One of the most common questions we get at Pixio is “which monitor is best for me?” Although the question isn’t exactly so verbatim, it is always along the lines of certain needs of gamers, whether it is for a certain genre of games, immersion, or just overall “best.” It is important to note that everyone has a different reality, and thus it is an extremely subjective topic.
That being said, there are certain monitors that can cater to certain games or use-cases better than others. We wish to explore the different panel types and determine what panels are best for what purpose, depending on the technology and the spec and depending on the use for the user.
As we have discussed before, there are primarily 3 different panel types for LCDs, the most common display today. There is TN (twisted nematic), IPS (In-Plane Switching), and VA (Vertical Alignment. All three use Liquid Crystal Displays shone with a LED backlight. However, each technology behaves differently, so the specs of an LCD monitor vary between these three panels. Due to this, it is commonly seen that these different panel types can cater to different use cases.
Twisted Nematic LCD panels were one of the first LCD panels made available for the consumer market. It strayed away from the older Cathode-ray tube televisions. It featured brighter and more vivid colors due to the LED backlights used. Today, it has mostly been replaced with the more updated IPS and VA panels. What it still makes use of is its virtual lack of ghosting and fastest response times. Although IPS and VA panels today can compete with response times, TN panels still boast to have the lowest response times for LCDs. Minimum to no ghosting and typically 1ms response times leave these the king of competitive games. When viewing angles or vivid bright colors aren’t a concern, this is where you need to look.
Those who play fighting games, first-person shooters, or any game that has a lot of movement or where every frame matters should look at picking up a TN panel, despite its age. The shortcomings to this panel type are terrible viewing angles and usually faded colors and dim backlight. You will usually have to look at the display head on.
In-Plane Switching panels make up for TN’s lack of brightness and colors. These panels have amazing color production and can even sometimes have as fast response times as TN panels. They are also bright, which can be both good and bad. One of the most common issues of an IPS panel is worse backlight-bleed compared to its counterparts. This has become so common, it can be known as “IPS-glow” instead of the typical backlight bleed. Due to the brightness in the LED as well, they lose in contrast ratio, so black appears to be a bit more gray instead of a true pure black. Despite this, many prefer IPS panels to TN or VA panels, and sometimes view IPS as an upgrade to VA, which is not necessarily true.
IPS panels can be used by professional photographers or those who really prioritize bright and vivid colors while having an accurate color production. There are some IPS panels today that can even match a TN panel’s response time, making these monitors ideal for fast paced games that also utilize bright vivid images like Overwatch or Palworld.
Finally, we have the Vertical Alignment panel. This was Samsung’s answer to LG’s IPS panel. VA panels excel in immersive gaming. This is because these panels can actually be curved. Not only that, but VA panels have the best contrast ratio values of the LCD panel types. A typical VA panel will have 30001 or 4000:1 contrast ratio, whereas typical IPS panels will have a 1000:1 contrast ratio and TN panels will have about 2000:1 contrast ratio. This makes the viewing experience and cinematic experience more immersive and enjoyable. The black colors will be more true to black than an off gray, and the color gamut of these panels are much better than the TN. Where VA panels fall is ghosting becomes an issue. They are probably the slowest in response time which results in ghosting most of the time due to having high refresh rates but also a high response time. They also lose to most IPS panels when it comes to input latency. Even so, VA panels definitely have their place with superior viewing angles and contrast, leaving them to be used in racing simulators and flight simulators. Anyone who wants a more immersive or cinematic experience may want a VA panel.
So what’s the conclusion?
All panels have advantages and disadvantages. You will usually have to compromise one aspect in favor of another. Here are our personal recommendations:
- TN = FPS/Fighting/competitive eSports games
- IPS = Professional content creation/FPS/games using bright vivid colors
- VA = Racing/flight Simulator rigs, cinematic single player games or Role Playing Games, Movies.
Of course, you can use any monitor for any kind of content. These panels are not just limited to certain content, but they may be more optimized choices. Things like ghosting, colors, immersion, etc. can depend on the user as well. All of this is very subjective, and the best thing is to just try out whichever monitor you think will work best for you. And when it comes to response times or refresh rates, each panel type can support virtually all levels of refresh rates or response times; what we mean is that there can be TN, VA, or IPS panels that support up to 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 500Hz. There are VA and IPS panels now that can be as low as 1ms response time.
Some Things to Note When Finding the Perfect Monitor for You…
Sometimes, people can confuse input latency with response time. The name sounds like it has to do with how quick a monitor can react to a user's input, however, it has to do with the pixels changing to different colors. Whenever there is change in the scenery that would cause the pixels to dim, brighten, or change color, it takes a certain amount of time to do so. The slower(higher) the response time, the more blurred an image will be. That means that you want a monitor with as low response time as possible so that images stay sharp and discernable with no blur. This is not to be confused with motion blur as that may be rendered by the game or even some media. Low response times offer the best viewing experience.
This refers to how fast an input is processed from the controller/mouse/keyboard to visual display on the monitor. The lower the input latency, the better. Most monitors have similar input latency, and it is not as commonly advertised as refresh rate, response time, or resolution.
Refresh rate is measured in frequency, and this refers to the speed at which the monitor can display an image. This is very similar to Frames per Second, but not quite the same. They are definitely both related though. Refresh rate will usually refer to the rate at which a monitor can display a single image, with higher refresh rates producing a more smoother image.
Frames Per Second
Refresh rate and frames per second is often used interchangeably, however, there are differences. Frames per second describes the speed at which a graphics card, whether it is an integrated or dedicated graphics card, can output a frame per second of time. This term is not limited to just graphics cards, as animation and cinema uses this measurement as well. The higher the FPS, the smoother an image “moves.” This coincides with the frequency of the monitor. If a machine is outputting 120 FPS, you will need a monitor that can display 120Hz to visually see how smooth an image moves or transitions. If these numbers do not match, at a certain range, you will see visual tearing of the image, as if the image is split.
Work Hard. Game Harder.
*The image at the top is an Image by vectorpocket on Freepik