What is Input or Display Lag?

input or display lag in gaming
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Imagine you’re in the middle of playing Call of Duty, and you see an enemy to the left. You take aim and fire quickly, thinking you eliminated the threat. However, two seconds later, the enemy is right in front of you, and you’re dead.

Has a situation like this ever happened to you? If you’re an avid gamer, it likely has, and probably way more often than you’d like. While it may seem like you have to up your skills to be faster, these problems are instead a technical failure called display lag or input lag. 

Tl;dr? Skip ahead to the answers you need here:

What Is Input Lag?
– What Causes Input Lag?
– What Doesn’t Cause Input Lag?
– Input Lag, Response Time, and Refresh Rate
How Does Input Lag Affect Gamers?
– How Do You Know If You Have Input Lag?
How Can You Reduce Input Lag?

What Is Input Lag?

Simply put, input lag is the delay between pressing a button and seeing the desired result onscreen. 

Input lag is measured in milliseconds (ms) and can range from less than 10ms up to 170ms. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to deal with any amount of input lag. However, technology hasn’t quite gotten to that point.

Ideally, you want the time-lapse to be around 10ms, but even at 50ms, you can still have a fantastic game. A high input lag of over 100ms can seriously affect your gaming performance, and over 170ms of delay can even cause certain games to fail. 

What Causes Input Lag?

Many factors can affect the input lag from the type of monitor you have to the resolution level. (We’ll look at solutions to each of the causes later on.) 

One of the biggest culprits is image processing. A high definition image requires numerous steps, especially in fast-paced games. Upscaling, motion smoothing, and high dynamic range (HDR) are tools that give your game a great visual appeal but can affect the lag. 

What Doesn’t Cause Input Lag?

Believe it or not, input lag is not caused by network performance. It is only caused by hardware and software on the PC. Network lag is caused by congestion in the internet and can be reduced or eliminated by using Haste Pro.

Input Lag, Response Time, and Refresh Rate

Whether you are looking to solve your slow display issues or wanting to buy the perfect gaming TV or monitor, it’s essential to differentiate between these terms.

While input lag refers to the amount of time needed to show changes and actions sent from the controller, the response time determines how long it takes for the screen to change the pixel colors. Results of lousy response times are ghosting and a poor image display.

The refresh rate, measured in hertz, is how many times your TV screen or monitor can refresh an image per second. High refresh rates, combined with a quick frame rate, will help produce precise, smooth motions when gaming and reduce input lag.

How Does Input Lag Affect Gamers?

Input lag does not affect all gamers equally. If you enjoy playing first-person shooters or fighting games, you will feel the effect of a high delay. These types of games where accuracy and speed are crucial, any degree of input lag can affect your performance. Even classic games like Super Mario can be very frustrating to play with a delay because the jumps’ timing won’t be accurate.

Like WoW, other games won’t necessarily require a low input speed because you don’t need as much speed. Similarly, some gamers won’t notice the difference between 50 and 100ms, while others are susceptible to slight changes in lag. It truly depends on what games you like to play and how sensitive you are to a difference in delay.

How Do You Know If You Have Input Lag?

If it feels like the game is lagging, you might have an input lag problem. Or you might have a network lag problem. Or you might have both!

First, you can use a tool like Haste Pro to reduce or eliminate network lag.

If you are still experiencing lag, you can test for input lag by setting a high-speed camera to record yourself playing the game, then go back and compare the frames. Look at each frame and see when you press a button versus when the action occurred.  Or you can use a stopwatch on your monitor to watch the milliseconds it takes for the screen to show the action or change requested. 

If you aren’t up for those somewhat lengthy processes, trust your gut. Do you feel the image lagging? Are you running into problems with aim or accuracy? Have you already addressed network lag with a tool like Haste Pro? If you answered yes to these questions, then you may have a high display lag.

How Can You Reduce Input Lag?

Now that we’ve got the explanation out of the way, let’s talk about how to get rid of input lag so you can play your best game.

  • If you are using motion blur, turn it off. Each game and computer reacts differently to add-ons like a blur, which could be the cause of your display lag.
  • If you are using a TV screen, switch to the game mode, which removes excess visual features and ups the speed.
  • Gaming monitors are for dedicated gamers who want good visuals and quick reaction speed. If you don’t have one already, look into getting one!
  • Check your monitor’s settings. Turn off anything that could interfere with your speed, like ambient lighting, CEC, and post-processing options.
  • Check your controller. Change the batteries and try a different one to rule out the controller as the cause of your input lag.
  • Ditch the wireless controllers. While they are easy to use, the lack of wiring can cause a bit of delay that makes a world of difference in gaming.

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