Three key terms with three completely different meanings. Monitor response time, input lag, and refresh rate all impact your gaming experience, but what exactly is the difference between them? We’ll talk about their meanings as well as their importance in finding a good gaming monitor.
Response time is defined as the time it takes for a pixel to go from black to white and back again. Most manufacturers display the gray to gray or GTG response time in order to post faster times. Response time is typically represented in milliseconds or ms. Longer response times can negatively impact gaming or a movie watching experience by leaving trails behind fast moving object. This is sometimes referred to as ghosting. This is not only confusing, it can also be distracting when playing twitch-sensitive games.
Response Time Vs Input Lag
Input lag is the difference in time from when you input a command on a keyboard or mouse or other peripheral and when it shows up on your display. This can greatly impact performance in FPS, RTS, and fighting-style games. Check out our review on input lag and how to reduce it for more information.
Response Time Vs Refresh Rate
Refresh rate is measured in Hertz or Hz and is a measurement of how many times per second your monitor can display an image. This is driven by your CPU and graphics card which deliver these frames. Frames per second is the number of frames that can be delivered by the processor and GPU. So, to take full advantage of that 240Hz monitor, you’ll need to have an in-game FPS of 240. For more detailed information, take a look at our post on what is refresh rate.
What’s a Good Response Time for Gaming?
This really depends on the monitor and the person. While 1 to 2ms response times are common among twisted nematic or TN panels, IPS panels typically have higher response times. Still, some gaming IPS monitors have response times under 5ms which we feel is more than adequate for most gamers.
Yet, there’s still one more thing to take into account. Many manufacturers list their own response times rather than use some type of unified scientific measurement. So, the best way to truly know whether or not a monitor has the response time you’re looking for is by checking an authority source. That being said, we have yet to come across a monitor with a 1ms or 2ms response time that has had an extensive issue with ghosting.
Overall, we feel that a response time of under 5ms is good for gaming. Most monitors, even IPS panels, that are listed as gaming monitors tend to be very good in this area. Checking customer reviews for any ghosting issues is a good way to determine that a manufacturer hasn’t posted an ideal case scenario number for its response time.