​TN, IPS, VA: Which Panel is Best for Your Project?

When it comes to choosing between TN, IPS, or VA displays, Focus offers many options for purchasing panels. Depending on what you or your organization are trying to achieve, one of these display technologies might be preferred. TN stands for twisted nematic, IPS stands for in-plane switching, and VA is Vertical alignment.

Their names refer to the actual alignment of molecules in a liquid crystal display (LCD) and how they change as a voltage is applied. To work, all LCD monitors adjust the alignment of these molecules, but how they do so can significantly impact the image and response time.

The first-ever flat-screen displays used TN displays. They aided in the demise of bulky cathode ray tubes (CRTs). While modern panels are constantly better than their predecessors, TN displays still have some significant flaws. One drawback is the limited viewing angles, especially on the vertical axis. It is not uncommon for the colors on a TN screen to totally invert when viewed from an extreme angle. Their color reproduction is likewise lacking. Most TN dispays cannot display 24-bit true color, so they have to rely on interpolation to get the right hues. When compared to IPS or VA panels, this can result in apparent color banding and lower contrast ratios. Another area where TN panels often fall short is on the range of colors they can display. Wide-gamut TNs, which display the complete sRGB spectrum, are only available on high-end TN panels.

There are several benefits in choosing TN panels, but the major benefit is price. TN panels are the cheapest and one of the most readily available. Another major benefit is that they have the lowest input lag and can handle high refresh rates.

IPS panels are noted for having an excellent black reproduction, which helps to avoid the washed-out appearance that is inherent to TN panels. IPS-type displays were developed to overcome the drawbacks of TN panels, particularly their poor color reproduction and narrow viewing angles. As a result, IPS panels outperform TNs in each of these categories. IPS screens have much better viewing angles than TN panels. Unlike TNs, you will notice virtually little color change when seen from a less-than-ideal angle. IPS panels fall short of the superb contrast ratios seen on VA displays.

VA panels can be effectively considered a hybrid of the TN and IPS technologies. They have the most effective contrast ratios. VAs have noticeably slower response times than TNs. When compared to TNs, VA panels offer far superior color reproduction and, even on lower-end versions, often cover the whole sRGB spectrum.

While we offer a comprehensive variety of displays, we would be happy to provide additional information on which display type would be best for your specific projects.