It’s an exciting time to be a PC gamer! Gaming monitors keep growing with new features and ever-increasing capabilities. But it’s not just about deciding on screen size. You also have to throw things into the mix like resolution and overall screen technology. This makes choosing the right one complicated – IPS and LED are not opposing technologies. Rather, IPS is a type of display panel, while LED is a type of backlighting for displays. They work together to enhance the quality of a monitor. Knowing the difference between IPS vs LED for gaming makes finding the right monitor easier.
What is IPS?
Brace yourself because we’re about throw a cascade of acronyms at you:
IPS (In-Plane Switching) is a type of LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology. It’s the result of several issues with the TN (Twisted Nematic) and VA (Vertical Alignment) panels that came before it in the 80s and 90s. IPS technology has even expanded to a spectrum of variants, including S-IPS, H-IPS, e-IPS, P-IPS and AH-IPS.
Although IPS often gets compared to TN and VA variants, the primary benefit of IPS is superior image quality, vibrant colors, with the best color accuracy from every viewing angle compared to TN and VA panels. Making IPS a superior option for video and photo editing. And the stable response times makes playing your favorite games a satisfying experience.
As you shop IPS monitors, you’ll find that the technology can be integrated into ultra-wide and curved gaming monitors. Below we go into the benefits of IPS in more detail.
Better Viewing Angles
No matter what angle you’re looking at an IPS monitor from (178-degrees to be exact), colors don’t shift. This means you can look at the monitor from anywhere when you’re gaming without the colors changing on you.
This feature also comes in handy if your gaming monitor will be pulling dual duty with photography or video editing.
Improved Color Accuracy
Color accuracy refers to how faithful a panel is able to reproduce colors. Also known as color fidelity, IPS panels support 8-bit color reproduction often making them the best deals. This type of gaming monitor can display more shades of primary colors without any issues. So that whatever you see looks accurate.
Enhanced Color Gamut
IPS panels also accommodate a wider color gamut. A gamut is the subset of colors a monitor is capable of showing. Color gamut standards that tell you how well a monitor can reproduce colors are Adobe RGB and sRGB. Professional monitors have a 98 to 100% Adobe RGB and sRGB gamut, respectively.
IPS technology also supports a better contrast ratio. This means you can easily see the difference between the bright and dark spaces as you play your game. Here too, the improved contrast ratio helps if you’re into content creation or editing photos and videos.
What is LED?
Light Emitting Diodes are a type of backlighting technology for displays. This type of monitor utilizes LEDs to light up individual pixels. LED technology offers a brighter display while consuming less power than many LCD monitors.
Like IPS, LED backlighting replaced the traditional CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) backlighting which hindered color reproduction, performance and durability. All LED displays use liquid crystals to create an image, technically making them LCD displays. But not all LCD displays use LEDs. LED variants include: QLED, OLED and MicroLED.
While LED monitors may not have the advantage of wide viewing angles like an IPS consideration. You’re almost always guaranteed a bright viewing experience as you play games from all corners, depending on the quality of the display.
For example, LED displays are broken into Edge-Lit and Direct-Lit which refers to the arrangement of the LEDs behind the screen.
The benefits of LED technology are a slimmer monitor design, a long-lasting backlight, lower power consumption, and a wider color gamut and contrast ratio than many types of monitors.
They’re also generally brighter than a lot of monitors with the wonderful reputation of being more durable and reliable, too. But the overall advantage here is that they’re cheaper than IPS monitors.
LED-backlit technology allows manufacturers to create slimmer gaming monitors. That’s due to the fact that the LED hardware doesn’t take up as much space as the older CCFL backlighting tech allowing LED monitors to enjoy a way more portable design.
Again, LED backlit monitors are cheaper than IPS monitors, they’re even cheaper than the CCFL monitors they replaced. The main reason? Construction. The old CCFL-based displays required more expertise to assemble, whereas an LED LCD monitor is easier to put together.
Low Heat and Power Consumption
Due to design, LED monitors have no need to consume a lot of power or generate a lot of heat. As a result, the reliability and durability of an LED monitor surpasses that of an IPS choice. And, if you’re into this sort of thing like we are, LED monitors are a better choice from an energy-conservation point-of-view as they usually create less e-waste.
Modern LED monitors are very versatile. You can combine them with IPS technology to provide a blend of color accuracy and performance. For example, the IPS-TN LED monitor combination is an excellent choice for gaming. LED monitors can achieve a response time as high as 1ms and a high refresh rate of 300Hz.
IPS vs LED for Gaming Compared
Regardless of which technology type you ultimately choose, below is a rundown of general factors worth keeping in mind.
Functionally, LED and IPS displays are different. LED is a type of backlighting technology, while IPS is a panel type. This makes a direct 1:1 comparison challenging. But the way each affects performance gives us a better idea of how one monitor will perform over another.
IPS monitors need more power to keep up with all the on-screen activity to deliver quality images.
Even though LED monitors are bright, they actually consume less power compared to IPS monitors (it’s also the reason why LEDs are a more common type of LCD backlighting). That explains why they’re favored among users looking for an affordable LCD monitor.
The reason why the IPS tech is such a power hog is because these types of gaming monitors provide better color accuracy and viewing angles. So, more energy is required to maintain excellent on-screen performance.
Can you really notice a 1ms to 10ms response time? On fast-paced games like CS: Go, Fortnite and Overwatch, the answer is yes. Especially with an IPS monitor, the reason why you notice the response time is because the image needs to be processed then shown on the monitor.
A display’s response time refers to the amount of time it takes for the panel to adjust from one color to another. Again, you notice this aspect of a monitor when playing fast-paced games like Fortnite and Overwatch.
IPS monitors used to receive a lot of criticism for their slow response time. But things have changed. The latest IPS panels have remarkably improved performance.
But if you prefer an LED monitor without the IPS technology, you’ll want to opt for one featuring a VA or TN panel – they typically offer a 1ms response time. You still get relatively good performance when playing fast-twitch games.
Like response times, IPS monitors are closing the gap with TN and VA panels. IPS monitors today can offer up to a 360Hz refresh rate which was unheard of not too long ago.
A high refresh rate improves the smoothness of your games by squeezing more frames into each second so you can respond to threats that much quicker.
If you’re into competitive shooters, then a monitor with a high refresh rate can give you a decided edge against your opponents.
What refresh rate should you be looking for?
While you can feel the difference between 60Hz and 75Hz, you really start to notice the benefits around 120Hz. But the standard today for gaming monitors is 144Hz. Beyond that, you have 240Hz and 360Hz panels targeted toward competitive gamers like twitch shooter players.
IPS gaming monitors consume more power to deliver sharper images. A natural by-product of that is going to be more heat generation compared to an LED monitor (even with the bright display).
LED gaming monitors tend to be poor at accurately reproducing the color black. But the contrast ratios are deep. Viewing angles are also narrow unless you’re right in front of the screen.
An IPS gaming monitor provides a much better image than most LED equivalents. Picture quality is clearer and crisper regardless of viewing angle. That’s not to say that you can’t get good image quality with an LED monitor, though. But you have to sit directly in front of the screen for the best experience.
Go for an LED gaming monitor when your focus is how bright things show on screen. Lean toward an IPS gaming monitor when accurate color reproduction is a paramount concern.
While the technologies are divergent, you can find plenty of monitors featuring both IPS and LED technology.
IPS and LED gaming monitors, while different offer some of the same panel technologies, like:
- LCD (liquid crystal display) technology
- TN (twisted nematic) panel features
IPS gaming monitors have better color reproduction than most monitors, including TN and VA panels. If you want to play with the most accurate colors, choose IPS. Do you like playing MMORPGs with your friends? IPS monitors maintain color fidelity even when looking at the screen from extreme angles.
An IPS gaming monitor is likely to cause you less eye strain than an LED monitor. Due to the color fidelity and excellent contrast ratio, IPS displays minimize the amount of effort it takes for your eyes to see what’s on the screen.
Some IPS panels even operate at a refresh rate of 280Hz to reduce input lag, which works to combat unpleasant display effects like screen tearing that can lead to eye strain – here are our top choices of the best monitors for eye strain.
Without a doubt, IPS monitors are more expensive across the board. And while LED gaming monitors tend to be a better investment for FPS (first person shooter) titles. For single-player AAA games, it’s tough to beat an IPS gaming monitor.
Expect to pay more for a midrange IPS monitor compared to a high-end LED monitor. On average, the price difference between an IPS and LED gaming monitor is going to be at least $100.
How to Choose Between IPS and LED
Besides gaming, how else will you use your gaming monitor?
The best gaming monitor is the one that aligns with your daily applications. If you’ll be using your monitor mostly for creative work like video and photo editing. Or accurate image reproduction is important to you, an IPS gaming monitor will likely be your best bet.
If your focus, however, is on playing fast-paced shooting games, an LED gaming monitor is an ideal option. An LED LCD monitor should also feature TN technology for this type of gaming.
While you will enjoy lower power consumption and a lower price if opting for an LED gaming monitor. Keep in mind that viewing angles are limited and image quality is comparatively worse than a gaming monitor featuring IPS tech.
Do you prefer better images when gaming or functionality?
Another critical consideration is whether you prefer performance or visual quality. IPS gaming monitors provide excellent visual quality over a strictly LED panel. Albeit with a higher power consumption.
But a higher power consumption also means more heat, which then brings the longevity of an IPS gaming monitor into question.
While the visuals of an LED gaming monitor aren’t comparatively as impressive, they are the best value pick out of the two. LED monitors tend to suffer less from issues with overheating, which helps them last longer.
How much do you want to spend on a gaming monitor?
No one likes to overspend. That’s why asking yourself these questions is so important. You need to work with a realistic price range relative to the features you desire.
But just because something is less expensive doesn’t automatically make it a better value any more than an expensive price tag meaning you’re getting a better product.
Something else to consider is that some LCD monitors featuring VA and TN technology can be more expensive than IPS panels.