The refresh rate of the gaming monitor you currently have will largely depend on your budget and individual gaming needs. If you’re an avid competitive gamer that wants to get any advantage over the competition, then you would have probably invested in a high refresh rate panel – a 144Hz monitor or a 240Hz monitor being the most likely.
Some gamers prefer color accuracy and crisp graphics over fast refresh rates so they may favor a 4K monitor with an IPS panel – which commonly runs at 60Hz. But that isn’t always the case with modern monitors, with many offering up the best of both worlds when it comes to picture quality and responsiveness. Like always, there are a few things to consider before upgrading your monitor – and by the end of this article, you’ll know if you should stick with a 60Hz monitor or upgrade to a 120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 360Hz model.
Below we have compiled a list of our top monitor picks for each category, accompanied by research data, comparisons, and more – all of which you could use to narrow down your options and improve your gaming experience.
But before we dig into the specifics, let’s take a look at the basics to get you started.
60Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz: Video rundown
What Is Hertz?
The refresh rate of your monitor is measured in hertz. Those hertz (Hz) are the number of times your display refreshes itself every second. This means that a 60Hz monitor will refresh the image it’s displaying at a rate of 60 images per second. Alternatively, a 120Hz monitor returns 120 images per second, 240Hz 240 images per second, and so on – leading to some easily apparent benefits that we’ll discuss shortly.
Basically, monitors with higher refresh rates normally lead to a smoother gaming experience – as they’re physically displaying more frames every second.
Over the years, refresh rates have increased pretty steadily. Despite 60Hz offering an OK experience back in the day, the market soon cried out for higher refresh rate panels due to competitive games and greater smoothness needs. After a while, we saw the arrival of 144Hz monitors which brought a huge uplift in both gaming smoothness and performance.
The 240Hz monitor craze wasn’t far behind, offering another jump in image smoothness but not as apparent as the jump between 60Hz and 144Hz. Fast forward to the modern-day and we have a whole plethora of refresh rates to choose from, with only the best gaming monitors offer 360Hz and above.
If you don’t know how to check your monitor’s refresh rate, you can read up on how to check and change your monitor’s refresh rate, ensuring you get the most out of your equipment.
What Classes As A High Refresh Rate Monitor?
Back when LED monitors first became popular, a high refresh rate monitor was considered 60hz. These old-school panels had the ability to play aging titles in a smooth fashion – or so we thought. As we move forward into the 21st century, monitor technology has evolved exponentially, with refresh rates increasing well past the flagship 60hz of yesteryear.
In current times, a high refresh rate monitor is classed as 240hz and above (360Hz-390Hz). At these speeds, monitors will be refreshing at 240-360 times per second, offering up incredible levels of fluidity when gaming. Having said that, and as we’ll discuss in more detail shortly, the visual boost you get when moving up the theoretical refresh rate ladder does diminish the higher you go. For example, jumping from a 60hz monitor to a 144hz monitor is like night and day. However, making a jump from 240hz to 360hz isn’t nearly as beneficial.
That being said, there is no substitute for a high refresh rate monitor – it really does make a huge difference (especially if you want to take your competitive gaming to the next level).
How Does Hertz Affect Your Gaming Experience?
Seeing the difference is not nearly as noticeable for an average user as it is for competitive gamers. For gamers, these small differences play an integral role in winning competitive games, especially FPS games like CS:GO, Valorant, Overwatch, Battlefield, Fortnite, and PUBG.
The quality of the image will not improve, it is the fluidity of the motion that is improved. A 60Hz monitor will display 60 different images per second while a 120Hz monitor will display 120 different images per second. In other words, Hz is the refresh rate and has nothing to do with improving the graphics whatsoever.
Similarly, this means 120Hz and 144Hz monitors give gamers the opportunity to make faster reactions when compared to a 60Hz monitor.
What Makes A 60Hz Monitor Different From 120Hz And 144Hz Monitors?
So you now understand what hertz is in reference to a monitor and how it can affect your overall gaming experience but what are the actual differences between 60, 120, 144, and 240?
In this section, we’re going to go over the different refresh rate values, the pros and cons of each type, and finally recommend a high-quality option for each category.
60Hz monitors were once the standard with some CRT monitors going as high as 85Hz. On paper, they show 60 images per second, making them far superior to the 30Hz monitors. This means that a new image is generated every 16th ms.
4K gaming monitors have been growing in the market and this is largely down to them being cheaper than ever at the moment and games are slowly becoming available in 4K. So if you wish to get one down the line, then your best decision at the moment is to settle with a 60Hz gaming monitor until you can save up and afford one.
We have our personal pick presented in the 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and 240hz category below so make sure you check that out. For a better overview of what is considered the best of the best when it comes to monitors, you can check our best monitor picks. We reviewed several monitors there from different categories and did an in-depth explanation along with the pros and cons of every single monitor.
Best 60Hz 4K monitor
ASUS TUF Gaming VG289Q
3840 x 2160
“Due to the VG289Q’s low refresh rate and response time, this monitor won’t be suited to all gamers. That being said, if you’re in the market for a 28inch 4K gaming monitor that won’t break the bank, this could be exactly what you’re looking for. It offers great colors right out the box and enough screen real-estate to multi-task in an efficient manner. The 4K resolution also provides fantastic picture clarity and depth, making single-player gaming titles all the more immersive.”
As previously mentioned, 120Hz monitors show 120 images per second and they produce a far superior output compared to a 60Hz monitor, which you will notice. In terms of time, this is approximately an image being produced every 8th ms.
For the 120Hz category, we don’t really recommend our readers to get one. It may seem silly featuring a 120Hz category but it is important that you are aware of the difference in price for 24 more hertz, it’s tiny and you’d regret not getting a 144Hz at the end of the day. That being said, we understand that not everyone has the budget to get 144 frames per second out of their games, so having a 120Hz option could be considered a nice middle ground to achieve a more responsive experience at a pinch.
In any case, 120Hz gaming monitors are hard to come by and with 144Hz monitors being so affordable these days, it would be silly not to recommend one.
Best 120Hz gaming monitor
Alienware AW3420DW 34″ Ultrawide Gaming Monitor
3440 x 1440
“The Alienware AW3420DW is one of the best monitors I’ve tested in some time. Thanks to the Nano IPS color technology used, this monitor not only offers a stunning gaming experience, but it provides crystal clear colors thanks to 145% sRGB gamut volume – equivalent to 100% Adobe RGB and 98% DCI-P3, respectively. If you want a monitor that ticks all the right boxes, look no further! Just be aware, this panel will set you back into the four-figure region.”
For a 144Hz monitor, a new image is produced approximately every 7th ms. This is one of the reasons why you can see images much smoother when compared to 60Hz monitors, and only a little when compared to 120Hz monitors.
144Hz has fast become the new benchmark for smooth gameplay, with a wide variety of models popping up for all sorts of gaming needs. These types of monitors sport a variety of resolutions and are being produced from all gaming affiliated monitor manufacturers.
Best 144Hz gaming monitor
Flicker Free Technology
“Thanks to its high refresh rate and rapid response time, the Zowie XL2411P offers an extremely smooth and immersive gaming experience. It gives you the perfect platform to try and take your gaming to the next level. And for that reason, we would highly recommend this to gamers looking for a 24inch display – specifically tailored towards competitive gaming titles.”
The 240Hz gaming monitor is the latest to turn up and certainly worth getting, however, they are only recommended if you have a high spec computer that can handle running games at high FPS, especially if you want to run G-Sync, we would personally recommend an RTX 30 series GPU to get you started.
In our 240Hz category, our best recommendation is the BenQ ZOWIE XL2740 gaming monitor, a solid choice with some impressive gaming features.
Best 240Hz gaming monitor
Alienware AW2720HF Gaming Monitor
1920 x 1080
“From a competitive gaming standpoint, the Alienware AW2720HF might be one of the best we’ve tested in some time. Not only does it offer lightning-quick responsiveness, but it also brings superb color recreation and aesthetics to the table as well. Ultimately, the only question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you can justify spending between $400-500 on a 1080p gaming monitor. If the answer is yes, I would highly recommend the Alienware AW2720HF.”
Now the real question between the comparison is up:
What Monitor Should I Choose When Upgrading?
If you have a 60Hz monitor and you want to upgrade, with there being such a small difference in performance between 120Hz and 144Hz, choosing the former isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially if you can’t afford a 144Hz option. However, if you can afford to get a 144Hz monitor then you should definitely invest your money in one.
If you are currently using a 144Hz monitor and have been considering an upgrade to the 240Hz you only need to make sure you have the PC power to take advantage of the higher hertz. Be sure to check what framerates you are expected to get in certain settings for your games, otherwise grabbing a higher hertz monitor could be a waste of money or require you to spend even more cash. Other than that, they are well worth investing in and will give you a slight advantage in the competitive sphere.
Do I Need Over 60 Hertz?
144Hz should be considered the norm for any gamer who doesn’t wish to play in 4K. The cost of 144Hz monitors has been dropping in price year on year, with some great options available for under $200 finally beginning to show. Anything lesser will show a significant difference in performance and gaming experience when it comes to responsiveness.
As for 240Hz, it’s a big investment and only beneficial if you have a GPU that can handle the high-performance required to pump out 240FPS in your chosen games. This is especially the case if you play FPS games such as CS:GO, PUBG, or BF5.
Is It Worth Going For 144Hz Or 240Hz?
This depends on the games you play and what you want from your equipment. Competitive gamers like it fast and very accurate, any noticeable delay could result in a miss or slower reactions. CS:GO players surely know this statement is pretty much accurate and on point but it goes without saying that if you take competitive play seriously, grab a faster refresh rate monitor.
Where this becomes a little bit more tricky is towards the extreme ends of the gaming PC spectrum. If you are on a strict budget or just play casually, then a fast refresh rate monitor probably isn’t going to make all that difference to your gaming experience. 4K gamers may also opt for 60Hz, simply because 60FPS in max settings isn’t the easiest to achieve unless you have a godlike system and 60FPs is a much easier figure for your G-Sync/Freesync to work. While there are 4K gaming monitors with fast refresh rates out there, this is a relatively new idea and comes with incredibly high costs.
We’ve gone over the key differences between 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz to ultimately answer which monitor is best for gaming. Of course, the answer isn’t as black and white as we would like but when is it in the tech world?
The main point to take away is: if you are a competitive gamer who loves fast and responsive equipment, you can’t go wrong with a faster refresh rate monitor. It is worth noting, however, that you will need to ensure your PC can handle the upgrade but many will consider this a small price to pay for that competitive edge.
What is the refresh rate of you’re gaming monitor? Did you notice the dramatic difference between 60Hz and 144Hz? Drop us a comment below or head over to the WePC community to share with the team.
Is There a Big Difference Between 120Hz and 144Hz?
The visual difference between 120Hz and 144Hz really isn’t that stark, and that’s mostly because 24 extra refreshes a second isn’t technically all that much. As long as it was backed by a powerful system, if you were to ‘A-B’ a monitor between these two refresh rates, you may not even notice the difference.
If you’d been using a 144Hz monitor for quite some time, and your eyes were fully acclimated to that refresh rate, then suddenly, your display dropped to 120Hz, you would probably pick up on it. It might not even be a conscious thing at first, perhaps more of mild eye irritation.
If, on the other hand, you jumped from 60Hz to these higher refresh rates sequentially, you’d notice a big improvement upon 60Hz, but differentiating them would still be pretty difficult.
Individual difference plays a large part in what you notice. Some people just have eyes more attuned to perceiving subtle contrasts in refresh rates.
Is There a Big Difference Between 144Hz and 240Hz?
Technically, yes, there is a big difference between 144Hz and 240Hz. 96 extra refreshes a second is pretty significant and amounts to overall smoother gameplay. However, even though 144Hz to 240Hz is a larger jump in speed than that of 60Hz to 144Hz, the difference between the former won’t be as noticeable as the difference between the latter. This is because as the refresh rate increases, our ability to perceive it weakens.
It’s also important to note that a system capable of making the most of a 240Hz monitor would cost a pretty penny, and even then, if you were playing on Ultra settings, you may not actually be experiencing the full force of that 240Hz screen.
Can the Human Eye See 240Hz?
Historically, it was believed that the human eye could only perceive the flicker rate of a display between 50 and 90Hz, but by that metric, there’d be no difference to us moving from a 120Hz display to a 240Hz display, and there definitely is a difference.
Think of it like this. If you set up a strobe light to flicker at a 240Hz rate and had someone move a toy boat quickly across the room, you would see the boat as frozen in place in multiple junctures of its journey. If the human eye couldn’t perceive 240Hz, the boat would appear to move smoothly across the room rather than the stuttered effect we do actually see.
Whether we can appreciate 240Hz to the fullest extent is questionable as it’s certainly true that the higher the frequency of a refresh rate becomes, the harder it is to distinguish differences. Some studies claim to have discovered that the upper limit of human Hz perception lies around the 250Hz zone, but bear in mind that humans or a varied bunch. Everyone is different, and therefore, our perception of Hz is too.
In any case, it’s around 250Hz that the brain registers something we’re seeing on screen as having realistic motion, which is to say the general flow of the images is true to life, even if the game is pretty wacky.
Can the Human Eye See 144Hz?
As it’s possible to appreciate 240Hz, it goes without saying that the human eye can see 144Hz. Even if it’s only slightly dissimilar to 120Hz, there is an extra level of refinement to motion quality.
If we take 250Hz as a general capacity standard for those with 20/20 vision, not only can we perceive 144Hz, but there’s room to shoehorn in over 100 more Hz. Telling the difference between 144Hz and 250Hz may still be quite difficult for some, as 144Hz motion is pretty dang silky in its own right, but it’s not quite on par with how we view motion in the natural world around us.
Can the Human Eye See 1000fps?
We don’t know its origins, but the myth goes that the human eye can only perceive 24 frames per second. Of course, this is a complete fabrication as we wouldn’t even deem a game playable if it fell below the 30fps mark, but then, how many frames per second can our eyes perceive?
Well, actually…1000. That’s right, folks; we are fantastical beings indeed! We can hypothetically perceive 1000 frames per second because that’s roughly how fast the neurons in our brains work. The key thing to remember is that sight isn’t all about conscious recognition.
Even though our eyes may be limited on what they can focus on, the information carried through to our brain is way more expansive. It’s weird, we know. It sounds like an oxymoron, but we are genuinely registering things we’re not even aware of every single day.
Do bear in mind, though, that 1000fps is just a generalized hypothetical figure. Your true capacity for perceiving frames may be far superior or inferior to someone else.
Can the Human Eye See 120fps?
Yes, the human eye can definitely see 120fps! Not only can we subconsciously register 120fps thanks to our super speedy neurons, but we can literally register it with our eyes.
The difference between 60 and 120fps is 8.4ms, which may come across as being fairly negligible, but in that 8.4ms is the power to eliminate any residual motion blur from the 30 – 60fps jump and smooth the game out a whole heck of a heap!
However, if you’re an experienced PC gamer, you’ll already be aware that frame rates aren’t all about visuals, but reducing latency too. It’s all about feeling, guys! The increase in frames from 60 to 120 a second means interaction between you and the game will be enhanced, allowing you to play better than ever.
Can the Human Eye See 8K?
Yes, research suggests that the human eye does indeed register the difference when looking at an 8K resolution display. In fact, we could probably perceive the benefits of an even more densely pixelated resolution.
As we’re fleshy things, we can’t directly compare the power of our eyes and brain to that of a display, but it’s estimated that to create a camera with an equivalent resolution to our glistening peepers, it would need to contain 576 million pixels.
Considering 8K is a 7680 x 4320 resolution, it’s nowhere near as intricate as our eyes’ capacity for perceiving clarity.
Why Does 240Hz Look Weird?
There are a few reasons why 240Hz may look weird to some. Do you remember when HD televisions were first released? Your well-to-do friend was the first person you knew to get one. You go over to their house to witness the next generation of entertainment technology, but to your surprise, there’s something just not quite right about it. Sure, it’s clearer than your TV back home, but it still seems…off slightly.
This is because you’re witnessing something known as ‘The Soap Opera Effect’. This occurs because most television shows are shot using cameras with a much slower frame rate than the refresh rate of your friend’s display. It’s a side effect of motion interpolation, a process in which the display fills in the ‘judder’ of the slow frame footage with its own frames, smoothing motion out. The only issue is that this motion isn’t natural and in most instances can make moving objects appear superimposed on the set.
This doesn’t really apply to gaming, but 24Hz may still seem weird to you if you’ve been playing on a 60Hz monitor for years.
Is 4K or 240Hz Better?
Refresh rate is widely considered to be more important for gaming than resolution, so it makes sense to choose a 240Hz 1440p or 1080p monitor over a 60Hz 4K monitor. The 60Hz 4K monitor will still probably look sharper, but a higher refresh rate allows for smoother movement and a more responsive gaming experience.