Monitor Refresh Rate

What is a monitor refresh rate? Here's everything you need to know.

monitor refresh rate

If you have come across a monitor’s refresh rate when looking for a new monitor or trying to up your esports game, it is likely you have seen that a higher refresh rate can be better for gaming. This is largely true in many cases but there is still room for 60Hz in certain gaming scenarios. 

The higher the refresh rate in a monitor means you are going to be seeing more frames than you otherwise would from a monitor with a lower refresh rate. Higher refresh rates can give competitive players the edge over opponents with lower refresh rates. Furthermore, when you couple a monitor’s high refresh rate with a powerful graphics card and CPU, animations will look more realistic, removing choppy pictures and blur, and increasing the overall immersion in your game.

What Is A Monitor Refresh Rate

The refresh rate of a monitor is a measure in hertz (Hz) of how many times per second the display draws the image on the screen. A refresh rate can sometimes be confused with FPS output from a game and while they both refer to the number of times a static image is displayed per second, FPS refers to the content, and refresh rate refers to the video signal or display.

A higher refresh rate will make motion look smoother and is considered to be very important for gaming. You may have heard the old “well the human eye cant detect such speeds” and while there is an argument for this, contrary to popular belief, the human eye is actually very good at detecting these changes.

Before Buying A Higher Refresh Rate Monitor

There is no doubt a monitor with a higher refresh rate is going to make huge changes to your gaming experience, especially when going from 60Hz to 144Hz. That being said, there are a few things to know before you just go upgrading.

You are going to want to make sure you can achieve the same value FPS in your favorite game to match the high refresh rate of a monitor. For example, if your current system can only manage 30-60FPS and you buy a 144Hz monitor, many of those screen refreshes won’t contain new frames of information, leaving you with a rather unsatisfying end result.

It is worth noting that monitors with higher refresh rates will become increasingly more expensive the higher you go. Also, when we get to the dizzy speeds of 240Hz and above, you will find most manufacturers use TN panels, as it is difficult to incorporate high refresh rate technology into IPS panels.

Finally, high refresh rate monitors should only really be considered for gaming purposes only, as you are rarely going to see applications or video playback running higher than 60 FPS.

Panels And What They Have To Do With Refresh Rates

Anyone who has looked into buying a gaming monitor will have come across the different panel technologies on offer (whether you know what they mean or not). You will have most likely heard or seen TN (Twisted Nematic), VA (Vertically Aligned), and IPS (In-plane Switching).

TN: These types of panels have always featured the fastest refresh rates since CRTs were replaced back in the day. Competitive gamers who play fast-paced action titles usually will go for a TN panel. TN panels boast the highest refresh rates and until recently used to post the best response times too.

Of course, there is a compromise when going for TN and that is mostly color accuracy and poor viewing angles but these are negligible if you are buying a monitor for hardcore gaming.

VA: VA displays are often seen as something in-between TN and IPS, offering better viewing angles and response times all in one monitor. Like TN panels, VA is a cheaper alternative to IPS and will often feature higher refresh rates for less. Color accuracy can vary from model to model but VA panels are generally considered to be better than TN.

IPS: IPS panels have grown in popularity significantly over recent years and while they use to just offer a better quality of the image and increased viewing angles, we see the high-end models featuring everything a gamer needs. IPS panels used to feature slower response times of 5ms and were considered too expensive for a higher refresh rate model. While IPS monitors are still pretty expensive, they now feature high refresh rates and lower response times, meaning you can get the best of both worlds if going for an IPS monitor.

These days each different panel type should feature a wide array of refresh rate options until you get to the 240Hz and above level, which is still mostly reserved for TN panels.

Final Word

A monitor refresh rate can often be overlooked or misunderstood, so hopefully, this article will assist you when it comes to your next gaming monitor purchase. 60Hz monitors should only be considered if you are a keen 4K gamer looking to get smooth gameplay from your AAA titles in maxed-out settings. 60Hz is also considered entry-level, where you could save money in the short term but you are always going to need to upgrade in the future, once you get the gaming bug of course.

For anyone looking for the best gaming experience, especially if you are into fast-paced games, you should aim to get yourself a 144Hz monitor and take it from there. The difference between 60Hz and 144Hz is night and day whereas the difference between 144 and 240Hz is much harder to notice. When going for a monitor with a higher refresh rate, don’t forget to ensure your PC can match it and doesn’t leave you with another upgrade to chase.

What is the fastest refresh rate monitor you have gamed on? What refresh rate are you currently rocking? Head on over to the WePC community and share it with the team and readers. b