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IPS vs. VA Panels: Ultimate Ghosting Comparison

When buying LCD monitors, the options can be overwhelming. Each of the different types of panels possesses unique pros and cons worth considering. So if you’re in the market, you might wonder how LCD technologies like IPS and VA compare in terms of ghosting. 

Generally, IPS panels experience less ghosting and motion blurring than VA panels. This is mainly due to VA panels’ slower response and refresh times, but other factors can also influence the effect. That said, VA monitors have some unique advantages worth considering as well. 

This article compares the differences in terms of ghosting between IPS and VA panels. It also explains what exactly causes ghosting on LCDs and why VA panels experience it more. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Do IPS Panels Handle Ghosting Better Than VA Panels?

Ghosting is a consistent problem that continues to plague LCD screens. However, the severity and nature of the issue largely depend on the specific type of LCD panel.

In general, IPS panels handle ghosting better than VA panels. Additionally, they also have less smearing effects. This is because VA panels struggle to keep up with images that refresh quickly or on-screen objects that move too swiftly – that is, they have slower response times and refresh rates.

Additionally, VA panels have more contrast and deeper blacks. These features combined can further accentuate any ghosting present. 

However, this isn’t to say VA panels are always worse than IPS. Ghosting and smearing can vary significantly based on the quality of the screen, and VA panels have some unique advantages.

Differences Between IPS and VA Panels

Next, let’s explore what pros and cons each type of LCD has. And how those factors affect panel ghosting.

This will provide a helpful overview before we dive into the specifics of these technologies.

IPS Panels

IPS (in-plane switching) panels are a popular choice for gamers. Their fast refresh rates can mitigate blur in video games, making them look crisper.

Pros

  • Generally Higher Refresh Rate (reduces ghosting).
  • Better Response Times.
  • Reduced Black Smearing (essentially less ghosting from black objects).
  • Wider Viewing Angles.

Cons

  • Weak Black Uniformity.
  • Less Contrast. 
  • Blacks are less dark than on VA panels. 

VA Panels

Many monitor enthusiasts prize VA (vertical alignment) panels for their excellent contrast and black uniformity. 

While their picture quality is often stunning, the trade-off is more smearing and ghosting.

Pros

  • Greater contrast ratio.
  • Deep and uniform blacks.
  • Usually more affordable.

Cons

  • Slower refresh rates (more ghosting).
  • Deeper blacks accentuate smear.
  • Slower response times (increases ghosting).

Keep in mind that these pros and cons are generalizations. Furthermore, high-end monitors of both types are much more similar in picture quality than mid-range models are.

Why VA Panels Have More Ghosting

We mentioned earlier that VA panels are known for experiencing ghosting primarily due to their slower response times. 

However, if you’re unfamiliar with LCD technology, you might wonder why that’s so. 

Why do VA displays usually have slower response times?

The answer lies in their unique design. Specifically, ghosting is a side effect of how VA displays align the liquid crystals in their panel.

This part gets a little technical. But it is invaluable to read if you want to get the most out of your LCD.

How VA Panels Work

Without getting too in-depth, LCDs (liquid crystal displays) create images by manipulating liquid crystals. These crystals change position when charged to allow light and color to pass through them.

The difference between LCD panels types is in the particular positioning of these crystals.

Vertical alignment (VA) displays, as the name suggests, keep their crystals aligned vertically when not charged. When activated, they switch from vertical positioning to horizontal.

Their vertical alignment gives VA displays superior contrast and black uniformity. Since they turn away from the backlight when inactive, VA panels also provide the deepest blacks among LCDs.

How Vertical Alignment Causes Ghosting

While vertical alignment has its advantages, it also brings some downsides. 

The biggest of those downsides is more ghosting.

Liquid crystals in VA displays have to shift dramatically to let light through. As a result, it takes them longer than other LCDs to illuminate an image. Similarly, the crystals also take more time to switch to a new position as images refresh. 

So when you hear VA panels have ‘slower response times,’ that’s one of the primary reasons why. This visual sluggishness causes images in motion to leave a trail of pixels behind them. And these afterimages and blurring are what’s known as ‘ghosts.’

Why IPS Panels Have Less Ghosting

Now, you hold a pretty solid understanding of how VA panels function and why they tend to experience more ghosting. 

However, you might wonder why IPS panels don’t have this problem. Especially if they’re also LCDs like VA panels are. 

The primary reason why IPS displays have less ghosting is their faster panel response time and refresh rate. And like with VA panels, this is due primarily to the positioning of their crystals. 

Next, let’s examine precisely how IPS panels mitigate ghosting compared to VA displays.

How IPS Panels Work

In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels almost always keep their crystals fixed horizontally. That’s in contrast to the vertical alignment of VA panels.

Instead of changing their vertical angle, IPS panels rotate their liquid crystals horizontally to alter how light passes through them. 

The advantage of this is that they can respond more effectively to moving images and fast refresh rates. Rotating these liquid crystals is quicker than changing their alignment vertically. 

As a result, they have far less ghosting and smearing than IPS panels.

However, there are some downsides to this design. 

While VA panels have a reputation for ghosting, IPS are notorious for their bright spots. Also known as IPS Glow.

IPS Glow

Since VA panels turn the crystals vertically to create images, they’re great at blocking out light. However, this isn’t the case with IPS panels.

IPS displays keep their crystals horizontally aligned and only rotate them. This means that a lot of light can escape through them when they’re supposed to be dark.

The result is a noticeable glow in black areas of the display. The effect is particularly evident near the edges of the screen. 

Dimly lit or lightless rooms exacerbate this issue, as does viewing the screen at an off-angle. 

While glow is due to the inherent design of IPS technology, it is getting better over time. Modern mid-range and cheaper IPS monitors have noticeably less IPS glow than models from just a couple of years ago.

Black Smearing on LCDs

If you’re researching LCD monitors, you may have come across the term black smear. 

The effect of black smearing goes hand in hand with ghosting. As a result, you will need to understand the issue before deciding on a panel type.

Black smearing is essentially a type of ghosting, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably with each other. 

However, it technically refers to a sort of ‘reverse ghosting.’ Black smearing describes when dark spots on a panel seemingly smudge while moving. Kind of like when your finger spreads the ink from a pen

Black Smearing: IPS vs. VA Panels

Black smearing, like ghosting in general, is still an issue for many LCDs. That being said, VA monitors, in particular, struggle with the problem.

This is due to several factors.

The main issues causing it are the same driving forces behind ghosting: slow screen response times and refresh rates. 

In simpler terms, VA panels often can’t illuminate black areas fast enough to keep up with refreshing images. Moving dark spots, like scrolling text, may appear unreadable because of this smearing. 

Their high contrast and deep blacks can accentuate this problem. 

Conversely, black smearing is far less of an issue for IPS panels. Their typically quicker response times help them avoid dark blurs.

This is another reason why IPS panel monitors are popular with gamers. IPS dark areas may not be as black as VA panels manage to be. However, they avoid the black smearing VA panels have.

Why Does Black Smearing Matter?

Any kind of ghosting is problematic. The effects can severely hamper viewing experiences, especially for gaming.

Black smearing causes unique ghosting issues, especially relating to scrolling text. Due to this effect, dark, moving letters on VA panels can look blurry and be rendered indecipherable.

Here’s a helpful example of how that looks from YouTube:

Similarly, video games (especially FPS titles) set in dark spaces can also suffer from black smearing. 

Shadows and objects on-screen might appear blurry while in motion. As a result, video games may often lose some of their otherwise impressive visual fidelity.

The last thing you want is to buy an expensive monitor just to find out it makes your games look worse.

Watch the YouTube video below of a VA monitor black smearing an object in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for a visual demonstration. Notice that when the viewing direction changes, the dark boulder/plants lose their sharpness and become mucky. 

IPS vs. VA Panels: Which Should You Buy?

The type of monitor you should select depends on your needs.

If you’re a PC gamer, IPS panels are a better option due to less ghosting and a vast color range, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere of a virtual world. However, if you’re looking for panels for more static media, VA panels are the better choice. 

However, keep in mind these aren’t by any means hard and fast rules. You may start looking for an IPS display but find a VA you love more.

Plus, as time goes on, the different panel types are all improving. 

So, panel types today are much closer in their capabilities than they were just a couple of years ago. Many top VA monitors have only slight ghosting, and plenty of IPS models show deeper blacks now. 

The Best IPS and VA Monitors

Now that you know the pros and cons, you’re much better equipped to choose an LCD monitor. 

Below, we’ve compiled lists of the best IPS and VA monitors. All of these models are available on Amazon.com.

Recommended IPS Monitors

Here are our picks for the best IPS monitors:

  • Best for Gaming: LG 34″ UltraGear Curved QHD – LG’s UltraGear is the ultimate IPS display for gamers. It offers an impressive 1ms response time and a stylish black and red aesthetic. 
  • Best Budget Option: Sceptre 24″ Business Monitor This monitor is a solid choice if you don’t want to break the bank. In addition to wide viewing angles, it has convenient built-in speakers. 
  • Best Overall: LG 34″ UltraWide Curved Monitor – Whether you’re editing videos or delving into virtual dungeons, this monitor from LG is a solid choice. It has an impressive color range and an almost borderless design. 

There’s plenty of other solid options, but these make a great starting place. 

Next, let’s explore your options for the top-rated monitors with VA panels. 

Recommended VA Monitors

Though VA panels traditionally suffer from more ghosting, there are still plenty of excellent VA monitors. Additionally, technology advancements mean that these panels experience much less ghosting and blurring than their predecessors.

Below, read our picks for the top VA monitors on the market.

  • Best for Gaming: GTEK F2740C 27″ Curved Monitor – This VA monitor offers HD gaming at 240Hz. Its 1 ms response time eliminates the ghosting VA panels usually experience.
  • Best Budget Option: HP 21.5″ V222vb FHD Monitor HP’s V222vb display manages an incredible 3000:1 contrast ratio at an unbeatable price. The built-in low blue light mode also reduces eye strain.
  • Best Overall: Dell S3221QS 32″ Curved 4K Monitor – You can’t go wrong with getting this jack of all trades VA monitor. This Dell also sports excellent built-in speakers and a stylish silver finish.

Hopefully, these serve as a useful launching point for your monitor search. 

Conclusion

Different types of LCD monitors have their own unique advantages. IPS panels provide fast response times and broad color ranges. On the other hand, VA panels have deeper blacks and more powerful contrast.

But when it comes to ghosting, IPS panels are typically superior to VA.

However, keep in mind this is changing over time. As panel technologies advance, the different types of LCD panels continue improving. Thus, the gap in capabilities between them is swiftly shrinking. 

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