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Monitor IPS vs VA (2021): Which Monitor is Right for You?

LCD monitors used to be a luxury, but nowadays, they’re accessible to everyone. This hasn’t stopped engineers from trying to find ways to innovate in different ways, from improving viewing angles to lessening power usage. A quick look at online shops will confirm that any customer looking for a new LCD monitor won’t be deprived of choices, whether it be active-matrix display type or brand.

With a ton of choices, though, comes a heavier burden of making a truly informed choice. What’s the difference between, say, an in-panel switching (IPS) monitor like the Sceptre E248B-FPT168 and a vertical alignment (VA) model like the AOC 24G2? Keep reading to find out how exactly the two monitor types work, and how they compare in terms of display quality and performance.

IPS vs VA Monitor Comparison Chart

TechnologyIPSVA
 Sceptre IPS 24” Gaming Monitor 165Hz 144Hz Full HD (1920 x 1080) FreeSync Eye Care FPS RTS...AOC 24G2 24' Frameless Gaming IPS Monitor, FHD 1080P, 1ms 144Hz, Freesync, HDMI/DP/VGA, Height...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ModelSceptre E248B-FPT168AOC 24G2
Model Size24.5″24″
Refresh RateUp to 240HzUp to 200Hz
Viewing AnglesMore flexibleLimited, but with no “IPS glow”
Adaptive Sync SuppportYesYes
Response Timesas fast as 4msas fast as 5ms
Input Lagas fast as ~1msas fast as ~1ms

VA Monitors

VA monitors attempt to give you the best of both worlds.

This AOC VA model comes with a tall stand, which is perfect for those whose eye level is higher.

Liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, have been around since the 60’s, with the discovery of the twisted-nematic (TN) effect being one of the first innovations in the field. Ever since the popularization of LCD, a lot of different pixel configurations have been developed. One of these is vertical alignment (VA), which has gained a reputation for being the middle ground between TN and IPS screens in terms of specs. It doesn’t suffer from viewing angles as restrictive as TN screens, but it also can’t offer the same lightning speed when it comes to response time and input lag. In fact, some users even note that VAs should be avoided for competitive gaming, since it’s vulnerable to motion blur and ghosting.

It also has better contrast ratios than IPS monitors. However, it doesn’t quite beat an IPS display’s color fidelity, nor is it as flexible when it comes to viewing angles. Those tradeoffs do come, though, with a lower price tag. VA monitors wear their “jack of all trades” badge with pride, which can attract some but repel other customers. Because of this reputation, most people tend to go for either TN or IPS displays.

IPS Monitors

The way IPS panels are made ensure excellent color fidelity.

IPS monitors are the best at color.

While VAs try to straddle the fine line between color quality and speed, in-plane switching (IPS) screens go all in on just one. IPS panels were specifically created to have better color reproduction and wider viewing angles compared to the earlier LED screen type using twisted nematic (TN) displays (see our comparison here). Compared to VAs, they still hold an advantage when it comes to color fidelity. Colors do pop more on IPS screens, though VA models are quickly catching up.

This advantage that IPS monitors have is due to the difference in technology. IPS pixels are parallel while VA pixels, as the name suggests, are aligned vertically in a perpendicular manner. For this reason, IPS remains the panel of choice for professional graphic artists, designers, and other creators.

Display

IPS displays remain the king of color.

A side-by-side of AOC’s VA (left) and Sceptre’s IPS (right) monitors.

As mentioned earlier in this article, VAs simply can’t beat the focused design of an IPS monitor when it comes to color fidelity. IPS has more vibrant displays, which is expected since most 10-bit native displays are IPS-based. Neither TN nor VA displays can support it as widely as IPS can, with even modern TNs being stuck with 6-bit panels. Bit numbers in panels affect how smoothly color gradients can look, meaning that more bits means better color output. One thing that VAs have over IPS displays, though, is contrast. VAs have a contrast ratio from 2000:1 up to 4500:1, compared to IPS’ highest limit at 1500:1. Better contrast ratios give you richer black displays and less washed-out greys.

IPS monitors also support the widest gamut of colors out of the three choices we’ve touched on so far. Even entry-level IPS monitors support 95% sRGB, and most other IPS choices stick to full sRGB. For professionals who have more demanding needs for a monitor, high-end IPS monitors include choices that support full DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB coverage. All these technical differences explain why even the simplest monitor reviews recognize IPS displays’ color superiority.

Performance and Value

VAs are more flexible, but this makes them less efficient at certain jobs.

A look at the VA (left) and IPS (right) displays’ back panels.

To get to the point right away, you will end up paying more for an IPS monitor. That extra fee does come with advantages and, depending on your line of work, it may be the difference between a satisfied client and one that won’t return. If you do content creation or a lot of photo and video editing, an IPS monitor is for you. Its accurate colors and wider gamut support will ensure that your output is as close to your intended look as possible. If you need a monitor with unbeatable color quality and coverage, IPS monitors are a must-buy.

However, if you’re more of a passive user and don’t really deal with colors that much, all that might not be necessary. However, you might still want more vibrant colors and contrast than a TN can provide without breaking your bank for a monitor. In that case, a VA display will serve you well. It’s still great for gaming, but suits people who are more into single-player games than competitive multiplayer esports players.

Verdict

Know your usage situation, since your choice will heavily rely on it.

IPS monitors are essential for those who work a lot with creatives. Its wider color gamut coverage and higher bit panels give you the most vibrant colors that a screen can currently have. This ensures that any photos or other graphics you’re working on will look on-screen exactly like it would once it’s finalized for other use.

VA monitors, on the other hand, are best for those who want to get the good sides of both TNs and IPS monitors. They have the best contrast out of the three, are generally quicker than an IPS, and have better color coverage and display quality than a TN. If those specs are something essential for you and you want the absolute best a specialized screen can give, go for either an IPS or a TN. However, if you want a little bit of both and can be satisfied with something workable (but not necessarily terrible), a VA monitor remains a good, if underappreciated, pick.

FAQs

📌 Do monitors need IPS?

Monitors don’t need IPS; some displays use different tech like TN, VA, or even LED.

📌 Is VA or IPS better for gaming?

Neither is quite recommendable for competitive gaming since they still aren’t as speedy as TNs. If you’re not a competitive player, IPS screens might be better for you since they’re more likely to have high refresh rates.

📌 Is VA panel better than IPS?

VA panels have an advantage over IPS when it comes to contrast, meaning it gives you deeper black displays than an IPS can.

📌 Do VA panels burn in?

There haven’t been any complaints about static screen elements burning in on either VA or IPS displays.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mauie Flores

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying, blogger and content creator passionate about writing, music, and good food.