Ips monitor vs tn, led, 4k and other monitor types

In my article on the best monitor for graphic design 2016, I highlighted the benefits of ips monitor and say how much more details you can see on your work.  Since then, I have received quite a number of emails asking me to clarify how is ips monitor different from other monitor types. Since there are is so much confusion among my readers, I thought putting this article will clarify most of it.



Term definition

Before going into the comparison, you need to understand that some of the numbers and names actually belong  different things. If you don’t have a handling on what each of these means, you will be comparing apples to oranges.

  • Pixel per inch (PPI): The PPI is the measurement for image quality, standardize by screen size (using the per inch as standardization). Hence, a smaller screen with lower resolution i.e. 1080 can have similar image quality as  a 1440 resolution screen that is bigger in size. This means it is not necessarily true that 1080p is always worse off than 1440p. Screen size matters when it comes to PPI
  • Pixel Pitch: This refers to the distance between the pixels and affects your optimal viewing distance. A monitor with higher pixel pitch looks good even when viewed from afar such as a 4kscreen. In contrast, a 27 inch screen might look good when it is front of you but loose not as sharp as you stand far away from it. This is where a 4k screen has its advantages
  • Panel type: This affect the color reproduction and is the main advantage of a ips monitor. A monitor can have great pixel pitch and not as great on the color reproduction if the panel is not ips.



IPS monitor vs 4k

After understanding the terms, it is now easier to do the comparison so let’s start off with 4k monitor vs Ips monitor. As you can read from the above, 4k monitors are great for high pixel pitch, i.e. they are great for viewing from afar. This means they function better a family TV screen rather than a work monitor screen. IPS monitor is a panel type that produces excellent color reproduction, which is critical for accurate graphic design work. You can have a 4k monitor but that doesn’t mean it is color accurate if it not an ips. If forced to choose between the two criteria, an ips monitor is much more effective than a 4k monitor.


IPS monitor vs led

People who asked this are confused about what is really going on within their monitors. Most monitors contain a light source and a color filter. Since led is a type of bulb, it is consider a light source. A color filter, on other hand, can be an ips, tn etc. In order words, these 2 are completely different criteria and shouldn’t be talk about as if they are comparable. You can get a Led ips monitor which is actually the norm now for most ips monitors.


IPS monitor vs tn

A better question to ask is actually the difference between ips and tn since these are all color filters. Broadly speaking, a TN monitor is faster on the refresh rate so most folks used it for gaming purposes, However, their color reproduction capability is not as good as an ips monitor, on average.  Also, TN monitors; viewing angles tend to be less restricted.

There is also some form of hyrid between an IPS and a TN coming to the market. For example, Dell U2412M is a fast ips panel. These type of monitors are faster than your usual ips, although it is still not as fast as a TN. However, they have better color reproduction than a TN, although still worse off than an ips.

When you are buying a monitor that doesn’t says it is a ips, it is probably a TN.



Through this detailed comparison of the different monitor types, you should be able to understand what is the right monitor for you as a graphic designer. For me, it will be an IPS screen that probably has a 27 inch  1080p screen size and powered by a led light source.

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