A television’s input lag is the amount of time that elapses between a picture being generated by a source and that image appearing onscreen. It’s only important for gamers, and even then, different gamers will have different sensitivity to lag. Over 50 ms is a detriment to competitive gamers, over 75 ms will bother regular gamers who are playing fast games, and over 100 ms will be noticeable by just about anyone. Over 125 ms makes it pretty much impossible to play fast-paced games.
Check out our best gaming TV pick for this year.
Do not confuse the input lag time with the response time. The response time is the time it takes a pixel to shift from one color to another, which is significantly shorter than the input lag time.
Input lag of 2015 TVs
The following table lists all input lag times that we measured for 2015 TVs.
Input Lag: 18.5 ms
With Interpolation: 43.9 ms
Outside Game Mode: 103.6 ms
Input Lag: 18.7 ms
With Interpolation: 84.3 ms
Outside Game Mode: 85.5 ms
Input Lag: 26.1 ms
With Interpolation: 116.1 ms
Outside Game Mode: 127.9 ms
Input Lag: 26.5 ms
With Interpolation: 117.5 ms
Outside Game Mode: 118.1 ms
Input Lag: 27.8 ms
With Interpolation: 116.0 ms
Outside Game Mode: 116.5 ms
Input Lag: 29.5 ms
With Interpolation: N/A ms
Outside Game Mode: 29.5 ms
Input Lag: 29.8 ms
With Interpolation: ms
Outside Game Mode: 29.8 ms
Input Lag: 35.9 ms
With Interpolation: ms
Outside Game Mode: 38.8 ms
Input Lag: 36.8 ms
With Interpolation: 69.6 ms
Outside Game Mode: 74.0 ms
Input Lag: 37.4 ms
With Interpolation: 50.3 ms
Outside Game Mode: 54.1 ms
Input Lag: 38.7 ms
With Interpolation: ms
Outside Game Mode: 39.3 ms
Input Lag: 39.5 ms
With Interpolation: 69.6 ms
Outside Game Mode: 64.2 ms
Input Lag: 40.0 ms
With Interpolation: N/A ms
Outside Game Mode: 91.7 ms
Input Lag: 44.9 ms
With Interpolation: 118.7 ms
Outside Game Mode: 127.3 ms
Input Lag: 45.8 ms
With Interpolation: ms
Outside Game Mode: 46.5 ms
Input Lag: 49.6 ms
With Interpolation: 149.7 ms
Outside Game Mode: 149.8 ms
Input Lag: 49.7 ms
With Interpolation: 149.9 ms
Outside Game Mode: 149.8 ms
Input Lag: 50.1 ms
With Interpolation: 126.5 ms
Outside Game Mode: 119.5 ms
Input Lag: 59.4 ms
With Interpolation: 113.6 ms
Outside Game Mode: 59.4 ms
Input Lag: 79.7 ms
With Interpolation: 146.4 ms
Outside Game Mode: 146.3 ms
Input lag of discontinued TVs
See our results for discontinued TVs.
How do I fix my television's input lag problem?
Don't worry, most televisions can be adjusted so that they do not have high input lag. Try the following (which is how we set up the TVs in our tests):
- Set the TV to Game or PC Mode
- Disable all the television's settings
Additionally, you can try a lot of combinations of settings/modes/inputs.
To get the lowest input lag on Samsung TVs, you need to turn on Game mode. You can find it under System -> General. This usually drops the input lag by half.
Why is input lag important?
With fast-paced games like shooters and fighting games, quick reflexes are key. Lower input lag can mean the difference between a well-timed reaction that gains you the upper hand and a move that takes too long to register and ends up countered by the opponent before it can ever be performed. This lag doesn’t matter for watching movies, though, so unless you’re a gamer and are worried about PC peripheral lag, or Nintendo, Xbox One, or PS4 controller input lag (or other controllers too), you have nothing to worry about.
Why does the television take time to display a picture?
The total input lag time is the addition of three parts
There are three main functions that delay the television: acquiring the source image, processing the image, and displaying it.
Acquisition of the image
The source signal does not always come in a native format for the television. A digital television will have to convert the analog RGB component signal to digital. This conversion takes time. If you are seeing a lot of lag from an analog signal, try using a digital signal instead, because the television will need to do fewer operations to transform it. The closer you are to the television's native format, the less input lag you will have.
Once the image is in a format understandable by the video processor, it can change it. This includes:
- Adding overlays (like menus)
- Adjusting the colors and brightness
- Interpolating the picture to match the television's refresh rate
- Scaling it (720p -> 1080p)
The time this step takes is affected by the speed of the video processor and the amount of processing needed. Even if you cannot control the speed of the processor, you can control which operations it needs to do with the settings of the television. The more settings you enable, the more work the processor needs to achieve.
Some televisions have a dual core processor in them. This can help reducing the input lag if a lot of processing options are turned on.
Displaying the image
Once the television has processed the image, it is ready to be displayed on the screen. This is the step where the video processor sends the image to the screen. However, the screen cannot change its state instantly - the time will depend on the technology and components of the television. A plasma screen can change its picture faster than an LCD screen. You cannot control the time of that phase; it is fixed per television.
How is it measured?
An input lag of 40ms can be seen on the television.
Input lag is not an official television specification because it depends on two varying factors: the type of source and the settings of the television. The easiest way you can measure it is by connecting a computer to the TV and displaying the same timer on both screens. You can find such a timer here. Then, if you take a picture of both screens, the time difference will be your input lag. This is, however, an approximation, because your computer does not necessarily output both signals at the same time. For example, the setup to the right indicates an input lag of 40ms (1:06:260 – 1:06:220).
In our tests, we measure it using a dedicated device made just for this: the Leo Bodnar tool. This is a lot more accurate than the two screens method (except for with plasma TVs).
Television makers know that adding a lot of video processing increases input lag, which is why they usually include a gaming mode. Gaming mode will disable some of the television's most time-consuming processing. However, the gaming mode is not necessarily the setting that guarantees the lowest input lag of the television; you will sometimes need to play with the other settings to get the optimal input lag time.
Questions & Answers
18 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
I love Panasonic ST60
. There's some many pros to this TV, but I read a lot of reviews that mention lag issues, and advice that said not to buy this TV if you are a gamer. Should I buy it, or what do you recommend? Max budget is ST60 range and I'm buying this TV to play PS4.
We tested 54.2ms on it, which is average. It is definitely playable. Most people cannot notice an input lag of under 75ms, so I wouldn't worry about it.
I have a TV with a 38ms lag time. I do competitive gaming. Will this be ok, or even good for that?
38ms is pretty good. I wouldn't worry about it. Your internet probably has more latency than this.
Why do old CRTs not have any input lag?
They do have input lag, but it is a lot less than today's televisions. They are analog televisions: the picture information is not a series of 1s and 0s, but is a continuous signal. They don't have a video processor at all; the only processing that they do are very basic, and analogic only. The signal can go straight from the input to the cathode tube without waiting to be digitized or processed. They are a lot quicker at displaying an image.
What is "CE Dimming"? Is it a Samsung-only issue? Is there a way to turn it off?
CE Dimming is the name of Samsung's technology that dims the whole backlight of the screen while displaying a darker scene. There is no way to turn it off directly - not even from the service menu.
So all these TV's are horrible compared to 5ms tv/monitors I see all around the internet? Or is the 5ms a lie?
The 5 ms that you are referring to is not the input lag, it is the response time. They are unrelated. The input lag (15-50 ms range) is the time between the input and the display. The response time (4ms-12ms range) is the time a pixel takes to switch to another color (usually measured from gray to gray).
Is the input lag that you specify for each TV model a measure of the lag in "Game Mode" or at normal settings?
The input lag measured in our tests is the lowest we could get with the TV. We tested a few modes and different setting combinations. Most of the time, this corresponds to the Game Mode.
Could you do a video with 2 TVs side by side? One with bad input lag and the other with excellent input lag, and then load up a first person shooter then just look from left to right and make the video slow motion? That would be very informative for people to really see what input lag can do in a video game that needs quick reflexes.
We could, but I don't think it would be very useful. The difference between a high input lag TV and a low one is about 30 ms, which also correspond to 1 frame of a 30fps game. Filming it in slow motion will just show one TV delayed by 1 frame, but it won't give you an idea of the feel. Instead, we've considered adding a tool to our website that adds a variable delay to a moving object, so you could experience it. The problem with this, though, is your computer screen also has an input lag, which would skew the demonstration.
I just got a Sharp 70 inch LC-70TQ15U. Played it today and it didn't have game mode on and it felt sluggish. Wondering if you tested these, and if so, what they tested at. Also, would game mode improve the feel on this model?
Unfortunately, we did not test this TV, so we can't properly comment on its input lag. Game mode should reduce input lag, so try playing with that enabled and see if it improves.
I am planning on getting the BenQ XL2420G, it has G-Sync. Does it have less input lag than the BenQ XL2420Z? I am looking for the best gaming monitor as I am a competitive gamer.
Unfortunately, we do not test PC monitors yet.
I'm looking at a 55" TV for gaming. Low input lag is a focus for me. I also want to watch some movies and TV shows on it. Right now I'm looking at the LG LB6300
, Sony W800B
, and Samsung H6350
. The Sony doesn't interest me, due to their mode that lowers motion blur. I don't want to have a dimmer TV with noticeable flicker. Which one do you feel would be best for gaming if you ignore Sony's Impulse mode? The other issue is that the LG 6300 is $899. I've also sometimes seen it at $799 on Amazon. The other two are around $1,100. Is it really worth the extra money for the Samsung or Sony? Right now the LG looks like the best choice. The only issue I see is the medium motion blur. I really appreciate your feedback, thanks!
Yes, the upgrade from the LG to Sony/Samsung is worth it. Far better contrast ratio and uniformity. If you don't plan on using Sony's Impulse mode, it is a tougher call compared to the Samsung H6350
. Picture quality wise, they are very similar, so you won't be wrong either way. The difference in terms of input lag isn't very noticeable, so go for the Samsung H6350 (it has better extra features).
Is there any chance you can test the input lag on the Samsung f8500
plasma with the HDMI input named Game (instead of PC) and the TV in game mode? I have this TV and with the HDMI input relabeled to PC, the picture quality suffers too much. I have heard that recently Samsung sent out a fix and the lowest input lag is with the HDMI named Game and Game Mode on.
Unfortunately, we do not have that TV with us anymore, so we cannot retest it.
I have three questions. 1) Are you using the Leo Bodnar lag tester for your input lag tests? 2) Also, is it true that a plasma TV reports a higher input lag number because of its luminescence? 3) If so, should we expect a little better "feeling/experience" from a given plasma input lag number?
1) For 2014, yes, but for 2013 we used the two screens method. 2) Yes, it is true that the tool isn't accurate for plasma. The flickering of plasma TVs messes with the tool, because the tool is using a luminosity threshold to detect the lag, so it takes a little longer for the plasma to trigger it. 3) Indeed, maybe 10ms less.
Is there a workaround for game mode? If I disable all bells and whistles but leave on Movie mode to avoid CE Dimming, will I achieve a work around?
You won't get low input lag just by disabling everything. CE Dimming can also be avoided by going into PC mode.
Is G-Sync worth it? Or is it a marketing plan?
It depends on your setup. If your computer has no problem rendering a game (it generates each frame in time for the monitor), there is no visual difference. In the case of the complete opposite, where it is just too slow, it won't help, because there will still be shutters. It is really just worth it in between those scenarios, where the computer is fast enough for most frames, but some frames lag behind.
Do you know the input lag of the Sony kdl60w630b?
No, we didn't test that TV. Based on the similar Sony W* that we tested, it is probably below 30ms.
My RCA 65" LCD/LED screen is so bad. I can't figure out how to reduce lag.
Try to see if it has a game mode on it. If not, disable all features.
So you are able to test Input Lag, which is great. I have read that there is no standard for testing response times in the gray-to-gray format, which many manufacturers are stating. Is there a way to test response times to standardize this figure? Also, will you be testing any OLED TVs (I know there aren't many), but just wondering. I am hoping this technology finally takes off and becomes mainstream, and would like to start seeing testing on these. Thanks.
We do an indirect test for response time through our motion blur test. Our testing rig tracks a moving image the same way an eye would, and records the visible blur that occurs while the object is in motion. The length of the trail is correlated with the TV's response time. You can see an explanation of our process here
And yes, we do plan to test an OLED TV sometime this year.
I am looking for a TV to replace my CRT TV, both for retro gaming and competitive gaming. While I know any TV will have higher input lag than a CRT, but what would you recommend for a 32", 40", or 50" TV that will mostly be used for gaming? I haven't jumped onto a W800B
just due to its ~$800 pricetag. Also, Component/Composite hookups aren't necessary, as I can use HDMI passthrough for that. Thanks!
The Vizio E-series
is a great gaming TV, and costs much less than the W800B
. It has low input lag and minimal motion blur, as well as good contrast. The upscaling isn't great, but you should still be able to play retro games comfortably. You can find the E-series at any of those sizes.