IPS vs TN monitors: Which is best for you?

ASUS Vivomini
ASUS Vivomini

Buying a PC monitor involves a lot of jargon that you have to cut through before making your purchase. You've specs like response time and refresh rate to consider, color gamut, contrast ratio, and even the type of panel. When it comes to panel tech, two popular terms you'll see are TN and IPS.

Both are different types of monitor for different types of buyer. But which should you get?

The case for a TN monitor

AOC AGON AG27

AOC AGON AG27 (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

TN stands for Twisted Nematic and these are the most commonly used panels in PC monitors. Two of the biggest benefits of TN panels are lightning fast response times and a low cost.

Many gaming monitors, particularly those used in a competitive environment, will still be TN-based because the can achieve a 1ms response time that's currently unreachable for IPS technology.

What you need to know about PC monitor response times

It also costs less for a TN monitor compared to an IPS. The viewing angles and colors aren't as good, but if you're sitting straight on and don't depend on color accuracy, the cheaper asking price might be a worthy trade-off. You can still go all the way up to 4K resolution, and the latest and greatest panels have a ridiculously fast refresh rate up to 240Hz. IPS monitors aren't that fast yet.

What you need to know about monitor refresh rates

The case for an IPS monitor

Monitors

Monitors (Image credit: Windows Central)

IPS stands for In Plane Switching and it's the type of display technology that you'll see most commonly on your smartphone.

A quick summary (opens in new tab):

IPS is typically more expensive, but produces much higher display quality, with better colors and much better viewing angles.

The viewing angles, in particular, are one of the top reasons you wouldn't want a TN panel on your phone. IPS displays just generally look better over all. So if you're anybody working in any sort of visual media or just want your home photos and videos to really pop, then you'll definitely benefit from the richer colors.

There are high-quality IPS monitors available aimed at gamers, too, but generally speaking the response times are lower on IPS displays than on TN. On an IPS monitor typically you'll be looking at 4ms and above, though you can still get both high resolution and G-Sync or FreeSync, along with fast refresh rates.

IPS monitors are also usually more expensive than their TN counterparts, but the value proposition is still fairly high when you compare the technical benefits against the increased cost.

Which should you get?

LG Ultrawide Monitor

LG Ultrawide Monitor (Image credit: Windows Central)

It boils down to two main points: Your primary use and your budget. If you're a gamer or someone on a tight budget, then a TN monitor will likely be your best bet. They're easily the cheapest and offer both the lowest response time and highest refresh rates.

IPS monitors may well be more expensive but the quality is higher and the colors are much better, as are viewing angles. This is important to consider if you're ever looking at your monitor anything other than dead straight on. They're the best all-round choice, especially for creatives, and refresh rates are getting higher.

Helping you choose

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

4 Comments
  • If money isn't as much of a concern... Get the best of both worlds... I have a ASUS PG279Q monitor that has a response time of 4ms with a resolution of 2560x1440 at 165Hz... The monitor is gorgeous and I play a lot of FPS and don't see the difference (in response time) from the BENQ 120Hz TN panel I was rocking before it. One of the biggest decisions I see these days is if people feel the G-Sync is worth the money or just to find a FreeSync monitor.
  • This is starting to scare me now, Windows Central.
    Everything I have searched for in the last week has suddenly had an article written about it... 😳
  • I have a 27inch IPS Hanns-g, quailtiy is really good, certainly for the price, i am looking at getting a 4K one at some point, not sure if I will go with Hanns-g for that as the reviews have not been great, shame really as myine is really good. 
    I can tell the difference between this IP screen and my old TN  one, whicg was also produced by Hanns-G
  • VA panel with QLED for wide color gamut, excellent contrast.
    IPS have that boring glow when whatching dark movies in the dark. TN can't just compete when it comes to image quality.