Reduce Display Lag

Follow these tips to make sure your display is performing at the most optimized quality and speed for video gaming.

What is Game Mode?

What many overlook is that if a TV has a Game Mode, you will have input lag if it's not being used. This is because generally newer TVs do their own processing to the image/sound before displaying it to the TV, resulting in a delay between the source output and displayed results.

Setting your TV/Monitor in Game Mode will eliminate this processing and give you a 1:1 source to display throughput. (This helps for any gaming system). If you don't believe us, Google it, there's thousands of blogs and articles that talk about this. We have compiled the most comprehensive and detailed guide that you'll find anywhere to aid you in getting the perfect lag-free gaming setup.

Follow these steps and it may just blow your mind in how much improvement it makes - without or without using a Cronus. Here's one response from a customer....

"Wow!!!! I was blown away that this actually worked, who would have thought the cause of all this enraging input delay was a result of game mode on my TV. It was a bit difficult to find, but it was indeed there. And WOW, did it make a difference. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to play now. The input lag is completely gone, I'm insanely particular about latency and input lag, and when I got my Cronus yesterday and tried it, I was disappointed, but this changes everything and now my setup is better than ever before. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!"

Check out this video which shows how the Leo Bodnar Input Lag Tester optimizes settings for your TV or Monitor.

Ways to Reduce Display Lag

Switch Input Mode

Switch input mode from "AV" to "PC/HDMI". For monitors/TVs that have the "HDMI" label instead of "PC" (such as with the majority of Samsung & LG panels), you must rename the input mode to "PC" manually. I know it seems silly that changing the name of the input would actually make a difference - but just try it and see what happens. You'll cry. If your TV or monitor is NOT a Samsung, AND you cannot find out how to rename HDMI mode to PC, then chances are your HDMI mode will work just as well. With any monitor though, switching to "PC" (or HDMI mode if you can't rename it) input mode instead of "Auto", "AV" or "HDMI" will instantly shut off all of the useless post-processing protocols that are specific to the AV mode.

What's amazing is that for every product we've ever tried this on, the screen looks infinitely smoother and actually has an anti-aliasing (AA) effect despite shutting off post-processing effects. This is because AV mode almost always uses some weird "artificial digital sharpness" that makes jagged edges from games appear worse.

Most importantly you have just shaved about another 10-15 ms from this change alone - and for experienced gamers, this could be the difference between coming first or last.

I'm sure this feature can make movies look great, BUT it's not meant for games. Even more surprising is often you'll gain another inch of screen! AV mode (or AV/HDMI mode on Samsung) is often zoomed and stretched. TONS of people go years without even realizing they are missing a portion of their screen. Flip back and forth if you think you notice a difference. That said, many monitors already use the unzoomed format (also called "Just Scan" protocol), and in that case you won't notice any difference. Either way, your picture should look better, but most importantly you have just shaved about another 10-15ms from this change alone - and for experienced gamers, this could be the difference between coming first or last. We have a Samsung in the office and the difference is huge, however the manual says to specifically use HDMI Port 2 - remember to READ THE TV MANUAL! Labelling the HDMI input to "PC" is preferred over Game Mode because on these models:

  • It cuts down the input lag even more

  • It enables 4:4:4 chroma (depending on TV model)

  • It disables all post processing

  • It defaults to 0% overscan

  • It completely disables sharpness enhancement that other modes still have (even when set to 0%)

Enable Game Mode

Enable Game Mode, if available. If you are a fanatic about TV picture calibration and are frustrated by the lack of fine-tuning white balance, check to see if there is a factory menu you can access for more granular adjustments. Game mode is the single most important thing you can do as far as reducing input lag and is found on most modern sets, where the settings of the TV, including colors, motion blur, and others variables, are set specifically to accommodate video games, and will help reduce video game lag. Where as certain settings can help with motion graphics, such as sports on live TV, these same settings can make your video game lag or feel delayed. Most of the time this option will have disappeared after selecting PC mode. PC mode usually stops ALL post-processing (which is what causes input lag), while game mode usually only stops some for HDMI mode. If you do still see a Game Mode, turn it on. Check to see if doing so resets your monitor back to "HDMI" mode. If so, go with PC mode over Game mode. If you can have both modes at the same time (it's possible) then go with that.

Change Response Time

Look for a setting called "Response Time" or "Pixel overdrive", "overdrive", etc. Usually the options are something like "Normal", "Faster", or "Fastest". The "1-2ms" advertised response time of your monitor is usually only achieved by using this overdrive setting. Before you automatically choose the "fastest" (or equivalent setting), you should do a quick google check to see if your monitor's overdrive method is worth it. In theory the overdrive/response time setting should improve your response time (pixel switch speed) which will give you a smoother moving screen. However, many times (especially with Benq), the overdrive does nothing to improve your response time, and often can introduce input lag (as it is an intense/complicated form of post-processing). do your research to determine if the benefits will outweigh the costs. Remember that faster response time gives you smoothness while lower input lag will make your aiming "feel" better. If you discover there is a compromise, it's really up to you as far as which to choose. If you don't notice any motion blurring effect (outside the game's graphical engine), then I'd personally just stick with better input lag if I was forced to choose between the two. If you find your monitors overdrive method is efficient then obviously crank it to get the best of both worlds.

Disable 'Magic' Processing

Turn off any remaining "magic" or "auto-color" or anything else that sounds like a patented, gimmicky name. Generally any color or picture settings that imply an "auto" mode are just processes. Settings that say "custom" or "manual" are the ones you want to gravitate towards. If your picture/color looks worse on these manual/custom modes, then feel free to move the manual sliders around (Sharpness, RGB color balance, and contrast sliders, etc. are all fine to customize and won't affect lag). My Samsung has a common "Magic Color" setting that is supposed to auto balance colors dynamically. This option is not turned off by PC mode, so turning things like this off is necessary to "purify" your signal and eliminate remaining lag. I also have a "Magic Bright" picture mode that adjusts other picture aspects on the fly. Turn anything like that off as well. Make sure you go through each subsection of your settings (eg. Picture, Color, Input, General, etc.), and when in doubt, just google something if you don't know what it is. If you turn something off and it makes everything look like garbage, then obviously you can keep those vital processes. Once again remember if you do mess anything, you can just reset and try again.

Disable Motion Smoothing

Turn Off Motion Smoothing Modes. One of the most controversial topics in TV-land right now is motion smoothing, which uses interpolation and frame-skipping to lend a more life-like look to video content. In other words, it makes everything look like a soap opera. The words hertz and refresh rate get thrown around a lot. Generally speaking, higher refresh rates (measured in hertz) add to the soap-opera effect. LG, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Vizio and even Philips all have different names and brand titles for their motion smoothing settings: "TruMotion," "CineMotion," "Smooth Motion Effect," and "Smooth Motion Plus" among them. But they all basically do the same thing, with varying degrees of intensity. For single-player games, motion smoothing can actually make games look better. Sports games in particular can look as fluid as real life. But if you're playing a game online (especially a competitive multiplayer game) turn any and all motion assistance off. Along with an iffy internet connection, it's a major cause of input lag—don't put yourself at a disadvantage. Game Mode (see above) will often automatically disable motion assistance, but it's smart to double-check.

Disable HDMI-CEC

Disable HDMI-CEC. In my tests, this added ~10ms of lag on my set. I disabled it on my TV and on my PS4. Though, disabling it on my PS4 didn't change lag, it did change audio cut out.

Disable Power Saving

Disable any power saving settings or ambient screen dimming. Both of these add additional lag (~10ms each).

Test HDMI Inputs

If possible, test each HDMI input. I have 4 HDMI inputs and two of them consistently have less input lag (6ms less) than the other two.

No TV Speakers

Using TV speakers add input lag. If possible, use a separate audio system such as a sound bar. Using TV speakers added ~8ms of lag on my set.

Refresh Rate

Looking for the ultimate gaming experience? Simply put, purchasing a 120hz+ Refresh Rate TV will get rid of any input lag you may have experienced with a 60hz Refresh Rate TV. Even with smaller TVs, a 60hz refresh rate can make it feel like your tv, internet, or controller is lagging or not responding to your inputs. With larger TVs, it’s even more noticeable. A 120hz+ refresh rate will help minimize and reduce lag when playing video games. Below is a simple guide that explains what the refresh rate should be for the size of your TV to help get rid of your video game lag:

All that being said, I was personally able to shave off ~20ms of lag.

I tested using the average of top, middle, and bottom readings which is the current meta. I also let the TV warm up for a few minutes before measuring each change as I observed this was the best way to observe lowest measurements and most accurately resembled real-world use. Obviously, not all of these will translate from one TV set to another, but if anything else, it suggests that seemingly benign settings can introduce additional lag. If you want to check out the Lag rating for your TV/Monitor/Projector, or any other model - we highly recommend displaylag.com - they currently have well over 500 models in their database!

As you guessed, DisplayLag features a database with multitudes of HDTVs and monitors, along with news, reviews, and information about the latest displays and video games. I wanted to create a centralized database, a place where anyone can come and look up a display. Before this website, measurements were scattered all over the internet, using a variety of testing methods (most commonly involving a computer, clone mode displays and a program such as SMTT), and it was difficult to create a standard in which we could accurately compare displays due to a large amount of factors. Not anymore.