Gaming monitors are very different from regular office or graphic design monitor panel. While some users just require a large enough monitor with the right inputs and minimal bezels, gamers need much more than that to ensure their experience is top-notch.
When looking at computer monitors most people usually focus on the screen size, resolution, and panel type (TN, IPS, or VA). However, there is another factor that determines how good your gaming experience will be – the monitor’s panel technology. Each technology has its pros and cons, but there are also some myths surrounding them.
To help you navigate through all of this we at Best Gaming Tips have put together this guide which explains what each panel type is about, what their strengths and weaknesses are as well as how they can enhance your gaming experience. So let’s get started!
VA Panels have become extremely popular among gamers because for many years they were the only choice when it came to high-end gaming monitors with 120/144 Hz refresh rates. They’re still widely used but over the years they’ve been facing growing competition from IPS and especially TN panels.
VA stands for Vertical Alignment which is a relatively old LCD technology that was introduced in the early 2000s. In a nutshell, VA panels deliver better colors, higher contrast, and deeper blacks than TN or IPS panels but they also have worse viewing angles and ghosting issues. Their main strengths are their excellent static contrast ratio (which improves perceived black depth) as well as good pixel responsiveness which makes them ideal for 120/144 Hz gaming on fast-paced titles such as first-person shooters or racing games.
VA Panels Strengths:
Large Color Gamut particularly suited for HDR content Amazing static contrast ratio thanks to a high native contrast ratio of 3000:1 Very good pixel responsiveness for competitive gaming (mostly over 144 Hz) Very fast response time for minimal ghosting and smearing (especially when Overdrive is turned up) The Largest viewing angles of all panel technologies which makes them great for multi-monitor setups Low input lag
VA Panel Weaknesses:
Off-center contrast shift resulting in washed-out colors when viewing the screen from the top, bottom, sides, or corners below Good pixel responsiveness with high native refresh rate comes at a price – noticeable motion blur Bad viewing angles with loss of color saturation at less than 45° angle Black depth and contrast ratio won’t impress people looking for HDR content Significant vertical banding (color shifting in intensity) especially on darker backgrounds Limited to 8-bit color without FRC dithering Backlight bleed in form of clouding on very dark backgrounds Viewing angles deteriorate when the screen is viewed from an angle (particularly below) Ghosting and smearing issues with fast-paced content due to slow pixel response time which can’t keep up with 144/240 Hz
TN stands for Twisted Nematic which is another LCD technology that has been around for many years. TN panels are by far the most popular among gamers because they offer higher refresh rates out of the box which means more responsive gameplay, less ghosting, and good enough picture quality. They’re also cheaper than IPS or VA panels, but their viewing angles are not as wide as these two technologies are capable of.
Some older TN had pretty bad color accuracy but over the years this has improved quite a bit. So much in fact that they’re now used for professional color-critical work even if their contrast ratio is much lower than that of VA panels.
TN Panels Strengths:
Very high refresh rate out of the box (240 Hz native, 48 – 144 Hz via Overdrive) Low response time resulting in less ghosting and smearing Amazing pixel responsiveness Ideal for competitive gaming with fast-paced titles such as FPS or racing games Very low input lag which makes them great for pro gamers Limited to 6-bit + FRC dithering without calibration Good picture quality despite being a TN panel Viewing angles are good enough for basic usage but not accurate enough for color-critical work Wide availability and ease of finding a matching panel for any given size
TN Panel Weaknesses:
Extremely limited color space – anything outside of sRGB will look over saturated and wrong Largest deviation from the sRGB colors with gamma being shifted towards green which most people find to be annoying Contrast ratio is terrible – typical contrast ratios are around 400 – 700:1 Poor black depth which results in washed-out dark scenes Viewing angles aren’t as wide as VA screens are but better than IPS panels have Correlation between the applied overdrive value and resulting motion blur is low, so it’s often better to choose high overdrive settings even if there is more ghosting Flickering issues are common due to poor PWM dimming implementation being used by some models.
IPS is the oldest LCD technology of them all and it provides amazing color accuracy, wider viewing angles than VA panels do, and better contrast than TN. So what’s not to like? Well, they simply don’t perform as well in fast-paced games as TN panels do because of their slow response time. They’re still decent though so some people choose them anyway.
The refresh rate on IPS panels is usually inferior to that of TN counterparts, but there are new models which can push up to 240 Hz natively (without overdrive) which makes them quite popular among gaming enthusiasts. Their price tag isn’t that low either so they aren’t easy to find for cheap unless you get refurbished or used ones instead.
IPS Panel Strengths:
Amazing picture quality Very wide viewing angles due to horizontal and vertical shifts Viewing angles are better than TN panels Excellent color reproduction without calibration Mostly good gray uniformity with a few exceptions High contrast ratio of around 1000:1 which is excellent Good black depth resulting in more vivid dark scenes Flicker-free backlight means there’s no flickering effect at all on the screen Competitive price tag Availability for any given size/resolution IPS Panel
High response time which results in noticeable ghosting and smearing if you’re playing fast-paced games Viewing angles aren’t as wide as VA screens Limited native refresh rate support (120 Hz maximum) unless using overdrive Higher gamma shift than VA or TN panels do Some IPS monitors have bad contrast ratios VA Panels.
TN panels are great for fast-paced titles due to incredible response times and they do introduce less smearing than IPS or VA panels. On the other hand, their viewing angles aren’t as wide as those of both VA and IPS screens which limits them when it comes to watching movies with friends for example. IPS have an amazing contrast ratio, better color reproduction out of the box, and much wider viewing angles, but their response time is slow which results in noticeable ghosting. They’re also quite expensive so not everyone can afford them. Hopefully, this blog post helped you understand the strengths and weaknesses of these different types of LCD panels.