Are IPS or VA panels best for gaming?

A good gaming experience goes beyond having a great gaming rig. Your monitor’s panel type significantly contributes to your gaming experience. The two dominant panel types, IPS (In-Plane Switching) and VA (Vertical Alignment), often spark debates among gamers. This article examines the strengths and weaknesses of both panels to help you make an informed choice.

Decoding IPS and VA Panel Technologies

IPS and VA panels are both types of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), but they differ in terms of how their liquid crystals are arranged.

TN IPS VA comparison

IPS panels align their liquid crystals in parallel, offering excellent viewing angles and colour representation compared to older TN (Twisted Nematic) panels. They are frequently found in today’s computer monitors, televisions, and mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, due to their versatility in gaming and office work scenarios.

In contrast, VA panels align their liquid crystals vertically, perpendicular to the substrate surface. This alignment ensures broader viewing angles than TN panels, though not as broad as IPS panels. VA panels notably have excellent contrast ratios, making them ideal for presenting incredible details in gaming or movie scenes.

The Battle: IPS vs VA

It’s important to remember that both IPS and VA panels excel in different areas. Here’s a detailed comparison:

Response Time

The response time of a monitor, measured in milliseconds (ms), is the time it takes to change from one colour to another, typically from black to white or grey to grey. Lower response times result in less motion blur, providing a clearer picture in fast-paced gaming scenes.

IPS panels generally have lower response times, typically ranging from 1 to 3 ms for the fastest panels, although some go as low as 0.5 ms. VA panels, on the other hand, often advertise a 4 ms or lower response time for gaming monitors, but this can sometimes result in inverse ghosting.

Advantage: IPS

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate is the frequency at which your screen displays an image per second, measured in Hertz (Hz). A higher refresh rate results in a smoother picture. However, achieving high refresh rates, such as 240 Hz or 360 Hz, depends not only on your monitor but also on your graphics card’s capability to output pixels rapidly.

IPS panels offer refresh rates ranging from the standard 60 Hz up to 360 Hz on the fastest 1080p panels. The highest refresh rate for VA panels is 240 Hz.

Advantage: IPS

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is the luminance ratio between the brightest white and the darkest black produced by a display. A higher contrast ratio results in deeper blacks and increased grayscale detail, enhancing the overall picture quality.

While IPS panels typically have a contrast ratio around the 1,000:1 mark, VA panels can exhibit contrast ratios from 2,000:1 to 3,000:1, and the best panels can reach up to 4,000:1. This advantage becomes more pronounced in dimly lit rooms where “IPS glow” can be an issue.

Advantage: VA

Viewing Angles

IPS panels offer viewing angles of up to 178 degrees, both horizontally and vertically, ensuring minimal colour shifting and picture quality degradation when viewed off-centre. While VA panels have made significant improvements, they still fall slightly short in this regard.

Advantage: IPS

Colour Reproduction

IPS panels generally excel in colour gamut performance, leading to richer colours. Most IPS monitors can cover a higher percentage of the DCI-P3 and sRGB colour gamuts. VA panels, while slightly behind on colour accuracy, perform well in typical gaming scenarios.

Advantage: Tie

Choosing Between IPS and VA Panels: A Gamer’s Dilemma

While it might seem that IPS panels have the upper hand, the choice between IPS and VA panels isn’t cut and dried. Much depends on personal preference, gaming style, and the type of games you play.

LG gaming monitor

For instance, a fast-paced eSports gamer might prefer a speedy 360 Hz IPS display, while a gamer who enjoys slow-paced RTS games could favour a different panel. It’s always a good idea to test out a monitor in person before purchasing if possible.

Here’s a quick recap of IPS vs VA:

Feature IPS VA
Refresh Rate ✔️
Response Time ✔️
Contrast Ratio ✔️
Viewing Angles ✔️
Colour Reproduction ✔️ ✔️

The Final Verdict

Both IPS and VA panels have their unique strengths and shortcomings. IPS panels excel in refresh rate, response time, viewing angles, and colour reproduction. In contrast, VA panels shine with their high contrast ratios. The choice between the two will ultimately depend on your gaming preferences and needs.

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