Lower is always better, and the lowest response time at the moment is 1ms. However, only TN panels can achieve that, whereas IPS panels can only go as low as 4ms. Ultimately, 1ms is better for competitive gaming while non-competitive gamers might want to consider IPS since it offers better visual quality.
Response times are one of the more important display specifications for gamers and they will surely influence your choice of monitor to a great extent.
But what is the best response time for gaming?
We will be answering that, along with some other related questions, below.
What Is Response Time?
Let’s start with the basics: what actually is response time?
What this “response time” refers to is actually pixel response time, or rather, how quickly it takes a pixel to change from black to white or from one shade of gray to another.
Keep in mind that black-to-white should be regarded as the “true” response time while the gray-to-gray response time is more of a marketing strategy. If a manufacturer advertises their monitor’s response time as gray-to-gray, the black-to-white response time will actually be a little higher.
What Does Response Time Affect?
Seeing as it determines how fast a pixel can change color, response time primarily affects the clarity and accuracy with which a moving object is displayed.
The bottom line is, the higher a monitor’s response time, the more trouble it will have to properly display fast-moving objects.
And what happens in such a scenario? The following:
- Motion blur
The most common and most noticeable effect of high response time is motion blur during camera movements, particularly fast ones. When that happens, pixels might not have enough time to change color, resulting in a blurred image. This can be a particular problem for people prone to motion sickness.
Ghosting also happens during fast camera movements, and for a similar reason. Again, the pixels don’t have enough time to change color properly, so when an object moves on the screen, a fading silhouette of it will follow after.
What Is the Best Response Time For Gaming?
And finally, going back to the titular question, what response time is the best for a gamer?
Naturally, lower is always better but there is a catch.
That catch has nothing to do with response time itself but rather, with the technology used in the manufacturing of modern monitors.
The vast majority of monitors today use two distinct types of panel: TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). These two technologies have a number of advantages and disadvantages each, including response time.
TN panels have the lowest response time of 1ms, while IPS panels can only go as low as 4ms.
However, this brings us to the next important question…
Can You See The Difference?
Take a moment to consider how gamers feel about in-game FPS. Some find 30 FPS to be unplayable while some claim that they don’t really notice any difference between 30 FPS and 60 FPS. The situation with response times is very similar.
However, tying into that analogy, keep in mind that it is also more difficult to settle for 30 FPS if you’re already used to a much higher framerate. Again, the same could be said for response times. If you’ve used a 1ms monitor your entire life, then even 4ms might be too high for you.
So, how to check?
It is easiest to do it in person. Big hardware stores usually have monitors on display for customers to test, but you can also check how high response times sit with you without even leaving your house. You can do this with only a little help from your TV.
TVs usually have high response times since it is not as important a stat for their usual purpose. Because of that, manufacturers rarely even include the exact response time in a TV’s specification sheet, but they are mostly in the 8-15 range today. Whatever the case, the TV’s response time will definitely be higher than the 4ms of an IPS monitor.
Ultimately, if you can tell the difference between 1ms and 4ms or higher, which one should you ultimately pick?
This, once again, goes back to the question of TN vs IPS. Without getting into the technicalities, it can be summarized like this: TN has better response time but IPS has better viewing angles and better color reproduction.
With that said, we can only recommend a 1ms TN monitor for competitive gamers who need every advantage they can get. On the other hand, a 4ms response time is a small price to pay for the superior visuals that an IPS monitor brings to the table.