1ms vs 4ms – Which response time is best for gaming?

If you’re in the market for a new monitor and wondering what the best response time for you is, you’re in the right place. The best monitors offer an incredible 1ms response time, while you can also opt for slower, 4ms screens, but do you really want to?

Both 1ms and 4ms are extremely fast response times, much faster than your eyes can detect. So, why make an issue of it? In this 1ms vs 4ms comparison, we’ll dive into why we think 1ms screens are the way to go.

1ms vs 4ms

When comparing 1ms vs 4ms monitors, keep in mind that less ms means a higher refresh rate. Therefore, the 1ms will refresh the monitor and PC faster than the 4ms. Nevertheless, both 1ms and 4ms are great for fast-paced gaming and will cut down on blur occurrence and ghosting, allowing smoother gameplay or streaming.

1ms vs 4ms: What’s the Difference

So if they’re both great for fast-paced gaming, what’s the difference? Well, 1ms is not 4ms. When choosing a monitor for typing, producing music, or designing, you really don’t need anything above 4ms (even 10ms is fine). Still, any gamer can tell you that you need the shortest possible response time and refresh rate to be an effective player.

Gaming monitor setup - Call of Duty
Gaming PC Setup

Response time

Response time refers to the time needed for a pixel to shift from one color to another. This is typically a measurement of the time it takes to go from black to white and back to black, expressed in milliseconds (ms). It can also be a measurement of gray-to-gray (grayscale) and even black-to-white; definitely, something to ask before making a purchase.

The typical response time of LCD panels is most often under 10 milliseconds. TN panels have generally been more responsive than IPS panels, but this was the case. It isn’t anymore, thanks to advances in IPS technology.

Refresh rate

Refresh rate is even more important than response time. It’s how many new images your monitor can draw in one second. This is measured in Hertz (Hz), meaning if your monitor is set to 120 Hertz, you’re getting 120 new images drawn every second.

Computer use, in general, is smoother at higher refresh rates, but if we’re talking gaming, 144Hz is the preferred refresh rate for gamers currently, even though it’s thought we can’t actually see more than 60 frames per second.

Also Read: 60Hz vs 75Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz Monitor Refresh Rates Explained

Color accuracy

Color accuracy affects any PC user, not only the more demanding of us. It defines how well a monitor can reproduce colors and shades. You can have the best 4K monitor in the world and still not see content as it’s meant to be seen just because your color settings are offset.

Why would you want a low response time?

A lower response time means less image ghosting and better image quality. If you’re a gamer, you know that milliseconds count, whether yours or your monitor’s. If you’re a video editor, for example, it’s the monitor’s milliseconds that count only.

Downsides of a fast response time

Cutting down on response time has its side effects. To achieve this, monitors often cut back on other, more complex features such as color-correcting portions of the screen, boosting brightness, and eyestrain-reducing blue light filters (remember your mom telling you you’ll go blind looking at that screen all day?), and other features.

So, if you choose one of these “faster monitors” and set it to the fastest response time, you’re surely going to end up with reduced brightness and duller colors. Maybe not a good tradeoff for every one of us.

1ms vs 4ms: Which is Best

Not everyone is looking for a top-notch gaming experience, so they don’t really need a 1ms or 4ms monitor. We’ll run through different use-case scenarios, so you get a better understanding of what is best for your needs.

For gaming

If you’re a pro gamer who plays fast-paced games such as first-person shooters, you definitely need a 1ms monitor. It will improve how you see your in-game world and its reaction time. If you’re a leisurely strategy game player, 4ms is more than enough.

On the other hand, most modern games are made to look great graphically, and if you’re looking for the ultimate visual experience, 1ms monitors are still your best bet regardless of game type.

For video editing / 3D modeling

Video editing can be done nicely even with monitors with response times over 5ms. When purchasing a monitor for video editing, you need to look for color accuracy.

Also Read: Best Monitors for 3D Modeling

For office work

Office work doesn’t require fast response times, so you’re good to go with almost any response time available. What you should consider is a wider screen (or two) to be able to spread your work out nicely.

Also Read: Best Monitor for Office Work

For streaming

If you’re a frequent watcher of fast-motion videos, you should consider a faster response time, but 4ms should do just fine.

For graphic design

The same goes for graphic design. There is no need to go all out and purchase an expensive 1ms monitor for any design needs. 5-10ms will do fine.

Also Read: Best Monitors for Graphic Design

1ms vs 4ms: Monitor Specifics

Panel types

The screen panels used in computer monitors are divided into three types. TN panels (Twisted Nematic), VA panels (Vertical Alignment), and IPS (In-Plane Switching panels).

TN

Twisted Nematic panels are a type of LCD panel display technology that is characterized by being the fastest of the three types and generally cheaper than VA and IPS panels. The downside is they have the worst viewing angles and color of the three.

If in doubt, assume a panel is TN, as manufacturers are keen to point out when they use another panel type. TN panels offer above-average refresh rates, take advantage of “active 3D shutter” technologies, and display twice the information compared to other panel types.

IPS

In-Plane Switching panels are characterized by having the best color and viewing angles of the three types but are also the most expensive. It was hard to find an IPS panel with an acceptable refresh rate for gaming (75Hz at the lowest). This is changing nowadays, and more and more IPS monitors can be found for lower prices.

VA

Vertical Alignment panels are the middle ground between TN and IPS panels. They offer better viewing angles and color than TN panels but aren’t as good as IPS panels. They’re characterized by having the best image depth and contrast and are mostly used for general purposes (office work).

Also Read: IPS vs VA vs TN Display Panel Types

Screen size

The larger the screen, the more immersive your gaming experience will be. Many people say that 27-inch screens are the best monitor size for gaming. One of the best screens out there is the 27-inch ASUS ROG Swift PG279QM, with 1440p resolution and an incredibly high 240Hz refresh rate.

Input lag

Input lag is something less mentioned when choosing a monitor. It’s how long it takes your monitor to react to your action. A 1ms response time does not guarantee a great gaming experience if your input lag is high. Alas, input lag is an unavoidable reality that can only be lowered, not eliminated.

Some higher-end screens use internal scalers to handle non-native resolutions, which can add significant input lag. Sometimes, the signal passes through those scalers even at native-level resolutions. Some manufacturers offer dedicated modes in their on-screen settings, bypassing much of the signal processing and cutting back on input lag.

Input lag goes further than just your monitor, as your mouse clicking goes through your PC and GPU, ultimately ending up on-screen. Nevertheless, cutting back on the monitor’s part of the issue will help reduce input lag.

Screen tearing

Screen Tearing
Screen Tearing

Screen tearing occurs when your monitor’s refresh rate and GPU’s frame rate are not synced. It’s a clearly visible issue as it’s represented by a horizontal split at one or more image places.

Viewing angle

Monitor Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles of a Monitor

The viewing angle of a monitor refers to the angle at which you as a user can view images on the screen easily. In a technical context, the angular range is called a viewing cone defined by a range of viewing directions. The image becomes saturated, with poor contrast, blurry, or too faint when viewed from angles outside the optimum viewing angle of a monitor.

Aspect ratio

Screen Aspect Ratios
Monitor Aspect Ratios

The aspect ratio of a monitor is the proportional relationship between the width and height of the display. It’s expressed by two numbers with a colon in between (4:3, 16:9, 21:9). If your screen has a 4:3 ratio, it means that for every 4cm in width, it has 3cm in height.

Screen resolution

A screen’s resolution indicates how many pixels a monitor displays. Screen resolution started out small back in the day (the first were TVs), and you can’t set your modern screen below 800 x 600. You can now find monitors with 3840 x 2160 pixels, a long way away from 800 x 600. Here’s a list below:

  • 1280 x 1024 Super-eXtended Graphics Array (SXGA)
  • 1366 x 768 High Definition (HD)
  • 1600 x 900 High Definition Plus (HD+)
  • 1920 x 1080 Full High Definition (FHD)
  • 1920 x 1200 Wide Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WUXGA)
  • 2560 x 1440 Quad High Definition (QHD)
  • 3440 x 1440 Wide Quad High Definition (WQHD)
  • 3840 x 2160 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD)

Also Read: Best 1440p 144hz Monitor for Gaming

1ms vs 4ms: Pricing

Monitor pricing is all over the place. You can find decent 1ms monitors for as low as $149, and up to (well) over $800 for top-of-the-line monitors. 4ms monitors generally cost less, but not by much and not always, with the cheapest starting at $129 and the highest reaching $1,059 for an IPS screen.

The price of your next monitor depends on specs, brands, and what you’re looking for as a user and how much you’re willing to pay. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s surely out there for you to find.

1ms vs 4ms: Frequently Asked Questions

Is 1ms better than 4ms?

Generally, yes. 1ms is the fastest possible response time, and monitors in this range offer other high-end features as well, such as UHD resolutions, high refresh rates, etc.

Is 4ms OK for gaming?

Yes, 4ms is an OK response time for gaming, as is anything above 10ms.

Which is better 1ms or 5 ms?

1ms is the absolute fastest response time available, so it’s definitely better. 5ms is still a great response time. Half of the 10ms is considered to be OK for gaming.

1ms vs 4ms: Conclusion

When we take everything into account, there’s no doubt that 1ms is the better option. It offers smoother gameplay and an overall better experience for you as a user. No one likes a computer that seems laggy, especially when it comes to gaming, which is the only area where a 1ms monitor makes sense.

When choosing your next monitor, remember to take panel type, refresh rates, resolution, and input lag into account, not only response time. They’re all important factors that should be considered carefully. Price is also something to consider, and seeing as both 1ms and 4ms monitors are pretty much level, it’s a no-brainer.

Feel free to post any questions you might have that we didn’t cover in this 1ms vs 4ms comparison in the comments below. We’re always happy to help.

If you’re looking for the best of the best for gaming, 1ms is the way to go without a doubt, especially with their availability, even for low prices.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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