FHD vs. IPS Monitors: 5 Must-Know Facts
- FHD is synonymous with 1080p resolution.
- IPS is a type of LCD (liquid crystal display) with flexible viewing angles and beautiful color reproduction.
- FHD is a screen format, while IPS is a screen panel technology.
- IPS isn’t strictly worse or better than TN displays or VA displays, but instead has a different blend of traits that work for some and not for others.
- FHD has a 2k resolution, which is far from the best out there. QHD and UHD use 3k and 4k resolution, respectively.
FHD and IPS are terms commonly used to describe televisions and computer monitors. Seeing as they’re just 3-letter acronyms, it can be very difficult to tell if they’re just buzzwords or if they are actually meaningful. And, besides that, how do you know which will be better for you?
Well, you can actually have both. Full high definition (FHD) is a measurement of resolution. FHD displays use a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p).
On the other hand, in-plane switching (IPS) is a type of LCD panel technology used in screens. While FHD doesn’t really dictate anything about the monitor except for resolution, IPS has a variety of unique features when compared to other screen technologies.
Both FHD and IPS will have an impact on your viewing experience, whether you’re using them for watching shows, gaming, or work. Some of the features you’ll be looking for from a monitor will be different depending on your usage.
Regardless, there are consistently good-to-have features you should keep an eye on. The main one is resolution (which FHD covers). Higher resolutions are easier on the eyes, look smoother, and seem more cohesive. The size of the monitor is also pretty important, as are the refresh rate and response rate.
Although one display can be FHD and IPS at the same time, you might still need to pick between a monitor with FHD/IPS and a monitor with only FHD.
So, how will you make that decision? Let’s break it all down below so you know what to do.
FHD vs. IPS Monitors: A Side-by-Side Comparison
|Full High Definition (FHD)||In-Plane Switching (IPS)|
|What is it?||Screen format/pixel resolution||Type of LCD screen panel|
|Unique features||1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p) resolution||Consistent color, better viewing angles, no tailing|
|Typical price of a monitor||$85+||$100 – $1500|
|Alternative technology||HD, FHD, QHD, UHD||TN, VA, LED panels|
FHD vs. IPS Monitors: How Good Are They?
Since FHD and IPS refer to technologies that are really quite different, comparing them directly can be like comparing apples to oranges. It’s nearly impossible to get a sense of how good they are without taking a closer look at the features you’ll get with each technology.
Full High Definition (FHD)
You’ve probably heard of HD in the context of visuals, which sounds good, but is only half the resolution of full HD. High definition, as an older screen format, uses 1280 x 720 pixels. The difference is very noticeable no matter the context.
To read those resolution specs, you simply multiply the two numbers together. FHD’s 1920 x 1080 pixels come out to 2 million pixels–-or bits–-across the entire screen. The resolution numbers also describe the height and length of a display.
An FHD monitor will have 1920 pixels across its horizontal length and 1080 pixels vertically. Note that these pixel measurements don’t directly correlate to an inch measurement, so how they look will depend on the display’s size.
Pixels per inch (PPI) is used to translate between pixels and inches. Using PPI, you can get a better idea of what the pixel density will be; higher densities will look better to a point, and after that icons will start to look strangely small. 90-110 PPI is considered the golden standard for monitors.
Putting that into practice, an FHD monitor with a pixel density of 60 PPI (a physically larger screen) is going to look worse than an FHD monitor with a pixel density of 100 PPI (a physically smaller screen). Thus, it’s not just the FHD that matters, but the PPI that the display allows for.
The direct alternatives to FHD are other screen formats or resolutions. These include regular HD, QHD, and UHD. We already went over HD, which is the smallest resolution that’s regularly available.
Quad high definition (QHD) uses 2560 x 1440 pixels, and ultra-high definition (UHD) is standardized at 3840 x 2160 pixels. Confusingly, quad high definition is named that way because it’s 4 times the resolution of HD. Ultra-high definition is the screen format that’s actually called ‘4k,’ rounded up from 3840p.
Full HD feels overshadowed compared to these higher resolution formats, but it’s really a good place to start for just about any use case. After all, our brains can only appreciate so many pixels before it becomes hard to tell the difference!
In-Plane Switching (IPS)
IPS screens are a type of LCD panel, with LCD standing for liquid crystal display. As the category implies, IPS screens and all other LCD panels are made of liquid crystals arranged together.
An IPS display has liquid crystals lined up horizontally in parallel. This design has several benefits, although it’s not without its drawbacks, either. IPS displays are more expensive than the more commonly used TN panel.
As you’ll see, the pros of getting an IPS screen can be somewhat niche compared to the meaningful cost difference. Depending on your situation, IPS might not actually be all that good of an option.
Where IPS excels is in color display and viewing angles. Usually, you can’t look at a screen from an angle without starting to see strange, distorted colors. This inversion happens much less often (and only at sharper angles) with an IPS display.
If you have a touch screen, IPS displays will feel significantly better than a typical TN panel. Have you ever tried to wipe dust or hair off your non-IPS screen? You might have noticed a ‘trail’ of distortion following your finger. IPS displays don’t have that issue, making them ideal for touch screen technology.
Overall, IPS works extremely well in certain cases. Outside of that, IPS doesn’t necessarily make for a better display than other LCD panels.
Any display that mentions LCD but doesn’t specify which kind is probably using TN panels. These screens are the most common (particularly in lower-end tech) and the cheapest type of LCD panel that can still get the job done.
TN panels are strictly worse at what IPS is good at: viewing angles and color reproduction. You need to be looking at the screen directly, head-on, for it to be reasonably accurate and functional.
They actually have a better response time than IPS monitors, despite TN panels being cheaper. This means that you won’t have to wait as long between sending the input to your computer and seeing the change on your monitor. Either way, most IPS and TN displays are going to have response times plenty fast enough for casual usage.
The third kind of LCD panel is a VA display. It’s the most expensive but still has response times just behind TN panels. Visually, though, VA displays can do any scene justice. VA has an amazing contrast ratio and decent color reproduction.
FHD vs. IPS Monitors: What Should I Get?
You can get an FHD monitor, an IPS monitor, or any other blend of screen format and panel technology that you’d like. The combination of FHD and IPS is solid in some situations but isn’t ideal everywhere.
When to Get an IPS Monitor
If you’re using extra work monitors that are set up at an angle, it can be worth it to invest in IPS displays. The screen distortion you experience with other LCD monitors gets old fast–-it’s definitely better to take the upfront cost of an IPS monitor than to deal with a worse monitor for years.
Graphic design and other visual professions can also benefit from an IPS monitor because of the improved color reproduction. A TN display will let you down with its mediocre graphics. Although VA displays have great color, they’re also more expensive. IPS monitors are the perfect middle ground in this situation.
In gaming, IPS might not be the best. IPS displays used to be known for having significantly lower response and refresh rates, both of which have had meaningful improvements in the past years. Still, they don’t quite match the response speeds of a TN panel.
Fast-paced games that require constant, real-time action (especially tactical shooters) might be better with a TN display. Games with beautiful visuals are the most enjoyable with a IPS or VA display, though. It all depends on what kind of games you want to play and what you want your experience to be like.
When to Get an FHD Monitor
As for FHD, 1080p resolution is fine for most things so long as it’s matched with a good pixel density/PPI. You’ll only need to upgrade if you want a very large monitor or you want the absolute best of the best graphics.
Ultimately, FHD and IPS are both good things to have in a monitor. But they aren’t as related as you might think, and there are plenty of alternatives that could be better (or worse!) depending on your needs.
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