Monitor Display Panel Types – TN vs VA vs PLS

Monitor Display Types

We use computers almost every day. For work, for entertainment, and for professional use. And every monitor is different in their own way. The most important aspect to note is the display panel and how it optimizes the use of the monitor and what type of activity it is best used for.

In this article, we will be discussing the 3 display panel types (or monitors), which makes each one unique, and what type of activity they are best used for. This will help you choose the best one for your needs and give you a better understanding of displays and their specifications.

The Three Types of Display Panels

There are plenty of features to look into when deciding which monitor to go for and what type of panel is the right for you, so let us go over the basics of each display type and delve into the minor details further on. 

TN Display Panels 

ASUS MB168B 15.6 Inch USB Portable Monitor
ASUS MB168B 15.6 Inch LED TN Portable Display

The TN display panel is predominantly oriented towards performance. Mainly targeted at gaming and usually the cheapest of the three types of display panels. The TN panel is particularly known for its low response time and the highest refresh rates.

This means that they have the fastest response to an action you do with the keyboard or mouse or any other controller you have at hand and the high refresh rate makes the picture less blurry when it comes down to moving colors and figure movement.

If you are, for example, a gamer who is playing an action game which needs a fast response to a movie you are making and you need to see the clearest to what you are aiming for, the higher the refresh rate, the better your initial response would be. Adding to that, the better the response time, the faster you will see an action you do appear on the monitor in front of you.

Most professional gamers who play first-person shooters, as well as strategy games, need the low response time and higher refresh rate to better their game and quicken their reflexes. The downside to this is that it compromises color saturation as well as viewing angles, which is not ideal if you are a designer looking for a wide palette of colors to work with and the ability to look at a design from all angles to make the best product you can make.

Even though this type of panel is generally targeted at gamers and it is the cheapest on the market, it works very well as a day to day display if you want to work on spreadsheets and assembling your documents, without spending a lot of money.

Of course, every panel has the option of having better features and the price goes up with every addition. You can have a low response high refresh rate monitor with excellent contrast, for example, but it would cost you as much as three basic ones of the same kind.

Always know which type of panel you will be using on a daily basis and what you are looking for before investing in a certain type. Now let us summarize how TN panels work and in what way they will better your experience. 

TN stands for Twisted Nematic. A form of liquid crystal display (which LED displays are a part of), which works as follows: the vertical filter polarizes the light as it enters the screen, while the electrodes in the display decide which darks and lights of the light they will project on your screen.

The ridges line up the liquid crystals, so they can cooperate with the light that has been just let in. After this happens there is another filter that lets or blocks light to pass through and reflect it back to you, so you can see the image. 

If you are a gamer and want the best results in your daily activities and also want to do some work on the side, then TN displays are the cheapest and most efficient options for you.

VA Display Panels 

Samsung C32F391 32-Inch Curved Monitor Features
Samsung C32F391 32-Inch Curved VA Display

Moving into the zone of the most common display types in our day to day environment, here is what you need to know about VA display panels. As we said before, contrast is the most important feature you should be looking at when choosing a monitor, and VA panels have the best contrast stats.

Not only that but you also get the most image depth with these types of panels, so long hours looking at a screen at work or at home writing a project for school or your day to day job at the office, these panel types are your best choice for a monitor.

On the other hand, the response time on these panels is the slowest but if you are not doing any high-end competitive gaming with shooters or strategy type games, you are good to go.

The response time is low because of the good quality picture they provide and the contrast they give you in comparison to the other display panels. Moreover, in comparison to TN panel type monitors, these give you better-viewing angles, so you can easily have a curved type monitor open and show people around you what you are looking or working at without having to constantly turn the monitor around.

At the same time, there are plenty of models, which can have the productivity of TN monitors in terms of response times and refresh rates, which also comes at a price. A number of options of VA monitors are available with a less than a second response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz to 240Hz.

If you are looking for vibrant colors, better than most viewing angles and easy on the eyes, high refresh rates, and low response time make sure to explore VA options of the higher price range. 

The main difference in VA monitors comes from their viewing angles and contrast. VA stands for Vertical Alignment. Which in itself means that there are actions that need to be done in order to produce the contrast and colors needed to give you the picture-perfect view and viewing angles.

Another great addition to all other features to this display, and all the others, is the flicker free technology. If you will be staring at a screen for 8 or more hours a day, we all know how the screen flickers if you try to take a picture of it with your phone.

With the flicker-free tech, you do not get that, so your eyes do not get as tired as they usually do when looking at a screen for longer periods of time. 

IPS Display Panels

ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27" Gaming Monitor 4K
ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 4K UHD IPS HDR Display

We move into professional display territory here and maybe some of the most expensive displays on the market today. IPS display panels have the best colors and the best viewing angles you can get. If you are a designer, architect, artist, or have anything to do with tracing and coloring, this is the display panel you should be going for.

This display type monitors still have slower general response times compared to TN panels but in most cases faster than the VA ones. They are usually exclusively targeted toward professional use. Most commercial displays at the airports where you can see your flight schedules or where you can see your scores or bets in a casino or a store, the displays are using IPS panels.

Lower refresh rates on these panels are rare to none and, if you find any options which are not meant for commercial or professional use, you will most likely have to break more than your piggy bank to afford them. They have the lowest response time but have fantastic colors and viewing angles.

The bigger the screen, the better the contrast ratio you get, the better the angle, and the higher the price. Compared to VA panels these displays pretty much negate contrast, color shifts, and make them the best available choice for a 3d Artist or an architect to perfect their craft. Let us summarize what we have learned. 

IPS displays are the go-to for any professional use and for gamers who value color accuracy and quality over response time. It can be used at home as well as in a commercial setting. It has the best viewing angles and usually the best contrast and little to no motion blur.

The most expensive of the three-panel types and, if you are looking for one which also fits your needs as a gamer, you are looking at around $700 for a 27” monitor which can still go higher, compared to a TN display of the same quality for around $200 or less. 

PLS Display Panels

An honorary mention, the PLS display panel was developed by Samsung and stands for Plane to Line Switching. In capabilities, it comes at the same level as the IPS panel type. The difference is that Samsung claims the PLS panel offers better viewing angles and 10% more brightness but at a lower price.

Of course any more expensive IPS display would be better than a cheaper PLS one but if you are still looking into buying a professional display ideal for artists, designers and editors then maybe look into Samsung’s version of the IPS and see what they have to offer.

Summary of TN vs VA vs IPS Display Panels

FeatureTNVAIPS
PerformanceLow response, High refresh rate , least motion blur, least input LagHighest response time of all three usually, better than most refresh rates are possibleSlower response times than most panels but typically faster than VA
Display Least color depth, worst viewing anglesBetter angles than TN panels but worse than IPS. Highest contrast in most cases and best image depth.Best color and viewing angles available 
PricingLowest price on the marketMedium priced, higher price tags can have TN performance refresh rates and response timesHighest price range. TN and VA features are available but price keeps rising
UseGaming/ Daily UseDay to day use for work and gamingProfessional commercial use, studio, artistic, drawing and painting.
TN vs VA vs IPS Display Panels

Popular Display Panel Type FAQs

What type of display panel is the best for me? 

The first and best question you can ask yourself before going for a purchase of a new monitor. What are your needs? What is your day to day use going to be for this monitor? How much are you willing to spend?

If you are looking for a monitor to work on every day and game every once in a while, then certainly go for the VA panel. If gaming is your forte, then certainly look for TN panel options and for a few more bucks you can get better color and contrast as much as a VA panel, but closer to the low-price end.

If you are a professional in any area of drawing, photography, editing etc., then certainly look into IPS panels as they would be your best bet for perfecting your work.

How much should a monitor cost?

Choosing what type of panel is best for you should always come with a budget in mind. Depending on what your needs are, you should be aware of the price ranges for each type.

If you are on the low to mid-price range, but you are looking to do some professional work as well, you could opt for a VA panel display of a larger size or better features than going for the cheapest IPS panel.

If you are a gamer who wants good color, contrast and viewing angles, then definitely save up a $100 more and go for a bigger VA panel type monitor with higher refresh rates and low response time, or get multiple TN displays to serve you best.

If you are just looking to go all out on a single monitorportable monitor or even a 2 or 3 display setup for your work on vinyl for a fare or you are a photographer or video editor that needs the best of the best, then IPS is the choice for you.

Conclusion

No matter how big a monitor or what type of display panel people go for, they initially buy what looks the best. However, do not be fooled by demos played at the best contrast and resolution in the store but make sure to test each feature individually to decide what works best for you. Some refresh rates work worse with larger monitors, some work best with a larger scale.

Some have the brightest whites and the darkest blacks and if you need that, then this would be perfect for you. It is essential that you do enough research alongside what size monitor you want and what task it will be doing before delving deeper into the details and features of each panel and display type. This guide will hopefully give you a better idea of what to explore the next time you want to buy a new monitor.

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