Monitor Response Time: Everything You Need To Know

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monitor response time
Of all the things to focus on when shopping for a new monitor, whether an upgrade or to go along with a new system or gaming rig you’re building, in the monitor department, there’s one very crucial aspect that many might overlook or not know much about.

Monitor response time is as important in terms of specs as resolution, refresh rate, and screen size. It’s also often confused with input lag, but the two are vastly different (input lag is the delay between the time a process takes to show up on the screen from when it’s initiated, such as a mouse click).

What is monitor response time, then? This article will help acquaint you with an understanding of why it’s important, how to test monitor time, and how to ascertain a good response time for gaming monitors.

Defining Monitor Response Time

Monitor response time can be understood as a measure of what’s known as “ghosting” when three shots seem to appear together simultaneously. To a lesser degree, better monitor response time also lessens blurring, but just as response time and input lag are different, so are ghosting and motion blur.

In other words, the monitor response time is the time it takes for the monitor to respond to a switch in colors and present it. It can be as fast as exactly a single millisecond in some of the best ultrawide monitors or, more commonly, anywhere under 10ms.

While not all manufacturers have a standardized method of measuring monitor response time, it’s mostly measured in terms of the shift from black to white and then back (to black), again. In other situations, a full spectrum test might be used to test how it goes from gray to a finer gray.

As a rule of thumb, you can see that the lower the monitor response time, the better. This is particularly true when considering monitor response time for gaming, where ghosting and blurring are particularly irksome. Every second counts, and so the best gaming monitors pay very close attention to getting their response times as low as 5ms or less (at the same time, making them that much pricier).

Monitor Response Time for Gaming: A Word Of Caution

While the range of good response time for gaming monitors lies anywhere from less than 10ms to less than 5ms and even exactly 1ms, it’s extremely crucial to not rely on what the manufacturer claims the monitor response time is.

Some monitors come with disclaimers in the fine print that state how their reported response times (and the same goes for other specifications as well) are based on internal tests. This leaves a lot of room for doubt and technical leeway based on certain test conditions they would have used.

Independent reviewers also run their own detailed tests and the discrepancies can often be shocking to the point of disbelief, with even the lowest G2G response time being five times as high as what the manufacturer claims.

Researching it before buying will make sure you get your money’s worth. Knowing how to test monitor response times on your own is something that requires some serious hardware and time, so relying on expert reviews that have run their own tests is your best and safest best, and a step you can’t skip.

How Important Is Monitor Response Time?

Gamers, forum users, and even some reviewers can sometimes take potentially misleading claims such as the ones given as an example in the previous section and use this as justification for monitor response times being irrelevant.

To us, however, this is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. While adaptive sync and refresh rates can work as good measures to guess at the monitor response times, there is no alternative to having full knowledge of a purchase, especially one as crucial as a monitor.

Ultimately, your monitor needs to have an ideal mix of three aspects, particularly for gaming: low monitor response time, low input lag, but a high refresh rate (above 75 Hz, ideally 144 Hz), especially for PC gamers.

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