A Guide to Understanding Input Lag - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everybody. I keep seeing repeated questions about input lag, so I thought I'd do up a guide to help people understand it, know how to test for it, and know if it really matters to them. And maybe refer back to this link for people asking about the question in general.

What is Input Lag?
In simple terms, Input Lag is any delay between a signal being sent to your TV and having it displayed on your screen. Most TVs have input lag. This lag is not noticeable when watching video, as the TV knows about the lag and syncs the audio to match. However, when you're interacting with the TV (ie controlling what's displayed), this delay can become noticeable.


My TV lists an 2/5/8/etc ms response time. Is that the input lag?
No. This is a common misconception. Response time is the amount of time it takes for a pixel to shift its color. This can help prevent blurring or ghosting in your picture, but has nothing to do with input lag. Virtually no TV maker lists input lag on their product material.


What causes Input Lag?
The primary cause of input lag is signal processing. Anything that requires your TV to alter the signal it receives can delay the transmission of that signal to the screen. Processing comes in three general varieties:

A) Inherent lag in the circuitry of the TV, which can't be removed.

B) Image scaling. If the TV receives a signal that it doesn't natively support, the TV has to scale the image to fit its display. For example sending a 720p signal to a 1080p TV will cause input lag, as will being forced to deinterlace a signal.

C) Postprocessing: Anything that a TV does to a signal to "improve" it for the viewer. This includes noise reduction, motion smoothing, dejudder, dynamic contrast adjustment, etc. Most TVs do a lot of postprocessing in their standard modes, which isn't what you want. Most new TVs do have a "game mode" that turns off most, if not all, of the postprocessing features of the set.

So, ultimately, to minimize input lag, you want to:
A) Select a set with minimal base input lag
B) Make sure you feed your set the proper size signal for its fixed resolution.
C) Turn off any postprocessing features you can (either through GAME mode or manually disabling features).


How can I find out how much Input Lag my set has?
There are two ways to test for lag:

A) The CRT stopwatch method. CRTs do not lag, so you can hook up a computer with dual display to both a CRT monitor, then your TV, and feed them the same signal with a stopwatch application running. Taking pictures of the two displays side by side will show how far off the TV is. This is a decent method, but has its own pitfalls - it's not always easy to find a CRT and a TV that accept the same native signal. If you output something different from your TV's native resolution, you introduce scaling lag into the equation.

B) Rock Band 2 has a built in input lag tester. Using a copy of the game along with a Rock Band 2 guitar, you can do an automated test. RB2 runs 10-20 seperate tests and then averages the total. This has actually proven to be a better test than CRT, simply because it automates the process, gives consistent results that match CRT tests, and can easily be run at the television's native resolution.

In either case, the time difference or video lag shown equals miliseconds. 16ms = 1 frame of input lag, assuming the game runs at 60Hz/fps.


Does the input type I use (VGA/HDMI/Component) matter?
In theory, any connection that can support your TV's resolution can deliver the same response time, but like screen type, this varies from model to model. The short answer is it depends - try any and every HD input your TV has to see if it makes a difference!


Does the screen type (Plasma/LCD/RP) matter?
Again, it depends. In very general terms, Plasma sets have better input lag than other types. However, in practice this is HIGHLY variable, as each model TV has varying characteristics. So getting a plasma doesn't guarantee no/low input lag - any set you want to buy should be tested individually.


What's the average Input Lag for TVs?
Generally speaking, most decent brand name TVs have 30-60ms of input lag in GAME mode, which is 2-5 frames. With full postprocessing on, the numbers can get pretty high - I've hear of 100+ in some sets.


How much Input Lag is acceptable?
Input lag is overblown right now among the gaming community - this is primarily because many older sets had pretty horrendous delays on them.

Anything that is under 48ms (3 frames or less) is going to work fine, even for "hardcore" gamers. That's 1/20th of a second - for comparison the average human reaction time is around 1/5th of a second. The only example I can think of where you might need a better response time is for expert level fighting game players, because some games have combos that require inputs in specific 16ms windows.

Most people don't notice a difference until about 50+ms of input lag, which is 4+ frames, and gets progressively easier to notice the higher you go. Now, I know some people are going to start screaming "I can feel the difference between 2 or 3 frames!", but I can tell you that no, it's highly likely you cannot. The maker of GGPO (an online fighting game networking protocol), ran tests with pro-level, tournament winning fighting game players. The results showed many of them could not discern any difference between 0 and 2 frames of lag. Chances are good you're not a unique snowflake that has superhuman reaction times. So don't drive yourself crazy trying to find the "perfect" set - there's lot of great options at an input lag level you'll never notice.

That being said, if you believe you're a unique star-child, then feel free to look for the gold standard in lag, which is 15ms or less, which is no frame delay at all. Very, very few sets have been tested to verify this, so be prepared to look for a good long while!

TESTED SETS
Sharp LXX77UN: 25ms (Game mode) Personal Testing
Sharp LxxLE700UN: 25ms (Game mode) Personal Testing
LG XXLH90: 45ms (Game mode) Personal Testing
Samsung LEXXA950: 45-60ms (Game mode or VGA port) link link
Samsung LEXXB650: 45-60ms (Game mode) link
Panasonic TCPXXG, and V series: 30ms link
LGXXLH30: 0-15ms (

Any questions, comments, etc, feel free to respond. Thanks!
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post #2 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the informative post.

I have read that Input Lag is a big deal when it comes to gaming on HDTVs. Ive also read that games on a PS2 perform poorly on any HDTV due to the need for processing? Is this correct?

Is there any way to correct the PS2 game problems or specific TV features or capabilities I can look for to minimize the input lag?
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post #3 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash- View Post

Thanks for the informative post.

I have read that Input Lag is a big deal when it comes to gaming on HDTVs. Ive also read that games on a PS2 perform poorly on any HDTV due to the need for processing? Is this correct?

Is there any way to correct the PS2 game problems or specific TV features or capabilities I can look for to minimize the input lag?

As I mentioned below, anything under 3 frames or less (48ms) is pretty much imperceptible to most everybody. And there's a lot of TVs that can hit that mark in their gaming modes.

For PS2 performing "poorly", that's mostly correct. Most every PS2 games runs in 480i. So the TV has to both deinterlace the picture along with upscaling from 480 to whatever your TV's native res is. Having to do both typically introduces a lot of input lag.

There are a couple of upscalers that claim to do the conversion without introducing any processing lag, like http://www.hdboxpro.com/eng/shop.htm or http://www.anchorbaytech.com/dvdo_edge/, but I don't have any real experience with them, so I can't vouch for them.
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post #4 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 11:20 AM
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I was getting really excited about the DVDO Edge until I saw teh price..lol

At that point I might as well go out and buy a PS3! Thanks
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post #5 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:11 PM
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jv...,
I did not see any mention of Game mode in your descriptions.
I would like to see you discuss Game mode and when and when not it may reduce input lag.
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post #6 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

jv...,
I did not see any mention of Game mode in your descriptions.
I would like to see you discuss Game mode and when and when not it may reduce input lag.

jv did mention it:
C) Postprocessing: Anything that a TV does to a signal to "improve" it for the viewer. This includes noise reduction, motion smoothing, dejudder, dynamic contrast adjustment, etc. Most TVs do a lot of postprocessing, although most do have a "game mode" that turns most of that off.
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post #7 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

jv...,
I did not see any mention of Game mode in your descriptions.
I would like to see you discuss Game mode and when and when not it may reduce input lag.

I believe most Game modes just turn off a lot of the post processing settings like noise reduction, anti-blur, dejuddering, smoothing, etc.

Thats why in a lot of instruction manuals sames that turning on Game mode can reduce image quality.
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post #8 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:18 PM
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also maybe discuss different cable connection and their effect on input lag. i.e. HDMI/VGA/component
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post #9 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:23 PM
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Yes jv..., did say do what every you can do disable post processing but he did not point out that many HDTVs have a Game Mode that will do this for your. Also I beleive that if you are not able to send the HDTV its native resolution that Game Mode reduces lag time by reducing the quality of the rescaling required.
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post #10 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash- View Post

I was getting really excited about the DVDO Edge until I saw teh price..lol

At that point I might as well go out and buy a PS3! Thanks

And sadly, playing PS2 games through PS3 has input delay as well, go figure. It just changes the source of the upscaling lag from the TV to the PS3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadymilkmanOO7 View Post

also maybe discuss different cable connection and their effect on input lag. i.e. HDMI/VGA/component

Well, I can put something in, but in general the answer is "it depends". The input circuitry of the TV varies from model to model.



Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

Yes jv..., did say do what every you can do disable post processing but he did not point out that many HDTVs have a Game Mode that will do this for your. Also I beleive that if you are not able to send the HDTV its native resolution that Game Mode reduces lag time by reducing the quality of the rescaling required.

I'm not sure what you're missing. Copied directly from the OP:

Most TVs do a lot of postprocessing, although most do have a "game mode" that turns most of that off.

It mentions that game mode turns off postprocessing, and then says to reduce postprocessing however possible (ie turn on game mode!).


EDIT: Went back and clarified it. If you can't see it now I can't help you!
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post #11 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 01:55 PM
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The edited OP does make it clear tnow hat Game Mode reduces Post processing.
There is still no reference as to the effect of Game Mode to reduce scaling time when the resolution sent to the TV is not the native resolution.
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post #12 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

The edited OP does make it clear tnow hat Game Mode reduces Post processing.
There is still no reference as to the effect of Game Mode to reduce scaling time when the resolution sent to the TV is not the native resolution.

Because it's redundant. You want post processing off/game mode on to minimize lag, end of story. It's a blanket rule, you don't have to repeat information for every minor variation. Do you have to read instructions on how to put butter on English muffins if you've only done it on toast before?
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post #13 of 39 Old 10-01-2009, 06:06 PM
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Great post, very informational.....I guess the question then is whether anyone has or will compile testing results of the various panels? I trust you that I would be fine with anything less than 48ms, i'd just like to know which panels these are.
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post #14 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 05:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabes35 View Post

Great post, very informational.....I guess the question then is whether anyone has or will compile testing results of the various panels? I trust you that I would be fine with anything less than 48ms, i'd just like to know which panels these are.

I'll certainly do my best to find and verify those numbers, but ultimately most people are going to have to run tests on their own. I've added a few to the list already that I've had firsthand experience with.
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post #15 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 08:25 AM
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For those with more of a PC bent, there is a nice article from AnandTech going into the nitty-gritty of input lag here. It covers more than just the display, but is an interesting read nonetheless.
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post #16 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 05:14 PM
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From everything I've read Sharp seems to be the best, and Samsung among the worst...does anyone know where Vizio and LG fall as far as input lag with their newest panels?
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post #17 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 05:32 PM
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My PS/3 is configured to 1080P output. By outputting to the panel resolution, Lag is reduced, because the scaler/deinterlacer does nothing.

My satellite receiver is set to output at native resolution. This way, my TV's superior scaler/deinterlacer processes the video, instead of the inferior one in the satellite receiver.

This is in addition to setting the TV to game and video mode, as appropriate.
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post #18 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebound View Post

My PS/3 is configured to 1080P output. By outputting to the panel resolution, Lag is reduced, because the scaler/deinterlacer does nothing.

If the game doesn't support 1080p but a max. of (for example) 720p then the PS3 will output exactly that and your display will at least do some scaling.
However, the scaling isn't necessarily what prolongs the input lag (it depends on the set, apparently) but more often the post processing like noise filters and frame interpolation.

Quote:


My satellite receiver is set to output at native resolution. This way, my TV's superior scaler/deinterlacer processes the video, instead of the inferior one in the satellite receiver.

Sat receivers are usually not critical regarding input lag anyway as user interaction isn't time critical (and limited).

Quote:


This is in addition to setting the TV to game and video mode, as appropriate.

Game mode is a good way to reduce input lag (after all that's what it is for) but it may compromise on image quality (depending on the set).

bye
Benny

bye
Benny
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post #19 of 39 Old 10-02-2009, 11:58 PM
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The G10 & G15 is 30ms like the V10(the number stay the same with or without game mode in 1080P). I did some personal testing with the G15(own) which is like the G10.

The only time it change is when you run games in SD which the lag goes to 60ms but lower down to 45ms in games mode in 480i.
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post #20 of 39 Old 10-03-2009, 01:19 AM
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While i don't know if the 50 ms figure is right i will assume so in this post. Even though 50 ms is inperceptible to most, its important to consider that the TV is not the only source of lag, wireless controllers, frame-buffering in GPUs, how the game is programmed and so on all introduce input-lag. The sum of all these effect can be pretty high, so its important that all parts have a pretty low number, just because the TV itself is acceptable, that doesn't mean the whole system is.

AtW
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post #21 of 39 Old 10-03-2009, 10:13 AM
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Great thread, with useful info
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post #22 of 39 Old 10-03-2009, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

While i don't know if the 50 ms figure is right i will assume so in this post. Even though 50 ms is inperceptible to most, its important to consider that the TV is not the only source of lag, wireless controllers, frame-buffering in GPUs, how the game is programmed and so on all introduce input-lag. The sum of all these effect can be pretty high, so its important that all parts have a pretty low number, just because the TV itself is acceptable, that doesn't mean the whole system is.

AtW

FWIW, current gen wireless controllers for both PS3 and the 360 have no lag whatsoever. This was tested and verified by people over at shoryuken.com, running input test where the same button was wired to a corded and cordless controller.
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post #23 of 39 Old 10-03-2009, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvarisco View Post

FWIW, current gen wireless controllers for both PS3 and the 360 have no lag whatsoever. This was tested and verified by people over at shoryuken.com, running input test where the same button was wired to a corded and cordless controller.

Well with the 360, using different batteries do affect the lag(such as using MS pack vs real batteries). Also an old PS3 controller that have batteries that is about to die will also increase lag result.

Shoryuken investigated this matter because SFIV on PS3 seem to have delay in comparison to the 360 version. It doesn't feel as responsive.

It will be comfirmed once they get the tool out a digitalfoundy.
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post #24 of 39 Old 10-03-2009, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Deap View Post

Well with the 360, using different batteries do affect the lag(such as using MS pack vs real batteries). Also an old PS3 controller that have batteries that is about to die will also increase lag result.

Shoryuken investigated this matter because SFIV on PS3 seem to have delay in comparison to the 360 version. It doesn't feel as responsive.

It will be comfirmed once they get the tool out a digitalfoundy.

Uh... feel free to link a confirmed test of this but I'm calling a massive BS on that until proved otherwise. I doubt the properties of how electricity works are altered on an MS battery pack or low batteries.

http://forums.shoryuken.com/showpost...1&postcount=40
http://forums.shoryuken.com/showpost...7&postcount=48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvarisco View Post

Uh... feel free to link a confirmed test of this but I'm calling a massive BS on that until proved otherwise. I doubt the properties of how electricity works are altered on an MS battery pack or low batteries.

http://forums.shoryuken.com/showpost...1&postcount=40
http://forums.shoryuken.com/showpost...7&postcount=48

That's how I know when I feel that my batteries are weak even without watching the bar. It fuss me so much that I change the batteries even before they die out.

My Bro actually bring his controller with the MS pack I didn't like the feeling of the D-pad at all. I popped my batteries on his controller & I could play again.
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post #26 of 39 Old 10-04-2009, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvarisco View Post

FWIW, current gen wireless controllers for both PS3 and the 360 have no lag whatsoever. This was tested and verified by people over at shoryuken.com, running input test where the same button was wired to a corded and cordless controller.

I can guarantee you that wireless controllers have lag, wired controllers have lag too. Maybe the lag is in the area of a few milliseconds, but they do introduce lag. Usb polling frequency alone will introduce lag. No percetible lag in itself is quite possible however.

AtW
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post #27 of 39 Old 10-04-2009, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Deap View Post

That's how I know when I feel that my batteries are weak even without watching the bar. It fuss me so much that I change the batteries even before they die out.

My Bro actually bring his controller with the MS pack I didn't like the feeling of the D-pad at all. I popped my batteries on his controller & I could play again.

Ah yes, antecdotal experience, the most USELESS metric by which you can judge. There's a reason people test things using methodologies that are repeatable, and not just a bunch of people sitting around saying "I TOTALLY FEEL IT MAN". I would think a guy who links to a CRT lag test would appreciate the need for empirical testing.

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Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I can guarantee you that wireless controllers have lag, wired controllers have lag too. Maybe the lag is in the area of a few milliseconds, but they do introduce lag. Usb polling frequency alone will introduce lag. No percetible lag in itself is quite possible however.

AtW

Did you read the links I posted? Wireless and wired pads have essentially-identical response times, which is the point I was trying to make. Discussing inherent console based lag from controller circuit processing (especially when it's far more minimal than anything else we're dealing with) really adds nothing beneficial to the discussion.
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post #28 of 39 Old 10-04-2009, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvarisco View Post


Oh for god's sake, did you even read the links I posted? Wireless and wired pads have essentially-identical response times. It's not something you can control anyway, it's inherent to the console, and discussing the .7ms inherent lag of a controller really adds nothing beneficial to the discussion.


I read the links you posted. Personally i find it higly useful for the discussion to rember that the relvant thing for the user is the total input lag, not the lag of the panel itself, even if all parts in the chain have input lag that is in itself not perceptible, the sum can be perceptible. I agree that the lag of dontrollers usually is so small that there are better places in the chain to start the quest for lower lag, but saying that it has "no lag whatsover" is imprecise. Besides I didn't focus very strongly on controllers, i just mentioned several things in the chain that increases lag besides the panel. In a worst case scenario a usb-controller can provide the last 2 ms of lag that pushses the total lag into the perceptible amounts.

AtW
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post #29 of 39 Old 10-04-2009, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I read the links you posted. Personally i find it higly useful for the discussion to rember that the relvant thing for the user is the total input lag, not the lag of the panel itself, even if all parts in the chain have input lag that is in itself not perceptible, the sum can be perceptible. I agree that the lag of dontrollers usually is so small that there are better places in the chain to start the quest for lower lag, but saying that it has "no lag whatsover" is imprecise. Besides I didn't focus very strongly on controllers, i just mentioned several things in the chain that increases lag besides the panel. In a worst case scenario a usb-controller can provide the last 2 ms of lag that pushses the total lag into the perceptible amounts.

AtW

Fair enough. My apologies, as you can see I edited my post a minute before you got to it.

I understand where you're coming from, but not only is it something not under our control, the chances of finding a set with exactly 15ms lag, and having a controller have Xms lag that puts it over the top is really, really rare. Rare enough I'd prefer not to put it into the discussion as to not cloud the issue, as there's still a lot of misinformation around (like batteries introducing lag). Same goes with a game that's badly programmed.
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post #30 of 39 Old 10-04-2009, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I read the links you posted. Personally i find it higly useful for the discussion to rember that the relvant thing for the user is the total input lag, not the lag of the panel itself, even if all parts in the chain have input lag that is in itself not perceptible, the sum can be perceptible. I agree that the lag of dontrollers usually is so small that there are better places in the chain to start the quest for lower lag, but saying that it has "no lag whatsover" is imprecise. Besides I didn't focus very strongly on controllers, i just mentioned several things in the chain that increases lag besides the panel. In a worst case scenario a usb-controller can provide the last 2 ms of lag that pushses the total lag into the perceptible amounts.

AtW

I agree, there is enough lag from the frame buffer/controller/internet etc that we shouldn't have extra lag on our TVs. I find it absurd that I can send a packet acrss the internet in 15 ms but it takes a TV 45 ms to output the image.

Oh well, I good thing I still have an HD-CRT
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