IPS vs LED monitors – what is the difference?
Different screen technologies explained
When it comes to upgrading to a new gaming monitor, it’s important to know what the screen technology is and what would be best for your gaming needs. There are many factors you need to consider when purchasing a new monitor – resolution, panel type, refresh rates, response times, and backlight technology are all specifications that should come into the equation. However, if you aren’t fully up to speed with the latest monitor tech, all these terms and technologies can become a little confusing. So, IPS Vs. LED – what are they and what is the difference?
With quite a variety of different screen technologies available to gamers, it is important to be able to differentiate the major difference of IPS Vs. LED monitors and that is where WePC comes in.
Before we go over the main differences, let us first look at the basics of what IPS and LED screen technologies are.
IPS vs LED monitors: Video
What is IPS?
Let’s start at the top – what is IPS?
IPS stands for in-plane switching and is a type of panel technology for LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors. IPS monitors have historically offered superior image quality and viewing angles when compared to TN and VA alternatives.
IPS monitors are also characterized as having the best color accuracy too, making them a great option for those who do more than just game. As you might expect, the added benefits of an IPS monitor also bring about extra costs, making them (on average) the most expensive out of the different panel technologies.
Best IPS gaming monitor
ASUS ROG SWIFT PG32UQX
3840 x 2160
“The new 4K 144Hz high-performance gaming monitor offers everything you could want to take your gaming experience to the next level. That includes a speedy 4ms GTG response time, G-SyncUltimate certification, VESA DisplayHDR1400, and an absolute tonne of game-tailored features too. Alongside some impressive top-line specs, the PG32UQX also becomes the ‘World’s first Mini LED Gaming Monitor’ – providing 1152 dimming zones for an even more impressive HDR experience. ASUS says the PG32UQX has been factory pre-calibrated to an Average DeltaE of >2, with a wide color gamut that covers 160% sRGB and 98% DCI-P3 color spectrums.”
What Is An IPS Monitor
Simply put, an IPS monitor is one that comes equipped with an IPS panel. The technology, as mentioned above, has its own unique set of benefits – which often lead to an increased price tag over the alternatives. Having said that, we’ll be going into more detail regarding the intricate differences between TN, VA, and IPS further down the article. Before we do, let’s take a look at LED.
What’s An LED Technology Monitor?
LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a type of backlight technology with displays. This display technology utilizes LEDs to light up each pixel’s content. LED technology monitors offer a brighter display while consuming less power than others.
All LED monitors are technically LCD monitors but not all LCD monitors are LED. This may seem confusing but basically, both types of displays use liquid crystals to help create an image, with the difference being the backlight.
LED monitors are often less expensive, feature a broader dimming range, generally considered quite reliable, feature a higher dynamic contrast ratio, and are less impactful on the environment.
Best designer IPS monitor
BenQ PD3220U DesignVue Designer Monitor
3840 x 2160
“The BenQ Pd3220U is a fantastic 4K monitor for designers that need great color accuracy right out of the box. Pair its 4K native screen resolution with an extremely wide color gamut (100%sRGB, 95% DCI-P3) for one of the best designer experiences on the market. Furthermore, with an extensive selection of inputs, a fully ergonomic stand, and great build quality – it’s really hard to knock any part of this monitor.Despite its large price tag, we feel the BenQ PD3220U showcases great value for money – displaying all the characteristics needed for creative types.”
IPS And LED Monitors: What Are The Key Differences?
Now that we have a better understanding of what IPS and LED monitors are known for, let’s look at the areas in which they differ:
Starting off with the main area they differ, IPS Monitors are types of Panel Technology. LED Monitors, on the other hand, are Backlight Technologies.
Although they differ in technology, both can be compatible enough to work together. Until around 2014, plasma displays were the most commonly manufactured until LCD took over. It is worth pointing out, again, that LED and IPS monitor both use LCD (liquid crystal displays).
IPS monitors deliver specific quality images, which means they need more power to keep up with all the on-screen activity.
LED monitors may show brighter screens but they actually consume less power compared to IPS monitors. This is what makes LED monitors a more common LCD backlight technology today.
In the past, it was fair to say an IPS monitor had a much longer response time, but recent releases have shown a dramatic decrease in this, with top models shipping with as low as 1ms. IPS monitors were marketed towards consumers where a slower response time wasn’t a priority, with LED monitors usually being favored by competitive FPS players.
LED monitors, usually with TN or VA panels, feature low 1ms response times but with the viewing angles and color accuracy being worse, we see more and more competitive players moving to IPS as the technology improves.
Can you really notice a slow response time? While 5-10ms may seem small, fast-paced games like CS:GO, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, Fortnite, Overwatch 2, and other FPS games in general, will show noticeable differences. This is because the IPS monitor has to process the images accordingly before throwing them back to the monitor.
Now monitors have it all, blistering response times, high-quality IPS panels, 240Hz+ refresh rates, and more, giving gamers the full package for their viewing pleasure.
IPS Monitor Refresh Rates
Like response times, IPS panels were historically much slower than TN and VA alternatives. They seemed to focus more heavily on color accuracy, viewing angles, and color gamut – whereas TN would prioritize speed. That said, and as monitor technology continues to evolve, IPS monitors are closing the gap between themselves and other panel technologies in terms of speed.
Nowadays, IPS monitors can offer upto 360Hz refresh rates, becoming some of the fastest on the market. Pair that with low 1ms response times – thanks to Over Drive and MPRT – and you have an incredibly responsive, color accurate panel.
Factors to consider with an IPS Display
No matter which angle you are looking from, IPS monitors allow you to see the monitor from wide angles (178° to be exact), without seeing color shifting. This means you can look at the monitor anywhere and not worry about changes in color.
LED monitors may not have the advantage of wide viewing angles but you can guarantee you’ll get a brighter screen in all corners.
With the IPS technology delivering clear and crisp images through their vibrant colors, alongside better color consistency too, you get a much more satisfying experience.
LED monitors tend to be poor at accurate reproduction of the color black but still have deep contrasts. The viewing angle of an LED monitor will also be poor, which can play havoc if you aren’t sat directly in front of it, making the colors look rather peculiar. Viewing angles don’t really matter when it comes to gaming so if you are sat directly in front you probably won’t notice much difference between the two technologies.
Without a doubt, IPS monitors are expensive across the board. Despite this, gamers find LCD LED monitors to be a great investment, especially for FPS titles or if you are on a budget.
For those into single-player AAA games or if you create content, video edit, or edit imagery, it is advisable you invest in an IPS monitor, for clear and crispy results.
As previously mentioned, IPS monitors consume much more power, delivering clear images. This extra power consumption means these types also give off more heat than their LED monitor counterparts.
Despite LED monitors featuring a much brighter display, they still boast lower power consumption and lower heat output.
They may differ in technology but you can see a handful that features a combination of the two technologies:
- LCD monitors that utilize IPS panels paired with LED lights as the backlight
- LED-backlit displays feature in IPS panel or TN panels
- IPS panels utilize either LED or LCD backlight technology
Is IPS good for gaming?
IPS is great for gaming, but the benefits it brings to the desk aren’t really thought of as essentials for certain types of gaming. If you’re into competitive FPS for instance, you’re unlikely to appreciate the lush colors of IPS, nor will you be viewing your monitor from an angle. You’ll be front and center slingin’ out headshots left and right!
This kind of gamer is more interested in a fast rather than luscious display. TA panels, for example, tend to have snappier response times and faster refresh rates. Higher refresh rates combined with a powerful GPU mean boosted frames per second, and if you’ve got a frames per second advantage on your opponent, you’re bound to claim that ‘W’.
Having said that, modern IPS monitors more often than not go toe to toe with TA in terms of refresh rates; however, due to the advanced picture quality, they’re far more expensive.
The stronghold IPS has always held is graphically intense, visually stunning gaming – think RDR2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Valhalla, even Skyrim to a certain extent. These kinds of open-world adventure titles are all about immersive gaming experiences, and IPS paneling does the best job of thinning the boundaries between real and gaming worlds.
IPS monitors are also great for the gamers out there that don’t necessarily enjoy the whole gaming chair thing. It’s cool if you’re into that, but some of us just like to kick back and play from bed or from a different angle.
Is IPS better for your eyes?
IPS monitors are considered to be the better, healthier choice for your eyes. No matter how acute your viewing angle may be, color stays vivid and refined, and lines stay lovely and crisp. Say, for example, you’ve invited a few friends over to watch a movie on your computer, even those sitting at the very edge of the room will have a clear view of the picture.
VA panels aren’t bad either, but other panel types will exhibit shifting color and drastically modified contrast when viewed from anywhere other than dead center, which can lead to your eyes overworking to make sense of the picture. Eventually, this extra labor takes its toll on your peepers, causing eye strain and possibly even headaches.
IPS panels also offer more consistent brightness from edge to edge, which can really help your eyes cope with those monster sessions behind the desk.
Are VA panels better than IPS?
VA panels are considered to be a sort of compromise between other panel types. Not that they’re bad, just that they share some good attributes of other panels. For example, VA viewing angles and color profiles are almost on par with IPS monitors, and their response times are similar to TA panels.
Of course, the old adage, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, couldn’t be more relevant in this situation. It does a little bit of everything respectably but does no one thing as well as the specialist monitor types.
In addition, IPS panelling has come on leaps and bounds since its inception, and it’s not really plagued by low response times anymore, making them a very enticing prospect for gamers, creatives, and professionals looking for a quality workstation.
Do IPS Monitors get burn in?
While IPS panels tend to have a very even and crisp brightness corner to corner, they’re not totally invulnerable to burn in…or are they? Technically, the ghost image that may develop on an IPS LCD isn’t burn in.
Burn in refers only to the instance in a CRT monitor when the phosphorus coating is burned away by electron beams. That said, burn in or no, the problem is the same. Within the context of IPS LEDs, it’s referred to as image persistence. Remember earlier when we mentioned that the molecules in LCDs have two states or behaviors? Well, image persistence occurs when the molecules are unable to transfer back to their relaxed, unstructured state when exposure to electrical current has passed.
Don’t worry though, folks; it’s an easy fix. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, by displaying a full white screen for up to an hour, the molecules are all massaged back into their natural state.
IPS vs LED monitor FAQs
Is IPS Monitor LED or LCD?
IPS monitors are an LCD (liquid crystal display) design, but as we mentioned earlier, LED monitors also use an LCD to create images. The difference being that IPS LCD monitors use fluorescent panels as backlighting, while LEDs use, you’ve guessed it…light-emitting diodes as backlighting.
Technically, LED displays should be referred to as LED LCDs. It’d clear up a lot of confusion for the consumer, but in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog-world, who has time for three extra letters?
What is an LCD? Put simply, it’s composed of molecules with two behavior types. Normally, they’re dense and unstructured, but when exposed to electricity, they expand into a highly organized and equal form.
How long do IPS panels last?
Here’s one area LED displays have an edge. IPS panels tend to last roughly 50,000 hours, which equates to 6 years or thereabout. That’s a pretty decent service life, especially these days when tech moves at the speed of light. There’s a good chance that after 6 years with the same monitor, you’ll be positively itching to upgrade anyway.
LEDs, on the other hand, have a lifespan between 80,000 and 120,000 hours. Assuming we use our computers eight hours a day, we’re looking at a maximum service life of around 20 years, which is nuts, and frankly, unnecessary. Due to advancements in both games and components over a two decade period, that geriatric monitor wouldn’t be compatible with any other hardware.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that the lifespan of your monitor, no matter what display type, is largely determined by the quality of its parts and design. An IPS monitor that you got for a song won’t last as long as the top-tier model you could only dream of affording.
After looking at the differences between IPS and LED types of technologies, it doesn’t really feel fair to compare the two. After all, one is a type of LCD panel, and the other a type of LCD backlight, the bottom line is they are different.
Regardless, IPS monitors are perfect for graphical games, creating content, or professionals that edit imagery and videos. The sharp image display and quality colors may be perfect for gaming but it may not be worth it for pure competitive FPS players.
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