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What is Refresh Rate?

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Gouldian Finch | July 31, 2018
What is Refresh Rate?

When shopping around for a new gaming monitor, you’ll come across ‘Hertz’ in the product specs.

But how many of us understand exactly what Hertz are, and how they affect our gaming experience?

Is 60Hz good enough for modern PC games?

How many Hertz does my console run at?

Also, what is a refresh rate?

Well, understanding hertz means understanding how a refresh rate works and how it impacts your experience while gaming (with either console or PC).

Once you understand that, you’ll be able to reduce such frustrations as input lag and slow graphics.

Plus, you’ll have an easier time finding the ideal high refresh rate monitor to fit your gaming needs. 

What’s a Refresh Rate? What are Hertz?

The Refresh Rate of your monitor represents the number of times per second (measured in Hertz) that it's able to update with new information or images. 

“Most TVs and consoles will only output at a maximum of 60Hz.”

Essentially: 1 Hertz (Hz) equals 1 frame per second.

So the higher the refresh rate, the more frames your monitor can display each second, and the smoother your on-screen image will appear.

Refresh Rate

Now, the general rule is the more Hertz the better.

          “So how many hertz do you need?”

But here’s the thing:

Most TVs and consoles will only output at a maximum of 60Hz (although certain consoles have been updated to output up to 120Hz on select gaming titles, 60Hz is still the standard).

PC games, on the other hand, go up to 144Hz (though some games will actually lock at a maximum of 60Hz).

144hz refresh rate

So here’s what that means:

If you’re a PC gamer, you’ll have a lot more options when it comes to finding a monitor to match your needs. And all it takes is just a little extra work on your part—namely in figuring out exactly what it is you need.

So how many hertz do you need?

And which is better:

  • 60Hz?
  • 144Hz?
  • 240Hz?

Well, it depends.

Luckily for you, we've gathered all the information you'll need to determine which Refresh Rate is best for you.

The Role of Refresh Rates in Competitive Gaming

Now that you know what a refresh rate and hertz are, let’s talk about the fastest growing segment of gaming (and some key terms).

What is…

  • Lag – Like when I run slow in gym class?
  • Blur – What everything looks like when I forget my glasses?
  • Response Time – Can I block my friend’s karate chop?

Not in the case of refresh rates, no.

  • Lag is the delay between the server and gameplay, and as annoying as lag can be for the casual gamer, it can mean utter doom when you’re playing competitively.
  • Blur is the streaking of moving objects and although it is sometimes used intentionally in games to imitate the human eye’s reaction time, blur caused by a low refresh rate can be a nuisance.
  • Response time is how quick pixels in the monitor change. A quick response time can mean the difference between a win and a loss in competitive gaming.

This is where 240Hz monitors come in.

“240Hz is the established standard in core competitive FPS leagues.”

As we said, PC games only go up to 144Hz- so why have a 240Hz monitor then?

The simple truth is a 240Hz monitor takes what a 144Hz monitor does and does it better.

So when milliseconds matter, you have the ability to (literally) react as fast as you can to outgoing information from your GPU. 

Here’s the deal:

When you game competitively, you need every advantage you can get your hands on. Being able to keep up with your game means having an automatic edge on players using monitors with lower refresh rates

Simply put, you’ll be able to act and respond quicker than them, and you’ll have an easier time seeing and reacting to in-game events as they unfold. 

Some Pro Gamers have actually noticed that the refresh rate of their monitor affects their play style. In fact, 240Hz is the established standard in core competitive FPS leagues (such as with Overwatch and CS:GO).

          “144Hz is good—but 240Hz is better.”

Here’s what the Pros have learned:

The higher the Refresh Rate of your monitor, the more responsive and accurate your gameplay can be. So, 144Hz is good—but 240Hz is better. Training on a 240Hz monitor means expecting immediate response times and uninterrupted graphics, so you naturally play differently than on low refresh rate monitors.

So, for casual-competitive gamers, grinders and pro-hopefuls, imagine this scenario:

For years, you’ve played on a 144 Hz monitor. This is all fine and dandy, but now you are given the opportunity play in the big leagues: your first major team competition event. The problem is, the standard at these events is a 240Hz monitor, so now you will have to adjust to the faster response time.  This would definitely affect your performance—especially considering the importance of timing in competitive gaming.

And if you’re a top-level competitor?

Well, then you need the highest Refresh Rate available- 240Hz. Anything lower simply won’t cut it.

But it’s important to remember, whether you play competitively or not, we all want a quality gaming experience—that’s why it’s so important for us to understand what our monitors are capable of.

Hertz and Motion Blur

Something to look out for:

Lower-quality monitors may adjust to games of higher visual quality by displaying a more blurry image—this is especially common during moments of intense action or increased motion (we’re looking at you, FPS games).  

Motion Blur

So how do you avoid this?

Well, the higher the Refresh Rate of a monitor, the more it’s able to reduce the overall blurriness of images. As the number of frames increase, the monitor is able to refresh faster.

Not only does this reduce motion blur, but it also reduces other undesired effects such as screen stuttering and cross-talk.

The bottom line is this:

Get a monitor with a higher Refresh Rate, and you won’t even need to worry about Motion Blur.

60Hz vs. 144Hz vs. 240Hz

So now we come to the big question—arguably the most important question you need to ask when looking for a new gaming monitor:

Which Refresh Rate do I need?

And what’s the difference between 60Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz monitors, anyway?

Well, we’ve established that, generally speaking, the more Hertz the better.

But which frame rate is actually right for you and your gaming needs?

“You can avoid blurred or streaky graphics with a higher Refresh Rate.”

Let’s start by taking a closer look:

The following graphic will illustrate what we’re talking about when we say the more Hertz the better. Below you’ll see a still image of a moving object captured on monitors running different Refresh Rates:

Gaming Refresh Rates

As you can see, as the Refresh Rate becomes higher, the image becomes clearer and the motion trail diminishes. So in fast-paced FPS games, for example, you can avoid blurred or streaky graphics with a higher Refresh Rate.

So does that mean that a monitor running at 60Hz is just a bad monitor?

Well, not exactly. Most gamers would consider it acceptable (believing that it will do in a pinch).

That said, you should probably only have a 60Hz monitor if you are only dabbling in light gaming.

Film and television typically don’t broadcast more than 30 frames per second, so if you’re only using your monitor for Netflix and Hulu, then you don’t necessarily need anything higher than 60Hz.

So what if you do care about video games? What if they are important to you?

“You need to upgrade to 144Hz or 240Hz.”

Well, if that’s the case, then you probably want the best possible visual and interactive experience your games can provide. So, simply put, you need to upgrade to 144Hz or 240Hz. 60Hz just isn’t going to cut it for you.

The general rule of thumb for gamers is this:

  • if you play competitively, you need a Refresh Rate of 144Hz minimum.
  • if you want to play at the eSports standard, go with 240Hz.

We’ve covered the benefits of higher Refresh Rates, so the benefits of 240Hz in competitive gaming should be clear by now.

“You certainly don’t want to get more or less than you’ll end up needing.”

So here’s the bottom line on 240Hz:

If you’re competing, you want the fastest—and a 240Hz monitor is the fastest. 

But, even if you don’t play competitively, you can still elect to go with a 144Hz instead (though, if you can manage it, a 240Hz monitor is always the better option).

Ask anyone who's upgraded from 60Hz- the difference is astounding. You’ll notice immediately how smooth and clear the visuals are, and how responsive games suddenly are.

Thumbs Up

So let’s summarize real quick:

  • Don’t play many games? Go with anything 60-120Hz.
  • Play games, but not competitively? Can’t go wrong with 144Hz.
  • Play games competitively? 240Hz is the Hertz for you.

While each has its merits, it’s important to know which Refresh Rate is right for your specific needs. You certainly don’t want to get more or less than you’ll end up needing, and suddenly finding yourself needing a new monitor.


XG2703-GS (above)

See More: https://www.viewsonic.com/gaming/