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 of the new gaming displays offer both low input lag and a 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 data sheet, 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. As such, a TN panel monitor can have the fastest response time of up to only 1ms while the IPS and VA panel displays max out at 4-5ms.
Of course, these panels differ by other things such as color reproduction, viewing angles, 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 reality.
Response Time: TN vs IPS vs VA
Since VA panels have a very high contrast ratio which allows them to display deep black shades, it also means the pixels take longer to change from one shade into another thus resulting in ghosting 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 concerning the response time performance.
Input Lag & Refresh Rate
Now, since response time speed also ultimately affects the input lag performance, TN 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.
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 and faster the response time speed 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 nor response time speed.
Input Lag vs Response Time For TVs
TVs have higher input lag and response time 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 at 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 the OLED display.
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 noticeable 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.
Joseph has probably spent thousands of hours learning about displays in his free time and prior work experience at HP. He now writes and manages DisplayNinja to ensure it stays as the people’s favorite resource.