What is Input Lag? Which determines? How to reduce it?


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Input lag is the delay between when a user enters a command and when it appears on the screen. This may be due to a variety of factors, including the technology and design of the display, the processing power of the computer or device, and the software and settings used.

Reasons of Input Lag

Input lag can be caused by various factors such as slow pixel response time, signal processing, and frame buffering. Pixel response time refers to the time it takes for a pixel to change color to another. The slower the response time, the greater the input lag will be. Signal processing refers to the time it takes for the graphics card to process the image data and send it to the monitor. The more complex the image data, the longer it will take to process it, which can increase input lag. Frame buffering refers to the time it takes for a frame of image data to be stored in memory before being displayed on the screen. The more image data you have to store, the longer it will take to display a frame, which further contributes to increased input lag.

Input lag can have a significant impact on your gaming experience as it can make games less responsive and less enjoyable. This can also be a problem for other types of applications, such as video editing, where accurate timing is important.

How to check input lag

The amount of input lag considered acceptable may vary depending on the application and personal preferences of the user. In general, lower input lag is considered better. There are several ways to test input lag, but the most common method is to use a tool called a stopwatch or speed camera. The stopwatch method involves using a device to measure the time it takes for a game change to appear on the screen when a button is pressed. The fast camera method involves recording your gameplay with a high speed camera and then analyzing the footage to determine input lag.

Another method of testing input lag is to use software such as Blur Busters Test UFO, which can help you measure your monitor’s input lag in milliseconds.

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How to lower input lag

There are several ways to lower the input lag. Lowering the resolution of the game or application may reduce input lag. This is because the graphics card does not have to process as much data, which means that the image can be displayed on the screen faster. Another option is to disable V-Sync. V-Sync is a technology that synchronizes the frame rate of the GPU with refresh rate, but can also introduce input lag. Disabling V-Sync can reduce input lag, but it can also cause screen tearing (more on that in another post).

Lowering your monitor’s refresh rate is another way to reduce input lag. This is because the monitor doesn’t have to wait that long to display the next frame of image data. Many people don’t realize that a wireless connection can also generate latency. In some cases, a classic “cable” connection can solve the problem. 

As an additional solution, you can update drivers and firmware for your graphics card and monitor.

What input lag is optimal?

For games, lower input lag is preferred as it makes the game more responsive and enjoyable. In general, the input lag should be as low as possible, ideally below 20 milliseconds (ms). Some professional players may aim for even lower input lag, around 5-10ms.
For other types of applications like video editing, input lag is not as critical, but lower input lag is still desirable as it allows for more precise video editing.

Please note that input lag may vary depending on display technology, computer or device processing power, and software and settings used. 

Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewiczhttps://jotem.in
Hi, I am the author of the Jotem.in blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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