The HDMI interface is one of the most popular, if not THE most, display interfaces used. This interface can carry audio and video signals while maintaining data security.
But does all of this come at the cost of lag? Do the HDMI cables that connect the source devices to display devices have an inherent problem with input lags?
The short and simple answer to the age-old question “does HDMI cable cause lag” is a big no. This is a myth that has been busted time and again. HDMI cables do not cause any lags. The input lags you experience are mainly caused by the TV, monitor, or projector itself.
Unfortunately, many still believe HDMI cables cause lag when connecting to a TV or a monitor. Let’s find out if that is true.
What is Input Lag?
There are many different kinds of lags.
Some lags, for instance, are caused by a lower frame rate. For example, when playing a game, if your graphics card cannot keep up with the quality and the resolution of the graphics you have set, that may cause the frame rate to drop. Anything below 30 frames per second would lead to lags.
Other lags are caused due to tearing. This occurs when there is a misalignment of the Refresh Rate of the TV/monitor with the frame rate of the source device, i.e., PC or gaming console. This issue is generally resolved by enabling V-Sync or technologies like AMD’s Freesync.
Impaired drivers cause certain lags. This is generally seen on PCs. Bad drivers can lead to issues with poor optimization leading to lags.
INPUT LAG, however, is an entirely different kind of lag. Input lag is also known as input delay or Display Lag.
It is the latency or the period it takes for the audio/video signal to travel from the source device to your TV or monitor’s display.
There are many stages a video/audio signal has to go through from the source device to your TV’s display. All of these stages take time.
The processing of the video/audio signal AT THE HDMI INPUT side (on the TV) as well as the Pixel Response Time of your TV – or the time it takes the pixels on your TV to turn from OFF to ON state – can be summarized as the input lag.
So Does HDMI Cable Cause Lag?
Let’s get straight to the point. HDMI cable ITSELF does not cause any lags whatsoever if it is visibly and physically in good condition – which most of the time HDMI cables are.
In most cases, there is nothing inherently wrong with the HDMI cable, the connector, or the port itself that would lead to a lag. Unless you have a physically damaged HDMI connector on the cable or a damaged HDMI port, you cannot blame an input lag on the HDMI cable itself.
But this does not mean you won’t feel delays while using HDMI cables with your TV. The input lag you see has nothing to do with the HDMI interface. Instead, it has to do with processing that has to be done by chips on the TV.
The better the microchips, the lower will be the input lag.
All digital multimedia interfaces have input lags again due to all the digital processing that has to take place within the TV.
However, in the majority of instances, the input lags are unnoticeable. If you are experiencing visible input lags, then it’s most likely that the device you’re connected to that is causing input delays.
In other words, the TV’s processing capability should be blamed for the input lag.
Also Read: Does it Matter Which HDMI Port I Use?
Case Study By Shmup Junkie
Shmup Junkie is an expert at making audio/video systems.
He tested comprehensively whether an HDMI cable can cause lags or not. TL; DR. concluded the belief that HDMI cables cause lags is just a myth and not based on any firm ground.
He tested this in multiple ways using the video input lag testing device.
He first tested it directly by connecting the cable from the test to the TV and got an input lag of 14ms (at the center of the display).
He then tested the same by routing the HDMI cable through an HDMI Matrix. The HDMI Matrix can be substituted for a PC, gaming console, or set-top box.
This setup required two HDMI cables. One goes from the tester to the HDMI matrix, and the other goes from the HDMI matrix to the TV. And as expected, the result was still the same 14ms of delay.
He tested again with a 100ft HDMI cable and a complex system, not just with a single HDMI matrix, but two HDMI matrices connected via CAT5 ethernet cable, lo and beheld. The result was still the same 14ms of delay.
It should be noted that while the HDMI cable does not cause any lags, there is still a 14ms of lag generated due to the delays in video processing inside the TV itself. This lag has nothing to do with the HDMI cable or the HDMI interface and everything to do with the TV’s image processing technology and chips.
Here is the complete video:
What Might Cause Lag While Using HDMI?
Let’s see the first things that come into your mind to blame for the input lag.
The Device You’re Viewing the Content On?
Yes, this is quite likely.
As mentioned earlier, the processing capability of the TV or the projector could be a cause of the input delay.
You might see a bit of delay on your TV because they are designed with a “buffer” period that manages the signal delay between different devices.
So it’s your TV causing the lag, not the HDMI itself. Your TV has varying degrees of input lag depending on the make and model. This can range anywhere between 10 milliseconds to 100+ milliseconds.
The higher the TV’s resolution, the higher the input generally lags because the higher resolution requires much more processing.
An Old HDMI Connector / Port?
This is highly unlikely.
If your HDMI connector/port has no signs of damage, then it is doubtful it to be caused by lags.
When in doubt, try using a different high-quality HDMI connector
I must mention here that one possible cause of your HDMI connection being sluggish may not be related to input lag at all.
Connecting input and output devices with different HDMI versions could lead to issues that you may confuse with input lag instead.
Read Further on this Topic Here: How to Check the Version of Your HDMI Ports?
Also Read: How to Check HDMI Cable Version?
An Old Game Console?
An old gaming console or PC has nothing to do with input lag.
You may be confusing input lag with frame rate lags caused by obsolete hardware.
What is the length of the HDMI Cable?
This is a popular misconception.
Cable length does not have a noticeable impact on the input delay whatsoever. The study detailed in this article clearly shows that the size of your HDMI cable has negligible effects on the input lag.
To Conclude: What Causes Input Lag?
So to conclude. Your TV, monitor, or projector is responsible for the input lag (mostly TVs).
Monitors have superior performance and generally have barely noticeable input lags.
TVs are the apparent culprits for any form of input lag, mainly if it is noticeable. The only solution here is to make the right choice when buying your next TV.
Dealing With Input Lag
So you are experiencing input lag on your TV; what are the quickest options to reduce the annoying input lags?
Enable Game Mode on TVs
A lot of TVs come with a ‘game mode.’
Enabling this mode reduces the post-processing done by the TV.
So essentially allows the TV to stop non-essential processing from pumping out the frames as quickly as possible.
This mode mirrors the low-latency gaming monitors with input delays as low as three milliseconds!
Free Up the Processing on the TV Further
Think of a TV as a computer. It has a limited processing capability. The more processes you turn off, the more room you will have to dedicate resources to pushing out frames as quickly as possible.
Therefore, non-essential settings such as noise reduction and enhancement settings should be turned off.
Using a Low Latency Monitor
Switching to a monitor would be wise if you are a competitive gamer and every ms of lag counts for you.
Average monitors are superior in performance and have a much lower input lag. It is common to find average monitors with mere 2-3ms of input lag.
Whereas average TVs have a response time of 100ms quickly (if not in game mode). Here are the Tests.
Also Read: Does HDMI Drain Battery?
So does HDMI cause input lag? No, it does not. HDMI does not cause delays or input lag.
The display device, such as the TV, is usually the main culprit for any input delay.
If you have a tester, you can test this by yourself. Try playing a game on a monitor and a TV using the same HDMI cable. You will notice the TV has a more significant lag than the monitor.
If you have further information to share, please let us all know in the comments below:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Are there any other factors that can contribute to input lag, such as the type of display or graphics card being used?
Yes, there are several factors that can contribute to input lag, including the type of display being used (such as LCD, OLED, or plasma), the refresh rate of the display, the graphics card and other hardware components in the computer, and the software or drivers being used to render the video or game.
2. Can using a longer HDMI cable cause more lag than a shorter cable, and if so, why?
In general, longer HDMI cables can cause more lag or signal degradation than shorter cables, due to the increased distance that the signal has to travel.
However, the impact of cable length on lag or performance can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the cable, the specific hardware components being used, and the resolution or refresh rate of the display.
3. What are some best practices for using HDMI cables to minimize lag and ensure optimal performance?
Some best practices for using HDMI cables to minimize lag and ensure optimal performance include using high-quality cables that are rated for the specific resolutions and refresh rates being used, avoiding excessive cable lengths, avoiding kinks or sharp bends in the cable, and ensuring that the cable is securely connected to both the source device and the display.
4. Can input lag be caused by factors other than HDMI cables, such as network latency or system resources?
Yes, input lag can be caused by a variety of factors other than HDMI cables, such as network latency when playing online games, system resources being consumed by other programs or processes, and hardware or software issues related to the graphics card or other components in the computer.
It is important to diagnose and address these issues to ensure optimal performance and minimize input lag.