What is Refresh Rate?

what is refresh rate, featured image

If you are searching for a computer monitor, or any other kind of display hardware, there is going to be a lot of jargon to contend with, but one of your biggest questions is likely to be ‘what is refresh rate?’ As you continue your search, you are going to come across this particular terminology over and over again, and it is important to take the time to learn what it means and what it actually affects.

Read on further to find out more about refresh rate.

If you read about computer monitors or start to compare the different options, refresh rate is something you are likely to come across quite often, but what is refresh rate and how important is it for determining your choice of display hardware? Does it impact on the quality of your picture, and can a low refresh rate contribute to eye strain?

In this article, we explore the answers to these questions and more.

Defining Refresh Rate

According to TechTarget, a basic definition of refresh rate is as follows:

“The number of times a display’s image is repainted or refreshed per second. The refresh rate is expressed in hertz, so a refresh rate of 75 Hz means the image is refreshed 75 times in a second.”

However, it is important to provide some additional information too. Refresh rate is produced by the monitor itself and not the processor or graphics card. In this sense, it differs from another similar term, which is that of frame rate.

One way to think of it is that these two performance metrics need to work in tandem. So, for peak performance, you need a monitor with a high refresh rate and a system that is able to produce a high frame rate too. If either are not up to standard, the quality of the display may be impacted and you will not experience the full benefits.

What is refresh rate?

What is the Ideal Refresh Rate?

Until recently, 60 Hz was regarded as the standard refresh rate for a desktop monitor and for some users, that may still be sufficient. However, refresh rates of around 60 Hz are associated with a flicker effect that may contribute to issues like eye strain, making it uncomfortable to stare at the screen for long periods. For this reason, even for fairly basic uses, 75 Hz is now regarded as a better starting point for a computer monitor.

For more advanced purposes, such as esports or high definition gaming, you are going to want an even higher refresh rate and 120 Hz may be considered a better starting point. As Digital Trends highlights, at this kind of refresh rate, assuming your frame rate is solid, you should even notice improvements in terms of how smooth mouse cursor movements feel. ViewSonic’s Elite esports range has good options, such as the XG2401, with a refresh rate of 144 Hz.

Effectively, if you have a monitor with a refresh rate of around those levels, and your graphics card and processor are able to produce a high frame rate, you should experience noticeable improvements to the picture quality and apparent smoothness of movement. With gaming and more demanding visual applications, this can be a huge difference-maker.

What is refresh rate

Final Thoughts

Refresh rate is a crucial consideration when buying a computer monitor because it determines how often the display is refreshed. Unlike frame rate, which is produced by the system, the refresh rate is produced by the monitor itself. Nevertheless, the two concepts work side-by-side and both need to be broadly in line with one another.