What Is a TN Display? A Basic Definition

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TN stands for twisted nematic. This is a type of LED (a form of LCD) panel display technology. TN panels are characterized as being the fastest and cheapest among the other main types of display panels, VA (vertical alignment) and IPS (in-plane switching). As such, they work great for gaming monitors and gaming laptops. However, TN panels also offer the worst viewing angles and color when compared to VA and IPS panels.

You can see how TN panels work in the photo above:

  1. Vertical filter film polarizes light as it enters.
  2. Glass substrate useS electrodes. The electrodes' shapes decide which dark shapes will display when the monitor is on. Vertical ridges are carved onto the surface, so liquid crystals line up with the polarized light.
  3. Twisted nematic liquid crystals.
  4. Glass substrate with common electrode film uses horizontal ridges to allign with the horizontal filter.
  5. A horizontal filTer film blocks or allows light to pass through.
  6. A reflective surface sends light back to you.

Common Types of LCD Panels:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

Further reading:

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.