The growing concern about HDMI input causing lag has come to be a popular question as of late. While there are many who believe it to be true, the actual science and evidence seem to point otherwise.
In general, HDMI input does not cause lag. HDMI latency is a result of the design of the television, not the HDMI input. This is because televisions are designed with a buffer to account for the signal delay that can be caused by different devices.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you are using a low-quality HDMI cable or an old TV, you may experience some lag when using your Xbox One.
First, let’s look at why this misconception exists in the first place. Then we’ll debunk 5 common HDMI misconceptions that may lead you to believe that your input is causing lag.
#1 Why does it seem like HDMI input causes lag?
For most TVs, there is a significant delay between what you see on the screen and what happens in your game. This is called input lag. It ranges from 10 milliseconds (ms) to 100+ ms, depending on the TV model and settings.
An outdated HDMI connection. For example, this can occur with an old component cable or DVI connection. While newer TVs will reduce input lag when using a newer connection, there is still some delay.
A low-quality HDMI cable. This can be due to a number of factors, such as the thickness of the cable, the quality of the shielding, and the type of connectors.
The game console itself. For example, if you are using an Xbox One, there is about a 50 ms input lag.
A poor-quality signal. This could be a result of your satellite or cable provider, or the signal source itself.
Now that we know some of the common causes of input lag, let’s move on to debunking 5 popular HDMI misconceptions.
Misconception 1: HDMI input causes lag
There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, a study by DisplayLag found that “HDMI does not add any latency when used with a PC.”
Misconception 2: All HDMI cables are created equal
This is not true. There are a number of factors that can affect the quality of an HDMI cable, such as the thickness of the cable, the quality of the shielding, and the type of connectors. A low-quality HDMI cable can add significant latency to your signal.
Misconception 3: My TV doesn’t have any input lag, so my HDMI input can’t be causing any problems
This is not always true. Many TVs have a built-in delay that is caused by the design of the TV, not the HDMI input. This latency is known as “HDMI lag.”
Misconception 4: I can’t use my PlayStation 3 because it has too much input lag
This is not true. The input lag on the PlayStation 3 is about 50 ms, which is within the range of most TVs.
Misconception 5: My game console is the only thing that’s causing input lag
This is not always true. Other devices, such as your satellite or cable provider, or the signal source itself, can also cause input lag.
Misconception 6: HDMI arc causes input lag
While HDMI ARC has been popularly been blamed for causing input lag, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, DisplayLag determined that “HDMI does not add any latency when used with a PC.”
Therefore, if you want to reduce input lag while using your Xbox One and low-quality HDMI cable (an outdated component cable or DVI connection), we suggest using an optical audio cable. This will bypass the TV’s built-in delay and provide you with a cleaner signal.
Overall, when using smart TVs, expect an additional 50 ms of latency on top of the 50 ms input lag on your PlayStation 4, however, this is not as a result of the ARC connection. Instead, it’s a result of the PS4 re-streaming audio through HDMI.
There is no doubt that lag can show up in scenarios other than HDMI input and the topic should not be limited only to what happens when using an HDMI source:
- A TV displaying a game console with a high input lag will cause the game to play more slowly than it would on another TV.
- A PC monitor with low input lag is the best option for gaming, as even the slightest delay between your mouse movement and what you see on-screen can cause you to lose in competitive games.
- Input lag is usually most noticeable in fast-paced games, where a delay of just a few milliseconds can be the difference between winning and losing.
Can HDMI make game lag?
Among gamers, the belief that HDMI is at the center of the growing concern about fas paced online games suffering lag is both popular and persistent. It’s also wrong, according to experts who study input lag. “HDMI does not add any latency when used with a PC,” says LagReport.com, in an article that busts five common misconceptions about HDMI cables.
Misconceptions about input lag are plenty and widespread, but what matters most to gamers is that, in general, input lag is caused by the display—the TV or monitor that renders the image you see. This isn’t to say devices without HDMI inputs don’t have input lag; they do.
And HDMI cables can differ in quality, so using a good one is important. But if you’re using devices with the latest HDMI inputs, you can rest assured there’s no special lag-inducing powers inherent to the connection.
Lag is a latency between an input and what happens on screen. It can be caused by a variety of factors—the TV, the console, the cable connecting them—and it exists even if those things are separated across rooms or continents. The TV, the console, the cable—all of these should be given careful consideration before you decide their input lag is too high.
The truth is that quality matters but there are no hard and fast rules about HDMI cables – so knowing your use case will help in deciding what type to get. Simply put: if you’re not sure which one to pick, go for a high speed cable.
Lag is not an evil monster that plagues gamers from the shadows – it’s just a delay between what you see and what you have to react to. If your response time is faster than 50 ms, then lag shouldn’t be noticeable in any application. In fact, the only well-defined threshold for lag comes from the folks who make those gamer-focused TV shows: “lag of 100ms or more is considered perceptible and will degrade the gaming experience.”
To sum this article up:
If you’re using a standard 30 FPS console like an Xbox One S, PS4 Slim, or PS4 Pro, we recommend getting a reliable low-latency TV with an input lag of 50 ms or less. If you’re using a 60 FPS console, like an Xbox One X or a high-end gaming PC, we recommend getting a monitor with an input lag of 25 ms or less.
Does HDMI reduce input lag?
It’s a lot easier to believe that a good HDMI alone can solve all latency issues that bring about lagging.
As a general guide, premium HDMI will not reduce latency issues. Input lag is by design caused by the type of smart TV you choose to use as your primary output. TV’s are made with a strategic input lag of anywhere between 25- 50 milliseconds or higher.
The only way to reduce input lag is using either an HDMI cable or DisplayPort to route your audio to an external audio output, bypassing your TV.
Frequent users of the input interface have different opinions about which one is better: an HDMI or a DisplayPort. The truth is that they both have pros and cons.
For example, DisplayPort is less likely to be obstructed since it sits flush with most desktops. It also supports a higher range of resolutions, refresh rates, and color depths than HDMI. Conversely, HDMI is better at transmitting audio and video simultaneously, and is backwards compatible with DVI and VGA displays.
Ultimately, which interface you choose comes down to personal preference and the devices you’re using. If you’re unsure whether to use DisplayPort or HDMI, just know that you can always switch between them later.
What is input lag? What causes it?
Input lag is the time delay between pressing a button on your controller or keyboard and seeing an action appear on screen. Having low input lag means the delay is shorter, which results in faster response times.
There are various factors that affect input lag, including GPU processing power and speed, monitor specifications, cables used to connect devices together, TV refresh rates/resolution, PC display settings, etc.
Fast GPUs have faster response times because they can render frames faster. Similarly, using a faster screen with lower refresh rates will improve responsiveness. Ideally you’d want the lowest input lag and the lowest response time, but that’s not always possible.
How do I fix HDMI lag?
To fix HDMI lag, your best bet is to get a TV with low input lag. This is why we recommend sticking to reputable brands from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG—they have good reputations for responsive TVs.
In addition, if your screen supports FreeSync or G-SYNC it has almost no input lag by design since all the graphics processing is done by the graphics card. If you’re using an Nvidia graphics card, we recommend enabling G-SYNC in the Nvidia Control Panel; and if you’re using an AMD graphics card, we recommend enabling FreeSync in the AMD Catalyst Control Center.
Some users have also found success by disabling Aero effects in Windows. To do this, open the Control Panel and go to System > Advanced system settings. On the Advanced tab, click Settings under Performance. Uncheck the box for “Show window contents while dragging” and click Apply.
Finally, if you’re using a TV as your primary display, make sure to set your Xbox One or PS4 to output in 1080p or higher.
Does HDMI 2.1 improve input lag?
Whether you are using HDMI 2.1 or not, input lag will always be present. The only difference is that HDMI 2.1 allows for a variable refresh rate (VRR) which will help to smooth out gaming performance and get rid of tearing.
Currently, there are no TVs that support HDMI 2.1 reducing or improving input lag, so any claims that upgrading to HDMI 2.1 will improve the input lag on TVs is simply false.
Also, it’s worth noting that you won’t notice the difference when viewing movies and TV shows since they don’t require low response times like games do.
If I use a wired connection, does that mean there will be no lag?
No. Even if you have a wired connection with no interference, your display will still have some input lag, due to the mechanics of the interface itself.
For example, DisplayPort is slightly better at reducing input lag than HDMI since it’s a more compressed signal and transmits data in packets rather than a stream. However, both interfaces suffer from added latency when converting signals from electronic to optical and vice versa.
HDMI input does not cause lag. The majority of input lag is caused by the TV itself, not the HDMI input. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you are using a low-quality HDMI cable or an old TV, you may experience some lag when using your Xbox One.
To reduce input lag, make sure that you are using a high-quality HDMI cable and that your TV has the latest firmware update. If you are still experiencing problems, try changing the settings on your game console. Finally, remember that there are a number