How To Measure System Latency and Why It Matters

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How To Measure System Latency and Why It Matters


When it comes to competitive gaming, every little thing counts. You could have the latest gaming mouse, headset, and keyboard, but if you're playing on a regular 60Hz monitor when everyone else is on 240Hz setups your performance will suffer. That's just an example, of course, but it just goes to show how every aspect of your setup needs to be up to scratch if you're planning on competing at the higher levels in any competitive video game.

One very important factor in being competitive in online (and offline) games is your system latency. Simply put, this determines how quickly your actions on your desk (clicks, keyboard actuations, ...) become actions that you can see on your screen. It's obvious that you don't want to have any big delays here, as that can cause you to miss important shots or lose a crucial fight.

In the past, it was nearly impossible to measure your system latency with any kind of accuracy but with NVIDIA Reflex it's now possible to do just that. This can be incredibly valuable to determine whether or not there's a bottleneck somewhere in your setup, or if your newly configured settings are holding you back instead of giving you a leg up.

In this article we'll briefly go over what you need to measure your own system latency, and how to measure your system latency.

Measuring System Latency with NVIDIA Reflex


If you've already used NVIDIA Reflex before you'll be pleased to know that it's become a lot easier to measure and analyze your overall system latency in Reflex supported games. If your main game is a game that does not have official Reflex support then the process is a bit more involved, but it's of course still possible to analyze your system latency data.

Do bear in mind that you need a compatible monitor and (if you want detailed data) a compatible mouse in order to analyze your System Latency. Click here for an updated list on compatible peripherals.

For Reflex supported games


  • Enable flash latency indicator in the game options (see below for more info)
  • Press ALT + R to open the GeForce Experience Performance overlay
  • Press left click

That's all that you need to do if you're playing an Auto-Configure Reflex Analyzer game. You can check out whether your game of choice has this option here. Note that you need a Reflex-enabled mouse in order to receive full system latency measurements. If you do not have such a mouse you will still be able to measure your PC and display latency, but the results will not be as detailed.

The way this feature works is it displays a very small black square on the edge of your screen (so small and out of the way that it doesn't interfere with your gameplay or your vision) that turns to grey after you've clicked your mouse. The time it takes between the mouse click and the pixel change is your system latency.

For games that do not support Reflex


  • Press ALT + Z to open the GeForce Experience overlay
  • Click the gear icon
  • Click performance monitoring
  • Disable 'Configure Reflex Analyzer'
  • Go to your monitor's settings and go to the G-SYNC Processor settings on your monitor's On Screen Display
  • Set PC + Display Latency to On
  • Adjust the rectangle so that it covers a repeatable game animation that is triggered by a user action; a muzzle flash is preferred

How to log your latency metrics


You can also capture your system's latency and performance metrics so you can take a look at them later, or to compare different peripherals, settings profiles, and so on. Doing this is easy:

  • Press ALT + Z to open the GeForce Experience overlay
  • Click the gear icon
  • Click 'Keyboard shortcuts'
  • Scroll to the section named 'Performance'
  • Create a shortcut for Start/Stop Logging (preferably this would be a key that you don't press while you're normally playing the game)
  • While testing or playing, press the configured Start/Stop Logging button in order to begin and end your logging. The file will be saved to Documents.

Basic System Latency Metrics

System Latency Ingame Overlay

Advanced System Latency Metrics

System Latency Ingame Overlay

Enabling NVIDIA Reflex and the Latency Flash Indicator in Specific Games


If your game supports NVIDIA Reflex you can quite easily analyze your system latency by toggling a few options. To make things easier for you we've listed how to enable the Latency Flash Indicator in our supported games.

VALORANT


The Latency Flash Indicator is enabled automatically in VALORANT. There is no need to enable anything.

Fortnite


The Reflex settings can be found under Settings -> Video -> Advanced Graphics.

Make sure to also enable Latency Markers, Latency Flash, and Latency Debug Stats (found under the Game UI settings), otherwise the Flash Indicator will not work.

Overwatch


The Reflex settings can be found under Settings -> Video.

Rainbow Six Siege


As of right now, Reflex is only available if you're playing with the Vulkan API selected. Go to the Ubisoft Connect launcher and launch Rainbow Six Siege in Vulkan mode (this should be under the 'Play' button).

You can find the Reflex Settings under Settings -> Graphics.

Conclusion


Measuring your system latency can be an incredibly useful tool to determine your perfect setup (both when it comes to peripherals and just ingame settings) or to determine where your system is bottlenecking, and with NVIDIA Reflex this is something that's now available for serious competitive players. If you've got compatible hardware we really recommend you to do a checkup and experiment with some settings (or maybe even peripherals) yourself. It's fun to see where your system is performing optimally and where it can still be improved.

That's not the only useful application for Reflex, though. We can see this being used to determine whether a new ingame setting (games introduce new settings all the time, or change what settings do after a patch) introduces more delay or not, for example. There are plenty of real-life useful scenarios where Reflex can be used, and given the fact that it's so easy to use in supported games we can't wait to see it become more and more widespread so that measuring and analyzing your system latency becomes as normal as doing a typing test on your new keyboard.

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