As Fast As Possible
While both input lag and response time speed are arguably equally important for a fluid gameplay experience, too high input lag can make competitive gaming unbearable. Luckily, most new gaming displays offer both low input lag and quick response time, so you won’t have to compromise.
Many people mistake response time for input lag when looking at the display’s specifications. To clarify, input lag is the delay between the display and your commands such as a press on the keyboard or mouse. Response time, on the other hand, is the time pixels take to change from black to white, or from one shade of gray into another.
Keep in mind that the display manufacturers never specify the input lag performance of a TV or a monitor. In fact, for a TV, you won’t even find the response time speed spec on its datasheet, only for monitors. Therefore, you should look for display reviews to see the tested results, and only then can you make an informed decision.
Input Lag vs Response Time For Monitors
The maximum response time speed of a monitor is determined by its panel capabilities. For instance, TN panel monitors have the fastest response time of ~1ms while the IPS and VA panel displays typically max out at 4-5ms.
Some newer IPS gaming monitors, however, have just as fast 1ms response time as certain TN models!
Of course, these panels differentiate by other things such as color reproduction, viewing angles, contrast ratio, etc – but in this article, we will be focusing on input lag and response time. While the difference between 1ms and 5ms may not seem big on paper, it can be critical in competitive gaming.
Response Time: TN vs IPS vs VA
Since VA panels have a very high contrast ratio which allows them to display deep blacks, it also means the pixels take longer to change into lighter shades thus resulting in black smearing of the fast-moving objects across the screen.
TN panel monitors have the worst color reproduction and narrow viewing angles, but offer the fastest response time for the smoothest fast-paced gaming experience.
Finally, IPS monitors are the middle-ground between the two, though some of the newer IPS models are just as fast as certain TN variants. The LG 27GL850 is the first IPS monitor with a 1ms GtG pixel response time speed.
Input Lag & Refresh Rate
Now, since response time speed also ultimately affects the input lag performance, TN/IPS panel monitors will have the lowest input lag. In fact, most of the high-end gaming monitors aimed at professional FPS gamers have TN panels, with more and more IPS options emerging as well.
Another important thing to take into consideration is the display’s refresh rate. The higher the refresh rate is, and frame rate for that matter, the lower the input lag will be.
In short, if you pick a 144Hz+ gaming monitor with either a TN or an IPS panel, you won’t have to worry about either input lag or response time speed.
Input Lag vs Response Time For TVs
TVs have higher input lag and response times than monitors.
If you’re looking for a TV for gaming, make sure it has some sort of ‘Game Mode’ feature which allows the display to bypass some image processing to further reduce input lag.
Ideally, you want a display with at least 16ms or less input lag but anything below 30ms is acceptable; in fact, some gamers wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.
When it comes to the response time, we’re back to IPS vs VA. Make sure your TV has an IPS panel if you want less ghosting and blurring in your video games.
So, once again, if you pick a good TV, you won’t have to sacrifice input lag for response time nor vice versa.
LED vs OLED TV
With OLED TV prices going steadily down, you may be interested in getting one of these displays for gaming.
While older OLED TVs had issues with input lag and image burn-ins, among other things, newer models have greatly improved.
What makes OLED TVs great for gaming, besides the stunning image quality, is the incredibly quick response time speed of less than 1ms. However, some regular and more affordable LED TVs can still have a lower input lag than certain OLED displays.
Let’s say you’re on the fence between an OLED TV with 0.7ms response time and ~20ms input lag and an IPS LED TV with 15ms input lag but over 10ms response time – which stat should you prioritize?
In this case, go for OLED. The 5ms input lag difference won’t be visible while the difference in the response time speed will be significantly noticeable.
On balance, if you do your research and get a high-quality monitor or TV, you won’t have to choose between excellent input lag or response time performance; you can have both.
In case you have to settle for a lesser quality TV for gaming, make sure that the input lag is not over 32ms first, and then look at the response time speeds.