04th May2012

Level Up Your … Monitor Lag?

by Derek Lee

Most people in this day and age play our games on HDTV’s at home. The old days of everyone playing on a lagless CRT tv are virtually extinct and unfortunately the modern day HDTV’s all have some sort of lag.

What does this mean for you? Well if you are a casual gamer, it means nothing. Playing on your neighbor’s 50 inch plasma won’t really have an effect on you. However, if you are sitting at home in practice mode aiming to get Top 8 at the next major tournament, then lag may have an effect on your timing – in this case, the 50 inch plasma may not be the best TV to practice on. It will negatively affect how you perform your 1 frame link combos in SF, throw breaks in Tekken, just frames in Soul Calibur and other timing-strict games. Those serious gamers may want to consider investing in a new HDTV setup.

“Okay, I have a couple hundred to spare, but I don’t know which TV to buy… now what?” Well, stumbling across this thread on shoryuken.com, it gives some very informative information and a huge list of TV’s that have 1 frame or less of lag – the most popular one in the list is probably the Asus VH236H “Evo” monitor, which shows 8.3ms of lag, or roughly 1/2 of a frame [or 1/120th of a second]. Take a look at this thread here:

Sub 1 frame HDTV/Monitor Input Lag Database

A couple things to consider about HDTV’s and lag is that when a monitor advertises “Response Time”, it is NOT the same as Input Lag. If a company advertises “2ms response time”, don’t be fooled since that does NOT reflect the monitor’s lag. Another thing is that in a lot of these tests, they are testing at a certain resolution, usually 1080p. However, most games do not run in 1080p – they can only be run in 720p, such as Tekken 6, Soul Calibur 5, etc… so for some of the tests, the lag reflected in the thread will not be completely accurate [it'll most likely be higher when playing those games]. For example, the Asus monitor running Tekken 6 in 720p is probably going to have more than 1 frame of lag. 1080p is the optimal resolution for the monitor, but since it has to down-scale the image to 720p, it requires some processing power, therefore creating lag.

With tournaments in mind, which is the recommended TV to get? Well, the Asus monitor or anything showing less than 9ms of lag is going to be ideal, just remember to keep in mind that not all of the listed monitors have speakers, if this is important to you. [some people like myself use external speakers anyway].


Speaking from my personal experience, my first real hdtv monitor was the Asus VH236H, it really felt amazing as I had not played on anything that didn’t have lag, other than the crt’s on arcade machines. I had that monitor for about 2 years or so, then I had more recently purchased a different Asus monitor – VG236HE. This is an updated 3D version with a [very nice] glossy screen, however I did notice that the VG236HE was slightly less responsive than the VH236H evo monitor.

Even more recently, I stumbled upon the sub-1 frame lag monitor thread at shoryuken and made a purchase based on the tests, which was the Dell S2330MX, which shows a very very low input lag of 3.8ms. It wasn’t too expensive at around $180 + shipping from Dell. I did some combo testing and this monitor truly feels awesome and probably the least laggy monitor I’ve ever played on – once calibrated properly. The only downsides to this monitor [which doesn't affect me much] is that there are only 2 inputs – VGA and DVI. It does, however, come with an hdmi to dvi adapter, so you can just plug in your hdmi cable to that. The screen itself is less than 1 inch thick – very very thin, light and energy saving.

This monitor also does not have speakers, but I use external speakers anyway. Since the hdmi cable is being using just for the monitor, you can take a composite or component ps2 cable and just use the red / white audio wires from that to plug into any speaker device . Just goto the ps3 xmb and change the audio settings from hdmi to the rca audio cables and then you’re all set.


I hope this has been an informative article … so it’s time for you to … Level Up Your Monitor !

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