Being a competitive gamer is a lot harder than it sounds. Having lightning-fast reaction times are necessary if you want to go far. But having quick reflexes is not the only thing that you need to have. You need a monitor that can display everything that you are meant to see in clarity, with minimal distortion.
Having a quick response time on your monitor is crucial, too. A 7ms response time would be fine for a casual gamer as they are not likely to be impacted by the minor delays in refresh time. For hardcore and professional gamers, a monitor with a 1ms response time will provide a better gaming experience. The better the response time, the quicker the shift from one color to the next, which minimizes image distortion.
What is Response Time?
The simplest explanation is that response time in a monitor is the time that it takes to go from one color to another. Generally speaking, this is measured in the time it takes to go from black to white and back again in milliseconds.
The faster the time, in milliseconds, the better the motion production and image quality. For gaming purposes, you need to be able to see the images on the screen clearly and smoothly. Having a lower response time means less blur and greater accuracy.
If you have a monitor with a 7ms response time, for instance, it means that it can refresh a pixel every 0.007 seconds. This is roughly equal to 125 changes per second, which is referenced in Hz. The higher the Hz, the better the response time that you will get from your display.
Why You Want a Low Response Time
Gaming is about quick reaction times. Especially in the multiplayer world where you are battling thousands and even millions of other players, you need to be quick to react. Having a monitor that can display images with minimal disturbance is part of that reaction time.
For the most part, computer users aren’t aware of response time unless they have researched it. Most of the time, the delay in response time is so fast that the human eye can’t even detect it. Faster response times mean less delays in transitioning between colors, which means less blur. Less blur means seeing what is happening more clearly so that you can react.
In first-person shooters that have become outrageously popular, those milliseconds matter. Trying to land a long range shot, for example, can happen faster with minimal refresh rate. That is why hardcore and professional gamers make the leap to pricier gaming monitors.
Which Types of Monitor are Fastest?
If you are thinking of making the jump to an expensive gaming monitor, it helps to know which ones are optimal. Most laptops and your smartphone don’t give you the choice of response time, with a few exceptions.
Gaming monitors are much different. There are three different LCD panel types out there, which cover just about 99% of the gaming monitors out there.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) Screen Panels
IPS monitors are generally valued by photographers, video editors, and graphic designers. They are also valued by anyone who puts the accuracy of colors above all else. These monitors are also quite a bit more expensive than some of the others out there due to the higher accuracy of colors.
IPS screen panels have a higher response time than something like a TN screen panel. For this reason, you will rarely see IPS screen panels advertised as “gaming” monitors. If you are more into gaming than photo and video editing, an IPS screen is not the way to go.
TN (Twisted Nematic) Screen Panels
These are the most commonly available and tend to be more inexpensive than some of the competitors on the market. The reason they are so inexpensive is because they have a poor color range, especially when compared to IPS monitors.
That said, TN screen panels are some of the fastest in terms of response time on the market. Most of the standard monitors out there go with TN panels because of the response time even with the less accurate and vibrant color choices.
VA (Vertical Alignment) Screen Panels
This is a newer addition to the market. It is an attempt that is meant to pair the more vivid, accurate colors of IPS with the faster response time provided by TN. It is meant to be more of a middle ground, not providing the exceptional status of the aforementioned monitors but doing both well.
VA monitors can have crazy low response times. Their refresh rates have been known to get as low as a single millisecond, which allows for insanely accurate colors as well. If you are looking to keep up in lightning-quick games, there is no question that VA or TN are the best route to go. If colors don’t matter and you want to save a few bucks, then TN is probably the best option. That said, VA is the best of both worlds by far.
Are There Downsides to a Fast Response Time?
While response time is definitely the name of the game for gaming monitors, it isn’t the only thing that matters. The simple fact is that, in order to cut down response time, most gaming monitors will eschew more complex image processors.
Those high-end image processors handle things like brightness, blue light filters, and color-corrections. All of which provide better, more accurate color representation to the view. Without them, you are more likely to see duller colors and reduced brightness than you otherwise would.
Having a faster response time may be worth it to you. For most gamers, however, it likely won’t matter that much. You may be better versed in getting something that will display the colors more vibrantly while sacrificing a few milliseconds of response time.
Is a 7ms Response Time Good?
When it comes to gaming, a 7ms response time is considered okay but not great. Anything above a handful of milliseconds won’t do for hardcore gamers, with most hovering at no more than a 1ms response time. It is also the refresh rate that is most common in more affordable monitors.
That said, there are better and worse times that are quite common. Anything in the 10-12ms range is in your cheaper monitors. For multiplayer gaming, this may not be fast enough to suit your needs. But for single-player games and those with less graphical importance, a 10-12ms will work just fine.
For faster games, however, there are 5ms or less response time monitors out there. Hardcore and professional gamers prefer a 1ms response time to help give them as much an edge as possible. Fewer blurs and distortions, allowing gamers to see everything clearly so that they can react accordingly.
Do You Need a Monitor with a Low Response Time?
Because of the costs involved and the potential sacrifice in color clarity, the question should be whether or not you really even need a monitor with low response time. There are three ways to look at whether or not you should buy a fast-response gaming monitor.
The first is if you play large multi-player games. Big, open world first-person shooters have become all the rage. In those multiplayer battles, response time definitely matters. Having a monitor with a faster response time can mean the difference between getting a kill and being killed.
For single-player games, however, it isn’t worth it. You generally only have to worry about the baddies right in front of you. A little ghosting or blurring here or there is not likely to affect your performance. Getting greater color clarity and quality will ultimately enhance your experience, making it the better path.
Finally, there are those games out there like Minecraft where response time really doesn’t matter. They are lower quality graphics, to begin with. You don’t have to worry about blurring or ghosting becoming an issue in those worlds.
Your Connection Matters
While the focus has primarily been on the response time of the monitor, it is hardly the only factor. The simple fact is that, if you have a slow connection, the best response time in the world won’t matter much at all.
If you have a monitor that is a bit slower – say 10ms response time – then it won’t really matter if you have a 100ms ping to the server. Having a fast internet connection and ample bandwidth is easier than ever these days, though. So make sure that you have a connection that is fit for more than amateur gaming.
Is 8ms Response Time Good for Gaming?
The focus here has been on 7ms response time, but what if you find something slightly worse at 8ms? Is that okay for gaming purposes? For the most part, it should be more than adequate and compares favorably with the 7ms refresh rate.
At this range, a shift one millisecond this way or that is not going to drastically impact things. It is only when you start getting under 5ms in response time that things really start to noticeably change. In this range, you can comfortably see all that you are meant to see without noticing much of a difference.