IPS vs VA panel: Which panel type is better for TVs?

When buying a TV with LED technology, we can find different screen technologies. Choosing a TV with one or the other type of screen is a factor that has a significant impact on picture quality. Two main types of panels are manufactured: IPS and VA panels. As we will see, depending on how you intend to use your TV, you may be more interested in a TV with a VA panel or an IPS panel.

Next, we explain the differences between IPS panels and VA panels. We hope this will help you choose the best TV for your particular use.

IPS panels

We start by looking at IPS panel technology and how it works, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

IPS panel type - liquid crystal molecules
IPS panel type – liquid crystal molecules

Firstly, it should be noted that the name IPS comes from the fact that the liquid crystals of the panel are aligned horizontally (In-Plane Switching). These crystals are parallel to the glass substrates, allowing the orientation to be changed by rotating the liquid crystal molecules in the same plane.

This is the technical explanation, but it is more interesting to know the performance of this type of panel and its advantages and disadvantages.

An IPS panel offers as a great advantage, wide viewing angles. This means that even if the TV is viewed from a side angle, contrast and color are maintained.

Viewing angle - IPS vs VA panel differences
Viewing angle – IPS vs VA panel differences

Some IPS panels offer lossless viewing angles of up to 178°. This means that a TV with an IPS panel can be viewed correctly from the side. The good news is that color saturation and contrast remain almost lossless when viewed from the side.

So you might be interested in buying an IPS panel TV if you want to watch it from different positions, or if there are several people in the family and some of them watch the TV from a shorter position.

Their response times are usually a little slower than those of VA panels. The time it takes for the pixels to change is a little shorter and they can deliver moving images with a little more clarity.

IPS Panel Pixel Matrix - IPS vs VA PanelPixel Matrix IPS panel – IPS vs VA panel

As a weakness, their contrast is usually quite low. The contrast of an IPS panel is always lower than that of a VA panel. With this type of panel, the black level is very low and is usually dark gray instead of black.

However, black levels can be improved on Full Array TVs with Local Dimming and Mini LED models. Models with this system use more LED bulbs, and with the ability to adjust illumination by zone, can achieve better black levels. The downside is that IPS panels tend to have more light leakage problems than VA panels, although this varies from set to set and depending on the type of backlight used.

The transition between dark tones is also very poor, with a lot of information being lost in the shadows. When dark tones are present, they tend to all look like one tone and the transitions between the different tones are often indistinguishable.

In general, they are not the best choice for film buffs, as a lot of information is lost in dark scenes. Compared to a VA panel, this problem is noticeable.

They also tend to have more reflections than VA, although this depends on the model and whether it has an extra filter to reduce reflections.

IPS panels are widely used in monitors, thanks to what we said about their better response time and color reproduction, and are particularly recommended for photo editing.

The main manufacturer of IPS panels is LG. Some Sony and Panasonic models have IPS panels, and these are mostly manufactured by LG Display. However, LG recently announced that it is cutting back on LCD panel production.

Within IPS panels, there are several variants with different names, but which are based on the same concept and achieve very similar performance. The best known are the PLS and ADS panels, which are used in some recent Samsung TVs.

ADS panel pixel structureADS panel pixel structure

This type of panel is manufactured by other companies such as BOE, Innolux or AU Optronics.

VA panels

Now that we have seen how IPS panels work, it is time to see what VA panels are made of.

VA panel - liquid crystal molecules
VA panel – liquid crystal molecules

Unlike an IPS panel, a VA panel has an alignment of liquid crystals in a vertical plane to the glass substrate, which tilt when a voltage is applied to allow light to pass through.

VA panels achieve much higher contrast than IPS panels. Their main advantage is that they produce deeper blacks and more detail in shadows, so there is less loss of information than with IPS panels.

Pixel array VA panelPixel array VA panel – IPS vs VA panel comparison

The contrast levels of a VA panel, can be up to 300% higher than that of an IPS panel. The black tones it achieves are always much deeper. This is very noticeable in dark scenes in movies. Therefore, it is the best choice for moviegoers.

The following images are only for orientation, as it depends on each specific model and the type of backlight used, whether Full Array, Edge LED or Direct LED.

Contrast on IPS panelIPS panel: grayish blacks and loss of detail in shadowsVA screen contrastVA panel: Deeper blacks and better shadow definition

Their weakness is the viewing angle. They tend to offer reduced viewing angles, and from 35-40º there is a deterioration in contrast and color.

However, new versions of these panels are being produced and the angles are improving, especially at the high end, and in some cases are equal to those offered by IPS.

Some examples are the top-of-the-range Samsung Neo QLEDs with the Ultra Viewing Angle filter, or the X95L and Sony’s Z9K series with the X-Wide Angle filter. These series look very good from the side and have a similar viewing angle to OLED TVs.

The main manufacturer of VA panels has been Samsung, and their own TVs have mainly used panels they have manufactured themselves. However, like LG, they have greatly reduced production and it is now very common for them to use panels from other manufacturers such as BOE, AUO, etc.

The other manufacturers, such as Sony and Panasonic, have long since stopped making panels and now carry panels from companies such as Chi Mei, Sharp or AUO. In any case, the fact that a brand does not make its own panels does not mean that the picture quality is inferior.

Summary of the advantages and disadvantages of IPS and VA panels

To help you assess which option is best for you, depending on how you use your TV, we have summarised the advantages of each type of panel.

Viewing angles

Winner: IPS

This is where IPS panels come into their own, offering better viewing at extreme angles. Colors and contrast are best maintained at angles above 35°.

Wider viewing angle on IPS panels.Wider viewing angle on IPS panels

It is recommended that you choose a TV with an IPS screen if you are going to watch it from an armchair in a far corner, if you have a TV hanging on the wall and you are going to watch it from very low or very sideways, or if there are several people in your family and not all of them can see the TV more or less from the front.

With VA screens, there is usually a fairly pronounced loss of contrast from around 35-40°, resulting in a more washed-out image. Colors also begin to lose saturation and flatten out, losing detail in the colors and looking more uniform.

However, there are some TVs with VA panels that include a filter that improves the viewing angle. Examples include Samsung’s top-of-the-line QLED models and Sony’s X95L and Z9K.

To sum up, especially in the low and medium price ranges, IPS panels offer a better side view than VA panels, so they are better when viewed from different angles.

Contrast

Winner: VA

The winner in this area are VA panels. The contrast is much higher than that of IPS panels, which are far inferior in this respect. Blacks tend to be purer on VA panels than on IPS panels.

The difference between IPS and VA panels is usually quite noticeable in this aspect, reaching up to 300% in some cases. For this reason, they are always much more recommendable for users who like movies.

IPS screens also have a worse transition in the shadow areas, creating a gray spot effect that loses more information in this area.

The following images are only for orientation, as it depends on each specific model and the type of backlight used, whether Full Array, Edge LED or Direct LED.

Dark scene on IPS panelDark scene on IPS panel – Contrast IPS panel vs. VA panelDark scene on VA panelDark scene on VA panel – Contrast IPS vs VA panel

This difference in contrast is most noticeable when the TV is viewed in a dimly lit or completely dark room. Brightness also plays a role in contrast. In this respect, an IPS or VA panel can reproduce a similar brightness, but with a better black level, the contrast ratio of a VA panel is usually much higher than that of an IPS.

Therefore, the best panels for watching movies and shows, especially in dark or very dim environments, are VA panels.

Screen markings and retentions

Winner: Tie

It is unusual for burn-in or retention to occur on LCD displays, whether they are IPS or VA type. This problem occurs when an image is left static for an extended period of time. It is true, however, that within the small chance of burn-in on an LCD, IPS panels may be more prone to this problem.

In any case, the risk is minimal and not as likely to occur as with OLED TVs, although even with OLED TVs the risk is very low today when used at home and not in a store.

Here we really give more of a tie between the two types of panel.

IPS vs VA panel: Which is better then?

As we have seen, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to each type of panel, depending on your use case.

VA panels are more recommended for watching movies and series in a dark room and in a position in front of the TV. They give us the highest contrast levels and allow us to see more detail in the darker parts of the picture. They also tend to have fewer reflections, although this varies from model to model.

IPS panels, on the other hand, are the best option if your viewing position is not completely frontal to the TV and you usually watch it in a brightly lit room. Colors and contrast are maintained with less variation when viewed from the side.

Summary of advantages and disadvantages IPS panels

Advantages IPS panels
  • Good viewing angle
  • Better color reproduction
  • Best response time
Disadvantages IPS panels
  • Low contrast
  • They tend to have more light leakage
  • Loss of detail in dark parts.

Summary of advantages and disadvantages VA panels

Advantages VA panels
  • High contrast
  • There is usually less light leakage
  • Better shadow detail
Disadvantages VA panels
  • Worst viewing angle

List with some examples of 2022-2023 models with IPS and VA LED panels

Here is a list of the most popular brands of TVs with IPS and VA panels, sorted by manufacturer and year of manufacture.

It is important to mention that, depending on the geographical area, the type of screen on a particular model may vary. Here we will try to show if there are differences between Europe and North America.

Samsung

2023 models2022 models
QN900C, QN800C, QN700C, QN95CQN900B, QN800B, QN750B, QN95B, QN90B: VA
QN90C, QN85C: ADS-IPS (QN85C VA at 85″) (QN90C VA in 43″ and 50″)QN85B: ADS-IPS (VA at 85″)
Q80C, Q70C, Q60C: VAQ80B, Q70B, Q60B: VA (IPS in 65Q60B)
CU8500, CU8000, CU7100: VABU8500, BU8000: VA
Samsung TVs with VA and IPS panels

LG

2023 models2022 models
QNED86, QNED80: IPS (VA in 50″)QNED96, QNED91, QNED86, QNED80: VA or IPS depending on inch
Nano76, Nano75: IPS (VA at 43″ and 50″)
UR91, UR81, UR78: VA or IPS depending on inchUQ90, UQ80: VA or IPS depending on inch
LG TVs with VA and IPS panels

Sony

2023 models2022 models
X95L, X90L, X85L, X73WL: VAZ9K, X95K, X90K, X85K, X73K: VA
X80L and X81L: IPS (VA at 50″)X80K and X81K: IPS (VA at 50″)
Sony TVs with VA and IPS panels

Panasonic

2023 models2021 models
To be confirmed LX950, LX900: IPS
 LX650: VA
Panasonic TVs with VA and IPS panels

Philips

2023 models2022 models
To be confirmedPML9637: VA
PML9507: VA
PUS8507: VA
PUS7607: VA
PFL5507: VA
Philips TVs with VA and IPS panels

Hisense

2023 models2022 models
To be confirmedTo be confirmed
Hisense TVs with VA and IPS panels

As you can see, each type of panel has its advantages and disadvantages. With this comparison, hopefully the differences between IPS and VA panels are clear to you. Moreover, these panels are not only found in televisions, but are also manufactured for monitors and cell phones.

Recommendations of the best TVs with VA panel

TCL 65-Inch QM8 QLED 4K Smart Mini LED TV

Google TV (65QM850G, 2023 Model) Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos
amazon logo

SAMSUNG 75-Inch Class Neo QLED 8K QN900C Series

Mini LED Quantum HDR Smart TV with Infinity Screen, Dolby Atmos
amazon logo

SAMSUNG 85" Class Neo QLED 4K QN90B Series

Mini LED Quantum HDR 32x, Dolby Atmos,Object Tracking Sound+
amazon logo

SAMSUNG 85-Inch Class Neo QLED 4K QN85C Series

Neo Quantum HDR, Dolby Atmos, Object Tracking Sound
amazon logo

Sony 85 Inch Mini LED 4K Ultra HD TV X95L Series

BRAVIA XR Smart Google TV with Dolby Vision HDR
amazon logo

Sony 65 Inch Mini LED 4K Ultra HD TV X93L Series

BRAVIA XR Smart Google TV with Dolby Vision
amazon logo

Recommendations of the best TVs with IPS panel

LG QNED80 Series 65-Inch Class QNED Mini LED

Processor Smart Flat Screen TV for Gaming with Magic Remote
amazon logo

SAMSUNG 65-Inch Class Neo QLED 4K QN90C Series

Dolby Atmos, Object Tracking Sound+, Anti-Glare, Gaming Hub
amazon logo

LG 65QNED99UPA QNED 99 Series 65

Mini LED 8K, webOS, Magic Control
amazon logo

Frequently Asked Questions – IPS vs VA panel

What is the best type of panel for viewing in the dark?

For viewing in dark or very dimly lit rooms, the best choice is a TV that mounts a VA screen, as it will provide better blacks as well as less blooming and light leakage.

What type of screen is best for viewing the TV from the side?

In your case, if you are going to be viewing the TV from a fairly narrow angle, IPS panels will give you a better angle than VA panels. Colors will retain better saturation and contrast, so the picture will look less washed out.

Which one is better, an IPS panel or a VA panel?

As we have seen, it depends on each situation, but in general, in the absence of assessing other important aspects such as the image processor, refresh rate, etc., we recommend a TV with a VA panel. They are the most recommended for watching movies and series due to their better contrast and detail in dark areas.

Is an LED TV or an OLED TV better?

It depends on the models we compare, but usually the best picture quality today is provided by a TV with OLED technology, thanks to the fact that it is a self-emissive technology. This means that each pixel is the light source and can be turned on and off independently, giving a pure black that LED TVs cannot achieve.
Recently, TVs with mini-LED technology have been introduced, which still use an LCD panel backlit by LED bulbs, but now the size of these bulbs is much smaller. This allows them to have many more bulbs, so the backlighting is more accurate, improving blacks and achieving higher peak brightness. In this last aspect of brightness, mini LED TVs are superior to OLED models.
If you want to know more about these technologies, you can visit the following article where we give you all the details: Mini LED vs OLED – Which is better? Comparison and differences

What are the differences between IPS and ADS panels?

In comparison to IPS panels, the ADS variant can achieve in some cases a higher brightness due to the use of a more light-transmitting layer as a base for placing the control elements. They are also a little more resistant in terms of pressure. In any case, there are no major differences and they really offer similar performance.

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  1. Many TV reviewers seem obsessed with deep blacks, but I’d sacrifice that for some full colour off-centre any day. In a real-world living room where the family sit around the TV, or move around the kitchen watching from different angles, the VA panels just give a dreadful pale washed-out image.
    Writing from experience of a new Samsung QN90B which has a claimed 178 degree angle – well you can see there’s a picture but it’s pretty white unless you’re +/-30 degrees of centre, way inferior to our previous UE6400.
    Give me an IPS any day.

  2. Which panel type can I reduce the brightness of the most. I’d like to reduce the white color brightness so I can use the screen at night in a dark room. I have no problem with black color. It’s the white I want to reduce the brightness of.

    • You can reduce the brigthness in both panels the same way. Depending on your model you can even have a light sensor so that the TV adjust the brightness automatically depending on the ambient light.

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