4ms vs 1ms Laptop Displays (Response Times Vary)

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4ms vs 1ms

There are a number of technical specifications that relate to laptop technology. And boy, can it be overwhelming. One such specification is the laptop’s display response time which is somewhat determined by the type of panel supporting the screen. For instance, 4ms vs 1ms, which response time is right for you? This is an important factor when it comes to activities like gaming and watching movies. But don’t worry if you have no idea what we’re talking about yet. Welcome to your go-to source. It’s great to have you here. Let’s get started.

What’s a Display’s Response Time?

Before we can dive deeper into the comparison between 4ms vs 1ms response time as they relate to laptop displays.  Let’s step back and explain what a screen’s response time actually means.

Among the many technical specifications of a display that you should consider before buying a laptop, response time is one of the most important.

Response time is a reference to pixel response time, which is how long it takes a pixel to change from black to white or from one shade of grey to another.

Users often confuse response time with input lag, which is a specification that display manufacturers don’t link to a laptop’s screen.  Input lag is the delay between a mouse click or a keypress and the result of this action happening on the screen.

When it comes to online gaming, display response time is a HUGE factor that highly affects your gameplay experience, especially if you plan on going competitive.

Nowadays, a display’s response time ranges from 10ms (milliseconds) to 1ms. The lower the number the faster the display response time, which makes 1ms the fastest response time.

Why is Display Response Time Important?

Given that a screen’s response time determines how quickly a pixel can change from one color to another.  It’s mainly responsible for the level of accuracy and clarity with which a moving object is displayed.

This means that the lower the response time of a display, the more capable it’ll be in displaying fast-moving objects – think about playing games like SpeedRunners or Quake III Arena.  Accordingly, the higher the response time, the more trouble a screen will have in giving you a proper visual experience.

This is the last thing you need from a display when you’re gaming, whether online or offline.  Why?  Because a high response time like 5ms will result in the following issues:

  • Motion blurring – motion blur during camera movements (particularly fast ones) is the most noticeable and most common issue associated with a high response time. Motion blur happens when pixels don’t have enough time to change color, resulting in a blurred visual experience.  This can be extra problematic if you’re prone to motion sickness.
  • Ghosting – this issue also happens during fast camera moments.  And because of a similar reason when pixels don’t have enough time to properly change color.  An object moving on the screen will have a fading silhouette that follows after it (kind of like a ghost) hence the term.

4ms vs 1ms Response Time

Now that you have a good idea of what response time is and how it can affect a laptop’s display performance.  We’ll move onto comparing 4ms vs 1ms response times.

Let’s begin by saying that both 4ms and 1ms are response times commonly used in portable computers like gaming laptops.  Some gamers prefer to use a laptop with a 4ms response time while others can’t give up their 1ms displays.

But to give you better insight and help you make an informed decision we’re breaking down the comparison into the following points:

Type of Panel

At first glance, the choice between 4ms and 1ms may seem pretty obvious.  As we discussed above, a lower display response time means you get a proper view of fast-moving objects in games and videos.  As well as fewer chances of display issues.

While this statement does stand true, there is a catch.  And it has nothing to do with the response time itself, but rather with the technology behind the display.

The majority of modern-day laptop displays use one of two distinct types of panels:  TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching).  IPS panels can only go as low as a 4ms response time, while TN panels have the lowest response time of 1ms.

This begs the question, which panel technology should you choose?  Let’s talk about the pros and cons of each panel type to help you decide:

  • TN panels – this type of panel display delivers the fastest response time of only 1ms. Unfortunately, it also means very narrow viewing angles which causes the image to shift and contrast in color when you look at the display from the sides or from below. Additionally, it has very poor color reproduction.  Many budget laptops sold for less than $600 come with this display technology. For these reasons, the TN panel displays with the highest refresh rate are mostly used by professional and competitive gamers for smooth and fast-paced gameplay.
  • IPS panels – this type of panel display offers a wide 178-degree viewing angle, which means you don’t have to look at it dead-on for an un-compromised viewing experience. And you get considerably less shifting and contrast in colors.  It also provides more accurate and consistent colors, which makes IPS displays ideal for a graphically-oriented user like a video editor.

Image Issues

A lower response time has the upper hand compared to higher response time.  It minimizes the frequency of encountering image issues like motion blur and ghosting we just talked about.  This will give you a better viewing experience while gaming or watching videos and movies.


Displays with lower response times – especially a 1ms response time – are typically equipped with a TN panel, which makes the overall laptop cheaper.  On the other hand, displays with higher response times such as 4ms come with an IPS panel and all its benefits.

You can find 1ms displays with IPS panels, but these laptops will cost you a lot more than the ones equipped with just a TN panel.

4ms vs 1ms:  Can You See the Difference?

With a lower response time such as 1ms, you’ll definitely enjoy some extra benefits in gameplay compared to a laptop that offers higher response time of 4ms.  

Even going for a laptop with a 3ms screen is a noticeable difference to a gamer trying to take their gameplay experience to the very top level.

Moreover, the difference between 4ms vs 1ms can be quite obvious if you’re used to lower response times.  Conversely, if you’ve used a 1ms display for a long time, then you’ll easily detect the speed drop if you switch to a 4ms display.

This brings us to today’s ultimate question:  if you can tell the difference between 4ms and 1ms, which one would you pick?

Put it simply, the decision is ultimately dependent on whether the laptop is rocking a TN or IPS panel.  To recap, TN has lower response times but IPS has better color reproduction and viewing angles.

If you’re a professional or competitive player where a millisecond can make or break the win, you should choose a TN display with a 1ms response time.  If you’re a casual or semi-serious gamer, an IPS display with a 4ms response time will give you better image quality and wider viewing angles.

In Conclusion

All response time has to do with is how long it takes for the pixels on a display to change from one color to another – response times range from 10ms to 1ms, where 1ms is the fastest. But a faster response time isn’t always the best; there are certainly situations (like gaming) in which there are a bunch of advantages to choosing a laptop with a display that has a slower response time. Now armed to the teeth with laptop display response time information, we hope this post spurs you into the best decision for your needs.