What Is an IPS Monitor? A Basic Definition

Dell S2719DM IPS monitor

IPS stands for in-plane switching, a type of LED (a form of LCD) display panel technology. IPS panels are characterized as having the best color and viewing angles among the other main types of display panels, TN (twisted nematic) and VA (vertical alignment). However, IPS panels are also the most expensive of the three.

When choosing a PC monitor, you may opt for an IPS panel because of its great image quality. Their best use case is professional (art, graphics et cetera) work. On the other hand, gaming monitor manufacturers tend to opt for TN panels because they're the fastest of the three main LED panel types and are speedy. In fact, for a while it was rare to find an IPS panel with a refresh rate high enough for acceptable gaming (at least 75 Hz, although most gaming monitors offer at least 144 Hz). This is changing, but, again, comes at a premium in terms of price. 

Note that some display may be labeled "IPS-level" or some other variant. This means that the panel was not made by LG and, therefore, the vendor isn't allowed to call the display IPS. However, the technology and end results should appear the same to the naked eye. 

LCD Panel Types

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Row 0 - Cell 0 TNVAIPS
PerformanceFastest: low response times, highest refresh rates, minimal motion blur; Low input lagLongest response times typically; Higher refresh rates possibleSlower response times than TN, faster response times than VA; Gaming-quality refresh rates are rare
DisplayWorst viewing angles;Worst colorViewing angles typically better than TN, worse than IPS; Good color; Best contrast;Best image depthBest viewing angles; Best color
PricingCheapestPricier models can have performance comparable to TNMost expensive
Best UseGamingGeneral UseProfessional

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary.

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Scharon Harding

Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.