The Art of Gaming

Input Lag – A Second Look

Hey All!

I just returned a few days ago from my month long adventure overseas (sorry for the extended absence) and I thought I’d get back into things with a bit about input lag.  As you know, it’s a fairly important “spec”for gaming – and it is definitely going to be a standard measurement for upcoming game reviews.

Ideally, input lag is zero (like we saw in the recently reviewed Optoma GT720), but most projectors will have some measurable amount of input lag.

So how much is too much?

 

Well, the average reaction time for humans is around 215 ms.  (I scored 178 ms [average of 10] :P )

Knowing this, here are my thoughts…

>50ms -  Is into the noticeable range.  It is unplayable for professionals, will frustrate competitive folk and may or may not be a nuisance to the casual gamer (depending on the game).

30-50ms -  Is what I would consider to be a good target range – 33 ms being a good target number (~1 frame of lag).  This range will still probably be less than ideal for the pros, but only a minor inconvenience for the semi-serious.  For casual gamers…this is just fine!

<30ms -   If you can measure below “1 frame” of input lag (33ms), I don’t think it can be thought of as much of an issue.  Many LCD TVs fight to hit this mark, so if you are paranoid about input lag, this is where you want to be…

 

 

I haven’t taken nearly enough different measurements to claim an “average” amount of projector input lag, but I’ve been playing games on my Epson 6500UB long enough to take note of some things.  First, I do notice more input lag when Frame Interpolation is ON vs OFF.   Theoretically, this makes sense…(it should be close to two times the lag).  I was curious to see how my slightly outdated Epson stacked up against the zero input lag of the Optoma GT720.

Here are the results…

 

Frame Interpolation -  HIGH      Noise Reduction – ON  (50-70ms)

 

Frame Interpolation – NORMAL Noise Reduction – ON  (40-60ms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame Interpolation – LOW      Noise Reduction -  ON   (40-50ms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame Interpolation – OFF       Noise Reduction -  ON      (30-40ms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame Interpolation – OFF   Noise Reduction  – OFF   (10-30ms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the 6500UB only starts putting up some respectable numbers when both Frame Interpolation and Noise Reduction are OFF.   Frame Interpolation has a fairly significant impact on input lag (as expected), but so does Noise Reduction.  I thought features like NR would have some impact on input lag, but I never imagined it would be even close to the impact of FI.  Pretty interesting…

 

I also ran some tests with FI – ON and NR – OFF just to see the results and the Epson clocked around 30-50ms with those settings (photos not shown).  It may be in your best interest to turn features like NR and FI off while playing fast paced games.

This is not to say that FI is not to be used while gaming…I use FI all the time in slower paced games like Oblivion.  I really like how it adds a crisp/smooth feel to the game.  As I’ve said…it depends on the game.   It’s up to you to decide when it’s appropriate to use these features – but remember, it does increase input lag.

 

That’s all for now!

 

-Pete

 

 

News And Comments

  • Devin

    Pete, what do you think about gaming on the Epson 8700UB, compared to the optima and the Epson that you own? Am I going to notice a big difference from my panasonic plasma? (brightness, color saturation, you addressed input lag) I am looking forward to a much bigger screen (110″ with the projector being about 11-14 feet away) but dont want a huge PQ trade off for gaming in terms of the brightness and color. I also spoke with Art about the screen, leaning toward a carada brilliant whtie 1.4 gain screen. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Hey Devin,

      The 8700UB is a fabulous projector. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with one like I have with my 6500UB. The good news is that they should perform very similarly (The 8700UB being slightly better with blacks, shadow detail, etc), especially with FI and NR both OFF. The 6500UB (and probably the 8700UB) falls in the respectable <30ms category with these features off. The Optoma set the benchmark at 0ms…

      It is a bit unfair to compare the Optoma GT720 and the Epson 6500UB (or 8700UB). The Optoma is a nice, little, portable, 720p, bring it to a friends house and throw it up on the wall type projector. The Epsons are 1080p, price point flagship, home theater projectors. The Epson will not be as bright as the Optoma, but it will throw a much more impressive image. It will appear much closer to that of your plasma than the Optoma, but you need to realize even with the Epson there will be trade-offs.

      A projector like the 8700UB, as fabulous as it may be, will not give you the same brightness/blacks of a plasma…it's a projector. I personally think that the 110" screen is something worth sacrificing for. Keep in mind, it is not a huge sacrifice. It's noticeable, not annoying…

      I don’t know if you read any of my introductory reports, but it’s good to think about when you will be gaming most. If you play most at night you don’t have much to worry about. If you are a day gamer, you may need to invest in light control or get accustomed to a slightly more washed out image.

      In short, unless you are playing in a sunny room during the day. I think the 8700UB is really an awesome projector and the minor sacrifices in picture quality will be quickly forgotten when you sit in front of your huge screen.

      Just make sure you get some worthy speakers with enough might to support your new toy. :)

      -Pete

  • Neil

    I have an 8700ub in a dedicated HT (no windows) projecting onto a 118″ Carada 1.4 screen with 7.1 Axiom speaker surround system. PS3 connected, it is…awesome. The key is having a fully darkened room because the system behaves just like a movie theater, washed out with ambient light. I can keep some sconces on low and it looks fine but not more than that. We were gaming on a 42 inch plasma, but this is so much better!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      1080p @ 118″ is pretty awesome eh? :)

      Game on!

  • http://lmgtfy.com Manam

    This is great information, thanks. We set up a wii (using the composite cables), just for kicks, directly on our newly bought w1200 and it has horrible input lag. I turned off “movie mode” (I think that’s 24fps mode) and messed with the overscan with little success. Mario Kart would take a 1/8 of a second to react which wasn’t too horrible but on fighting games it was very messy I think frame interpolation is off, so I shall try out noise reduction.

    ~mannam

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Ya,

      It seems any extra functions on the projector will increase input lag. I actually just got a w1200 in the mail from Art and will be taking a look at it. I’ll have the write up out next week. I’ll let you know what I find!

      -pete

  • Devin

    Thanks, I got the epson 8700 ub moutned this weekend with a monoprice 1.0 white screen at 120″ .. All i can say is wow. I think it might be a little too big , probably should have stayed around 110″ but im not complaining :) Ive just got to get used to it. So RTS games like Dawn of war and COH, I have no frame issues. I played MK9 last night, and when you put FI on Normal and NR off, I start to notice the input lag, at off i cant tell any input lag, but I miss the FI smoothing. So maybe FI Low is my best setting for that game. COD Black ops was unbelievable!!!! Pete what is the response time you got with the 6500 with FI On, and NR Off. Should I use Low or Normal for FPS? What is the response time difference? Thanks Guys. I would higly reccomend this setup!

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Devin,

      That’s great! The 8700UB is a great projector, you will be very happy with it, no doubt. The 120″ may seem big now, but you’ll be glad in a couple months once you’ve had some more hours on the larger screen. Trust me – :)

      As far as the NR / FI features go, you really need to get a feel for what you enjoy. The smoothing effect is very addicting…but in faster games, it cuts into performance. I will say, that I don’t usually use LOW for video games. That mode, in my opinion, is good for smoothing out movies in 24fps. The smoothing is very subtle and if you are going to use LOW for video game you probably will benefit more from just turning it off and decreasing your input lag.

      The difference in lag between LOW, NORMAL and HIGH all else being equal seems to be about ~10 ms. I usually have it either OFF (FPS), NORMAL (racing), or HIGH (RPG). That said, it’s hard to say what I do “in general” for different genres because even within these genres there is such a large difference between the games. You really need to take it on a game-by-game basis and do what is most enjoyable to you. Sometimes I put NI on NORMAL while playing FPS just because it’s fun to play that way…

      Game On!

  • Pablo

    This blog is informative and interesting. I like the specific focus and commentary on the benefits and cons associated with gaming on projectors. I will be buying a gaming pc in the coming months and I am tinkering with the idea of running 3 GT720s or comparable in 3d vision surround (NO TV BEZEL!!). Your review and commentary on the GT720’s performance is invaluable and has prompted me to look at other brands.
    Keep it up!!

  • Marcel

    Can someone please tell us how to connect our Wii to our new Epson Projector? We recently replaced our old projector with an Epson 8700 – and that is the only change we made. We did not disconnect any of our other equipment, so our Wii console is still connected through our Amp, but now we cannot get it to display on our screen. We can hear the music from the Wii home page, but there is no image on our screen. We used to see it on Aux 1. Does anyone have any suggestions for us? We have tried everything we can think of. Thanks

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Hey Marcel,

      You should should be able plug the Wii (or in your case, the cable from the receiver) right into the back of the 8700UB. The 8700UB has composite video, S-video and component video so it should be able to accept whatever signal you were using before. Try sorting through these three inputs and see if you get a picture…

      Good luck

      pete

  • John D

    I suggest migrating from the use of the term “input lag” to “display lag”. The wikipedia article (and the discussions behind it) covers the reasons, but in short it’s just more semantically accurate. Wikipedia currently redirects from “input lag” to “display lag”.

    Either way, the industry hasn’t really come to terms with the concept, so there is still time to influence it. :) But for one thing I hate for everyone to be using terminology that disagrees with wikipedia… sooner or later, one of them has to change!

  • Kevin

    Pete,

    When you get a chance, could you do a similar type of analysis on the new Epson 3010 (or 3010e)? I’ve read reviews of people claiming as much as 60ms lag (unfortunately, they don’t include settings).

    Also, I don’t intend to use the Wireless HDMI feature if I opt for the 3010e or 5010e, but I imagine several people would be interested on how much lag, if any, that introduces to the video signal.

    Thanks!

    -Kevin

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/pete/ pete

      Hi Kevin,

      I plan to do a full review of the 3010e (including an input lag test for both regular and wireless HDMI) as soon as Art ships it to me! :) I’ve been playing Skyrim for the past few days on my 6500UB and can’t wait to check it out on the new Epson. Stay tuned!

      • Kevin

        Excellent – thanks! In the meantime, enjoy Skyrim ;)