8ms 19" LCDs: Speed for Gaming, but at What Cost?

8 Ms - Really?

We measured the actual latency of the panel:

Again we'll recall our test method: the curve shows the different latency values for various levels of gray. A black-white alternation is shown on the curve by a point at X-axis 255, a black-gray alternation produces a point at X-axis 125, a black-gray alternation shows as 50, etc.

The official ISO latency rating specified by the manufacturer is only for black/white transitions (0/255). While the value we measured agrees with the manufacturer on this point, it's not of much value in judging the actual responsiveness of the panel in practice.

As you can see, the curve didn't quite reach the 8 ms we were promised, but an explanation is in order. With the monitor pushed all the way to 100% contrast, we did get roughly 8ms at the ISO point (255 on the curve). The only problem is that the image is not usable; the color dynamics are completely wiped out. So we chose a more appropriate contrast adjustment, one that's closer to the actual conditions under which the display will be used. And that resulted in a latency reading of 10 ms in the best case.

Does that mean that this is a bad monitor? By no means. As the curve shows, the worst latency measurement we got on this Samsung 190EX-L01 panel was 27.5ms, whereas 12 ms models easily go beyond 30 and even up to 35ms. And we've found 12 ms models sufficiently responsive for gaming use. So the L90D+ is a notch even above that, and we noticed no objectionable remanence, even with the fastest games. While the 12ms 19" models were a little slower than their 17" counterparts, the 8ms 19" panels can rival the fastest 17" units. Hyundai has produced a unit with both a generous display area and fast response.

We don't need to repeat it again: don't trust manufacturers' claims about response characteristics. Still, most people might be surprised to see a monitor that tests nearly 300% above its specifications (27ms instead of 8). With LCD monitors, this is par for the course. (If you remember, the first LCD monitors that went on sale specified a refresh rate of 60Hz AND a latency of 30ms, whereas 16ms (1/60 Hz) is the minimum for delivering that refresh rate. So with that in mind, we should expect nearly anything...)