What is the difference between the types of LCD panels: IPS, TN or VA

The type panels LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) are not all the same. They have distinct technologies that directly affect the quality of images displayed on screen. In addition, depending on the type of LCD panel used, an electronic device such as a monitor, Smart TV or smartphone can be more or less expensive.

In this article we will talk about the different technologies applied in LCD panels. Are they: IPS, TN and GO. Throughout the article and explanations you will see that each technology has its advantages and disadvantages. And that, therefore, you should consider this information before buying any electronics that have an LCD screen.

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How LCD technology works

Structure of an LCD monitor
Structure of an LCD monitor

Before we talk about the types of LCD panels, we first have to explain how this type of panel works. LCD is an acronym for Liquid Crystal Display or, in free translation, Liquid Crystal Screen.

You Liquid crystals are a type of material that appears simultaneously in liquid and solid states.. The state of these crystals can be changed in several ways, such as temperature, pressure, electric field or magnetic field. It is precisely this versatility of the material that made the industry adopt it on a large scale in the production of screens of all types.

An LCD screen is nothing more than a “sandwich” of several layers. These are the layers that make up an LCD screen:

  • Light source (Backlight);
  • Polarizing filter;
  • glass substrate;
  • TFT (semiconductor material that supplies electricity to liquid crystals);
  • Liquid crystal;
  • RGB color filter;
  • glass substrate;
  • Second polarizing filter;
  • Glass, plastic or protective film.

Every LCD monitor needs a white light source to light the panel evenly. This role is made by “Backlight”. The liquid crystal layer is then powered by the TFT (Thin-Film Transistor). With the liquid crystals illuminated and energized, the images we see on the monitor are then formed through the RGB color filter.

Now that you know the basics of how LCD panels work, let’s explain the different technologies behind them.

IPS technology

LG 22-inch IPS LCD Monitor
LG 22-inch IPS LCD Monitor

IPS means In Plane Switching. In free translation it would be something like “Switching in Plane”. On IPS LCD screens, liquid crystal molecules are aligned horizontally. However, when they receive electrical current, they rotate. This particularity means that, when they receive the light provided by the backlight, they are able to control the intensity and amount of light they will emit. And this directly impacts the colors displayed to the viewer.

This feature makes IPS LCD monitors have a wider color palette than monitors with VA or TN technology. In addition, the color fidelity is also higher.

Another advantage of IPS LCD monitors is that the colors stay the same from any viewing angle. TN-type monitors, for example, when viewed from a more obtuse angle, show color modification. This is not the case with IPS LCD monitors and displays.

IPS LCD monitors don’t suffer from limited viewing angles

However, not everything is flowers. IPS technology cannot reproduce dark tones as well. The black levels aren’t that deep and the contrast ends up suffering. This problem is not found on VA LCD panels, for example. Another disadvantage of the IPS LCD is that the response time of the monitors is usually not that high. In this regard, TN LCD panels present better results.

Therefore, if you are looking for a panel that excels in color display (fidelity and quantity), screens that have an IPS LCD panel are the best choice. So much so that they are the favorites of designers, video editors and also gamers who want a greater level of immersion in games. But this only within the universe of LCD screens, not taking into account other technologies, such as LED.

Advantages and disadvantages

So, here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of IPS LCD panels:

  • Benefits
    • Larger color palette and greater fidelity in color display;
    • Colors do not change under different viewing angles.
  • Disadvantages
    • IPS LCD-type panels are often more expensive than other options;
    • Lower dark tone reproduction than VA LCD panels;
    • Longer response time than TN LCD panels.

TN technology

BenQ TN LCD Monitor
BenQ TN LCD Monitor

TN LCD panels are the oldest. TN stands for Twisted Nematic. Here the liquid crystal molecules are found in a twisted structure between the polarizing filters. Hence the name “twisted”.

Among the advantages of TN LCD panels, we can say that they are much cheaper to produce. And this directly impacts the final price of products that use this type of panel.

In addition, TN-type LCD panels deliver very low response time, of 1 ms or less. Add to that the fact that the refresh rate can reach up to 240 Hz on some models. Therefore, among LCD-type panels, those using TN technology are the most suitable for competitive gamers.

Arrangement of liquid crystals on a TN LCD monitor and an LCD VA

On the other hand, this type of panel presents a smaller color palette. And that can disappoint a large portion of users. not to mention us limited viewing angles. You need to be right in front of the panel to see the images and colors faithfully. If you change the viewing angle a little bit, the colors start to change me, getting darker.

Advantages and disadvantages

Below is a summary of the pros and cons of TN LCD panels.

  • Benefits
    • Cheaper to manufacture, which results in lower priced products;
    • Extremely low response time;
    • High refresh rates;
    • TN LCD monitors are great for competitive gamers.
  • Disadvantages
    • Lower color reproduction and display than IPS LCD and VA LCD models;
    • Limited viewing angles.

VA technology

LG monitor with LCD VA technology

Finally, let’s talk about the latest technology involving LCD panels. The abbreviation VA stands for Vertically Alignedthat is, Vertical Alignment, in good Portuguese. Here, the liquid crystals are aligned vertically, unlike IPS panels, where the molecules are aligned horizontally.

This arrangement makes the VA LCD panels feature the best contrast levels of the trio, with deep blacks. Furthermore, this type of screen does not suffer from limited viewing anglessuch as TN LCD monitors.

VA panels also have a very acceptable color palette. Color reproduction and display is superior to TN LCD panels, but inferior to IPS LCD. Therefore, we can say that it is a middle ground.

LCD monitors with VA technology are good for more general use. Competitive gamers, however, should avoid this type of panel, as the response time and refresh rate are often low.

Advantages and disadvantages

Below is a summary of the pros and cons of VA LCD panels.

  • Benefits
    • It features the best contrast level among the three LCD panel technologies;
    • It does not have a limited viewing angle;
    • Good for more general use.
  • Disadvantages
    • Lower color reproduction and display than IPS LCD models;
    • Low response time and low refresh rates.

But which one is the best of the three?

Comparison between the 3 types of LCD panels

It depends on what you’re looking for and what use you’re going to put the monitor or TV to. If you’ve read the article carefully, you’ll realize that each technology has its pros and cons. So it’s hard to say that one is better than the other.

For example, if you spend most of your time playing competitive games, the TN LCD panel is among the best options. Especially if you’re going to play titles like Counter-Strike, which require quick reflexes and movement. The low response time and high refresh rates will help you get the upper hand on your opponent. However, this type of monitor is not as efficient to play movies and series, for example, as it has a smaller color palette.

If what you expect from an LCD monitor is the highest possible color quality, you should opt for IPS LCD panels.. They have a very wide color palette and can reproduce colors quite faithfully. It is the ideal option for designers, photographers, video editors or simply users who want to watch movies and series in the highest quality.

already the VA LCD panel displays cater to audiences looking for higher contrast but don’t have the money to invest in a monitor with an OLED screen, for example.

The important thing here is not to make an impulse purchase. Carefully review each of the options. See what each monitor or TV offers and see if the price matches the features offered. And, of course, always taking into account your user profile.

Search sources: BenQ, RTings, Samsung Display and TN Panel

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