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The joy of gaming has become part of mainstream culture today and a lot of manufacturers have been battling over the years for your hard earned money. To get the best out of your gameplay experience, having the best screen to display eye-popping graphics is essential.
Different LCD panel types have their own advantages and disadvantages and we’re here to help you choose if you haven’t decided yet which screen is best for your gaming needs. There are 2 popular types of panels today a lot of gamers have different opinions about and we’ll be discussing these two in this quick article.
VA vs IPS | Which Display to Pick for Gaming
VA’s, or vertical alignment panels offer superior contrast ratio but suffer from a narrow viewing angle. IPS panels meanwhile (In-plane switching) provide a wide viewing angle but a reduced contrast ratio. Vertical Alignment screens are generally more affordable than IPS panels but they have a slower response time. IPS panels on the other hand have a high refresh rate which makes it ideal for gamers looking for a fluid experience.
Vertical Alignment Panel
A screen that utilizes a VA panel has liquid crystals aligned in a vertical direction to a glass substrate that creates a black state when polarized light passes through the cells. Because of this, VA panels provide you with a better contrast ratio when compared to other display panels. The only drawback VA panels have is they have narrow viewing angles which will only provide a great viewing experience when sitting straight at the display.
VA panels are still the popular display among many due to their affordability and good black uniformity. However, as more games have become competitive especially online, the need for a display with a faster response time has become pronounced which made IPS panels a great alternative among gamers. If you’re looking for a screen with a great contrast ratio, then VA panels are definitely the one for you. VA monitors still provide a good gaming experience on most games even with a slower response time when compared to IPS panels so this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most casual gamers.
In-Plane Switching Panel
IPS panels let you have a wider viewing angle for you and the family due to the structure of the crystals and placement of electrodes compared to VA panels. IPS panels have a better picture quality and you’ll notice very little difference in color reproduction even when you’re sitting at a wide-angle from the display. One of the drawbacks of having this quality is that IPS panels are known to do a poor job of displaying a brighter image when the subject is in a backdrop of a completely black screen.
You’ll also notice a peculiar instance called “IPS glow” that makes the screen have certain light patches on the corners of the screen. This particular phenomenon happens when excessive light passes through the screen causing the glow. Even with this type of drawback, IPS panels are highly popular among gamers as it has a high refresh rate compared to other panels. Some of the high-end IPS monitors deliver incredibly low response times of one to two milliseconds which is great for competitive gaming. This means that online games with leaderboards like shooters, sim racing, and fighting games that require quick reaction time will give gamers the slight advantage when using an IPS panel.
What are the differences in refresh rates between VA and IPS panels?
For gamers looking for a dedicated monitor for their games, most VA panels have a standard refresh rate of 60Hz. You’ll find options that offer a higher 120Hz refresh rate or more but they’re usually more expensive and will still be a bit more restricted when it comes to games that support the feature. A higher refresh rate may not be an issue for console gamers as most games on the console work at 30FPS so a 60Hz panel should be fine. PC gamers on the other hand will definitely balk at the thought of playing games with slower response times making IPS panels an enticing proposition.
The latest IPS monitors now support up to 144Hz and are becoming popular to a lot of competitive gamers as more shooters, sim racing, and fighting games are being released yearly. These high-end monitors are really expensive which is a bummer to a lot of players who don’t have a lot of budget to begin with. Nonetheless, both panels have their own advantages and disadvantages and sometimes you’ll also have to depend on the games compatibility in order to choose between the two.
How do you compare the picture quality of VA and IPS panels?
When taking a break on gaming, IPS displays are generally the better choice for watching with friends and loved ones due to its wider viewing angles. The picture is also really great on gaming monitors as you’re usually seated up close where IPS displays provide impressive image and color accuracy. This type of panel has the highest color range so games with a lot of vivid and beautiful art design will really pop on this type of screen.
One of the advantages VA panels have over IPS is when playing or watching in dimly-lit places or when gaming at night. As they have a greater contrast when compared to IPS panels, VA monitors do a really good job of providing detailing in the difference between light and dark colors. You’ll especially notice it when playing horror games as the color range will provide a sharper image due to its higher contrast.
Are there other panels besides VA and IPS?
A lot of manufacturers have created different types of LED TV’s with their own unique characteristics to compete with VA and IPS panels. One of these is an OLED which doesn’t use a backlight and has its own self-emitting pixels that individually turn on and off creating perfect blacks. This makes for perfect black uniformity so there’s no blooming issues compared to other LED TV’s. OLED viewing angles are sometimes even wider than IPS panels making them a great choice for wide seating arrangements.
The primary disadvantage that seems to make gamers think twice with getting OLED screens is that they’re notorious for having permanent burn-in issues for games with static elements. If this is a cause for concern, LED TV’s appear to be immune to burn-in so get them instead.
Lastly, some manufacturers, like Samsung, have released quantum dot TV’s (QLED) in 2015 and are also becoming a popular choice for gamers. It utilizes a quantum dot layer to achieve a wider color gamut that enhances the characteristics of the panel whether its VA or IPS.
The difference between VA and IPS panels lies in the alignment of their liquid crystals. This in turn provides an entirely different performance in terms of picture quality but neither panel is inherently superior to the other. VA screens are ideal for mixed usage such as playing games, watching movies, and normal office or home use. IPS screens meanwhile are more suited for photo and video editors, programmers, and digital artists due to its wider color coverage and more vibrant colors on the screen. IPS monitors also have a slight advantage in its refresh rate so they’re better suited for competitive online games.