60Hz vs. 144Hz vs. 240Hz: Do Monitor Refresh Rates Matter?

monitor-refresh-rates

When you’re looking to buy a new monitor, there are so many
factors to consider like size, resolution, and aspect ratio. But
one factor you might also hear about is refresh rate.

What exactly is refresh rate, and does it matter to you? Time to
find out.

What Is a Refresh Rate?

The refresh rate of a monitor refers to the number of times per
second that the displayed image will be updated. It is measured in
Hertz (Hz). A higher refresh rate means more information reaches
your eyes in the same amount of time, leading to smoother-looking
motion.

If you’ve ever had the experience of trying to watch a video
over a slow internet connection and the video looks very choppy,
jumping from one frame to the next, that’s a low frame rate.
Higher refresh rate monitors are capable of playing back at higher
frame rates, which is what makes the motion look smoother.

Standard basic monitors are 60Hz, but you can get monitors that
have higher rates of 144Hz or even 240Hz.

Why Do Refresh Rates Matter?

So if you want your movies and games to look better, you should
simply buy a higher refresh rate monitor? Not quite.

The refresh rate is the maximum rate at which
your display can change the image. But whether a program actually
changes its output that fast depends on its frame
rate
. The frame rate means the number of video frames that
are sent to your display per second.

To take advantage of a higher refresh rate display, your
computer has to send data to the display much faster. Most
applications, like productivity tasks or watching movies, won’t
be affected by the refresh rate at all. Movies are shown at 24
frames per second (fps), which even basic 60Hz monitors can handle
just fine. A higher refresh rate won’t make your videos look any
better.

Refresh rates are really only important when you are playing
games. Because games generate the data sent to your screen on your
graphics card, if you have a fast enough card it can send data to
the screen more quickly. This means you can play games at higher
frame rates like 100fps and above.

The Problem of Screen Tearing High refresh rate monitors - screen tearingImage Credit: Vanessaezekowitz/Wikipedia

As frame rates and refresh rates are often different, a
common PC gaming problem
you can run into is screen
tearing
. This happens when your graphics card is sending
out frames at a higher rate than your monitor can handle. If you
try to play a game at a high frame rate on a low refresh rate
monitor, you’ll run into this problem. It will look as if the
screen has half-loaded or been “torn” along the middle.

To avoid this, games are usually automatically capped at your
monitor’s refresh rate. So if you have a 60Hz refresh rate
monitor, your games should not run at more than 60fps.

There are solutions to this problem like G-Sync, V-Sync, and
Freesync. To learn more about these visit our guide to
common video game graphics settings explained
.

Who Benefits From High Refresh Rate Monitors?

The main group of people who will benefit from a high refresh
rate monitor are eSports players. For competitive players of first
person shooters like Counter-Strike GO or Overwatch, a higher
refresh rate will mean a smoother picture, and that can make it
easier to track fast-paced action. Some people say higher refresh
rates make it easier to aim as targets move more smoothly, but this
varies by individual based on how good your eyesight is.

The issue is with blurring. When our eyes see a series of
frames, our brains fill in the changes from one frame to the next,
making the frames look like a continuous video instead of the
series of still images they actually are. But this filling in
process results in blurring. If there is more information sent to
our brains in the form of more frequent frames, movement looks
sharper.

Another issue in serious gaming is input lag, or the delay
between you making an input (like a mouse movement or pressing a
key) and that input being recognized by the game. High refresh rate
monitors can reduce input lag because there is a small amount of
time passing between the input and the change being reflected on
screen. This difference is tiny, in the order of milliseconds, but
that can make a difference in competitive scenarios.

For professionals and very serious players of games, every tiny
advantage matters. And it’s certainly true that if money is no
object, gamers can benefit from the small edge that a high refresh
rate monitor can provide.

But what about the rest of us? If you’re a casual at-home
gamer, is a high refresh rate worth the extra cost?

Are High Refresh Rate Monitors Worth the Money?

When deciding whether to buy a high refresh rate monitor, it
helps to consider what else you could spend your money on.

A typical 240Hz refresh rate monitor at 1080p resolution in a
24.5″ size will cost you around $400. For that same $400, you
could buy a larger 27″ monitor at 1440p resolution with a still
impressive 144Hz refresh rate. Or if refresh rates don’t matter
to you, you could buy a huge 34″ monitor with 4K resolution and a
standard 60Hz refresh rate for $400 instead.

To learn more about monitor resolutions, we have a guide to

how 4K resolution compares to 8K, 2K, UHD, 1440p, and
1080p
.

What About Other Upgrades?

Alternatively, you could buy a cheaper monitor for $100 and take
the $300 you save and put it toward a better graphics card. $300
will let you upgrade from an impressive GeForce RTX 2070 (costing
around $550) to a beastly GeForce RTX 2080 (costing around $800),
for example. In that case, you’ll see a bump in CUDA cores from
2304 to 2944. In a game like Far Cry 5 at 1440p that means a jump
from
84fps to 105fps
.

Remember that your monitor needs to have a refresh rate fast
enough to show those extra frames per second. So there’s no point
in upgrading to a super fast graphics card if you’ve only got a
60Hz monitor. But you might see more benefits from combining a
middle-ground 144Hz monitor and a top-end graphics card then you
would from combining a 240Hz monitor and a less good graphics
card.

What’s the Most Important Factor When Choosing a Monitor?

When it comes down to it, what type of monitor you should buy
depends on what you’ll be using it for.

If you want a monitor for your living room and you’re planning
to watch movies and play games while sitting on your couch, say
from around eight to ten feet away, you’ll benefit most from a
larger screen. You won’t be close enough to the screen to really
see high resolutions or to benefit from higher refresh rates but
you will definitely notice the larger size.

If you want a monitor for your desk for general purposes, in
most cases you’ll want a higher resolution to make the picture
look sharper. This will be beneficial when you’re watching
movies, doing productivity tasks and needing a lot of space on your
desktop, and playing many games.

Finally, if you want a monitor for your desk primarily for
playing games and you’re serious about your gameplay, you may
want a higher refresh rate. Some people find higher refresh rates
look and feel far smoother than low refresh rates, while other
people don’t notice much difference. Try to find a high refresh
rate monitor at a store which you can try for yourself and see if
you find it helpful.

Do Refresh Rates Matter?

Refresh rates are really only important for serious gamers.
Casual gamers and general PC users will usually be better off
spending their money on a bigger, higher resolution monitor
instead.

If you’re trying to decide on what monitor you should buy, see
our guide to
which specs matter when choosing an HDTV for gaming
.

Read the full article: 60Hz vs. 144Hz vs.
240Hz: Do Monitor Refresh Rates Matter?

Source: FS – All Tech News 2
60Hz vs. 144Hz vs. 240Hz: Do Monitor Refresh Rates Matter?