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What is the Input Lag?

Updated Nov 14, 2013 By Cedric Demers

The input lag of a television is the time from a picture is generated by the source to the picture appearing on the screen. An input lag of more than 50ms starts to be noticeable by competitive gamers, > 75ms by good gamers of fast games and > 100ms by the majority of people. Anything more than 125ms is not playable for a fast game.

Do not confuse the input lag time with the response time. The response time is the time a pixel shift from one color to another, which is significantly less than the input lag time.

Input lag of 2014 TVs

The following table lists all input lags that we measured for 2014 TVs.

Samsung H6350: 44.1 ms

Input lag of 2013 TVs

The following table lists all input lags that we measured for 2013 TVs.

Panasonic S60: 29.2 ms
LG LA6200: 33.3 ms
LG LN5400: 33.3 ms
Samsung F8500: 37.5 ms
LG LN5300: 37.5 ms
LG LN530B: 37.5 ms
Sony R400: 45.8 ms
Sony R450: 50 ms
Samsung F5500: 54.2 ms
Samsung F5500: 54.2 ms
Samsung F6300: 62.5 ms
LG LN5700: 66.6 ms
Samsung F5300: 70.8 ms
For Samsung TVs, some people reported achieving better input lag than us by changing the input name to PC, which we didn't do in our tests except for the Samsung F8500.

How do I fix the input lag problem of my television?

Don't worry, most televisions can be adjusted to not have a high input lag. Try the following (which is how we setup the TVs in our tests):

Wondering which TV to get for gaming? Check out our TV buying tool to figure out the best TV for your room, usage and budget.
  • Set the TV into the Game Mode or PC Mode
  • Disable all the settings of the television

Additionally, you can try a lot of combinations of settings/mode/inputs.

Why is the input lag important?

The input lag is only important if you are playing video games. Movies or televisions shows are not affected because there is no interaction with the signal that you can do. If your television has a high input lag, you will see all your movements and interactions delayed on the screen. This is even more important in timing critical games like FPS or rhythms based (like Guitar Hero). When watching a movie however, even if the video is delayed by 1 minute, you will not see a difference unless the sound is not also delayed.

Why does the television take time to display a picture?

Input lag television workflow
The total input lag time is the addition of 3 parts

There are 3 main parts that delays 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 native format, the less input lag you will have.

Video Processing

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 refresh rate
  • Scaling it (720p -> 1080p)

The time of this step 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?

How to measure a television input lag
An input lag of 40ms can be seen on the television.

The input lag is not in 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 on both the same timer. You can find such timer here. Then, if you take a picture of both screens, the difference of times will be your input lag. This is however an approximation because your computer does not necessary 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. This is a lot more accurate than the two screens method (except for plasma TVs).

Gaming mode

Televisions makers knows that adding a lot of video processing increase the input lag which is why they usually have a gaming mode setting. The gaming mode will disable some of the most time consuming processing of the television. However, the gaming mode is not necessary the setting that guarantees the lowest input lag of the television; you will sometime need to play with the other settings to get an optimal input lag time.

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Oct 03 2013
I love Panasonic ST60. There's some many pros to this tv but I read a lot of lag issues reviews, not to buy this tv if you are a gamer. Should I buy 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.
Jun 22 2012
Why do old CRTs do not have any input lag?
They do have an 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 basics and analogic only. The signal can go straight from the input to the cathode tube without waiting to be digitalized or processed. They are a lot faster to display an image.
Apr 01 2013
What is "CE Dimming"? Is it a Samsung-only issue? Is there a way to turn it off?
CE Dimming is the name of the technology of Samsung that dims the whole backlight of the screen on darker scene. There is no way to turn it off directly, even in the service menu.
Sep 16 2013
Where can I find info about input lag on a specific model? Cannot find any info on manufacturers' page. For example LG 55LM760S and Samsung UE55F7005.
Manufacturers do not list it. Unfortunately, we haven't tested the US version of both these TVs yet, but have a look at the closest ones that we tested: LG LA6200 and Samsung F6300.
Sep 28 2013
The input lag that you specify for each tv model is a measure of the lag in "Game Mode" or at the normal settings?
The input lag measured in our tests is the lowest we could get with the TV. We test a few modes and different settings combinations. Most of the time, this correspond to the Game Mode.
Feb 19 2014
I have a tv with 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 lag than this.
Jan 14 2014
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 hdmi named Game and Game Mode on.
Unfortunately, we do not have that TV with us anymore, so we cannot retest it.
Feb 04 2014
Would the LG LN5700 be okay for gaming with black ops 2 or is the input lag too high? I was thinking about getting this model.
It is playable, but hardcore players will see a little bit of lag. Go for the LN5400 instead, which is basically the same thing but without the smart TV features.
Mar 30 2014
I have a Sharp Aquos LC-90LE857U television. I also have a Bose Lifestyle 535/525 series 2 home entertainment system hooked up. Everything seems to function fine except in regards to my PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Both seem to have a lag in between the controllers and the image displayed on the tv screen. I have changed the settings on both consoles but that doesn't seem to help. Both consoles are run to the Bose first, then the Bose is connected to the tv via 1 HDMI cable. Any advice?
Have you disabled the processing options of your TV / put it in game mode? If so, it might be the Bose that adds the input lag (although unlikely). To try for it, connect your consoles directly to your TV instead. If it does resolve the problem, you still can get the audio via your Bose by HDMI Arc or the optical connection.
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