What is Input Lag: The Breakdown

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When playing video games (or even using the computer), input lag can be a hindrance and can affect how these tasks are performed. This phenomenon started to get a lot of press when the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 came out in 2005/2006, due to these systems pushing the HDTV adoption rate in the common home. Consumers were happy with the increase in picture quality and resolution they were receiving from these televisions, but it came at a price known as input lag. Still to this day, a lot of people don’t realize its there and how it can affect your enjoyment in these applications.

 

What is input lag?

Quite simply, its the delay between a button press on your controller and what results on the display. The amount of delay varies between different displays (and is one of the reasons this website was founded, to fight this ignorance), and it can be very hard to detect without lots of experience. Its also something that wasn’t easy to measure, due to the complications of old methods. Thankfully, we have a new method that simplifies this process.

 

How does it affect me?

Ever played Call of Duty, Halo, or maybe Street Fighter online? If you have, you probably know what a laggy connection feels like. But that’s not all that’s in play here. This feeling is amplified because of your display as well! Games like Call of Duty and Halo use netcode that hides input lag so your inputs stay responsive, but if there is lag, it affects what happens on the screen (other players jerking around, teleporting, frames dropping, etc), whereas a game like Street Fighter 4 causes input lag if the connection is laggy (this game has to keep frames v-synced due to the nature of the game). Imagine if Call of Duty or Halo had input lag on top of the de-syncing that occurs due to laggy connections. Not only are you having trouble keeping up with the action warping around the screen, but your controller is not responding as accurately as it should. Street Fighter 4 can nearly double or triple its input lag because of a bad display. A fighting game needs to have instant response times to react and execute combos. Now imagine variable input lag from a bad internet connection, and fixed input lag from a bad gaming display. Sounds horrible right? That combo that you would normally execute on an excellent display is now twice as hard to do on a bad display. That’s before we even set foot online with its variable connection tendencies.
 

 

Can I do anything to stop input lag?

If you already have a poor gaming display, there are some steps you can take to reduce input lag. I wrote a short guide on how to enable “Game Mode” on some of the major television brands. However, this doesn’t always produce the results you want. If you’re stuck in this situation, you will have to buy a new display that suits your needs. The biggest problem when choosing a display is how much you’re willing to compromise.

The best gaming displays are usually lower end monitors that aren’t designed for picture quality in mind, but they have the best input response and are ideal for playing games. If you want something nicer like a big HDTV, you are sacrificing some responsiveness for more features and a big screen. Thankfully, you aren’t sacrificing much when it comes to some HDTVs. Please refer to Display Lag’s grading scale, and check out the database for HDTVs with a GREAT rating. These HDTVs will suit almost all of your gaming needs, unless you plan to compete in video game tournaments. EXCELLENT displays are suited for that application. I currently use an ASUS monitor for competitive gaming, and a Samsung HDTV for my regular watching and casual games.

 

What causes input lag?

There are a variety of factors, but these are the most common ones:

  • Source resolution being different from the native display resolution

    (EXAMPLE: setting a Playstation 3 to 720p on a 1080p display)

  • Expensive image processing such as dynamic contrast and motion interpolation

    (EXAMPLE: enabling “Auto Motion Plus” on a Samsung HDTV)

  • Using the display’s scaler to convert interlaced images to progressive

    (EXAMPLE: connecting a Nintendo Wii with composite cables to a HDTV)

Try to adjust these settings on your display and see if it helps with the responsiveness!

Hopefully upon reading this article, you gained a little more insight on how a display can affect your gaming performance. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or concerns. Remember, don’t forget to check out the input lag database to see over 200 screens tested for input lag!


 

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About Author

Adeel Soomro

Adeel Soomro, also known as "Four Wude", has been a competitive Street Fighter 4 player since 2008. Using his extensive gaming experience on a casual and professional level, he aims to spread the awareness of input lag existing in today's displays. Having tested over 300 displays for input lag, he hopes that DisplayLag will aid gamers around the world when purchasing the best HDTV or monitor for gaming.

  • http://mindoftim.com Timothy Zhu

    I would like to see testing done on IPS monitors.

    • http://www.displaylag.com Display Lag

      I plan to improve my selection of monitors in the database soon. So I will definitely try to get more IPS in there!

  • Tiger Mo

    Good day!
    I’d wish to replace my current HDTV instead of a Short-Distance Active 3D Projector such as BENQ W1080ST in my reading room, after get to know the display latency, i am worrying about that, will you guys plan to test the projectors?
    This is a really good sharing site.

    • http://www.displaylag.com Display Lag

      Appreciate your interest in the site! I haven’t pursued projectors yet, however I have received several requests to grade them. If I can start grading projectors, you will definitely see them on the site!

  • http://www.dearmartians.com talmage

    Thank you so much for doing all this work! I’ve been telling my family about the “lag” on our expensive TV’s and how different the ancient TV responds on Halo. As usual, I was right. Your web site proves it!

    Now to bask in the light of greatness and to rub it in with my family members. And perhaps buy a small cheap TV with the guidance of your excellent research and generous sharing!

    THanks, dude!

    • http://www.displaylag.com Display Lag

      Thank you for the kind words! It’s always good to have hard evidence for anything! When they’re ready to upgrade their HDTV, make sure you tell them to look at my database haha!

  • Tiger Mo

    Good day! Mr.Display Lag,
    Thanks for your reply.
    I have found more specification data on Projector Central, there was an interesting sentence pasted below:
    “Input lag. Like the W1070, the W1080ST measured a zippy 24ms (1.5 frames) of input lag using a 1080p signal over HDMI. That’s fast enough for most gamers and not far from our best-ever measured time, which stands at 17ms (1 frame).”
    So, it could be marked as “Great” in this site i think, totally enough for me.

    • http://www.displaylag.com Display Lag

      If you’re planning to buy it, give it a shot and let me know how it goes! In the mean time, I will try to gather test results for projectors when I get the chance.

  • Bumto6

    I plan on buying the #1 monitor ASUS 27″. This should give me high quality due to the HDMI, and no delay during FPS games due to the low input lag correct?

    • FourWude

      Yes, that is correct. It also has the benefit of being an IPS panel so you will get better picture quality over most monitors that use TN panels. Check out some reviews below, and let me know your thoughts if you decide to get it!

      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B17C5KO/?tag=dislag-20

      • Bumto6

        And what about the 40 inch Samsung, has a “great” rating and has 24ms. I’m currently on a 55 inch projector tv with no hdmi but there is no type of input lag, would the difference be that significant?

        • FourWude

          It depends on what kinds of games you play. If you play fast paced games like fighting games or rhythm games, then I recommend going with the ASUS 27″. Every other game will be fine on the Samsung 40″.

  • Benje TradeMark

    Hello.
    im currently in the market for a new gaming tv. obviously my first choice the Sony KDL802A, but it doesnt appear to be available in Australia. what the stores do have in abundance is the KDL800A. Any idea what the difference may be?

    Also, refresh rate, does that affect input lag? some tvs ive seen offer 200hz, is that a benefit at all?

    • FourWude

      Unfortunately, I’m only able to test displays from North America presently. I’d like to say that the 800A is the same HDTV, but I cannot say it with total confidence. A lot of factors can change the lag rating. Refresh rate doesn’t really determine input lag, however most higher end HDTVs have more input lag due to image processing, which tend to be 120hz/240hz displays. The refresh rate will allow for better reproduction of 24p movies and in some cases, will allow for smoother picture.

  • ShwigBagNigNag

    thanks a lot man. I feel like there is no other site out there willing to help out with this input lag disaster. You have helped me out a lot with your input lag database. hopefully the sony kdl 47W802A is as excellent as you say. :)

    • FourWude

      My pleasure, I really hope this site helps everyone with their purchasing decisions. Input lag is definitely something that has been swept under the rug for far too long. :)

  • rjfjjisdfj

    hi is the samsung eh4000 any good??

  • WideRight

    How about the Panasonic ZT60? I’ve seen it tested at both 41.5ms (http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/blog/2013/06/23/new-display-measurement-input-lag) and 46.2 (http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-tvs/panasonic-tc-p60zt60/4505-6482_7-35567247-2.html). Obviously the 46.2ms is not acceptable, but if it’s accurate would the 41.5 be good since it is just outside of the “Great” range?

    • FourWude

      Yes, that HDTV should be fine for the majority of your gaming. It’s nowhere near as bad as the 75ms that the ST60 has, so give it a shot!

  • rafael antonio

    tell me about the input lag in the samsung smart tv un32f4300 is good for games?

    • FourWude

      I haven’t tested it, but based on their F5000 series, I’m confident it will be great for gaming. You shouldn’t notice lag in the entry level Samsung HDTVs.

      • rafael antonio

        ok thanks for the answer man, but tell me something: what is better for play games; a samsung tv standart or a samsung smart tv

        • FourWude

          A standard TV will usually have lower lag.

  • rafael antonio

    let me know too,if the smart tv´s from samsung are good for games??

  • lenomdeplume

    HOw does the Panasonic 42″ 2008 plasma stack up? thanks!

    • FourWude

      It would be hard to say, as I haven’t tested any HDTVs that old. However, there’s a good chance the HDTV has some lag in it.

  • Luviathan

    do you think the 39L1350U will be fine for the ps4?

    • FourWude

      Yes, you should have no problems with input lag with the L1350U series. The 39″ specifically tested at 30ms of input lag, which is very low based on my grading scale.

  • Supermeatbro

    Will you test the LG HDTV 47cs570? I have it and i got some input lag somewhere like 30ms. At least anought to anoy me when i play Super Mario world or any fluid platformer from snes with my pc connected to it.

    • FourWude

      I’ll see if I can track it down for testing! Please stay tuned for more updates.

  • Meido Sonbol

    Hey I have the lg 60lm7200. you rate it great but its very laggy on game mode for some reason. why do you think that is? and how do you think it will do on the xbox one?

    • FourWude

      That’s really odd, it shouldn’t be that noticeable. How did you select game mode, through the picture settings? Also, did you try updating the firmware to the latest version?

      • Meido Sonbol

        Yeah I selected it through the picture setting. I think that’s the only way I can pick it and yes Its updated to the latest version

  • Justin

    Have you tested the UN65F9000AF? I see you have tested the UN75ES9000, and i was wondering if the UN65F9000AF is better or worse than the 75?

  • Daniele Colamartini

    how much input lag on the SAMSUNG UEF6500SD?
    in your table (excellente/great/ok) where it is?
    for gaming is good?

    • FourWude

      I don’t have UE models, but based off the UN models, I’m very positive it will be somewhere between 30-40ms. So it would more than likely be rated “great” on my table.

      • Daniele Colamartini

        yes UN is american model (UE is european). 30-40 with game mode or normal?

  • Blade Runner

    Please test the Samsung UN65F9000AF I see that I am not the only one that would like to see the result of the Samsung. I know from early source’s (2008) Samsung and Mircosoft worked together to improve their Gaming Mode on their sets. I don’t know if this still hold true today. Thank you for your latest update on the Sony XBR’s.
    By the way this is a note for all consumers that are looking at the 55 and 65 inch XBR65X850a. Before you buy, ask the retailer to show the end credits to any movie. What you will see will surprise you. I know it surprised me and saved me $4.500. During the end credits to Avatar. I notice that the credits where flickering while all the sets around the XBR were super smooth as they scrolled up the screen. The mgr and the magnolia rep were very surprised as they were seeing the same thing I was. So they pulled another TV and ran a separate Blu Ray player and HDMI to the new set and it had the same problem. I am not sure why this is happening but we tried many different modes on the TV and the only one that improved the flickering was Sport mode. Needless to say I am back in the market for a low input lag 65inch 4k TV. Thank you so much.

  • Jason

    Can someone help me decide between the Sony KDL-55W905 and the Samsung UE55F8000? I watch a lot of HD films and TV shows so picture quality needs to be great. I will also be gaming quite a bit via PS4 (Games like Call of Duty/Battlefield etc.).

    I know the input lag for the Sony TV is literally half of the Samsung. The sony is about 19ms and the Samsung is around 40ms.

    • FourWude

      I would definitely recommend the W900A, as it has excellent picture quality and an extremely low input lag rating for HDTVs in its class. I highly doubt you will be disappointed.

  • Jim Mitchell

    Hi I have a samsung un39fh5000f . Would you know how good it is. Thanks Jim

    • FourWude

      I haven’t tested the FH5000 yet unfortunately, though I’d assume it would be in the same range as the F5000 series, which is around 30ms in game mode.

      • Jim Mitchell

        Good Thanks . Is that a good range ?

        • FourWude

          Yes, I’d consider that above average. You shouldn’t have any issues with it.

  • dogen

    How come the Benq GW2450 is rated at 13ms and TFTCentral rates it at 6ms? I noticed they use a program called SMTT, which method is more accurate?

    • FourWude

      The method used on this website is newer and measures the total lag of a display, meaning input lag + response time. So the values returned by the lag tester will almost always be higher than values returned by SMTT.

  • CC

    HI there! I really want to purchase the Panasonic ST60, but I do a minimal and sometimes moderate amount of gaming on PS3 and Wii. I generally play things like Tomb Raider, Mario Bros, Katamari, God of War, Wii sports, etc. I never play online, and rarely play any 1st person shooter games.
    Am I the kind of low-level gamer that can get away with the ST60? Will even I notice the lag?
    Thanks in advance for your advice here!

    • CC

      Just checking in to see if anyone can help here.
      Thanks!!

      • FourWude

        Sorry for the late reply! I must have missed this comment. Yes, I believe the ST60 will be perfectly fine for your needs. :)

  • Tha Dro

    I love your site, wish I checked before I bought. I wanted a big gaming tv but didn’t consider input lag. I found my samsung pn-60f5300 on here, 43 ms. But I can’t find the sony kdl-60r520a results. You have the 550a (31 ms) which i believe is the same tv but with 3D. My gf loves the smart functionality of the sony, but if it is 31 ms, I want to switch the tv’s and use the sony for gaming. What do you think? Would the input lag be the same on the 520a as the 550a? If it is, is 31 ms compared to 43 ms a big enough difference to make the move from my samsung to the sony?

    • FourWude

      Yes, I think the 550A will have similar input lag ratings to the 520A. As for the difference between the F5300 and 520A, I don’t believe it will make a large enough difference to make a switch. It really depends on the types of games you play though.

  • Myri Vigkli

    HI i am interested in a sharp LC50LE751V thats on sale in my area, what input lag it has anyone know?

  • Nemyneon

    Hello, im debating on buying a LG LED tv, its a 55″. The model number is 55ln5310. I cant seem to find anything anywhere online for it though it does seem to be similar to the 55ln5400 series. Would you know if this is a decent hdtv for games like call of duty and such? Thanks!

    • FourWude

      I would recommend checking out the HDTVs in these articles here. Let me know if this helps:

      http://www.displaylag.com/introducing-2013s-best-hdtvs-for-gaming-part-1/

      http://www.displaylag.com/the-best-hdtvs-for-gaming-in-2013-part-2/

      • Nemyneon

        In the end I decided to get the Samsung Pn60f5500 based on your articles. Loving it so far! I do have a question though, the low input lag is strictly in “Game Mode” which is fine, but would you happen to know just how bad the input lag is without game mode enabled? Thanks in advance :)

        • FourWude

          In most cases that I have tested, input lag shoots up to nearly double when game mode is disabled, usually in the 100ms+ range. This also depends whether or not you enable motion enhancers, such as Auto Motion Plus.

  • https://twitter.com/EvilRamen Evil Ramen

    Great site! Do you also test the tvs with game mode enabled?

  • G Money

    awesome site! have you ever investigated input lag effects from HD PVRs? just curious because I use an el gato to record my CoD gameplay and I often wonder if it adds input lag. thanks!

  • Dee Nice

    Acer S242HL?

  • Ruddy Brenes

    Hello!! I have some questions for you about lag.. what is the best way to connect an xbox 360 to my monitor ( BenQ Gaming Monitor RL2455HM ), via HDMI or DVI? What resolution is the best to use depending on the connection? this questions are to avoid offline lag in SSF4 AE and KOF XIII!! thanks in advance!!

    • FourWude

      I personally recommend using 1080p through an HDMI connection for the Xbox 360. I don’t notice any issues with timing using these settings. It’s usually better to have the console do the scaling as opposed to the display.

  • http://ibaldo.codigolibre.net/ Iván Baldo

    Did you test some monitor using the good old VGA D-SUB connection and then comparing it with its DVI/HDMI connection? Is there any difference?

    Thanks a lot for this site!!!

    • FourWude

      Unfortunately, I can only test via HDMI using my equipment. Having conversion may result in additional input lag, and would skew results. Though, if a display has low input lag via HDMI, there is a good chance it will have the same performance via VGA as well.

  • Logsin Gujin

    Hello! Thank you for this awesome site :). Im interested in LG’s LB6500 tv’s and have seen that you have them in your database. 50″(27ms), 55″(23ms) and 60″(30ms) im wondering why the input lag are not consistent? Even tho they are same model just size differences.

    Im interested in the 42″ one, which is available where i live(Australia) and am worried about its input lag because of the inconsistency of its family. Do you suppose it would be closer or less or more than 23ms? Thank you :).

    • FourWude

      Different sizes can sometimes use different panels, there isn’t really a set reason as to why this happens. The majority of displays that I have tested tend to be rather consistent with readings, but there are a few oddballs in the mix.

      With that said, you shouldn’t have any issues between 23-30ms. They should feel almost identical, as 1 frame is 16.67ms. Feeling one frame of lag is very difficult in itself. As long as they are in a similar lag range, don’t worry too much about the differences between the sizes. Hope that helps!

  • notykt

    will be input lag same when i set another lower resolution?

    • FourWude

      Most of the time, input lag should be consistent between resolutions. The main reason for lag is usually image processing, which is fixed regardless of resolution, unless you enable game/PC mode.

  • NS22

    Hi Adeel, I have a quick question regarding input lag vs. image quality I want to ask if you have the time! Basically, I am planning to get a HDTV for mainly movie watching and playing console games. I have my eyes set on the sony kdl-42w700b, because it has a very low input lag and an excellent rating on this site. I am worried however, if the reason the sony TV has such a low input lag is because it is cutting corners or compromising on image quality to get such a low input lag time. I am not a professional gamer (more so casual playing online FPS on my spare time), so I care a lot more about the TV having good image quality and ps4 games looking really nice on the set. Can you please give some insight into this? I just want to know if image quality is not sacrificed on the sony. Thanks a lot!

    • FourWude

      From my experience, image quality isn’t drastically affected with the game mode in Sony displays. Yes, the difference is noticeable, but it won’t make your HDTV look horrible. If you’re not professional or serious with your gaming, I recommend trying the HDTV without game mode and see how you like it. At least you know that it’s competent in game mode, so if the lag is truly unbearable, there is the option to reduce it.

      • NS22

        Thanks for the reply! I am more confident now in my decision to buy the kdl-w700b. However, would you happen to know another HDTV that doesn’t skimp too much on image quality in game mode? I totally wouldn’t mind extra input lag knowing that the reduction in image quality in game mode is lesser than that of the kdl-w700b. I don’t really have a way of testing this out myself, but knowing you have tested a plethora of HDTVs puts my mind at ease . I remember reading somewhere on this site that you use a Samsung HDTV for good image quality and a monitor for gaming. Can you let me know what model Samsung you have? Thanks so much again for the advice!

  • Mohammed Bouhamdi

    does the input lag only affect your latancy while playing online or its always there depending on your monitor , im having troubles with playing ss4 online , can never play with anyone with the lag i got, i play other games with no problem such as CoD , thanks for the helpful post

    • http://ibaldo.codigolibre.net/ Iván Baldo

      Input lag is always there, the same if it is offline or online; network latency is another latency.

      • Mohammed Bouhamdi

        thanks alot for the helpfull respond

  • Ricardo

    Hi: What is the input lag of the LG lb6500 when it’s not on pc label mode? Its still great? Thanks.

    • FourWude

      Input lag outside of PC mode is approximately 45ms when set to “Game” without PC mode enabled.

      • Ricardo

        Thanks!

  • Alex Sakugawa

    hi , do you know about how much is the input lag on a asus p1 projector?

    • FourWude

      Unfortunately I haven’t tested projectors just yet. Will see what I can get my hands on, as projectors are heavily requested.

  • tyrell1202 .

    What about the Sony xbr 900b

    • FourWude

      I’ll see if I can find this display.

      • tyrell

        Ok thanks

  • Gregory Cotto Gt diamondxObey

    Hi i’m a little new to this, i see the lowest it shows is 9ms. How come some ASUS monitors and BENQ monitors are 1ms-2ms?

    • FourWude

      The 1-2ms is response time. That is advertised by manufacturers, however input lag is not. My database will show 10-11ms for most ASUS and BenQ monitors on the market. The difference between 9ms and 10ms cannot be felt, so honestly, choose the monitor that suits your needs. What features are you interested in from BenQ?

      • Gregory Cotto Gt diamondxObey

        I am interested in the low blue light feature with no flicker in the background that can bother my eyes. I heard their monitors doesn’t have as great angles , picture clarity, and color as the Asus does though . Asus i really love the look and picture as I see on Youtube i just dont want it to bother my eyes, between style, look and colors i would choose the Asus any day though.

  • Martins Butans

    Hey Four Wude, could you please tell me what input lag is for LG 50LN570S? BIG Thank you

    • FourWude

      Haven’t come across this display yet, but I will see what I can do!

  • Martins Butans

    Hey Four Wude, could you please tell me what input lag is for LG 50LN570S? BIG Thank you

  • jason

    what about input lag of the VX279H? Is it similar to the MX279H?

    • FourWude

      I haven’t tested this monitor yet, but I’m willing to assume that it will be similar. I’ll see if I can get it tested.

  • Neolink

    I’m looking to upgrade my Samsung LN52A860 with the primary reason of improving input lag. I’m def a Samsung fan after having this set but not knowing what it’s input lag is, I have no way of knowing if the set I’m looking at is better. I’d like to grab the new UN65H8000 but am worried the 36ms might not be enough of an improvement? I’m very competitive but don’t plan on ever getting to tournament level, I just want to feel like I’m on a level playing field. Any chance you know the numbers for the LN52A860 or can put me at east with the UN65H8000 as my next purchase?

    • FourWude

      I think you will be fine with any HDTV between 20-30ms of input lag. The excellent category is mainly for those that value input lag the most. It’s very hard to notice lag till you’re above 30ms, even for some time-sensitive games. I wouldn’t know the numbers for your current set, however the H8000 series seems to be around 40ms. What kinds of games do you play?

  • Hussam BA-HUBESHI

    does it happen suddenly? cuz i started noticing a minor frame skipping whie i am watching movie on my led tv through my pc connected via hdmi, the same problem occurs while playing xbox360 also connected via hdmi. p.s this problem wasnt occurring before, it just happened over night .

    • FourWude

      No. Input lag is always a fixed amount when it comes to the display. Your issue is unrelated. It sounds like you have some kind of motion interpolation enabled.

      • Hussam BA-HUBESHI

        thanks for the reply , so how can i fix it?

        • FourWude

          Find your HDTV’s motion interpolation option. What brand of HDTV are you using?

  • Ryan Sales

    42LM3400 is great for PS4?

    • Ryan Sales

      In special, play Mortal Kombat X

    • FourWude

      It should work fine, once set to the game picture mode. If you’re looking for better, I’d advise checking out some of Sony’s recent sets.

  • jdawg

    i’m looking at a Toshiba 55SL417U, can you relay any info? Thanks.

    • FourWude

      Haven’t come across this model just yet, I will see what I can do.

  • itsAdam

    Hi, do you know what’s the inputlag for the LG42LB650V? And if its good for gaming like the PS4. Thanks!

  • http://lavishstylo.net/Kamikaze Armando Mancinas

    What about this model? samsung UN50HU6950

    Should I take it back for a 3d Tv? Dont really see the need for a 3d tv…