[Guide] Things to Consider When Buying a Computer Monitor

Source: Jorge Ramirez, Unsplash

A while ago we made a list of monitors that you could buy from for gaming or other purposes. This time around let us dive a little deeper into the various kinds of monitors available and which one would be suitable for your needs.

Types of monitor panels

The roots of all monitors are based on the same technology, TFT LCD (thin-film transistor liquid crystal display). They are further divided into three different categories,

  1. IPS (In-plane switching)
  2. TN (Twisted nematic)
  3. VA (Vertical alignment)
va vs tn vs ips
Source: Display Ninja

IPS: Best colours paired with best viewing angles

IPS panels are praised for providing very accurate colours. The viewing angles on these panels are also very accurate and so IPS monitors not only make good gaming monitors but also very good media consumption devices. IPS monitors provide around 95% to 100% of DCI-P3, the widest colour gamut, used and recognized in the actual Film industries. The contrast ratio of IPS panels is 1000:1.

If colour is your priority then you should be looking at IPS monitors as they will give you accurate colours. For those who like to play games on high graphics or at least the graphics, the developers intended them to be played on, IPS is the best choice. With the advancement of technology, you can get IPS panels with a refresh rate of 165Hz and 1-2 ms. There are also IPS monitors that now provide a 240Hz refresh rate.

If you also carry out tasks like video/photo editing and want an overall best monitor this is what you should get. But if you want the highest FPS with minimal response times let’s move towards the VA panels.

TN: Old but black gold?

TN panels are the oldest of the lot and they were the first mass-produced flat-screen monitors. They are the reason we were able to bid adieu to the bulky cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

Being the oldest, they’re cheap to produce in comparison to others and hence are available at lower prices. The colour reproduction is not very good, the black levels however are deeper than the rest. The contrast ratio is 1000:1 but because the colours aren’t that great the overall appeal is not very high for performing tasks other than gaming.

The viewing angles are nowhere close to IPS monitors but they make up for it by providing the highest refresh rates and lowest response times of under 1ms. If you are aiming towards purchasing a gaming monitor you can’t go wrong with a TN panel as the speeds are unmatched and this leads to a buttery-smooth experience. If you are into competitive shooters, MOBA, or any games where every millisecond matters this will help you get those high frame rates without any ghosting issues.

VA: Jack of being fast and has the best contrast

So, the VA panels are somewhere between IPS and TN panels. The colours on the VA panels are not quite up to the mark with IPS panels but they are better than TN panels. Most TV manufactures use VA panels for their TVs. This is because the contrast ratio they provide is 3000:1 and also at times 6000:1 making them great monitors to consume HDR content on.

The viewing angles are again not as good as IPS but they are close. They have the highest response times of around 3-5ms and they can provide up to a 200Hz refresh rate.

If you like to play a variety of games and are not stuck to a single genre then this is the panel you should consider. It checks all the boxes and will also be a great multimedia consumption device.

What is monitor ghosting?

Ghosting on monitors is an image artifact that appears as a trail of pixels behind a moving object, almost like a motion blur. To check the effect of ghosting on your monitor, you can visit this website. It will detect the refresh rate of your monitor and show you a moving image on different backgrounds.

Ghosting in Games: What is ghosting in video games & how to fix/prevent it?
Source: Reddit

Ghosting on monitors isn’t an issue that will cause any permanent damage to your screen unlike screen burn-in. This can be caused due to a loose cable connection or unoptimized monitor settings.

We usually see ghosting on monitors with higher response times. Usually, the VA panels are reported to have ghosting issues in comparison to TN or IPS panels. This does not mean that all VA panels will have this issue. The VA panels we get now do not necessarily have ghosting issues as they have been optimized well.

What is response time?

For monitors, response time is the time taken to shift from one colour to another. This is usually measured in the time it takes to go from black to white back again to black expressed in milliseconds (ms). However, there is also gray-to-gray (GtG) and sometimes even just black-to-white.

Ghosting in Video Games because of refresh rate from Techy Nickk
Source: ViewSonic

This might be a little complicated to understand. LCD panels have a response time of less than 10ms to go from black to white to black. As we have seen above the technology today is very advanced and we have response times of lower than 1ms. All you need to understand is the lower the response time the better it is for gaming as it won’t encounter ghosting or other issues.

What is refresh rate?

The refresh rate of the monitor refers to how many times per second can your display render a new image. If the refresh rate is 144Hz it means your monitor will refresh the image 144 times in a second which is a lot more when compared to 30Hz which will show an image for only 30 times.

Refresh rate chart illustration concept
Source: Intel

The naked human eye can not notice this in a single second but when you move from a 60Hz monitor to a higher 120Hz monitor you will see a significant difference. If at all you move back to a 60Hz monitor it will feel sluggish even when it is functioning totally fine.


These are all the basics you should keep in mind before buying a monitor. Now that you are aware of the differences between the various panels available in the market you have an idea about what suits best to your needs.

If you have any other doubts or suggestions you can leave them in the comments and we will help you.

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