TN vs. IPS Displays in Laptops: Which Should You Buy in 2024?

tn vs ips displays

There are many laptop panels out there. This has made choosing the best a bit difficult for many users.

If you care about the colour quality of images on your laptop display, then you may be worried about getting the perfect screen technology that would make gaming or streaming movies an enjoyable experience.

The panel technologies on the market have their strengths and flaws. This article dissects the positives and drawbacks of TN and IPS display technologies to help you make the best purchasing decision.

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What are TN and IPS Displays?

IPS stands for in-plane switching, while TN is short for twisted nematic. TN displays are the most common panels used on laptops. They remain the oldest of the LCD technologies. A good number of gaming laptops come with TN screens because of the excellent response time and refresh rate associated with TN-based displays.

tn vs ips
TN displays are the most common panels used on laptops

A good number of gaming laptops come with TN screens because of the excellent response time and refresh rates associated with TN-based displays. Most smartphones use IPS screen technology.

You may come across panel technologies such as plane-to-line switching (PLS), advanced hyper viewing angle (AHVA) on spec sheets. Samsung calls its IPS panels PLS. These technologies, though slightly different, are all IPS-based.

How to Identify a TN or IPS Display Quickly

Try viewing an image on your laptop screen from an angle. A significant color shift or distortion indicates that the panel is TN while a subtle or insignificant shift in colour means you have an IPS display.

Things to Consider Before Buying a TN or IPS Display Laptop

Here are the key features you may consider before buying a TN or IPS laptop:

  • Purpose
  • Budget
  • Image quality
  • Refresh rate
  • Response rate
  • Contrast ratio

Pros and Cons of TN Display

We now present the advantages and disadvantages of TN panel technology.

TN Display – Pros

The following are the features of TN displays that give them an edge over IPS displays:

1. Better Energy Conservation

Care about your laptop’s battery energy conservation? Then an IPS-based laptop is recommended.

2. Excellent Response Time

A twisted nematic, or TN display has a better response time than an IPS screen technology. As a matter of fact, this is one of the things you are sure to get when you opt for a TN display.

A good TN display usually has a refresh rate 3 milliseconds faster than most premium IPS displays.

3. Faster Refresh Rates

TN displays rank very high for faster refresh rates. If the time required for an image on a laptop screen to change matters to you, especially if you are a gamer with an eye for detail, then go for a laptop with a TN display.

4. Relatively Cheaper

With the same specifications, a TN display  is always relatively cheaper than an IPS display. However, there are cheap IPS screens on the market. You have to be careful when buying low-end IPS displays because most cheap IPS displays lack good colour reproduction.

TN displays are cheaper because of the low production cost required to make its components.

TN Display – Cons

Here are things you may not like about TN displays:

1. Inferior Viewing Angles

tn vs ips
TN displays have poor viewing Angles

With a TN display, you will not get the same image quality when you view images on your laptop display from varying angles. The shallower the vertical and horizontal viewing angles, the more colour shifts of the image on your screen. For instance, looking at a picture on your display from the bottom or top will make the picture appear a bit dark.

2. Poor Colour Reproduction

TN displays are not renowned for having good colour variety, colour gamut, and colour reproduction. For colour-sensitive tasks like editing photos, TN displays may not be suitable for you. If it’s for Instagram, Facebook, accurate colour reproduction may not matter so much.

Pros and Cons of IPS Display

IPS Display – Pros

Now, let’s look at the advantages of IPS screens.

1. Wider Viewing Angles

IPS displays offer better and wider viewing angles than TN panels. Images on an IPS screen remain legible even when you view them from shallow angles. This you can’t get from a TN display. With IPS displays, there is no significant change in colour or contrast as a result of viewing angles.

You get better viewing angles with IPS displays because parallel nature of the screen’s polarizers and crystals.

tn vs ips
The MacBook Air with M1 chip has an LED-backlit display with IPS technology

Premium laptops with TN displays have fairly decent viewing angles, but not as good as a typical IPS display. A good panel has 170/160 viewing angle rating, but an IPS panel gives you a better rating: 178/178

Just know: You may experience glow with IPS panels. Depending on the quality of your IPS display, the glow from IPs panels can be somewhat distracting. The glow is particularly noticeable when the screen is viewed from very, very shallow angles. Again, only poorly manufactured IPS displays exhibit this characteristic. 

2. Outstanding Colour Representation

Colour representation is an area where in-plane switching displays outshine TN screen technology. IPS displays are renowned for their outstanding eye-popping colour representation. An IPS display is not always synonymous with great image quality, and TNs are not automatically associated with poor displays.

IPS displays are able to give excellent colour representation because they have a better and more accurate way of managing light rays. They have better backlights which enhances their colour accuracy. Laptops such as Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, and Apple MacBook Air have good IPS display technology.

3. Better Contrast Ratio

IPS panels are known to have better contrast ratio than TN panels. In practice, a typical TN display has a contrast ratio within 700:1 and 900:1. While an IPS display can get up to 1500:1. Just know: low quality IPS panels may have lower contrast ratios than what is stated here.

IPS Display – Cons

Here are the major shortcomings of IPS display technology:

1. Not Good At Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is not a strong point for laptops with IPS screens. Avoid IPS screens if low energy consumption is a priority.

2. Poor Response Times

tn vs ips
TN displays are recommended for competitive gaming because of 1ms (millisecond) response time they offer

With regard to responsiveness, IPS displays have slower pixel response times than their TN counterparts. If a fast response time is one of the display qualities you anticipate, then you are better off with a TN.

That said, some IPS displays still deliver when it comes to casual gaming, however, TN displays are recommended for competitive gaming because of 1ms (millisecond) response time they offer. Most IPS screens cannot offer a response time as low as 1ms.

IPS displays are good enough for streaming movies.

3. More Expensive

As mentioned earlier, TN screens are cheaper than IPs screens.

4. Slower Refresh Rates

IPS displays have slower refresh rates than TN displays. A typical IPS refresh rate is 144 Hz, while the refresh rate of TN display (other specs being the same) can be up to 240 Hz. There are IPS panels with commendable refresh rates (165 Hz), but you have to pay more money to get one.

Refresh rates are not easily noticeable because they occur in less than a second . Only dedicated gamers may notice a screen’s refresh rate.

So Which One Should You Opt For?

The comparison chart below summarizes the ideal option you should opt for depending on what you are going to be doing with your laptop.

tn vs ips display in laptops
TN vs. IPS Displays

Frequently Asked Questions – TN vs. IPS Displays

Q: What’s the difference between response time and refresh rate?
A: A measure of how quickly a pixel changes from being active to inactive or changes from one colour to another (for instance, black to white) is the response time, while the time required for an image on a display to change is the refresh rate.

Q: Is IPS better than TN?
A: With IPS, you get better viewing angles and a better colour reproduction.

Q: Does an IPS screen guarantee quality images?
A: No, an IPS screen does not guarantee excellent image quality, because there are low quality IPS panels on the market.

Q: Is IPS glow normal?
A: Well, IPS glow is usually pronounced in low quality IPS panels. Again, IPS glow becomes very obvious when you view your screen from extreme angles.

Q: Is 1ms better than 4ms?
A: Yes, 1ms is better than 4ms. However, the difference isn’t quite noticeable since we’re referring to response time in milliseconds.

Q: Is IPS or TN better for gaming?
A: For gaming, TN is better than IPS. This is because TN has a better refresh rate and response time than IPS. Many gamers go for TN displays because TN displays render images faster, so fewer delays are experienced during gaming.

Q: Can a TN panel be upgraded to IPS?
A: Sure, but backlight type, connector size, and resolution must be the same.

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Final Thoughts

Many manufacturers indicate the type of screen technology a laptop model has. Be sure to check, so you know if you’re getting a TN or an IPS panel.

Be warned: an IPS display is not always synonymous with great image quality, and TNs are not automatically associated with poor displays because some manufacturers produce laptops with poor IPS screens while others manufacture TN displays better than IPS screens.

So, for everyday computing, an IPS screen is the way to go. If you care a lot about refresh rate and response time while playing games, then go for a TN screen.