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On your search for the perfect gaming monitor, you might encounter several terms, labels and numbers whose meanings are often not immediately clear. LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays) monitors can come in three different types: TN (Twisted Nematic), IPS (In-Plane Switching) and VA (Vertical Alignment). Let’s take a closer look at VA panels and their evolution into gaming monitors.
In general, Vertical Alignment refers to the positioning of the liquid crystals in between two polarising filters. Depending on the direction the crystals are facing, they let backlight either pass through or block out in a different way. VA technology was discovered already in the early 1970s. Around twenty years later, the Japanese company Fujitsu made VA panels marketable and since then, the monitors have steadily improved. There are several elements that are important for your choice of the perfect gaming display.
Image quality: IPS monitors come with the largest colour gamut and offer the richest image quality on the market. In the past, VA panels trailed behind and could not convince with their display of colours.
Nowadays, as the technology is being further researched and improved, VA panels are right in the middle between IPS and TN. Their colour reproduction can offer a great experience, as they start with full sRGB coverage as minimum. The best products on the market can easily achieve 85 and 90% DCI-P3 coverage. Most of AOC’s models feature 16.7 Million display colours which are more than enough to create an immersive, life-like experience.
Contrast: The lushest colours are only worth so much if your image gets ruined by weak and muddy contrasts. The contrast ratio shows the difference between the luminance of the brightest white and the darkest black. The higher the ratio, the more nuanced and sharper your contrast looks.
VA panels excel at a deep contrast ratio and are far beyond in the LCD technology. Dark scenes are portrayed in a rich black, while IPS for comparison can only achieve a grey shade. Usually, VA panels have a contrast ratio ranging from 3000:1 to 6000:1, whereas IPS mostly reaches a ratio of 1000:1.
A high and diverse contrast ratio is especially important for atmospheric games, as well as titles that are settled in a more sinister environment. You will still have a perfect overview and are able to see all details, instead of paving your way through a blurry muddy mass of grey and black areas.
Viewing angle: The viewing angle describes at which angle you can look at your monitor and still experience good image quality. When the first VA panels were manufactured in 1971, the angle was quite narrow and did not allow viewers to move their position. Thanks to further development, the viewing angle could be increased steadily and in the 1990s, the VA was finally ready for commercial use.
Not only are VA panels affected by such issues. A VA monitor for example will lose its saturation level when looking from a side angle, whereas IPS will lose luminosity. Nowadays, the viewing angle of VA panels has been drastically improved, being between the quality of TN and IPS panels. When used as a gaming monitor only, the angle does not even have any noticeable effect and just plays a role when used as a TV display. Nonetheless, AOC’s VA panels come with a 178/178 º viewing angle, so you can comfortably spectate the action on screen from any direction.
Refresh rate: The refresh rate of a monitor specifies how many frames per second a display computes. The value of this rate is measured in Hertz, which shows the number of times per second an image gets updated. One image per second equals 1 Hz, therefore the higher the amount, the smoother your image quality.
With a standard of 60Hz, VA panels offer a solid refresh rate that enables you to play all your games fluently. While 60 Hz are a rather average value in the realm of gaming monitors, there are also VA screens on the market that reach way higher numbers. As an example, the AOC C32G2ZE/BK boast outstanding 240 Hz which guarantee flawless action on-screen.
Response time: The response time often gets mixed up with refresh rate, but both features entail a different aspect. Response time refers to the time it takes your monitor to shift from one colour to another, usually measured in black-to-black.
While VA panels impress with their flawless contrast, they come with a slightly higher response time than TN and IPS by default. The higher the response time, the greater the risk for motion blur. VA used to be on the lower end with an average of 5 ms. However, the technology gets constantly developed to reach the best standard possible. Therefore, an older low-end model might come with a noticeable blur. Later monitors boast a faster response time. Most of AOC’s VA models are designed with super-fast 1 ms MPRT, guaranteeing smooth, fast-moving action. The C27G2ZU/BK takes the crown by reducing the response time even further to super-sonic 0.5 ms.
VA have long redeemed themselves from being second choice to an outstanding option on the monitor market. VA is the middle ground between TN and IPS panels, combining their advantages and therefore a rock-solid choice no matter what you intend to use your display for. If you are an avid movie fan or indulge into darker, high-contrast video games, a VA panel would be the perfect monitor.
But if you tend to play colourful titles and want the widest viewing angle, you can also go for an IPS monitor. For more information on this technology, check out our article on IPS panels to decide what display will upgrade your gaming setup next and trap you into the realms of your favourite game – be it colourful or rich in contrast. https://eu.aoc.com/en/news/choose-your-panel-wisely-why-ips