Thinking about upgrading your monitor, but don’t know which refresh rate to go with?
We’ve all been there. Selecting the best refresh rate is as important as the type of panel these days.
It may seem like a daunting choice to make, but once you know the difference between 60Hz and 240Hz you’ll be able to make a sound decision that will be perfect for your usage.
Before we start talking about these refresh rates, let’s briefly discuss what Hz or Hertz actually is.
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What is Refresh Rate?
Refresh rate refers to the number of times an image/frame can be displayed on a screen in one second.
The higher the number, the more frames the monitor will be able to display in a single second.
Our eyes see motion in frames. The more frames there are, the smoother the motion will be. A monitor is simply displaying multiple images per second to simulate motion.
Most movies are shot in 24 frames per second to 30. In the past, it was believed that our eyes can only see up to 30Hz, which means we could only detect up to 30 frames a second. However, this was debunked pretty soon.
60Hz has been around a long while, even old CRT monitors went as high as 85Hz back in the days. These monitors are capable of displaying 60 images in a second. In nerd terms, it means a new image is displayed every 16th millisecond.
60Hz is also the standard on most 4K resolution monitors these days. 4K resolution has been getting steadily popular thanks to its price getting lower and consoles pushing for the resolution. However, the next “big thing” is going to be 4K with better and faster Hz.
Many professional monitors that are designed to be color accurate also come with 60Hz. Designers, artists, photo editors, photographers, video editors all need a high resolution and color accurate monitor. 4K 60Hz monitors are great for these purposes, especially if they are designed for professional usage.
On the gaming side, if you only own a last generation PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, a 4K 60Hz monitor would be the best deal for you. It won’t be future proof though especially if you decide to upgrade to a PS5 or Xbox Series X down the road, but it will be inexpensive and easy to obtain.
There are many TVs that offer 60Hz at 4K resolution as well which is going to be perfect if you play video games casually on consoles and just want to watch some Netflix.
Gaming PCs are getting stronger as well and displaying a native 4K image at 60Hz is easier now than it ever was.
If you are only interested in single-player non-competitive games and are willing to get higher resolution at the cost of a high frame rate, a 60Hz would be perfect for you.
A 120Hz monitor is capable of displaying 120 frames per second. This essentially doubles the frequency of a standard 60Hz monitor and the difference is immediately noticeable. The movement on the screen is smoother, and you will notice how silky everything moves on the screen. In scientific terms, an image is being displayed every 8th millisecond.
A 120Hz monitor would be perfect for next-generation consoles like PS5 and Xbox Series X. Both of these newer consoles have the capability to display 120Hz and look great at doing so.
Make sure the monitor you are selecting for your console gaming does come with HDMI 2.1 as the PS5 and Xbox Series X both need it to display 4K at 120Hz.
On the PC side, getting a 120Hz monitor would be great as well. However, it wouldn’t be a better deal in my opinion. For a couple of dollars more, you’d be able to get a 4K 144 Hz monitor which, for me, is the sweet spot between practicality and overkill.
120Hz monitors are available in a variety of different resolutions as well, ranging from 1080p to 4K. Of course, you will need appropriate horsepower to run video games at high resolution as well as a high frame rate that matches the refresh rate of the monitor.
Competitive gamers usually prefer a 1440p resolution with a high frame rate. Many still love gaming on a 1080p resolution but an even higher frame rate. This largely depends on their personal preferences as well as the game they play.
A 144Hz refresh rate monitor refreshes the images 144 times per second. This comes out around an image change every 7th millisecond. The difference in smoothness is astounding when compared to a 60Hz refresh rate but diminished when you see it next to a 120Hz one.
144Hz is now the golden standard when it comes to purchasing gaming monitors for competitive games. Games like CS:GO and Rainbow Six Siege have professional players playing on 144Hz.
Most monitor manufacturers are producing 144Hz monitors at a variety of different resolutions and price points.
This is the latest and greatest in the mainstream market.
A 240Hz refresh rate monitor effectively quadruples 60Hz and offers a lot smoother experience. But it also takes their cost even higher – with a very few number of non-flagship models.
You will need an appropriately beefy setup to push high frame rates to match the refresh rate of a 240Hz monitor. The latest Nvidia RTX 3000 series GPUs might have enough horsepower to output high frame rates, if not, make sure you get a monitor that has a variable refresh rate to further smoothen out the motion.
60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz – Which One Is for You?
This depends on what you are looking for and what your budget is. If you have no monetary constraints, go for the best money can buy.
If you are like us, mid-tier PC gamers, you’ll need to be a bit realistic. Personally, we’d go with a 4K 120 OLED TV for everything, including PC, simply because we’re old and cannot keep up with kids on Fortnite. So single-player role-playing games are in order for this office.
If you are a competitive gamer and on a budget then getting a lower resolution, yet high refresh rate monitor like the 144 Hz would be best. This way you won’t need a top of the line, and usually out of stock GPU to push higher frame rates.
If you are a professional that needs a monitor that displays accurate colors, then a 60 Hz one will do the job nicely. Pro-level displays are a bit expensive but worth it for designers and artists.
Last Gen console gamer? 1080p 60 Hz
Next-Gen console gamer? 4k 120 Hz with HDMI 2.1
Chill solo PC gamer? 1440p 60 Hz or Ultra-wide aspect ratio monitor
Competitive gamer? 1080p or 1440p at 144 Hz or 240 Hz
At the end of the day, 60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz refresh rates is only a debate, what your eyes are comfortable with is what matters the most.
Some people are not able to notice the jump from 120 Hz to 240 Hz at all. Some people don’t notice the change from 60 to 120 Hz either. So we’d recommend visiting your local monitor shop and looking at the demo units.
Or you can check out TestUFO to see the difference between 15-60 Hz, you will see how smooth the 60 FPS panel looks.