INPUT LAG: What it is, how to measure it and how to reduce it

There is one thing I have experienced in my own flesh, and that is that going from playing on a setup with high input lag to one that has almost no input lag, is noticeable, but not much. But once you get used to playing on a low input lag setup, going back to a slower one becomes unbearable.

As we have already tasted the low input lag, we come to show you everything we have learned about it and find the pain points of our setup to reduce latency as much as possible.

This guide can be used for TV, PC monitors and consoles.

What is input lag?

The literal translation of this concept is input latency, which is the time it takes to pass a signal from point A to point B and this time interval, for our case we measure it in milliseconds (ms).

The input lag affects above all the players, since having a fast response on screen of what we press on the controller or keyboard, for us it means that the game runs more smoothly, especially if we are playing a multiplayer online game, in which if we face a player with lower input lag has a great advantage to win the game.

We are going to see what is going on inside our TVs, monitors and peripherals to take so long to show us the shotgun we are getting hit right in pvp against the last remaining enemy on the entire Fortnite map.

We are also going to learn how to measure input lag and reduce it.

How to measure input lag on TVs and monitors?

On TVs and monitors, we have to look at the time it takes for the video signal from when it enters through the HDMI or DisplayPort port (to name the most common ones) until it comes out on screen.

There are 2 ways to measure the input lag, the first is with a device that connects to the TV and the other is somewhat more rudimentary but effective, let’s do it.

METHOD 1: Input Lag Tester

This is a device that connects via HDMI and sends a light signal to the screen. This signal is picked up by a sensor and determines the time it has taken to display the signal on the screen.

Como medir el input lag

You can find the Input Lag Tester on this website.

METHOD 2: Double screen

To carry out this method we need:

  • 1 computer with a graphics card with 2 video outputs
  • 1 low latency gaming monitor
  • 1 slow motion camera (mobile or gopro cameras will do)
  • Millisecond clock software

This method consists of connecting the TV or monitor of which we want to know its latency to one of the outputs of the graphics card and in the other output we connect a low latency monitor (one that we already have its specifications from the manufacturer).

We have to run a program that acts as a timer, like this one that does not need installation and record the 2 screens at the same time in slow motion.

Medir input lag monitores pc
Video of how to measure the input lag

The thing about recording in slow motion is that it is the recording method that collects more frames per second, the more the better to minimize the margin of error of this study.

Once recorded we play the video and pause it at any frame and to know the input lag we simply subtract the milliseconds of the TV or monitor we want to know the latency from the one we already knew.

How to reduce the input lag in televisions?

In the TVs the input lag depends only and exclusively on the processing that makes the television of the image before showing it to us for screen. This input lag will be higher or lower depending on how much the image is retouched and the power of the internal processor of the TV that handles the events that occur within its motherboard.

One thing that gets on the nerves of those of us who like to play on TV is that manufacturers do not indicate the input lag in their specifications and we have to resort to third party sites like this one to know the data.

This measurement is circulating on the Internet to give us an idea of what times are acceptable

  • Greater than 100ms: unplayable
  • Less than 50ms: recommended
  • Less than 20ms: pretty good
  • Less than 5ms: pro mode
  • 1ms: Jesus Christ on earth

So, to reduce the input lag on TVs what we have to try is to reduce the processing of the image by the TV, for this we activate the game mode.

All SmartTVs today have game mode, in which all additional image processing is disabled to reduce input lag.

The panel illumination technology hardly affects the latency, but just in case you were looking for it, here are the most used systems:

  • LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): The oldest of the 3 technologies and the cheapest
  • LED (Light Emitting Diodes): More modern system than LCD, with better image quality and lower response time (very little but effectively lower).
  • OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes): System patented by LG, with the best image quality to date.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This year a low input lag TV for gaming has been released, the LG OLED 4K CX, which has a response time of 1ms, a 120Hz refresh rate in 4K and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) technology.

How to reduce input lag in gaming monitors?

In the world of the PC Gaming Master Race things change a bit.

PC monitors do not have as much image processing as TVs, so here the difference is usually made by the technology with which the panel has been manufactured.

We are fortunate that unlike TV manufacturers, many monitors will come with input lag in their specifications, although if you want to know why some will be more expensive than others, here are the main characteristics of the monitors.

Gaming monitor panel technology

  • IPS (In-Plane Switching): These panels have the best picture quality because they represent the color with an 8-bit capability in almost all their models, this means that they have 16.7 million colors. In addition, the image looks equally good regardless of the angle from which you look at it.

    In contrast, it is more difficult and expensive to find these types of panels with low input lag or a refresh rate of 144 Hz or 240 Hz.
  • TN (Twisted Nematic): TN panels are cheaper to manufacture and are also LED backlit, so they are also more energy efficient. In terms of image quality, they are inferior to IPS because they do not have as many colors and the optimal viewing angle is quite small, so you have to look straight ahead.

    However, this is usually the preferred technology for gamers as most of these panels usually have an input lag of 1ms (very low) and we also have the highest refresh rates (144Hz and 240Hz).

VRR Technologies (Variable Refresh Rate)

In recent years some technologies have been developed that allow the graphics cards of our computers and consoles to communicate directly with the monitor or TV in order to improve the fluidity of the image by adapting the frequency of the screen to that of the graphics card.

And of course, among the graphical improvements of using VRR is the reduction of input lag (apart from tearing and stuttering, which is the subject of another article).

The VRR currently available on the market are:

G-Sync

G-Sync is NVIDIA’s proprietary VRR technology. Displays with G-Sync have a special chip that acts as a communication interface between the monitor and the graphics card. It is the most efficient and expensive VRR technology.

The best G-Sync gaming monitors

G-Sync Ultimate

In this second version called G-Sync Ultimate, NVIDIA has implemented a new chip to incorporate in monitors with some improvements over its predecessor, such as HDR support, better brightness and contrast, but above all, improved latency times.

Best G-Sync Ultimate Gaming Monitors

G-Sync Compatible

Thanks to the open VRR sync model developed by VESA, NVIDIA released a version called G-Sync Compatible, without the need for an additional chip in the monitor. Therefore, the synchronization process falls entirely on the graphics card, from NVIDIA of course.

For that reason, monitors with G-Sync Compatible are cheaper but not as efficient. But the difference is minimal, meaning that if you are not a professional gamer who lives from gaming, you should not give it much importance.

Best G-Sync Compatible Gaming Monitors

FreeSync

For its part, AMD launched its VRR technology called FreeSync, also developed from the VESA standard.

This technology puts the synchronization function entirely on the graphics card of the PC or console, which lowers the cost of monitors and TVs. It should be noted that FreeSync is only compatible with AMD graphics cards, which are used by consoles.

The best Freesync gaming monitors

How to reduce input lag on consoles and computers?

Once we have the image issue under control, let’s see what other elements affect input lag on our consoles and computers.

For consoles and computers, we have another additional input to the video signal, which is that of our controller or keyboard and mouse. And if we are in online multiplayer, we also have to add the ping of our connection.

Choosing a controller with low input lag

On the one hand we have the input lag of the input peripheral, either a ps4 controller or a gaming keyboard. How long does it take to get the signal from the peripheral to the console or PC?

My recommendation is that you do not eat your head too much with this, since most controllers and keyboards connected to our PC via USB will have an input lag of less than 4ms and unlike what logic leads us to think, for example in PS4 the Dualshock 4 works faster via Bluetooth than via USB, here you have a study about it if you want to delve a little deeper.

In addition, there are more factors that come into play that we can not control, such as the speed with which our controller communicates with the operating system of the PC or console, or the graphics engine with which the game is implemented, which also affects the input lag.

Improving the ping of our Internet connection

But the last factor we are going to talk about can be optimized to some extent and it is the Internet connection, also known as ping if we talk in terms of latency.

Let’s try to simplify this section in 4 steps in order to optimize each phase of the connection.

  1. Operating System – Network card: It is likely that your antivirus checks every packet that enters and leaves your computer to the Internet, which would increase the latency, so if you see that you have a high ping and you do not know why, this may be the reason.
  2. Network card – Router: The best connection is by Ethernet cable as it is the fastest and most reliable. If you are connected via Wi-Fi there may be packet loss and interference problems.
  3. Router – Internet: The best connection you can have with the lowest latency is by fiber optic as it is the fastest and most reliable channel today.
  4. Internet Provider – Game Server: Depending on the distance between our connection node and the game server we can also shave a few milliseconds. For example, players living in Germany have lower ping in Fortnite since some of Epic Games servers are located there.

And for the moment this is all friends, I hope you have enjoyed the guide and if you want to contribute something or see some liadita in the text please leave it in the comments that this are living guides that try to be up to date.

Última actualización el 2021-06-13 / Enlaces de afiliados / Imágenes de la API para Afiliados

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