When choosing a computer monitor, always take into account the type of panel display uses in addition to the other technical specifications. Flat-screen LCD monitors primarily use three different panel types: TN, IPS, or VA (in their different forms). Another type is OLED, but this is technically not an LCD panel type. The choice of panel is very important, as it determines whether the monitor is responsive enough for your first-person shooters, good at reproducing colors if you work with design or photography, or in some cases both.

Different LCD Panel Types: An Overview

The most common type of panel type is the TN–twisted nematic.  The others are Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-Plane switching (IPS). Additionally, there are different versions of the latter two display types. VA computer monitors primarily come in two versions: Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA) and Multi-domain Vertical Alignment (MVA). Each technology has its pros and cons and what to look for depends on what you plan on using your monitor for. Here’s a quick overview.

Panel type
Viewing angles
(Twisted Nematic)
Very fast
Often under 1 ms.
Off-center viewing causes color shift.
Typically not above standard RGB.
Better on modern panels, but still behind IPS/VA.
Fast-paced, competitive gaming (FPS, MOBA etc).
(In-Plane Switching)
Often 1-2 ms.
Typically 178/178.
May support e.g. DCI-P3 and Rec. 2020.
Between TN and VA on average.
Photo editing, graphic design, slower-paced gaming.
(Vertical Alignement)
Between TN and IPS on average.
Very good
Often on par with IPS.
Wider gamut than TN, in some cases Adobe RGB.
Often 3000:1 native.
All-round use, including gaming and watching movies.

Before deciding on a monitor, consider what type of activities you’ll be undertaking most – such as gaming, color-critical work, or everyday activities like watching movies – and select panel type accordingly.

Gaming monitorTN (Twisted Nematic) Panel Pros & Cons

TN is the most common technology and also the oldest. In spite of some notable drawbacks, there are also some reasons to actively opt for twisted nematic LCD technology.


The main advantage is that it provides the shortest response times, making it good for gaming. Gaming monitors with TN panels are preferred by many FPS gamers thanks to the buttery-smooth gaming experience they provide when used in combination with a high refresh rate. With many of the most recent TN monitors, it is possible to achieve a swift ~1ms GtG (gray-to-gray) pixel transition response time, which should also eradicate blurring and trailing behind objects that move quickly.

Color reproduction can be quite good on the more recent and pricier models, although if you are looking for more vivid hues – and especially if you are a creative professional – you will do better with a good-quality IPS or VA panel.

Another major advantage of TN-panel LCD monitors is that they are cheap to manufacture, resulting in low prices for end users.


The major drawback to the technology is the color shifts that occur at wider viewing angles. TN panels have a very limited range of viewing angles (170° horizontally, 160° vertically), which makes the image become distorted in terms of color, contrast, and brightness when not viewed straight-on.

ips vs tn

There are large differences in quality between different products, but the lower-end ones will exhibit color shifts even at slight angle changes. A TN-based display can usually be easily identified through these color distortions when viewing the picture from above or from the sides.

When you’re sitting in a direct line of sight with the monitor, the viewing angles aren’t a problem, with the exception of changes in gamma or color saturation. So, when you’re on a tight budget and care more about performance than appearance, then a TN panel monitor may still be the best choice.

viewsonic colorpro ipsIPS (In-Plane Switching) Panel Pros & Cons

The main advantages with IPS monitors is that the technology offer noticeably better color reproduction as well as much better viewing angles. The downside used to be a difficulty to emphasize blacks, which in turn meant problems with the contrast. IPS panels were also very expensive and slow initially.


IPS panels offer precise and uniform colors, as well as a wide viewing angle of 178°, so that the same colors and contrast can be seen regardless of the angle it is being viewed from. It is therefore the panel of choice for designers and photographers.

Response times used to be an issue, but today the majority of IPS monitors have approximately the same rate of pixel response time as TN panels (~1ms). Nevertheless, some IPS monitors with slower response times of 4 to 5ms still exist.

The gaming experience is generally quite good with modern IPS panels, not least thanks to the low response times but also the potential for more vivid colors. A lot of gamers find that even if their monitor is equipped with an IPS panel, which tends to be slower, their gaming experience is still satisfactory and ghosting effects are barely discernable.


ips glow

IPS glow

A major disadvantage of IPS monitors is the phenomenon known as ‘IPS glow.’ In a dark room, when viewing particularly dim material, one can observe a luminous glow around the edges of the display. This is a common consequence of excess illumination that is funneled through the display panel.

In certain situations, such as viewing a dark scene from a video or game in a room that is not brightly lit, the IPS glow is just barely noticeable. In the event that it is especially distracting, due to low quality control, the monitor should be returned for a refund or replacement.

By utilizing localized dimming, the contrast ratio of LED-backlit monitors can be improved considerably. Nevertheless, unless an expensive full-array local dimming system is used, little to no meaningful improvement can be observed. Some models are equipped with a polarizer meant to lessen IPS glow, though it does have with a slight purple glow when viewed from extreme angles instead.

It is important to remember that IPS panels have lesser contrast compared to VA panels. Generally, IPS monitors have a static contrast ratio of 1,000:1, while VA panels provide a contrast ratio of around 3,000:1 or above.


Some variations of IPS panel technology include:

  • PLS (Plane to Line Switching) from Samsung
  • AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angles) developed by AU Optronics
  • AAS (Azimuthal Anchoring Switch) from InnoLux
  • ADS (Advanced Super Dimension Switch) from BOE
  • IPS , AH-IPS , Nano IPS , IPS Black from LG

VA (Vertical Alignment) Panel Pros & Cons

Finally, VA monitors have a much higher static contrast ratio compared to the other types of LCD displays. While overall quality and specifications vary a great deal, VA panels have become a popular alternative in consumer monitors due to their mix of image quality and viewing angle stability.

samsung va monitor


Contrast ratios for IPS and TN panels usually stand at around 1,000:1, while VA panels tend to have contrast ratios ranging from 2,500:1 to 3,000:1, with some higher-priced models providing even better contrast. This permits them to exhibit darker blacks, more intense whites, and a broader distinction between the lightest and darkest tones.

VA panel displays have a distinct advantage over IPS when it comes to watching movies in a dark room, as their high contrast and lack of IPS glow makes the details in the shadows of the picture really stand out. This is the reason why many LED TVs opt for VA panels instead of IPS.

As for color reproduction, VA screens that have just as good, if not better, colors than some IPS monitors do exist, but color accuracy won’t be as reliable as with IPS technology.

Viewing angles are also excellent, as VA panels share the same 178° viewing angles as IPS displays. There are minor changes in contrast and brightness at certain angles, but they are not too drastic.


Even if the response time for white to black is low, it is often considerably higher between two dark tones, leading to ghosting effects.In dimly lit settings, the dark smudging of fast-moving elements – referred to as VA smearing – is detectable and can be irritating for gamers. Some individuals are however less affected by this than others.


Some variants of VA panel technology are:

  • MVA (Multidomain Vertical Alignment)
  • P-MVA and S-MVA
  • Advanced MVA (AMVA) – not to be mistaken for AHVA, which is a variant of IPS


As you have probably gathered by now, there is no single type of LCD that is good at everything. What panel type you choose must be a compromise based on how you use the monitor. Gamers will generally be happy with TN panels and their exceptional response time. Photographers and graphic designers should buy an IPS monitor instead.

If you are a writer or work in any other field where contrast is an important factor you should have a look at a monitor with an MVA or PVA panel. If you use the screen to a little bit of everything, you might choose a TN-based monitor to save money or a high-end IPS with low response time if you won’t settle for just the mere basics.