Picture Quality vs. Gaming Performance: Making the Compromise


Best HDTVs for Gaming: Part 2


The fabled question that I would constantly wrestle with for years; it’s not easy being a home theater enthusiast and a pro gamer. Most people are usually one or the other, as they are two completely different extremes and don’t really mesh well together. Home theater enthusiasts strive for the best in picture quality, such as looking for the deepest black levels, the best color accuracy in relation to 6500k, and how a TV handles 24p content. If you’re a gamer, these things may sound foreign to you because your objective is simple: to have the most responsive display for gaming. If you enjoy both home theater and gaming, chances are you have to make compromises somewhere, and it’s not an easy thing to do.


Why do I have to compromise?

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]everal years ago, one of my main goals was to find the perfect HDTV for gaming and entertainment. While lag testing was prevalent, it was extremely hard to find information on certain displays; it usually involved going straight to Google and searching pages upon pages till I found anything about the HDTV I wanted. [pullquote align=”right”]Being a pro gamer, it is a paramount requirement to have a lagless display. However, I also want to simply have fun and enjoy a big screen.[/pullquote] The truth is, its hard to find displays that can cater to both needs. This is because those fancy big screen HDTVs put picture quality at the forefront. Features such as deep black levels and great contrast ratios don’t come cheap; they require complex hardware to render well. The downside to having a great picture is the increased likelihood of input lagbecause a HDTV has to take the source image coming from your game system or Blu-Ray player, apply image processing, and then display it on the screen. To remedy this, manufacturers put a game mode to reduce the image processing, but its not always enough. If you have ever played video games like Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, Halo, Street Fighter, or any other game that requires fast reactions and timing, you can probably feel the difference when you play on different displays, even with game mode enabled.


So, did you compromise?

Yes! I came to the conclusion that one display will not fit all my needs. I spent countless hours calibrating my HDTVs to have the best picture quality they could, because as much as I enjoy high level Street Fighter, sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy the latest Blu-Ray movie that just released. [pullquote]I realized that in order to satisfy both mediums correctly, I had to settle with two displays.[/pullquote] Now, I happily enjoy regular video games and movies on my Samsung HDTV, and use an ASUS monitor exclusively to practice for video game tournaments. Even if you don’t play video games at a tournament level and simply play online, why not reduce the lag you experience by having 2 dedicated displays? When you are focused on doing well against others in a competitive environment, you’re not going to pay attention to how good your picture quality looks. On the flip side, you’ll never catch me playing a game like Batman: Arkham City on a small monitor; the depth and scale of a single player game on a big screen HDTV is too good to pass up, even if it lags. What if your goal is to play a single player game like DmC: Devil May Cry at a high level, by recording combo videos, speed runs, or anything that requires timing and dexterity? Two displays have you covered too! You can purchase a high quality HDMI splitter to output the same source to 2 displays, allowing you to enjoy single player DmC casually on your big screen, or using your lag-free monitor to record high level gameplay. You get the best of both worlds without having to fiddle around with disconnecting cables and creating a mess.


What is the right decision for me?

It depends, have a look at the chart to determine what you are:


[column size=”one-half”]

HT Enthusiasts:

[list style=”check”] [li]6500k color accuracy[/li] [li]Deep black levels[/li] [li]Great white levels[/li] [li]Accurate 24fps reproduction[/li] [li]Big screen sizes[/li] [li]Excellent contrast ratios[/li] [/list][/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]


[list style=”check”] [li]Lowest input lag[/li] [li]No image ghosting[/li] [li]Good dynamic contrast[/li] [li]Affordable cost[/li] [li]120hz or faster display[/li] [li]1:1 pixel mapping[/li] [/list][/column]


Best HDTVs for Gaming: Part 2


Feel like you can’t align yourself with either side? Then you’re probably like me and want the best of both worlds. If that’s the case, choose to compromise with 2 displays and enjoy all of your entertainment the way it was meant to be played and viewed. Still want to stick it out with 1 great display? Head over to the display database and check out all of the HDTVs with a GREAT or higher rating, as those are the best displays for your gaming needs.


About the author

Adeel Soomro

Adeel Soomro

Adeel Soomro, also known as "Four Wude", has been a competitive Street Fighter 4 player since 2008. Using his extensive gaming experience on a casual and professional level, he aims to spread the awareness of input lag existing in today's displays. Having tested over 300 displays for input lag, he hopes that DisplayLag will aid gamers around the world when purchasing the best HDTV or monitor for gaming.


      • Are you suggesting no one should use these monitors for the PS3 or you just choose not to? I love playing UC3 on PS3 on a HDTV but the lag is killing me and I need to find an alternative solution. Ideally I’d like a 60″ HDTV with 18 ms lag.

        • I only recommend “EXCELLENT” displays if you are planning to compete in professional gaming. For most users, the displays rated “GREAT” will be fine for your needs. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • @Four Wude

        no matter what your playing you would want and it would need to be responsive whether you know about this stuff or not. I want responsive controls on everything on an HDTV no matter what or how I am playing is this possible? Is a monitor the best way to go for playing stuff and doesn’t even a monitor want good picture quality so its the same?

        • HDTVs usually have much better picture quality than a monitor. Unfortunately, that comes at a cost, which is input lag. If you want the fastest input lag response time, then get a monitor. If you want the best picture quality, go with a HDTV. If you want to have both, then my recommendation is to buy a HDMI splitter and get both types of displays, as mentioned in the article. Hope that helps!

          • I have also seen that that refresh rate has to do with “ghosting” and not input lag, I don’t know I do know I want responsiveness though.

        • The VH238H is fine for PS3, I was referring to the PA248Q. It’s a 16:10 monitor that doesn’t have adequate scaling options for the PS3 because the PS3 does not support 1080p in a lot of games.

          • see my vh238 runs games in great if i set my ps3 to 1080 im thinking because ps3 cant upscale. when i set my ps3 to 720 it runs them even better this time between great and excellent i cant say excellent cuz i can still feel that little lag because now the monitor is doing the upscaling. if i switch to my samsung un40eh5000(26ms) wit the ps3 in 720 its almost on par wit the monitor in 720 im thinking because the tv has a better scaler. this makes me think if this tv wouldve been like 16ms the games would feel even better then the monitor

          • Yes, the PS3 very rarely scales games up to 1080p. Although resolution scaling shouldn’t add much lag when going from 720p > 1080p.

  • That doesn’t sound like a compromise to me. In fact, you didn’t compromise on either front. It’s one way to solve the problem, though.

    • Well, you’re never going to get the perfect HDTV. The main point I wanted to get across is if you value competitive gaming and a nice HDTV for entertainment, the best option (for me) was to settle with both. Fast HDTVs usually skimp on picture quality, and great looking HDTVs tend to be laggy. Its your choice though.

      • Cool, I was just wondering out loud about semantics. Pity about display technology being unable to offer both at the moment. Good luck with the site, man.

      • wtf cant they put like faster processors or something idk how it works but come on its 2013 almost 2014 this technology should be out already we should be having the best of both worlds this pisses me off

  • I currently have an ASUS VH236H (18ms) and a Panasonic 55ST50 (40ms). I use my ASUS for FPS and my ST50 for single player. The one game I’m uncertain about is FIFA 13. Would that be a game that would fall under the “fastest display is better” category? I play (somewhat) competitively in a league.

    Due to some issues with my 55ST50 (not input lag realted)I believe I will be returning it and getting the ST60. Reports are out that the ’13 Panasonics have more input lag. Will you be testing the ST60 anytime soon?

    • Yes, I will be testing the ST60 soon. Sorry for the delay. In regards to your question, if you play anything competitively, I recommend that you stick to your monitor, because even subtle timings will make a difference. To be honest, it depends on how seriously you take your league. If you feel the ST50 feels identical, then by all means stick to it because the higher picture quality will make it more enjoyable.

  • A total noob question:

    I see a lot of 60Hz TVs have excellent/great ratings. I thought we should look for 120hz or better. Does refresh not matter that much or is lag that much more important – can you give me some scoop on this?


    • It’s not really the 120hz that’s the issue, it’s that most higher end HDTVs tend to be 120hz. Higher end HDTVs usually have more processing, which causes more lag. There are some exceptions to the rule, like the 55″ Sony 55W802A. Lower end sets tend to be 60hz, which also have less processing than more expensive HDTVs.

  • whats the best tv for ps3 gaming, hooking up my pc via hdmi and watching anime from my harddrive to tv via usb or if I decide to play a .mkv or mp4 file off my pc. generally looking for the best for games and watching anime (streaming, harddrive or pc).

  • man, your articles have helped me narrow down my search. on a budget, just wondering which picture is better between the Samsung UN40F5000 40-Inch and the 39 inch toshiba 39l1350u. i can pick the toshiba up for 369 and the samsung for about 425. they both seem to have pretty low input lag as i’m mainly getting these for gaming cuz the wife stole my tv haha. thanks for your time and recommendation of which tv i should grab! =)

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