IPS vs LED Monitor: Which One is Better?

It’s time to buy a new monitor, but you’re unsure if you should go with an IPS or LED monitor. It’s essential to understand the various display technologies to find a monitor that suits your specific needs.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding IPS and LED. When you’re done reading this article, you’ll know the main differences between IPS and LED monitors.

IPS vs LED Monitor

IPS and LED are very different technologies. IPS is a type of display panel while LED is a light source. Almost all types of display panels (with the exception of OLED) use LED for the backlight. Most IPS monitors use LED as the backlight too.

It’s not fair to compare IPS to LED because they’re not the same. A more fair comparison would be to compare IPS to other display panel types such as VA, TN, or OLED. The reason people tend to compare the IPS vs LED is that LED is listed as a feature on IPS displays.

As a refresher, the following are the three main types of LCD panels:

  • IPS (In-plane Switching)
  • VA (Vertical Alignment)
  • TN (Twisted Nematic)

What is an IPS Monitor?

IPS stands for In-plane Switching which is a type of display panel. Without getting into too much detail, IPS panels rotate the liquid crystals, shifting them around as needed. Every type of display panel arranges the liquid crystals in different ways.

How does that translate to day to day life? Generally, IPS monitors are known to have great colour accuracy and wide viewing angles. It’s the most common display panel, considered the middle-ground for panel features. Most professionals that require colour-accurate monitors for editing photos or videos will use an IPS monitor.

Unfortunately, IPS monitors are a little bit pricier than other LCD panel types, with the exception of OLED, which is currently the most expensive. However, prices are steadily dropping and you can find plenty of decent  1080P IPS monitors on the market for a reasonable price.

Are There LED Monitors?

No. LED is a light source and needs to be used in combination with an LCD panel. There are some pure LED displays but those are mostly used for road signs or advertisements. For example, traffic signs that signal road conditions and whatnot.

There are some new TVs with an advanced type of LED, either Micro LED or Mini LED. Nevertheless, Micro LED and Mini LED mainly refer to the size of the individual LEDs on the backlight of the display.

Displays with Micro or Mini LEDs can utilize a feature called full array dimming which dynamically dims the backlight based on the picture scene.

Benefits of IPS Monitors

IPS monitors have certain advantages over other LCD panels.

Colour Accuracy

As mentioned earlier, IPS monitors are mainly known for their colours. The improved colours make the image quality on IPS panels hard to beat. Most IPS panels can reach up to 99% sRGB colour space coverage.

Generally, when compared to other panel types, the IPS panel has the best colour accuracy. If colours are important to you (and they should be!) you should go with an IPS monitor.

Good Viewing Angles

While not much of an issue for monitors, IPS panels have great viewing angles. You can watch an IPS TV from almost any angle and it will look just as clear. There are also lots of curved IPS monitors on the market.

Minimal Ghosting and Smearing

IPS panels can switch colours very quickly which eliminates ghosting and smearing in most cases. Certain panels like VA panels are known to have lots of ghosting with dark colours. Ghosting looks like a blurry trail behind the object. IPS panels have good colour response times across the board, so there’s very little ghosting even with dark colours.

Downsides to IPS Monitors

Not Great Contrast Ratios

Most IPS monitors have a contrast ratio of 1,000:1 but it can be lower depending on the display model. The contrast ratio is much lower than other LCD panel types. The real-life result would be dark colours are not as dark as they should be. For the average person, the contrast ratio shouldn’t be an issue.


IPS monitors are still pricey, especially 4K 144 Hz IPS monitors. There are plenty of basic 1080P 60 Hz IPS monitors that are affordable. If you’re not interested in high refresh rates, there are still plenty of budget-friendly options.

Just bear in mind, that IPS panels are the most expensive type of panel, besides OLED.

IPS Glow

IPS glow is an issue that plagues IPS monitors. It looks like certain areas of the screen are brighter than others, usually in the corners. It’s an unfortunate issue which is common on IPS displays. It’s more noticeable in dark rooms, with dark scenes.

On newer IPS displays, it’s not that noticeable, but the severity varies depending on the quality of the panel.

What About OLED Panels?

OLED is a completely different type of display that does not use a strip of LEDs as the backlight. In simple terms, each pixel on an OLED panel creates its own light, so there’s no need for a backlight.

For that reason, OLEDs are known for having the best image quality because they can achieve pure black. With OLED, when black is on the screen, the pixels are not powered on. To compare with other panels, the colour black will always be slightly grey because other panels use backlights.

OLED is better than IPS but it’s much more expensive. There are OLED monitors out there, but they cost much more than the average person is willing to spend on a monitor.

As for OLED, the two main downsides are; that they can get burn-in, and the max brightness is a bit low. However, it actually takes a significant amount of time for an OLED panel to burn in.

Is an IPS Monitor Right for You?

Currently, IPS monitors are the sweet spot between display features and budget. Most people will be happy with an IPS monitor. I recommend going for an IPS monitor, there are models for almost every activity.

Granted there are some downsides, but they’re not as noticeable as the downsides from other types of display panels. Take ghosting for example, which is very common with dark colours on VA panels. There’s very little ghosting on IPS panels.

To summarize, you can’t compare IPS monitors to LED monitors because they’re different parts of the same machine. IPS is the type of panel, and LED is the backlight. The only type of display panel that does not use an LED backlight is OLED.

Overall though, if you’re trying to decide which type of monitor to buy, I highly recommend IPS panels.

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About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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