OLED vs. IPS: Choosing Your Display Champion

Last Updated: May 2, 2024By
Computer setup with scenic monitor keyboard and accessories

Choosing the perfect display for your device can be a game-changer. With so many options available, it’s crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different technologies.

Two of the most popular choices in the market today are OLED and IPS displays. While both deliver impressive visuals, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

OLED and IPS Technology

To appreciate the differences between OLED and IPS displays, it’s essential to understand how each technology works. While both aim to deliver high-quality visuals, their approaches to achieving this goal vary significantly.

How OLED Displays Work

OLED displays rely on a unique property called electroluminescence. Each pixel in an OLED panel consists of organic compounds that emit light when an electric current passes through them.

This self-emissive nature eliminates the need for a separate backlight, as each pixel can be individually controlled to produce light. As a result, OLED displays can achieve perfect black levels by simply turning off the relevant pixels, leading to exceptional contrast ratios and vibrant colors.

The self-emissive nature of OLED pixels also enables faster response times, as the pixels can switch on and off rapidly without relying on a backlight. This responsiveness is particularly beneficial for applications that require quick transitions, such as gaming or watching fast-paced content.

The Technology Behind IPS Displays

IPS displays, on the other hand, rely on a more traditional approach using liquid crystals. In an IPS panel, the liquid crystals are aligned horizontally, parallel to the panel’s surface.

When an electric current is applied, the crystals rotate, allowing light from a backlight to pass through and create the desired image.

The horizontal alignment of the liquid crystals in IPS panels offers several advantages over other LCD technologies. Firstly, it provides wider viewing angles, ensuring that colors and contrast remain consistent even when viewed from different positions.

Additionally, IPS displays typically offer better color accuracy and reproduction compared to other LCD variants.

However, the reliance on a backlight in IPS displays has its drawbacks. Since the backlight is always on, even when displaying black, IPS panels struggle to achieve the same deep black levels as OLED displays.

This limitation can impact the overall contrast ratio and the perceived depth of the image.

Image Quality Comparison

When it comes to choosing a display, image quality is often the top priority for most users. Both OLED and IPS technologies offer impressive visuals, but they excel in different aspects.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two technologies compare in terms of contrast ratio, black levels, color accuracy, brightness, and viewing angles.

Contrast Ratio and Black Levels

One of the most striking differences between OLED and IPS displays lies in their contrast ratio and black levels. OLED displays have a significant advantage in this area due to their self-emissive nature.

Each pixel in an OLED panel can be individually turned off, resulting in true black and infinite contrast ratios. This means that dark scenes appear incredibly deep and rich, with no light bleed from neighboring pixels.

In contrast, IPS displays rely on a backlight that is always on, even when displaying black.

As a result, IPS panels struggle to achieve the same level of black as OLED displays. While IPS technology has improved over the years, with better local dimming and black frame insertion techniques, it still falls short of OLED’s superior black levels and contrast ratios.

Color Accuracy and Brightness

When it comes to color accuracy, IPS displays have traditionally been the go-to choice for professionals who require precise color reproduction. IPS panels offer excellent color consistency and accuracy, making them suitable for tasks such as photo editing, graphic design, and video color grading.

They also provide a wider color gamut, allowing for more vibrant and lifelike colors.

OLED displays, while known for their vibrant colors, have faced challenges in terms of color accuracy in the past. However, recent advancements in OLED technology have significantly improved their color performance.

High-end OLED displays now offer exceptional color accuracy, rivaling that of professional-grade IPS panels. Additionally, OLED displays have an advantage in terms of brightness, as they can achieve higher peak brightness levels compared to most IPS displays.

Viewing Angles and Image Consistency

Another area where IPS displays shine is in their wide viewing angles. IPS technology ensures that colors and contrast remain consistent, even when viewed from different angles.

This is particularly important for larger displays or in situations where multiple people are viewing the screen simultaneously, such as in a meeting room or a living room setup.

OLED displays also offer excellent viewing angles, with minimal color shift or contrast loss when viewed from the side. However, some OLED panels may exhibit slight color shifts at extreme angles, particularly with older models.

Overall, both OLED and IPS displays provide satisfactory viewing angles for most users, with IPS having a slight edge in terms of consistency.

Performance in Different Applications

Laptop displaying colorful abstract design on wooden table

While understanding the technical differences between OLED and IPS displays is important, it’s equally crucial to consider how these technologies perform in various real-world applications. From gaming to professional use and general media consumption, each technology has its strengths and weaknesses.

Gaming Performance

For gamers, the choice between OLED and IPS displays can significantly impact their overall experience. OLED displays have a distinct advantage when it comes to response times.

The self-emissive nature of OLED pixels allows for near-instantaneous switching between states, resulting in minimal motion blur and ghosting. This responsiveness is particularly beneficial in fast-paced games where quick reactions are essential.

IPS displays, while not as fast as OLED, have made significant strides in gaming performance. Many modern IPS panels feature high refresh rates, often reaching 144Hz or even 240Hz, which can greatly enhance the smoothness and fluidity of gameplay.

Additionally, IPS displays typically have lower input lag compared to other LCD technologies, making them a viable choice for competitive gaming.

Professional Applications

In professional settings, such as graphic design, photography, and video editing, color accuracy and consistency are paramount. IPS displays have long been the preferred choice for professionals due to their excellent color reproduction and wide color gamut.

Many high-end IPS monitors come with factory calibration and advanced color management features, ensuring that the colors displayed on the screen match industry standards.

OLED displays, while not as commonly used in professional environments, have started to make their way into high-end professional monitors. The deep blacks, high contrast ratios, and wide color gamut of OLED panels can be beneficial for certain professional applications, such as video editing and color grading.

However, the risk of burn-in and the higher cost of OLED monitors may deter some professionals from adopting this technology.

Everyday Media Consumption

For general media consumption, such as watching movies, TV shows, and browsing the web, both OLED and IPS displays offer excellent performance. OLED displays, with their deep blacks and high contrast ratios, provide an immersive viewing experience, particularly in dark environments.

The ability to display true black allows OLED panels to deliver stunning high dynamic range (HDR) content, with bright highlights and rich, detailed shadows.

IPS displays, while not as contrasty as OLED, still offer a great viewing experience for everyday use. The wide viewing angles and consistent color reproduction of IPS panels make them suitable for sharing content with others or viewing from different positions.

Additionally, IPS displays are generally more affordable than OLED panels, making them a popular choice for mainstream consumer devices such as laptops, monitors, and tablets.

Longevity and Durability

When investing in a display, it’s important to consider the long-term durability and lifespan of the technology. Both OLED and IPS displays have their own unique challenges when it comes to maintaining optimal performance over time.

Burn-in and Image Retention Risks

One of the main concerns with OLED displays is the potential for burn-in or permanent image retention. Burn-in occurs when a static image is displayed on the screen for an extended period, causing the pixels to degrade and leave a persistent afterimage.

This issue is more prevalent in OLED displays due to the organic nature of the pixels, which can deteriorate over time.

To mitigate the risk of burn-in, OLED display manufacturers have implemented various techniques, such as pixel shifting, screen savers, and automatic brightness adjustment. However, users should still be mindful of static content and take precautions to avoid prolonged display of fixed images.

IPS displays, on the other hand, are less susceptible to burn-in. While IPS panels can experience temporary image retention, this is usually less severe and more easily reversible compared to OLED burn-in.

Image retention on IPS displays typically disappears after a short period of displaying varied content.

Expected Lifespan and Preventive Measures

In terms of overall lifespan, IPS displays generally have an advantage over OLED panels. The backlight in an IPS display is typically rated for a longer lifespan compared to the organic pixels in an OLED panel.

However, advancements in OLED technology have significantly improved the lifespan of modern OLED displays, with many manufacturers offering extended warranties to address concerns about premature degradation.

To maximize the lifespan of both OLED and IPS displays, users can take several preventive measures. These include:

  • Avoiding static content and prolonged display of fixed images
  • Using built-in screen savers and pixel shifting features
  • Adjusting brightness levels to reduce strain on the pixels
  • Ensuring proper ventilation to prevent overheating

Many manufacturers offer extended warranties specifically covering burn-in for OLED displays, providing added peace of mind for users concerned about this issue. It’s essential to review the warranty terms and conditions carefully when purchasing an OLED or IPS display to understand the coverage and any limitations.

Cost and Value

Close up view of OLED pixels on circuit board

When deciding between OLED and IPS displays, cost and value are crucial factors to consider. While both technologies offer impressive performance, they differ in terms of initial purchase price and long-term value.

Initial Purchase Price Comparison

OLED displays, known for their superior image quality and performance, come with a premium price tag. The complex manufacturing process and the use of organic materials contribute to the higher cost of OLED panels.

As a result, OLED displays are often more expensive than their IPS counterparts, particularly in larger sizes.

In contrast, IPS displays offer a more cost-effective solution. The manufacturing process for IPS panels is more mature and less expensive compared to OLED, resulting in lower prices for consumers.

This makes IPS displays a popular choice for budget-conscious buyers who still want good image quality and performance.

Long-term Value Assessment

When evaluating the long-term value of OLED and IPS displays, it’s important to consider factors beyond the initial purchase price. One aspect to consider is the lifespan and durability of the display.

As mentioned earlier, IPS displays generally have a longer lifespan compared to OLED panels, which can be more susceptible to burn-in and pixel degradation over time. However, with proper care and usage, both technologies can provide years of reliable performance.

Energy consumption is another factor that can impact long-term value. OLED displays are known for their energy efficiency, as they only consume power for the pixels that are actively lit. This can result in lower power consumption, especially when displaying dark content.

IPS displays, on the other hand, require a backlight that is always on, consuming more power overall. However, advancements in backlight technology, such as local dimming and energy-efficient LEDs, have helped reduce the power consumption of IPS displays.

Ultimately, the long-term value of OLED and IPS displays depends on individual needs and priorities. For users who prioritize image quality and are willing to pay a premium, OLED displays offer unparalleled performance.

However, for those who prioritize cost-effectiveness and long-term durability, IPS displays provide a compelling alternative.


OLED displays excel in delivering deep blacks, high contrast ratios, and wide viewing angles, making them ideal for applications that demand exceptional image quality. However, their higher price point and potential for burn-in may be concerns for some users.

On the other hand, IPS displays offer excellent color accuracy, wide viewing angles, and good overall performance at a more affordable price. While they may not match the contrast and black levels of OLED, IPS panels provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for a wide range of uses.

Choosing between OLED and IPS ultimately depends on your specific requirements and preferences. If you prioritize the best possible image quality and are willing to invest in a premium display, OLED technology may be the way to go. However, if you value color accuracy, affordability, and long-term durability, IPS displays offer a compelling alternative.

As you make your decision, consider not only your current needs but also your future requirements. Think about how you will be using the display, whether for gaming, professional work, or general media consumption, and evaluate which technology aligns best with your priorities.