Because of its relatively recent proliferation in the consumer market, many people don’t understand what refresh rate is and why it is important for PC gamers. Let us explain. Refresh rate, measured in Hertz (Hz), refers to how often a display will refresh or update itself with new information. This means that when your PC is showing 60 images or frames per second (fps) on a 60Hz monitor, it refreshes 70 times each second; when you’re looking at 120fps on a 144Hz monitor, it refreshes itself 144 times each second. The more hertz there are, the smoother and more fluid motion appears: A higher refresh rate provides an incredibly smooth and responsive experience that makes gameplay feel much more natural.
To give you a more technical explanation, the refresh rate is the number of times per second that your monitor updates its own display with new information. The human eye can only see approximately 24-30fps at maximum clarity (depending on the person), which means monitors are set to refresh themselves dozens or hundreds of times each second in order to fool our eyes into thinking they are actually seeing 60 or 120 images per second. If played for an extended period of time, this will cause eyestrain and headaches as our eyes struggle to see all of these new images every one second and fails to “reset” between refreshes – this is called interpolation and causes motion blur. Refresh rates play a large part in eliminating this issue: The more hertz a monitor has, the faster it refreshes and the less motion blur there is.
Most monitors on the market right now have a refresh rate of 60Hz – that means they will update themselves 60 times each second, which is why most PC games are optimized to run at around 30 or 60fps. Monitors with a 120Hz refresh rate will update themselves twice as fast as those with 60Hz, so even though your game might be running at 60fps, you’ll still see twice as many updates per second and thus significantly less motion blur than you would on a 120hz monitor running at 30fps, for instance. 240Hz monitors meanwhile update themselves up to four times per second: While this doesn’t result in four times the amount of graphical information, it does mean that there is significantly less motion blur than on a 60Hz or 120Hz monitor.
144Hz vs 240Hz
So why even bother with a monitor that refreshes at anything less than 144Hz? The answer is simple: Even though 240Hz monitors refresh themselves twice as fast as a 120Hz monitor, they feel much more responsive and natural due to their decreased latency. In other words, while you might get double the updates on images per second from a 240Hz monitor, the refresh rate isn’t the only factor in how responsive and fluid a monitor feels.
As you can see, there is much more going on when it comes to refreshing rates than simply “higher is better,” although this is largely dependent on your PC hardware. If you want the absolute best experience and you don’t mind spending a pretty penny on it, we highly recommend checking out our guide to 144Hz monitors.
But What About Motion Blur?
The biggest reason many people choose 120Hz or 240Hz displays over 60Hz is that they provide significantly less motion blur than cheaper monitors. However, this doesn’t mean that motion blur is a problem exclusive to cheaper monitors: Even the best 60Hz monitor will suffer from some motion blur.
The human eye can only see images at a certain speed, which means that anything happening faster than that threshold within our vision simply appears as a blur or an image with no clarity. You probably don’t notice it yourself because your eyes are very fast, but try taking a photograph of something moving incredibly quickly and you’ll start to notice that motion blur. And that means that even if your game is running at 120fps on a 60Hz monitor with motion blur, it will still appear much faster than when played on a 120Hz monitor without motion blur.
Motion blur is only a problem on cheap monitors, which use something called motion interpolation to display images faster than their refresh rate. This causes the monitor to blend images together at different points in time to effectively create new frames that don’t exist. Disabling this feature is easy enough – most monitors have a setting in the menu for this purpose – but once you’ve turned it off, you’ll be able to see the difference in image quality and smoothness.
Motion blur is not a problem exclusive to cheaper monitors: Even the best 60Hz monitor will suffer from some motion blur.
This brings us to another way of eliminating motion blur: Getting a higher refresh rate monitor and turning on its motion interpolation setting – which we highly recommend if your PC is powerful enough. All in all, it’s a win-win situation: You’ll get the best in image quality and smoothness while still getting that high frame rate gaming experience you crave.
However, this isn’t without its drawbacks: Namely, when you enable motion interpolation for any monitor with a refresh rate above 60Hz, you’ll introduce a host of new issues such as input lag and screen tearing. But whether these troubles are enough to convince gamers to stick with standard 60Hz monitors is their own choice: You can’t win them all, but we’d say the benefits of lower motion blur more than makeup for any potential problems that may arise.
The biggest reason many people choose 120Hz or 240Hz displays over 60Hz is that they provide significantly less motion blur than cheaper monitors.
So is there any difference in the amount of response time between a 60Hz and 120/240Hz monitor? No, which is why you shouldn’t look for this specification when buying a monitor.
We hope that this article has been educational and cleared up some of the confusion surrounding refresh rates. In a future article, we will talk about screen tearing, which refers to the way images are displayed on a monitor. For now, though, you should have a good idea why it is important for PC gamers to have a high refresh rate monitor – so head out and buy yourself one today!
Thanks for reading The Complete Guide To Choosing A 120Hz Or 144Hz Gaming Monitor! Please leave any comments here