Are you shopping for a new monitor, and want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible?
When it comes to gaming monitors, one aspect that is commonly sought after is a low response time – with 1ms and 4ms being two of the most popular choices on the market.
However, is the difference between these even noticeable, and in what situations should you go for one or the other?
In this article, I’ll cover the differences between these two types of monitors in detail, giving you realistic expectations while keeping things completely unbiased.
Let’s get to it!
Which Is Better – A 1ms Or 4ms Monitor?
When we are talking about 1ms or 4ms monitors, we are really talking about the monitor’s ‘response time.’
Many people believe that the monitor’s response time is essentially it’s input lag. However, this isn’t the case.
The response time is actually the amount of time it takes for the color of pixels to update.
Generally speaking, the lower this is, the better. When you get to lengthy response times, it can lead to things like motion blur, ghosting, and the feeling of input lag on the monitor as well.
The problem however is that monitors – especially those marketed to gamers, are often full of misleading claims, or buzz words that don’t really improve a monitor’s performance all that well.
Without getting too much into the technical details, 1ms monitors in practice really don’t actually get down to 1ms for normal pixel changes. Metrics are cherry picked to make the monitors seem more competitive than they actually are.
A Perceivable Difference?
Let’s say for fun, that all monitors advertised with a response time of 1ms were accurate, and the 4ms monitors were accurate as well.
Realistically speaking, would you even be able to tell the difference?
The truthful answer is no. Even if you were a professional gamer and needed every advantage you can get, it is simply not possible to notice the difference between a mere 3 milliseconds.
This difference is too small for the brain to even pick up on, let alone take advantage of. Not to mention, the input lag from your computer itself is already far higher than 3 milliseconds anyway.
While higher response times certainly do start becoming noticeable (especially if you’re playing fast-paced games), the difference of just 3ms is too little to make any difference whatsoever.
Not to mention, 1ms monitors may come with several other downsides that make much more of a difference, both to your gaming advantages as well as your enjoyable experience of the monitor.
Response Time Doesn’t Paint A Full Picture
For the most part, monitors marketed as having a 1ms response time is mostly marketing jargon, and makes little practical difference when they’re actually being used.
To make matters worse, this often comes at the expense of other things as well.
For example, 1ms monitors typically use TN panels, while 4ms monitors frequently use IPS panels, which are preferred by most people that try them. We’ll go into the details of TN vs IPS panels in a moment, but this is one of the biggest sacrifices you’ll make for the 1ms response time.
Additionally, because 1ms is perceived as better, equivalent monitors are often more expensive for what you get.
You could take the same amount of money and invest it into a better monitor overall, with improvements key areas that actually make a difference (like refresh rate, screen brightness, or color accuracy.)
Based on comments from others online, other people that claim to have specifically purchased a monitor with a 1ms response time are either lying, are experiencing a placebo, or are trying to simply justify their purchase to themselves so they don’t feel bad.
Since the panel inside the monitor often makes the biggest difference, let’s talk more about IPS and TN panels in detail.
IPS vs TN Panels – What’s The Difference?
TN panels and IPS panels are widely different from each other.
TN panels are the oldest of the two, and may remind you of monitors in the past.
They are still used today because they do have slightly better response times, and are also cheaper to produce than IPS panels. However, they suffer in a few key areas as well.
First of all, TN panels have a very limited viewing angel. Unless you’re facing directly in front of the screen, the colors start to darken or invert when you look at them.
If you’ve ever stood in front of a monitor and then leaned down and noticed the screen was no longer perfectly visible, chances are it was using a TN panel.
TN panels also suffer from poor color accuracy and contrast, and all but the highest end TN panel monitors have the full color spectrum available to them. This makes them unsuitable for any sort of design or color grading work, where color accuracy is vital.
IPS panels on the other hand – while more expensive and unperceivably slower in terms of response time, excel in all the areas that TN panels fall flat.
IPS screens can be viewed from almost every angle (up to 178 degrees) with perfect visibility, and many people vastly prefer the brighter and more accurate color available on these monitors.
They also suffer from less backlight bleed and color banding.
Overall, many people – including myself, will never go back to a TN panel after using an IPS panel.
Conclusion And Summary
The difference between 1ms and 4ms is imperceptible, and 1ms response times are highly misleading.
In practice, your experience will be highly improved choosing an IPS monitor over a TN monitor, even if that means an extra couple milliseconds in response time is lost. The benefits that IPS offers are simply so much more significant, and will lead to a better experience overall – both for gaming, and for general use.
I hope that you’ve found this article to be helpful. If you have any other questions about monitor response times (or the different panels used in monitors), please ask them using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister