize the serious superiority of VA displays in this area.
However, it is useful to mention the following. IPS display panels have a chronic problem called “IPS radiation”. IPS glow can be termed as the appearance of a white glow on the screen when viewing dark images from a certain angle. Top quality display panels reflect this glare to a minimum. However, it should be noted that this is still a problem for IPS screen panels and may vary from screen to screen.
The vast majority of screens today have 8-bit panels. Only some low-end display panels are 6-bit, while some high-end display panels for professionals are 10-bit. However, most displays marketed as “10-bit” or “with 1 billion colors” do not have true 10-bit panels; They reach this color scale through FRC or dithering. Also nowadays sRGB or Rec. When it comes to covering standard color spaces such as the 709, there is no notable difference between LCD types.
Even TN display panels, which have historically had the worst color quality, today cover more than 95% of the sRGB color space at a minimum. Only some entry-level laptop screens can be at a lower level. However, it’s very rare to see a monitor covering less than 90% of the sRGB color space, which you shouldn’t buy anyway.
As for true 10-bit displays, you should generally look at IPS panels, which make up the bulk of true 10-bit display panels. Some VA display panels also provide true 10-bit support, but these are extremely rare. Most displays on the market that claim to be 10-bit actually support 8-bit and FRC. Only professional-grade high-quality displays provide a true 10-bit experience.
The main differences between TN, IPS and VA display panels in terms of color quality today are; DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and Rec. It covers wider color spaces such as 2020. DCI-P3 and Rec. 2020 is important for HDR videos and video games, while Adobe RGB is common among business professionals as it often provides wide color gamut images.
It is not uncommon for TN display panels to exceed the sRGB color space and reproduce a wide color gamut. Even in the best cases, it can be said that the DCI-P3 coverage is around 92%, but most of the TN display panels have a standard color gamut, which is quite enough for SDR content.
The next best display panel in terms of color gamut is VA. Some entry-level VA display panels only cover the sRGB color space. However, today’s wide color gamut VA displays typically add 85% to 90% of DCI-P3, or Rec. They also cover approximately 66% of 2020. These generally do not cover the Adobe RGB color space at a sufficient level (85% and above) and therefore are not suitable for playing video games or videos etc. These are the screens most suitable for viewing content. Still, VA display panels are mid-range in terms of color gamut.
If you want a monitor with the widest color gamut, you should choose IPS monitors. Although standard IPS display panels are limited to sRGB, IPS display panels that are on sale today and have the best wide color gamut cover much wider color gamuts than TN or VA display panels.
In a top quality display panel from AU Optronics, 97% DCI-P3, over 99% Adobe RGB and over 80% Rec. The 2020 scope has been determined. This makes IPS display panels the best choice for jobs where a wide color gamut is important, such as video or photo editing.
When it comes to refresh rate, there used to be a very distinct difference between these three display technologies. The TN display panel was the fastest. IPS was medium. And the VA display panel was the slowest. However, nowadays, the difference between these technologies in terms of refresh rates is quite small.
There are TN, IPS and VA monitors with 240 Hz speeds on the market these days. There are even some models that provide a refresh rate of over 240Hz at resolutions as high as 1440p.
The monitors with the highest refresh rate currently available to the end user are the 360 Hz monitors with 1080p resolution using IPS panels produced by AU Optronics. Today, the demand for IPS displays is lower compared to the other two screen types, and therefore the improvements made for high refresh rate are generally focused on IPS display panels. As a result, this makes IPS the display technology with the highest refresh rate for now.
Response times have been significantly improved, especially for the highest quality IPS and VA display panels. Thanks to advanced display panels such as LG’s Nano IPS and Samsung’s new generation VA display panels, there is no notable difference between TN display panels and these two display panel types in terms of response times.
The fastest TN panels in the panel tesdollar series achieve an average response time of 4 ms with a cumulative deviation of approximately 400. Cumulative bias indicates how close a monitor’s response times are to getting the ideal instantaneous response, and also indicates the tradeoff between response times and overshoot. For example, the HP Omen X 27, with 1440p resolution and 240 Hz refresh rate, is a low-response monitor. But the Samsung Odyssey G7 and G9 are slightly faster monitors, with response times between 3.4 and 4 ms and a cumulative deviation of under 400.
As a result, this puts the best VA displays on sale today slightly ahead of the best TN displays. Along with these new generation display panels, Samsung has also fixed the dark level staining issue that can occur from time to time on old generation VA display panels, giving the latest VA panels an overall experience similar to that offered by the best LCDs.
However, the best IPS display panels are slightly slower than VA and TN display panels. However, top-of-the-line IPS displays can compete with competitors in the other two types. In the performed tesdollarser, the best IPS display panel in the field had a cumulative deviation of around 460 and an average response time of 4.5 ms. This means 20% lower performance than the best of the other two panel types. However, we can easily say that this is a very low difference in terms of reaction time.
However, it should be noted that all these evaluations we made in terms of response time are valid for top quality monitors. The performance differences between the three panel types for midrange and entry-level monitors are almost the same as before. TN monitors are fast enough for both segments, with response times of around 4ms. IPS monitors, which are in a lower price range, lag behind TN monitors in this area. This is because midrange and entry-level IPS monitors often use older generation display panels that aren’t as fast as today’s best ones. Still, on average, a performance of between 6 and 9 ms is quite acceptable. However, the cumulative bias is still competitive enough, especially in the value-driven IPS market. Although IPS monitors are not as fast as TN monitors, they generally perform well in terms of motion nedollaryc.
Budget-oriented VA display panels, on the other hand, unfortunately cannot even come close to the speeds of the best display panels used in Samsung’s Odyssey G7 and G9 series. Generally, VA display panels have response times of 9 to 13 ms on average, meaning that the most affordable VA displays lag behind the average pricey IPS display in terms of performance. In addition to this, VA display panels also have a chronic problem called “dark level spot”, which is not encountered in the other two display technologies and is seen as a dark trace that follows moving objects.
If we make a general assessment of display technologies, we can say that TN display panels are dying. TN panels are still very fast and great for competitive gaming, but are no longer a speed leader, especially for the highest quality segment. The main advantages of purchasing a TN display are that they are affordable and their speed is consistent even with entry-level panels. However, TN screens still have weaknesses such as low viewing angles and contrast ratio, making them unsuitable for many tasks.
VA display panels are highly competitive in the highest quality segment, with excellent motion performance, no dark level smearing, adequate contrast ratios and good colours. However, even low quality VA display panels have great contrast ratios, but they are extremely slow due to the use of older generation display panels and do not give very good results in terms of motion performance. However, this creates a price-performance balance, allowing at least some VA monitors to be available at reasonable prices.
To date, IPS screen panels have received the most attention among these three screen technologies, and they continue to improve every year. IPS monitors; It’s the most balanced choice overall, with strengths in many different areas, including motion performance, gamut coverage, and viewing angles. These strengths tend to apply consistently to all segments, whether in the high-end segment or the entry segment, making IPS displays a great value for money option.
Due to their wonderful homogeneity and the prevalence of flat panels with extremely wide color gamuts, IPS is best suited for gaming and content creation on the same screen. However, the contrast ratios of IPS display panels are still far behind the reach of VA display panels.
As a result, there is absolutely no right answer as to which display technology is the best. For example, if you want a perfect black level and fast speed, then a high-end VA monitor is your best bet. Or if you want your monitor to cover the Adobe RGB color space, you should choose an IPS monitor. In short, the right choice in choosing a monitor is all about what you will use that monitor for.