What Is a Monitor Response Time & Why it is Important?

Monitor Response time can be one of the more complex features to look for in a monitor. This is because it’s one of the most overlooked features as it does not give much to the everyday user. Response time relates to the colors you view on your monitor and how long it takes them to shift between one another.

But if you are in the market for a gaming monitor or are in fields that rely heavily on video or other motion-dependent things, response time is significant for you and can make a huge difference.

1Ms Response Time Monitor
1Ms Response Time Monitor

What Is Response Time for Monitors? 

Response time for monitors is the time it takes to shift from one color to different. This is usually measured when it takes to go from black to white back again to black, expressed in milliseconds (ms). However, there is also gray-to-gray (GtG) and sometimes also just black-to-white.

Normally, 10ms is the average for black to white to black. But to give you a different reference point, LCD screens have response times under 10ms. But the fewer milliseconds response time gets the better image and motion production. However, certain panel types are more responsive than others, with TN panels traditionally having to be much more responsive than IPS panels. But that is all changing, particularly with nano IPS.

Black to White to Black 

Black to white to black is the standard response time indicator significantly. Black to white to black measures by determining the time for enough active (white) to inactive (black) back to active again. With this time measurement, you can resolve how long it takes a pixel to change colors. In LCD, for instance, how fast the liquid-crystal rises and then falls is the total time.

Black to white to black response times are ordinarily higher, meaning they are slower to shift. These response times are better catered for everyday computer users who are more interested in monitoring ergonomics.

Gray-to-Gray (GtG)

Gray-to-gray (GtG) functions on an intermediate gradation, meaning these pixels do not become entirely inactive. LCD GtGs have roughly 256 gradations of gray. Gray-to-gray response times are much more active and are great for those interested in better gaming experiences and videography.

It is also important to note how they are contained. While black to white to black is round trip total time, gray-to-gray is calculated by taking several selected time sequences and then getting the average. This then is full-time in milliseconds it takes for a pixel to change color.

What is Latency?

Latency is a phrase you may see pop up when researching response time. Some places may confuse the two terms since they both include timing and use milliseconds, but there is a difference. Latency refers to data expecting a response, not color shift time. Response time can also be confused with terms like input lag, which is an error made by a lack of response by the monitor itself.

Latency refers to the time in which a request is sent and how long it awaits a response. Once it is processed and received, you have the core of round-trip latency and service time. However, better latency can increase your response time by a whole millisecond!

Response Time Monitor
Response Time Monitor

How is Response Time Different from Refresh Rate and Frame Rate?

Some other phrases you may have seen are refresh rate and frame rate. It is important to note that these are pretty different but easily confused.

Refresh rate is the number of times your monitor updates with a new picture every second. This is measured in hertz (Hz). The higher the hertz, the more constant the image. The refresh rate is correlated directly to the monitor or display hardware.

However, making sure you have both a reasonable refresh rate and frame rate allows for optimal performance.

Frame rate is the speed at which those images are shown. This is contained in frames per second (fps). Each image shown represents a frame and how quick movement between them is, thus creating what you see on the screen. So, if you see 30fps that means there are 30 different still images that your display is switching between.

Frame rate is not reliant on your monitor but rather the combination of software, graphics card, and central processing unit (CPU).

Response Time Test

When it comes to response time, the science and meaning of it is, admittedly, quite difficult. Even some engineers can find it challenging. But there are some excellent resources to help you understand response time better.

Response time tests are helpful but complicated tools where you can test your monitor’s response time. These are especially useful for monitors that use gray-to-gray response times since they are better suited for video and motion. These tests will tell you what called moving picture response time (MPRT) is. Moving picture response time is different because it is the amount of time that a pixel (that has already changed colors) is visible.

Why Response Time Is Important

If you are a casual internet user, meaning you browse, shop, or read, response time is not an essential factor. Even if you regularly use your system for things like watching movies or videos, response time still may not be that big of a deal for you.

If you are a videographer, or even more so, a gamer, response time means quite a lot. Having a lower response rate, such as one to five milliseconds, can make all the variation for you. It also allows for more different motion and less of what is called “ghosting.”

But keep in mind, if you are someone who experiences eye strain and headaches, lower response times could mean that the monitor excludes complex image processing such as boosted light or blue light filters that protect your eyes. An extremely responsive monitor might not be for you.

Should You Consider Better Response Time?

If you are in competing esports, for example, then having a better response time is necessary to make sure you stay on top. But if you are a daily user, for things like professional businesses, or just casual surfing, response time may not be the number one factor you should consider.

If you are looking for a great monitor for needs demanding response time, check out ViewSonic Elite’s XG2405 for gaming and even videography due to its low response time of 1ms (GtG) and a refresh rate of 144Hz!

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