IPS vs TN vs VA: What’s the Best for Gaming?

IPS vs TN vs VA. Which should you choose? The primary factors you should be looking at is color reproduction, response time, viewing angles, and affordability. IPS panels are superior in terms of color reproduction and viewing angles, TN panels have a very low response time and are the most affordable, while VA panels are a go-between, not really excelling or lacking in any department aside from response time.

Color reproduction

Color reproduction, as the name implies, dictates how well colors will be displayed and as a result how good the image will look. If you play slower paced games such as strategy or third person games then you will likely prefer the better vibrant image quality of an IPS monitor. An IPS panel offers superior and more accurate color reproduction and as a result is the preferred choice among video editors, colorists, and web designers.

Response time

A lot of people ask what’s the difference between response time vs refresh rate? Response time measures how fast (measured in milliseconds, ms) the data while the refresh rate determines how often (measured in hertz, Hz) per second a monitor is refreshed. The very large advantage of TN panels are their low response time. This is the primary reason aside from price that they are preferred among competitive gamers.

The lower the response time, the better. Manufacturers typically advertise TN panels as having speeds as quick as 1ms, IPS panels as 4ms, and VA panels as 8ms. The response time speed allows panels to create frames incredibly quick meaning you react quicker to gameplay. If you play fast paced first person shooter games with a lot of movement such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive then you should stick with a TN monitor.

Viewing angles

A monitor’s viewing angles determine how visible the monitor is from various angles. The biggest issue with TN panels is the fact that they have a very low viewing angle. If you are looking straight forward at the appropriate angle then you won’t notice a problem, but when you view it from any extreme side you will see a reduction in visibility. The difference in viewing angles is immediately obvious when observed in person, but also brings up the question of whether in fact you need such a viewing angle since you look at your monitor head-on most of the time. For the majority of users the viewing angle of a monitor’s isn’t going to factor into their purchasing decision, but for people that use multiple monitors having a high viewing angle monitor can be a must. In that case, an IPS display is more preferential.

IPS display

If you play slower paced games such as strategy or third person games like DOTA 2 or League of Legends then you will likely prefer the better vibrant image quality of an In-Plane switching (IPS) monitor. An IPS display offers superior and more accurate color reproduction over TN and VA panels.

TN display

Twisted Nematic (TN) panels have a long history in computer monitors as they were the first to be introduced and still to this day are the most common type out there. TN panels are the cheapest to manufacture and the reason of this lies in its comparatively simpler technology.

TN panels have a very large advantage: low response time. Manufacturers typically advertise them as having speeds as quick as 1ms. This speed allows panels to create frames incredibly quick meaning you can react quicker to gameplay. This is a godsend in first person shooter games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive were every millisecond literally counts.

The biggest issue with TN panels is poor color reproduction, but again which games you play and where your priorities will determine how much of a setback this really is. Another concern is the very low viewing angles that they have. Unless you are looking straight forward at the appropriate angle then you won’t notice a problem, but when you view it from any side you will see a reduction in visibility. If you’re planning a multi-monitor setup or may have one in the future then it is important to keep this in mind.

VA display

Vertical Alignment (VA) panels are the least popular types of displays available. Only a handful of high refresh rate monitors are equipped with them. VA panels are a in-between of IPS and TN panels when it comes to viewing angles. When it comes to response times, however, they typically perform the worst and can have advertised times of up to 8ms.

What’s the Best for Gaming?

In conclusion, which display is better for you depends on what your priorities are and how you intend to use it. Below is a table showing where each type of panel is superior. There are exceptions to each rule, but generally this is how most monitors perform.

FeatureIPS monitorTN monitorVA monitor
Color Reproduction
Viewing Angles
Response Time
Affordability
  • Huacanacha

    VA is becoming a good option for gaming. Color reproduction can be almost as good as IPS. Contrast ratio blows away IPS and TN due to excellent black levels (they are typically 1000:1 compared to 3000:1 of recent VA panels). VA’s also don’t suffer from backlight bleed or IPS glow. Response times are improving as shown by 4-5ms panels by Samsung and HP recently.

    Also a single number for response time doesn’t tell the story. Usually grey-to-grey numbers are quoted which is usually best case. Worst case even for 1-2ms rated panels can be well over 20ms, or lower numbers only achieved at high overdrive settings that introduce overshoot artefacts. This also only considers pixel response, or the time for pixels to change from one color to another, and not input lag / processing time.