When buying a display, the type of panel should be kept in mind (not just the resolution and size). More pixels and more screen are great. But it is also important to have good pixels and good screen. Between the two common types of display panels for monitors, IPS offers much better image quality, although a TN may be the best option for some people. I’ll mention the Pros and Cons of each without getting overly technical.
|TN Panel||IPS Panel|
|Relatively washed out colors||Vibrant and accurate colors|
|Colors fade when viewing at angle||Looks great at every viewing angle|
|Good response times and refresh rates.||Relatively less options for gaming monitors.|
|More affordable||A bit more expensive.|
If you want to see what I’m talking about, look at the Macbook Air’s screen versus the newer Macbooks and Macbook Pros. Of course, there’s a difference in resolution, but you can also see the difference in colors.
Of course, that chart was a bit reductive. Not all IPS panels are amazingly beautiful (some are only slightly better than TN’s) and not all TN panels are ugly. And part of this has to due with age. The colors on TN panels have improved in recent years and the ugly TN panels from older displays (from 5+ years ago) shouldn’t necessarily impact your decision. However, in the overall scheme of things, IPS is overall better for visuals: a mediocre IPS monitor has better colors than a good TN monitor.
Which is best for you?
If you have a very tight budget, need any monitor that gets the job done, then a basic $75 TN 1080p monitor is an option. Although, if can spare just another $25-50, you will see some IPS options available.
If you are buying a 4K (or 1440p) monitor so that you can experience good picture quality, go for IPS. Why? If you’re dropping a sizable chunk of money on a high resolution display anyway, you may as well have one with good colors instead of regretting the purchase down the road.
If you are buying a monitor just for documents and office work – not entertainment or visual arts – you may be totally fine with just TN.
If you want to Photoshop or video edit, definitely 100% go for IPS.
If you want to stream TV shows and movies, go for IPS.
Gaming is a difficult matter to discuss. Those who prefer single-player, atmospheric and cinematic games should go for an IPS monitor However, some gamers that enjoy fast-paced action games and competitive multiplayer want high refresh rates so they can get high frame rates. There is a two-fold problem. Monitors which are 1080p, 144 Hz and have an IPS panel are non-existent. There are monitors with both 144 Hz and IPS panel running at 1440p, but expect to pay a hefty $600-800 for them on top of needing a very good video card for that resolution. 1080p TN monitors exist for gaming, they are affordable and it is great for those who mainly want to focus their computing experience for fast-paced games.
As someone who enjoys both gaming and other forms of entertainment, I was split down the middle. I am interested in gaming at high refresh rates, but not at the expense of the visual experience. As result, I am personally going with an IPS panel over 144 Hz. I may have gone with TN if gaming were the only hobby I had, but IPS panels provide for a more well-rounded experience overall.
Here are pictures for basic comparison