Panel Types

While the term panel is sometimes used as slang to refer to a computer monitor, the panel is actually the surface inside the display. This surface can have a very large impact on the performance of your monitor. Since CRT monitors are an extinct technology and LCD has taken over, LCD panels are 99% of the market currently.  Consequently, we’ll only be looking at LCD panels in the discussion below

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TN (Twisted Nematic)

Most monitors are TN panels. They’re cheap to produce and relatively fast, making them a common choice for a budget gaming monitor. They’re appreciated by gamers for fast response times without a huge price tag. 

On the downside, TN panels have poor color reproduction relative to other types of panels, and poor viewing angles compared to PLS and IPS. Most TN panel displays are 60 Hz, but some make it up towards 120 Hz, which can display 3D content, and typically produce a 2 ms or faster response time.

IPS (in-plane switching)

IPS panels have better viewing angles and color reproduction. Usually that means a considerably higher price tag as well as a slower response time. For professionals doing video editing, where near-perfect color reproduction is worthwhile, IPS panels are the go-to choice. IPS are also a worthy consideration as a monitor for movie-fanatics, because many people find the deeply accurate color reproduction to be immersive. 

PLS (plane-to-line switching)

These panels basically take the traits of an IPS and improve them. That means you get wider viewing angles, more accurate color reproduction, and usually a price tag to match. Response times are comparable to TN panels. That means PLS panels are expensive but powerful monsters, perfectly suited for the bottomless wallets of the world.

VA (Vertical Alignment)

VA monitors are a middle-ground between IPS and TN. They have stronger color reproduction and viewing angles than you’ll get with a TN panel, but they’re not quite up to the level of an IPS. Many people who are displeased with the color and viewing angle limitations of TN panels view VA panels are the future.

VA panels often have better contrast than IPS because of better black levels. Many people have noticed VA seems less prone to backlight bleed as well. However, one downside to VA is there are slower response times are slower than IPS, which means ghosting and input lag issues will be abound.

Whatever Suits Your Needs

Not everyone will need a fancy IPS panel. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember is that accurate and rich colors are something anyone can appreciate. While it’s true that higher refresh rates and response times are mostly for gamers, and these higher accuracy colors are mostly for professionals and media-lovers, panel type is a macro-level feature where just about anyone can tell the difference with a cursory side-by-side comparison of two different panels.  Panel type matters.