To state the obvious, some people are more sensitive to input lag than others. What’s acceptable to one person may not be acceptable another. Also, though, the more familiar you become with a particular game, the more sensitive you tend to become to input lag in it.
The biggest reason that input lag is so disliked amongst competitive players is the all-too-real concern that you will have to play on different setups with different timings.
If you really think that you’ll only be playing fighting games on your own TV in your own home, the input lag actually doesn’t matter as much. Even for your tight links, you’ll get used to the delay soon enough.
This is assuming that the lag time is consistent. Your main concern should actually be avoiding TV’s that exhibit highly variable amounts of delay. Because it’s unpredictable, it’s something that you can never get used to. Unfortunately, many lag tests don’t mention their high and low figures or spike frequency or anything like that; usually they just give the average time… or they only took one reading! Wish I had better news here.
The good news, though, is that I suspect you’re not particularly picky about input lag. I think this for two reasons:
- You came here to find out how much input lag is okay, as opposed to coming here to find a screen with as little input lag as possible.
- I’m guessing that you’re mainly playing SF4 online. Is this correct? Without getting too technical, SF4’s netcode employs the exact kind of delay (variable) that is so undesired. If you’re already happy with SF4’s netplay, it’s probably safe to say that you’re not picky.
You WILL, of course, notice if a screen has high amounts of (consistent) input lag, in that your controls will just seem sluggish and unresponsive overall. They just don’t have that crisp feel to them. It just plain feels off.
So I guess this kind of brings us back to square one: some lag is okay, but not too much, and you’re hoping for a number to use as a guideline.
Without knowing any more about you, trying my best to typify you by filling in some blanks, I’m going to say that you are a normal human with a normal nervous system, a semi-competitive, “serious casual” player, and that you’re playing at an intermediate skill level.
Based on my imagined version of you, I would set a safe limit at 2 frames of lag. Anything 2 or under will probably feel comfortable to you.
So basically this is the ten-paragraph way of saying that I agree with eltrouble’s post.