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Jeremy Garcia
Jeremy Garcia


Input lag on a monitor is the time it takes the monitor to process the signal sent and for the image to start appearing on screen. Most monitors have low enough input lag that you won't notice any delay during regular desktop use, but it's even more important for competitive gamers to achieve the lowest input lag possible. We test the input lag by using a specialized tool, and we test for it at its native resolution at different refresh rates.

You NEED THIS Tool To Get LESS INPUT LAG in Gam...

When you're using a monitor, you want your actions to appear on the screen almost instantly, whether you're typing, clicking through websites, or gaming. If you have high input lag, you'll notice a delay from the time you type something on your keyboard or when you move your mouse to when it appears on the screen, and this can make the monitor almost unusable.

There's no definitive amount of input lag when people will start noticing it because everyone is different. A good estimate of around 30 ms is when it starts to become noticeable, but even a delay of 20 ms can be problematic for reaction-based games. You can try this tool that adds lag to simulate the difference between high and low input lag. You can use it to estimate how much input lag bothers you, but keep in mind this tool is relative and adds lag to the latency you already have.

The acquisition of the image has to do with the source and not with the monitor. The more time it takes for the monitor to receive the source image, the more input lag there'll be. This has never really been an issue with PCs since previous analog signals were virtually instant, and current digital interfaces like DisplayPort and HDMI have next to no inherent latency. However, some devices like wireless mice or keyboards may add delay. Bluetooth connections especially add latency, so if you want the lowest latency possible in the video acquisition phase, you should use a wired mouse or keyboard or get something wireless with very low latency.

The time this step takes is affected by the speed of the video processor and the total amount of processing. Although you can't control the processor speed, you can control how many operations it needs to do by enabling and disabling settings. Most picture settings won't affect the input lag, and monitors rarely have any image processing, which is why the input lag on monitors tends to be lower than on TVs. One of these settings that could add delay is variable refresh rate, but most modern monitors are good enough that the lag doesn't increase much.

In our input lag tests, we use a dedicated photodiode device connected to a PC, which flashes a white square on the screen and records the time it takes for the image to appear in its sensor. We record multiple input lag measurements and take an average of them, and this way, outliers aren't included in the measurement either.

We place the photodiode tool in the middle of the screen so that it reads the flashing white square when it first appears on screen. Since monitors refresh the screen progressively from top to bottom, any new image reaches the center of the screen in the middle of the refresh rate cycle. It means that if a monitor has a refresh rate of 144Hz, the screen refreshes itself 144 times every second, and a new image appears every 6.94 ms. Since we're calculating the input lag at the center, it only takes 3.47 ms for the white square to appear in the middle. Any 144Hz monitor has a minimum input lag of 3.47 ms, so even if we measure an input lag of 4 ms, it's only 0.53 ms higher than the minimum, which is fantastic. Below is a table of the minimum input lag for the common refresh rates on monitors.

The black frame insertion input lag is the input lag when the backlight-strobing feature is enabled. This number is important for people that use their monitor's BFI feature to reduce persistence blur and enhance motion clarity. Many new modern monitors don't have an issue with this, but there are still some monitors that have increased input lag with BFI, which is why we measure it.

Some people may confuse the input lag test with the response time. Input lag is the amount of time it takes for the monitor to display the received signal, but the response time is the time it takes for pixels to change from one color to the next. Even though our response time test consists of squares transitioning between different gray slides and we use the same tool, the two aren't the same. The input lag test stops counting the time when the pixels first change color on the screen, and it doesn't wait for the full transition like with our response time measurement.

Our input lag testing for TVs uses the same tool and testing process, but we take many different measurements. We take it with different resolutions to see how upscaling affects the input lag, in and out of Game Mode, with motion interpolation, and with VRR. TVs have more results than monitors because of the way people use their TVs. You often use your TV with different sources at different settings, while on a monitor, you just have one PC connected, and the settings rarely change.

PC monitors tend to have a much lower input lag than the average TV, making input lag less of an issue for most people. More sensitive users can adjust settings on most monitors to reduce it even further. As a general rule, try the following (which is how we set up the displays in our tests):

Input lag is the amount of time it takes for your TV to display a signal on the screen from when the source sends it. It's especially important for playing reaction-based video games because you want the lowest input lag possible for a responsive gaming experience. Having low input lag tends to come at the cost of less image processing on TVs, which is why there are specific Game Modes for low input lag, and even though TVs aren't as good as monitors in this regard, technology is slowly catching up.

The time this step takes is affected by the speed of the video processor and the amount of processing needed. Though you can't control the speed of the processor, you can exercise some control over how many operations it needs to do by enabling and disabling settings. Only more demanding video processing settings, like motion interpolation, will usually add input lag, while others, like the brightness, won't.

Once the television has processed the image, it's ready to be displayed on the screen, and the processor sends the video to the screen. However, the screen can't make it appear instantly, and the amount of time it takes to appear depends on the technology and the panel. Unfortunately, there's no way to improve or control the amount of time needed in this part, as it changes from TV to TV. However, this is different from the response time, which is the amount of time it takes for the pixels to change colors, and effects motion.

Now, let's talk about how we measure the input lag. It's a rather simple test because everything is done by our dedicated photodiode tool and special software. We use this same tool for our response time tests, but it measures something differently with those. For the input lag, we place the photodiode tool at the center of the screen because that's where it records the data in the middle of the refresh rate cycle, so it skews the results to the beginning or end of the cycle. We connect our test PC to the tool and the TV. The tool flashes a white square on the screen and records the amount of time it takes until the screen starts to change the white square; this is an input lag measurement. It stops the measurement the moment the pixels start to change color, so we don't account for the response time during our testing. It records multiple data points, and our software records an average of all the measurements, not considering any outliers.

When a TV displays a new image, it progressively displays it on the screen from top to bottom, so the image first appears at the top. As we have the photodiode tool placed in the middle, it records the image when it's halfway through its refresh rate cycle. On a 120Hz TV, it displays 120 images every second, so every image takes 8.33 ms to be displayed on the screen. Since we have the tool in the middle of the screen, we're measuring it halfway through the cycle, so it takes 4.17 ms to get there; this is the minimum input lag we can measure on a 120Hz TV. If we measure an input lag of 5.17 ms, then in reality it's only taking an extra millisecond of lag to appear of the screen. For a 60Hz TV, the minimum is 8.33 ms.

Some people may confuse our response time and our input lag tests. For input lag, we measure the time it takes from when the photodiode tool sends the signal to when it appears on-screen. We use flashing white squares, and the tool stops the measurement the moment the screen changes color so that it doesn't include the response time measurement. As for the response time test, we use grayscale slides, and this test is to measure the time it takes to make a full transition from one gray shade to the next. In simple words, the input lag test stops when the color on the screen changes, and the response time starts when the colors change.

This test measures the input lag of 1080p signals with a 60Hz refresh rate. This is especially important for older console games (like the PS4 or Xbox One) or PC gamers who play with a lower resolution at 60Hz. As with other tests, this is done in Game Mode, and unless otherwise stated, our tests are done in SDR.

This result is important if you play 1440p games, like from an Xbox or a PC. However, 1440p games are still considered niche, and not all TVs support this resolution, so we can't measure the 1440p input lag of those.

The 4k @ 60Hz input lag is probably the most important result for most console gamers. Along with 1080p @ 60Hz input lag, it carries the most weight in the final scoring since most gamers are playing at this resolution. We expect this input lag to be lower than the 4k @ 60Hz with HDR, chroma 4:4:4, or motion interpolation results because it requires the least amount of image processing. 041b061a72


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