When it comes to choosing a display technology, you might find yourself torn between the old and trusted IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology and the increasingly popular OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) panels. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into these two technologies, helping you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

OLED vs. IPS

The fundamental difference between these two panel technologies lies in how they produce images. Unlike LCD LED panels such as VA, TN, and IPS, OLED displays don’t rely on a backlight. Instead, each pixel emits its own light, allowing for an infinite contrast ratio. This results in stunning image quality with true blacks and without backlight bleeding, glowing, blooming, or other visual artifacts.

In comparison, IPS and even VA TVs and monitors have grayish blacks. However, IPS panels can get much brighter, especially if they’re enhanced with a mini LED backlight. Some mini LED displays can reach over 2,000-nits of peak brightness for both small <10% window sizes and full-screen white windows, while OLED displays are usually limited to around 1,000-nits for small <5% window sizes and 150 to 250-nits for full-screen white windows.

OLED Image Retention/Burn-In

Burn In
Burn In

One of the main concerns with OLED displays is image burn-in. If a static image is left on the screen for a long time, there’s a chance the image will burn in and become permanently visible in the background. However, most OLED TVs on the market today are equipped with preventative measures to curb burn-in. These include built-in screen savers, pixel shifters, and other features. As long as you don’t leave the same static image on the screen for too long and play varying content so that the pixels refresh, burn-in shouldn’t be an issue.

Screen Size

For most people, the display size is the first thing to consider when buying a new TV or monitor. OLED TVs (and some monitors) use either LG’s 42″ – 97″ W-OLED panels or Samsung’s 55″ – 77″ QD-OLED panels – both of which have 4K UHD resolution and a 120Hz native refresh rate. There are also a few 14″ – 22″ portable OLED displays mainly intended for color-critical work on the go, as well as 27″ and 32″ 4K 60Hz high-end professional monitors.

On the other hand, LED-backlit displays are available in various sizes ranging from 14-inch to over 100-inch models. So, if you’re looking for a specific size, such as a 27″ – 32″ 4K high refresh rate monitor, a 34″+ ultrawide, or a smaller ~24″ sized model with an OLED panel, you might have to wait until they become available or opt for an IPS, TN, or VA monitor instead.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

When it comes to HDR, both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages. IPS panels have a low native contrast ratio, so they need an expensive full-array local dimming (FALD) implementation to overcome that. However, as each pixel is self-emissive on an OLED display, you essentially get over 8 million dimming zones on a 4K panel, resulting in a much better image quality overall without any blooming.

SDR vs HDR
SDR vs HDR

The main advantage of IPS panels is that they can get much brighter, especially if they’re enhanced with a mini LED backlight. So, if you’re watching the screen in a particularly bright room, HDR content can appear underwhelming on OLED displays in comparison to mini LED LCDs. Therefore, your choice between IPS and OLED might come down to your personal preference and the lighting conditions in your room.

Gaming

Another significant advantage of OLED panels is the instantaneous pixel response time speed that ensures there’s no noticeable ghosting or overshoot behind fast-moving objects, regardless of the refresh rate. With IPS displays, the response time performance varies from panel to panel. However, even the fastest IPS panel isn’t as quick as OLED, but as long as its pixels transitions can keep up with the refresh rate, gaming performance will be smooth.

OLED displays have a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz, which is plenty for most gamers. In 2024 though, we’ll be seeing the first 360Hz and 480Hz models. However, because high refresh rates bring lower input lag, competitive and professional gamers will always aim for the fastest panel and there are TN monitors with up to 540Hz already available.

Another advantage of OLED technology is that they look better when displaying a non-native resolution. So, if 4K is too demanding for your system, running a 4K OLED at 2560×1440 will look better than running the same resolution on a 4K IPS display.

Longevity, Power Consumption, and Design

While OLED panels should last as long as LED ones, this hasn’t yet been confirmed, as OLED TVs are relatively new on the market. Power consumption between the two is pretty much the same, depending on what brightness setting you are using. While both panel technologies allow the display to be very thin, OLED displays can be a lot thinner than LED LCDs.

Price

Both OLED and mini LED displays are finally becoming more affordable. The cheapest OLED can be found for ~$800 on sale, while mini LED IPS monitors start at $250 with the AOC Q27G3XMN.

In conclusion, both IPS and OLED have their strengths and weaknesses. Your choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize brightness, contrast, color accuracy, or response time, both technologies offer excellent options for a wide range of applications.

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