Upgrading to a new monitor can be both an exciting and incredibly daunting task. It’s not just deciding on screen size, but taking into account the resolution and overall screen technology. 

Adding these variations into the mix can definitely complicate your decision. However, by understanding the fundamental differences between common screen types, you should find it much easier to find the right monitor for you. Let’s dive into what makes LED and IPS monitors tick and the pros and cons that come with each type.

The Most Popular PC Display Type

To fully understand how LED and IPS differs, it would be beneficial for you to know the basics of LCD screens.

LCD Display

The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is currently the most common and popular flat panel display type. It’s display functions with an active backlight that is modulated via liquid crystals that allow for thinner, lighter, and more responsive displays.

The LCD slowly improved and beat out CRT and plasma display types over the years, and now includes TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) technology to enhance the quality of images even further. While virtually every screen these days is made up of some sort of LCD screen, there are still different types to consider. Which brings us back to LED and IPS displays.

What is an LED Display?

In an LED display, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) serve as a backlight to light up individual pixels. LED displays are broken up even further into Edge-Lit and Direct-Lit, which differ in the way they’re positioned within the screen. 

Sceptre E225W-19203R 75Hz LED Monitor-min
LED Monitor

The overall benefit of LED displays is the fact that they’re generally brighter than comparable types, yet require less power. They’re often seen as the traditional, durable, and reliable option for gaming monitors.

What is an IPS Display?

IPS (In-Plane Switching) is probably the most common TFT LCD panel you’ll encounter when shopping for PC monitors. It’s often compared against TN (twisted nematic) and VA (vertical alignment) panel types. But IPS is viewed as the higher image quality option of the bunch.

ASUS 27-Inch 2K 144Hz WQHD FreeSync Gaming Monitor IPS
IPS Monitor

The primary benefit of IPS displays is the high quality and detailed graphics it’s capable of producing. It’s often seen as the go-to for those desiring high visual fidelity and gorgeous visuals.

What’s the Difference Between IPS and LED Displays?

While the two may be often compared, they are actually functionally different pieces of technology. LED is backlight technology, while IPS is a panel technology, which makes a direct comparison difficult. But we can still run through how each type affects performance to give you a better idea of how your monitor will perform with one option or another – or maybe even both.

Power Consumption

From the get-go, LEDs use very little energy. However, it’s worth noting that basic LED monitors will use even less power than their IPS LED counterparts. This has to do with the visuals on screen and how much light is necessary to illuminate them. Darker visuals, as well as those that are less vivid, require less light, meaning the LED screen can reduce power to conserve energy.

Monitor IO

IPS displays, on the other hand, are all about the highest quality visuals and ensuring everything is crisp and clear. There’s no variable power consumption between color variations here, meaning that you’ll require more power to keep up with the high-quality graphics.

Display Type

The main difference here is brightness versus color. IPS displays allow you to view the monitor from almost any angle without any changes in on-screen coloration. That means you can lean back, forward, and to the side without the visuals falling apart on you.

LEDs, on the other hand, are all about brightness. While coloration may become washed out depending on the brightness settings, you can rest assured that the screen will always be illuminated. 

Response Time

Those beautiful visuals do bring down response time on IPS monitors depending on the speed of what you’re viewing. FPS titles, for example, can easily lead to extreme input lag without the right setup or setting variations to compensate for the displays focus on visual fidelity. 

Response Time
Image Credit: ViewSonic

Basic LED monitors usually have consistently minimal input lag and the capability to reach high refresh rates. If you’ve read any of our game settings guides, you know that 144Hz – 250Hz is the sweet spot for most shooters, and you should have no problem hitting this with a standard TN LED display.

Heat

Generally, the less power that something requires, the less heat it produces. Since high-quality IPS displays produce such amazing visuals, they take more energy and produce more heat.

On the flip side, most high-quality LEDs produce very little heat due to the variable display capabilities of the backlit screen. This can be a deciding factor if you’re concerned about overheating or are unable to shell out for other components to compensate.

Image Quality

IPS display’s primary purpose is to produce high-quality visuals. And they absolutely excel at it.

Game on Screen

Meanwhile, typical LED monitors without in-plane switching panels can’t get anywhere close to the same visual fidelity. This really is the primary tradeoff between the two technologies. Standard LEDs perform better, but they sacrifice some level of clarity, while IPS screens are performance hogs that make up for it with gorgeous displays.

Price

Beauty comes at a price, and a decent to high-level IPS monitor isn’t going to be cheap.

However, a good LED monitor can be both inexpensive and reliable, especially if used for gaming. This part can really be a deal-breaker for the IPS panel. It all just depends on how much you’re willing to spend on a monitor for the visual upgrade.

Should You Buy an LED or IPS Monitor?

Game Monitor

As mentioned before, these are different pieces of technology, and directly comparing doesn’t bring about a fair comparison. In reality, you’ll often see compatible combinations of the two depending on the brand and monitor your considering and may find a solid middle ground to purchase.

However, if you’re split between an LED or IPS display, it comes down to the following:

  1. What you’re planning to do with it
  2. If you care about performance or visuals
  3. How much you’re willing to spend 

If you’re planning on using the display for graphics work, editing, or some other type of creative visual work, you’ll want to shell out a bit more for an IPS display. If you plan on playing fast-paced shooters or other multiplayer titles, you’ll want an LED monitor with a TN panel for consistent performance. 

Again it really isn’t a cut and dry issue between the two types of tech. Opting for an IPS display is a big investment that may not last long. And more than likely, you’ll be able to find an LED display to be the go-to option, with plenty of high-quality displays available for a reasonable price. 

In reality, the best thing you can do is find a monitor that marries the two and effectively compromises on visuals and performance. It’s the best of both worlds and means you won’t be sacrificing as much one way or another.

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