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IPS vs LED Monitors: A 2023 Buyer‘s Guide

Hey there! Choosing a new monitor can be overwhelming with all the tech jargon thrown around nowadays. IPS, LED, LCD – it‘s easy to get confused by all these terms.

Well, don‘t worry. In this guide, I‘ll explain the key differences between the two most common monitor types – IPS and LED. You‘ll learn how they compare in areas like:

  • Image quality
  • Response time
  • Viewing angles
  • Power efficiency
  • Price

By the end, you‘ll know exactly what kind of monitor is best suited for your needs – whether gaming, graphic design, or just casual browsing. Sound good? Let‘s dive in!

IPS and LED Monitor Technology Explained

Before we compare IPS vs LED monitors directly, it‘s important to understand what these terms actually mean and the display technologies behind them.

What is IPS?

IPS stands for "in-plane switching". It‘s an LCD (liquid crystal display) technology that was designed to improve on older TFT panels.

The key innovation with IPS panels is the way they align liquid crystals within the screen. IPS uses tiny transistors to control electric fields across the crystals so they remain aligned properly.

This allows IPS monitors to have two major advantages compared to normal TFT screens:

1. Accurate colors from all viewing angles – IPS can maintain color accuracy and vibrancy even when you view the screen from extreme side angles up to 178°. So the colors don‘t get washed out when looking at the monitor from off-center.

2. Wider viewing angles – In addition to keeping colors accurate, IPS lets you view the screen clearly from wider angles. You can tilt or shift your head without the image distorting or contrast shifting like on cheaper displays.

So in summary, IPS leverages advanced LCD technology to deliver consistent, accurate colors regardless of your vantage point. This is ideal for color-sensitive work.

Now, what about LED monitors?

What is LED?

LED stands for "light emitting diode". This refers to the type of backlighting used in the monitor.

Traditional LCD monitors used CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) tubes to provide backlight. But in LED monitors, tiny LED light bulbs are arranged in a panel behind the screen.

Some key advantages of LED backlighting:

  • More energy efficient – LEDs use up to 40% less power than CCFL tubes
  • Allow ultra-thin displays – LED panels are thinner than CCFL tubes
  • Better brightness control – LEDs have a higher dynamic range for contrast and HDR

Manufacturers like Samsung and LG have adopted LED backlighting for most of their monitors and TVs. The downside though is that pure LED panels have worse color accuracy than IPS.

But newer quantum dot LEDs improve on this with color performance closing in on IPS levels. More on this later.

Now that you know what IPS and LED mean, let‘s compare them across a few important categories.

IPS vs LED Monitor Comparison

Here‘s how IPS and LED monitors stack up against each other in key areas:

Image Quality

For color-critical work like design, photo editing, and video, IPS panels deliver far better image quality than plain LED monitors. Here‘s why:

Color accuracy

IPS displays produce over 99% of the sRGB color space. So you get vibrant, lifelike colors ideal for graphical projects.

On the other hand, ordinary LED-backlit LCD panels render only 70-80% of sRGB. Colors look more washed out and muted on LED.

Viewing angles

IPS maintains the same image quality even when viewing the monitor from extreme 178° side angles. LED screens dim and get discolored past 160°.

Light uniformity

IPS distributes backlight evenly across the monitor for consistent brightness. On LED panels, backlight can leak causing bright spots.

Sharpness

IPS crystals align precisely for sharper on-screen details. LEDs use light diffusers that can marginally reduce sharpness.

For everyday use and gaming, LED displays still look decent. But for demanding color work, IPS is miles ahead. Some stats:

  • 99% of graphic designers use IPS monitors according to a 2021 survey
  • IPS panels have 27% better color accuracy than VA/TN panels according to TFTCentral

This level of color precision is vital for design, photography, and print/web projects. It‘s why brands like Dell, Eizo, and BenQ equip their professional monitors with IPS technology.

That said, quantum dot LED backlighting helps narrow the gap when it comes to color reproduction. We‘ll talk more about quantum dot monitors later on.

Response Time and Refresh Rate

Response time measures how quickly a monitor updates on-screen motion from one frame to the next. It‘s a crucial spec for gaming, video, and 3D modeling.

Slow response times can lead to visual artifacts like ghosting or blurring in fast-paced scenes. Here are the typical numbers for IPS vs LED:

IPS response times

  • 4-10ms for regular 60Hz IPS monitors
  • Around 5ms for144Hz+ IPS gaming monitors

LED response times

  • 1-5ms for most LED gaming monitors
  • As low as 0.5ms or 0.1ms for high-end LED esports monitors

Clearly, LED monitors have significantly faster response rates – especially high-end gaming models from brands like Asus, Acer, and Alienware.

This enables a smoother, lag-free gaming experience critical for online shooters, racing, and action RPGs. Even fast-moving video looks crisp without motion blurring.

That‘s why LED rules for hardcore gaming. Plus, high refresh rates beyond 60Hz are easier to find on LED gaming monitors too.

Lightning-quick 240Hz monitors used in esports tournaments rely on LED panels to achieve blazing 1ms response times. IPS can‘t yet match such speeds.

Viewing Angles

One area where IPS monitors shine over LED is viewing angles.

IPS maintains color accuracy up to 178° off-center, allowing you to see the display properly even when viewing it from extreme angles.

Meanwhile, LED viewing angles top out at around 160° before you notice color shifting and dimming.

So IPS gives you more flexibility in monitor positioning and head movement without compromising image quality. This can be beneficial for:

  • Color-critical work where you‘re often leaning side-to-side to examine details
  • Presentations, meetings, and conferences where viewers are sitting at different angles
  • Small workspaces where the monitor needs to be placed off-center
  • Gaming and movie sessions with a group where everyone wants clear visibility

IPS is still the undisputed champion when it comes to wide viewing angles.

Power Efficiency

If your priority is saving power and reducing your electricity bills, LED monitors are more energy-efficient.

Here are typical power consumption figures:

  • 27" IPS monitor – 50-100 watts
  • 27" LED monitor – 20-50 watts

The LED backlighting consumes 35-60% less power than IPS/LCD monitors of the same size. Over years of prolonged use, the energy savings do add up.

Gamers and designers running monitors for 10+ hours daily gain the most benefit. Plus, increased power efficiency is good for the environment.

However, newer IPS panels are closing the efficiency gap with LEDs thanks to backlighting innovations like white LED and W-RGB. Top-tier IPS monitors now draw only ~10 watts more than equivalent LED models.

Pricing

In the budget monitor segment, LED panels tend to be more affordable than comparably-sized IPS monitors.

For example, a value 27" 1080p LED monitor can be found for around $180 these days. A similar 27" IPS monitor would cost at least $60-100 more.

Here are some typical street prices in early 2023:

Monitor Type 24" model 27" model 32" model
1080p LED monitor $120 – $250 $180 – $400 $250 – $500
1080p IPS monitor $180 – $300 $250 – $500 $400 – $700
1440p IPS monitor $250 – $400 $400 – $600 $700 – $1000

Of course, prices vary based on brand, features, and specs. But IPS commands a consistent premium over entry-level LED monitors.

However, the price gap has narrowed over the years between budget IPS options and better-quality quantum dot LED monitors.

IPS vs LED Monitor Pros and Cons

To sum up the key differences in a tabular format:

IPS Monitor Pros IPS Monitor Cons
Accurate and consistent colors Slower response time
178° viewing angles Higher power consumption
Better color and sharpness Pricier than LED
Ideal for design, photo work Limited to 60Hz refresh rates
LED Monitor Pros LED Monitor Cons
Very fast response times Colors not as accurate
High refresh rates beyond 60Hz Narrows viewing angles
Energy efficient Lower sharpness and uniformity
Budget-friendly pricing Not ideal for color-critical work

Now the question is – which monitor technology sounds best aligned with your needs?

Choosing Between IPS vs LED

When deciding on IPS vs LED, consider what you‘ll primarily use the monitor for.

Here are my recommendations per common usage scenarios:

For Work and Everyday Use

An affordable LED monitor is ideal for office work, basic gaming, and media viewing. A 24-27" 1080p screen provides ample space for productivity. Stick to big brands for quality.

For Color-Critical Work

For design, photo editing, print projects, and similar fields, a wide-gamut IPS monitor is the way to go. Prioritize color accuracy, resolution, and a consistent backlight.

For Gaming

For primarily gaming, a high refresh rate LED monitor with quick response times delivers incredibly smooth gameplay. Look for 144Hz or 240Hz models with low input lag.

For Multimedia Enjoyment

An immersive IPS monitor with excellent color reproduction works great for streaming videos and movies. Enjoy consistent image quality when viewing even from off-center.

For a Balance of Gaming and Media

A VA panel monitor provides a balance of color accuracy and fast response time. Not as fast as LED but much better colors than TN. Check out models from Viotek, AOC, and Asus.

New Monitor Technologies to Watch

Beyond plain IPS and LED, there are some emerging monitor technologies worth keeping an eye on:

Quantum Dot LED – Nanocrystal quantum dots enhance the LED backlight resulting in wider color gamuts and accuracy rivaling IPS. Samsung‘s QLED monitors are a good example.

Mini LED – Mini LED backlights have thousands of tiny LEDs for higher brightness, contrast, and local dimming. Apple‘s upcoming monitors feature this tech.

Micro LED – This self-emissive monitor technology does away with backlighting entirely. Individual LEDs make up the pixels themselves. Micro LED delivers stunning image quality with minimal burn-in.

OLED – Organic LED uses self-illuminating pixels for infinite contrast and true blacks. OLED monitors are still rare and expensive but provide gorgeous visuals.

Dual-layer IPS – IPS panels with two liquid crystal layers improve contrast ratio and color depth. Seen in top-tier graphic design monitors.

For now, quantum dot LED and OLED monitors lead the next wave of display innovation. The other technologies will take a few more years to mature and hit mainstream price points.

The Best Monitor for You

Phew, that was a lot of information! Let‘s sum it up:

IPS panels are best for creative work requiring accurate colors and flexible viewing angles. They display consistent and vibrant visuals from all vantage points.

LED monitors excel at delivering super-fast response for gaming and high refresh rates for silky smooth visuals in motion. Plus, they‘re energy efficient and wallet-friendly!

While IPS vs LED used to be a clear-cut choice, the lines are blurring with new tech like quantum dots and OLED. Mini LED and Micro LED also promise exciting improvements down the road.

But at the end of the day, your monitor selection depends on your priorities:

  • Amazing color reproduction – IPS
  • Lightning-fast gaming performance – LED
  • A little of both – VA panels
  • Cutting-edge visuals – Quantum dot, OLED

So think about how you use your monitor most. This will point you towards the right display technology.

And don‘t get hung up on just IPS vs LED – high resolution, refresh rates, and great ergonomics ultimately matter more for a stellar viewing experience.

Hope this guide helped demystify monitor terminology for you. Feel free to reach out if you have any other display-related questions!