Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 598–614 | Cite as

Millisecond precision psychological research in a world of commodity computers: New hardware, new problems?

Society for Computers in Psychology


Since the publication of Plant, Hammond, and Turner (2004), which highlighted a pressing need for researchers to pay more attention to sources of error in computer-based experiments, the landscape has undoubtedly changed, but not necessarily for the better. Readily available hardware has improved in terms of raw speed; multicore processors abound; graphics cards now have hundreds of megabytes of RAM; main memory is measured in gigabytes; drive space is measured in terabytes; ever larger thin film transistor displays capable of single-digit response times, together with newer Digital Light Processing multimedia projectors, enable much greater graphic complexity; and new 64-bit operating systems, such as Microsoft Vista, are now commonplace. However, have millisecond-accurate presentation and response timing improved, and will they ever be available in commodity computers and peripherals? In the present article, we used a Black Box ToolKit to measure the variability in timing characteristics of hardware used commonly in psychological research.


Rapid Serial Visual Presentation Onset Delay Display Duration Parallel Port Digital Light Processing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkEngland

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