LED vs LCD Monitors – What’s the difference?

There are a few different types of monitors on the market, however the most popular by far are LED and LCD monitors. But what is the difference between these two types of displays?

Well, there are some subtle but quite significant differences between products, which could influence your buying decision. However, in short: LCD is a type of LED display. Not all LED displays are LCD, but all LCD are LED

A little confusing? Don’t worry, we’ll explain it all in this article. Let’s compare LED and LCD monitors to one another.

LED vs LCD Monitors

Both LCD and LED are often confused for each other. It’s best to start by explaining what each of them stand for, and what they actually do.

LED stands for light-emitting diode and LCD for liquid crystal display. The actual name for LCD should be ‘LED-lit LCD display’, but it is normally shortened to just LCD.

These names reference the way that they work, however all LED screens are LCD screens; LED screens just have an extra functionality that makes them work slightly differently. 

LED screens are named so because of the light-emitting diode lights that are installed in the screen themselves. These screens can be volatile or static; some of them will only respond to touch and others will display a picture even when they are turned off. 

There are benefits to these types of monitor, like a better quality picture. Another potential benefit is local dimming. The local dimming feature essentially dims down the certain areas of the backlight of your television.

This can make the screen itself appear darker, and better at producing blacks. You’ve probably heard people talk about contrast ratios, and this is something that dimming can help with. The higher the contrast levels, the greater the difference between blacks and whites on your display.

For a realistic picture, this LED backlighting feature is typically thought of as being a good thing. And because of this, LED TV’s have become more popular than a standard LCD display.

How are LCD monitors different?

The main difference between LED and LCD is that LCD screens feature a layer of liquid crystal. This is put in between two plates, and images are made by light passing through parts of liquid crystal.

These parts of liquid crystal either enhance or block an area, which in turn creates the image. Most LCD displays have LED lights that further bring out the image. These are colloquially known as LED screens. 

Older LCD screens used CCFLs, or Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps, to light the screen. These use electron discharge and fluorescence to illuminate a screen behind them.

However, LEDs have taken over from CCFLs because they are brighter, last longer, leave higher quality images and are more environmentally friendly. They’re also not much more expensive to produce, either. 

This means that LCD screens lit with CCFLs (known also as LCD screens or monitors) are fading from importance in the market, and LED TV’s are becoming more and more popular.   

LCD screens are still used in watches, calculators and some notebook computers – however, use of LCD-only (CCFL backlit) screens is phasing out. LED (LCD with LED backlit) screens have been used for most flat panel screens since 2010; so your monitor is most likely an LED screen (or if you are thinking of upgrading, you should maybe switch to LED!).

OLED and QLED displays

LED screens have developed further and OLED and QLED screens are now on the market. OLED technology uses an organic compound that can create impressively high-contrast images – it literally stands for organic light emitting diode.

OLED TVs are more expensive but also much more environmentally friendly. Plus, because they don’t need to have a thick LED backlight behind the screen illuminating it, they can be made much thinner than a standard LED.

OLED TVs are typically very thin and stylish, which is enabled by their technology.

QLED screens were created and are patented by Samsung; they create a light with a shorter wavelength which gives more crisp images. 

The Q in QLED actually stands for Quantum Dot. Essentially, these types of televisions just have a additional layer between the LCD screen and the backlight of your monitor. They allow the light to pass through easily, and they can produce better and brighter colours than a standard LED monitor.

So is LED better than LCD?

There are different types of monitor which are better for different things. But if we’re talking in terms of monitors, then yes, and LED monitor is definitely going to be better. An LED monitor will typically give you;

  • Better Colour – An LED monitor will give you better colour and contrast on the screen, which in turn give you a sharper image.
  • Longer life – LCD monitors last on average 30-50,000 hours. LED monitors however last anywhere between 50,000-100,000 hours.
  • Cheaper to run – LED are the better choice if you’re trying to keep costs down, as they are more energy efficient of the two. However, they are more expensive, so you will have to lay out more initially.
  • Slimmer design – We can make LED monitors in a thinner, slimmer design than an LCD monitor.
  • Better resolution and response time – If you’re often going to be playing games of watching videos, you’ll want to get an LED monitor as they will give you a more responsive display.

The only real reason to choose an LCD monitor over an LED monitor is that typically they cost a bit less. So if you’re trying to save some cash, then this might be a reason to choose an LCD monitor. But to be honest, it’s probably not even worth looking for an LCD panel display.

An LED TV will tend to have a good overall picture quality.

If you want to know which type of monitor you already have, then the first thing to look for is the model number. This can tell you if your monitor is LED or LCD. Also, you could check to see if there’s an LED sticker on the monitor itself, as typically these monitors come labelled.

What is Full Array LED?

A common question folks have about LED monitors is what exactly is Full Array LED. This common term can be a bit confusing, and it actually refers to certain Sony monitors.

Essentially, with an LED light, the pixels are backlit or edge lit. This means that the lights behind the monitor are usually designed to light up all of the pixels of your monitor at once. However, with Full Array each of the pixels are lit up individually, which can give more accuracy in terms of brightness.

An edge lit monitor may be a little worse in terms of picture quality, as it only has lights around the edges of the display. But this kind of edge lighting has become pretty popular in recent years, as you can create very thin monitors with them for a pretty low price. This makes them a good budget choice.

When it comes to looking for an LCD or LED monitor, there are different factors we need to take into account. As well as the backlighting technology used, we should also consider the panels too.

Different panels will have their benefits in comparison to each other. For example, a VA panel might give you the best picture overall, with high contrast on your display.

In comparison, an IPS panel will be better at different viewing angles. It’s swings and roundabouts and it really comes down to preference. Here’s a couple of monitors you may want to check out.

Small – Dell SE2219H

One of the best options for those looking for a smaller monitor is the Dell SE2219H. It’s a well designed 21.5 inch monitor that has LED backlighting and a good picture quality.

It has a completely flicker free screen, and it emits a low level of blue light. Ever had trouble sleeping straight after you’ve spent time on your computer or you’ve been gaming? Blue light is the cause of this, so it could make a lot of difference if you struggle sleeping.

Another plus of this monitor is the thin bezel design, and the monitor itself is clear from any different viewing angle. Overall, it offers well designed viewing technology, and it’s one of the better small monitors available on the current market.

Large – Samsung LS34J550WQUXEN

If you’re looking for a wide monitor, then you won’t find a better option on the market than the Samsung LS34J550WQUXEN. It has a high screen resolution, with 1440p being more than enough for most people (who needs 4k?).

It has multiple ports to link up to all of your devices, and it provides a much better contrast than most other cheaper monitors available out there. You can easily set it up to have two displays side by side on the screen, as it’s clearly wide enough to support two displays!

This is about the maximum width you’re going to want to use realistically. So, this is another good option for those looking for an LED monitor.


While there are lots of words flying around about monitors, most of the ones that you will use in an office are LED monitors, which feature LCD technology but with a light-emitting diode.

These are much more current than the old fashioned monitors that used CCFLs, and are the best way to get work done in 2020. If you’re looking for a cheap monitor, then check my list of monitors under £150.

Other technologies are used in very specific situations, but not commonly in offices; although as we look into the future, more and more offices are adopting more developed LED technology. This includes monitors such as OLEDs or Samsung’s QLEDs, or alternative technology that has been developed by other companies. 

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About Alex

Hello, I'm Alex and this is my website, Spacehop. I started the site as a way to talk about myself, and a few years later we're now a team of 6! I still work full time at a major PC retailer in the UK, and I'm a bit of a tech whizz (self-proclaimed, unfortunately!).

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