What Does Monitor Response Time Mean

You will be confronted with a large number of technical specifications whenever you go shopping for a new monitor. And while some aspects, such as the screen size and resolution, are fairly straightforward, there is one crucial aspect that isn't so obvious: response time. This is how the process goes. The amount of time it takes for your monitor to change from one color to another is referred to as the response time. Typically, this is measured in terms of the amount of time it takes to transition from black to white and back to black again, expressed in milliseconds. The response time of an LCD screen is typically less than ten milliseconds (10 ms), and some screens can respond in as little as one millisecond. Some manufacturers express it in terms of an LCD's panel going black to white, or black to white to black, or "gray to gray," which is the term that is used the most commonly. The precise method of measuring this statistic is not universally agreed upon. That entails traversing the same complete spectrum, but beginning and ending on grayscale values that are more nuanced and complex. Lower response times are preferable in every circumstance because they reduce the likelihood of image problems such as blurring and "ghosting." The refresh rate of a monitor is not to be confused with the response time of the monitor. Although the terms are similar in appearance, the refresh rate refers to the frequency, measured in Hertz, at which an image is replaced by a new one on a screen. The majority of monitors have a refresh rate of 60 hertz, but some go higher—and a higher rate is preferable. On the other hand, a quicker response time results in better performance.

Why Do You Want a Low Response Time?

Because of this, the vast majority of people who use computers won't even be aware of the response time of their monitor or screen because, for the most part, it is irrelevant. When you are editing photos, surfing the web, writing emails or documents in Word, or creating documents in other programs, the delay between the colors changing on your screen is so quick that you won't even notice it. Even video on today's high-definition computer monitors and televisions typically does not have a delay that is noticeable to the viewer.
The gaming industry is an exception. When it comes to video games, even a single millisecond can determine the outcome of a match, such as whether or not a player is victorious in a battle, whether or not they successfully complete a long-distance sniper shot, or even whether or not they achieve the ideal racing line in a video game. Therefore, for gamers who are looking for every possible competitive edge, it is worth the expense of purchasing a more expensive monitor that is focused on gaming to get a low refresh rate that is between 1 and 5 milliseconds.

What Kinds of Monitors Are the Fastest?

There are some rare exceptions, but in general, you do not have a choice regarding the screen's response time when using a laptop or a mobile device like a phone. However, if you are going to purchase a new monitor for your gaming desktop, you should look for the panel with the fastest refresh rate that you can afford.

  • At the time this article was written, there are three distinct varieties of LCD panel that are used in 99 percent of all monitors currently on the market.

  • TN screen panels, also known as Twisted Nematic screen panels: They are inexpensive, but the color selection is typically limited. In terms of response time, these are among the fastest on the market, and gaming monitors typically opt for TN panels because of their ability to be faster despite having fewer colors.

  • Screens with the IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology: IPS monitors are valued by graphic designers, photographers, and video editors, as well as anyone else for whom accurate colors are important. They are more expensive than other monitors and have more accurate colors. Since their response times are slower than those of TN panels, they are not typically marketed as "gaming" monitors.

  • VA (Vertical Alignment) screen panels are a more recent design that makes an attempt to combine the rapid response time of TN with the more accurate and vibrant color of IPS. The use of variable-anisotropy (VA) panels, which can have refresh rates as low as one millisecond, is becoming increasingly common in gaming monitors. This creates something of a compromise.

You should look for a monitor that has either a TN or a VA screen panel if you want one that is capable of keeping up with the quickest games. It is possible to acquire an IPS gaming monitor, but doing so is difficult, costly, and results in a performance that is inferior to that of the alternatives. The panel type is typically included in the monitor's specifications, which can be found on the online listing for the monitor or on the box at a retail store.

What Are the Downsides of a Fast Response Time?


To cut down on response time, gaming monitors often forego more complex image processing that gets in between the signal from the computer. This includes color-correcting portions of the monitor itself, boosted brightness, eyestrain-reducing blue light filters, and similar features. If you choose a gaming monitor and set it to the fastest possible response time, you’re probably going to see reduced brightness and duller colors.

Should You Buy a Monitor With a Low Response Time?

Is it worth the trouble? In many cases, this is not the case at all. It's possible that the occasional blur or ghost image isn't worth the aesthetic hit you take by purchasing a gaming monitor and setting it to the fastest mode if you're playing a game in which the only opponent you have to contend with is a computer. In this scenario, the computer is your only opponent. Even when played online, more casual games like Minecraft are unable to take advantage of the ultra-low image delay that other games can achieve.
Speaking of online, if the connection to your multiplayer game is poor, the amount of time it takes your computer to send information to the game's server and receive information back is probably going to be significantly longer than the amount of time it takes you to respond. Even on a "slow" monitor with a response time of 10 milliseconds, image delay issues are not going to be a deciding factor in whether or not you win the game if your game has a ping to the server of one hundred milliseconds (one tenth of a second).
But if you have a fast internet connection and you play fast-paced multiplayer games like Fortnight, Overwatch, Rocket League, or Street Fighter on a regular basis, you will want to get every millisecond that you possibly can on your side. The same holds true for gaming consoles and televisions (many of which have a "game mode" that reduces response time), and it continues to be the case even if you plug a console into your computer monitor.
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