What is a monitor’s response time and why is it important?

By Eunice Samson | March 11, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

It can be overwhelming to shop for computers and PC components, especially since you are bombarded with complex technical specs. Even when you’re simply selecting the right monitor for your daily computing needs, the process can be complicated. Of course, most people understand specs like screen resolution and size. However, there is another essential factor that they must consider: response time.

So, what does a monitor response time mean? In this article, we will discuss its purpose, including the crucial role it plays when you are using your PC for graphics-heavy activities.

What Does a Monitor Response Time Mean?

The amount of time that it takes for the monitor to switch colors is referred to as the ‘response time’. What is monitor response time? This is typically measured in terms of the milliseconds it takes to shift from black to white, then back to black again. The common LCD response time is below ten milliseconds (10 ms). However, some products can be as fast as one millisecond.

It is worth noting that there is no standard method for measurement across all manufacturers. Some companies express the response time in terms of the screen’s ability to go from black to white, then back to black again. Others measure it based on the figures they get from testing the screen’s ability to go from ‘gray to gray’. Basically, the screen goes through the same, full spectrum, but it starts and ends on more complex and finer gray values. That said, it is generally considered that a lower response time is better. After all, it cuts down on graphics issues like ‘ghosting’ or blurring.

You should avoid confusing a monitor’s response time to its refresh rate. Even though they sound similar, the latter has something to do with the screen’s ability to display new images within a second. This information is expressed in hertz, and standard monitors usually have a 60HZ refresh rate. However, some screens can go higher than that. When it comes to refresh rates, the higher the better. On the other hand, a lower response time is generally more favorable.

Does a Lower Response Rate Matter?

In most cases, the response rate of a monitor will not matter. If you are using your laptop or PC for surfing the web, typing on Word, or writing an email, you won’t notice the delay in the shift of colors on your monitor because it is so fast. Even when you’re watching a video, the delay is not significant enough for you to see. This is also the reason why most computer users do not care what their screen’s response rate is.

However, if you are a serious gamer, you know how every single millisecond is crucial in a match. After all, it makes a huge difference in getting a perfect line in a rally race, accurately landing a sniper shot, or winning a game. So, what is the best monitor response time for gaming? Well, if you want to gain a competitive edge, then it is worth buying a monitor with a response time as low as 1 to 5 milliseconds. However, do note that screens like this can be expensive. If you are a serious gamer, then it is definitely worth the investment.

The Type of Monitor to Get for a Faster Response Time

There are various factors affecting PC monitor responsiveness. So, if you want to get something faster, you must get the right kind of screen for your gaming desktop. Ideally, you should get one of the following panels:

  • Twisted Nematic (TN) monitors: These screen panels are generally inexpensive, but they have a poor color range. When it comes to response time, TN monitors are among the fastest on the market. If you want a more affordable product and you do not mind going for the less colorful option, then a TN screen panel is a good choice for you.
  • In-Plane Switching (IPS) monitors: If you want more accurate colors and you are willing to shell out more bucks, then an IPS screen panel is the ideal option for you. Video editors, graphic designers, and photographers prefer this product because it is essential for them to get accurate colors. Compared to TN monitors, IPS screens have higher response times. So, you will rarely see them advertised as ‘gaming screen panels.’
  • Vertical Alignment (VA) monitors: There are screen panels that offer the vivid and more accurate colors of IPS monitors while maintaining the low response time of TN screens. A lot of gaming monitors these days have VA panels, and their response rates can be as low as one millisecond.

If you want the ideal monitor for video games, then it is best that you get a TN or a VA screen panel. It is true that there are IPS gaming monitors, but their response rates can be high. Usually, the panel type is indicated in the specifications of the monitor on the online listing. If you are visiting a physical store, you can check the box to get this information.

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What are the Disadvantages of a Low Response Time?

To keep the response rate low, gaming monitors usually override the complex image processing that should take place when the computer sends the signal. This includes features like boosted brightness, blue filters that reduce eye strain, and color-correcting parts of the monitor, among others. So, when you select the fastest possible response time on your gaming monitor, you will likely notice duller colors and reduced brightness.

Is It Worth Investing in a Monitor with a Fast Response Time?

For many games, you won’t need a monitor with the lowest response time. For instance, if you prefer single-player games and the only opponent you have is your computer, then it is not really worth buying an expensive gaming monitor. If you’re playing casual games like Minecraft, the occasional and unnoticeable ghost image or blur won’t really matter.

As we’ve mentioned, there are different factors affecting PC monitor responsiveness. For instance, if your Internet connection is poor, there will be a delay in the time it takes for your computer to upload and download information from the game’s server. So, the fast response rate of your monitor won’t make a huge difference. On the other hand, if you have a good Internet connection and if you often play multi-player games like Overwatch, Fortnight, Street Fighter, or Rocket League, then you would need the lowest response rate you can afford.

Pro Tip: You should also get a reliable anti-virus to protect your computer from threats and attacks. Keep in mind that viruses and malware can corrupt your system, affecting how it processes images. So, if you want to enjoy the optimum graphics of your PC, you should install Auslogics Anti-Malware. This tool can detect malicious programs no matter how discreetly they run in the background. As such, you can ensure that no malware or viruses can keep you from enjoying your video games.

What kind of monitor do you prefer?

Share your answer in the comments below!

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.
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