Should You Care About Refresh Rate (Hz) When Buying a PC Monitor?

Should You Care About Refresh Rate (Hz) When Buying a PC Monitor?

If you’ve been shopping around for a new PC monitor, then you’ll find a number of different ways to compare different monitors. You can look at screen size, resolution, refresh rate, response time, and more.

But which of those things actually matters? The effects of screen size and resolution are obvious, so that leaves us to talk about refresh rate and response time. Should you pay more for a 144Hz monitor over a 60Hz monitor? Will you ever be able to tell the difference?

The standard refresh rate

For years, the standard refresh rate has been 60Hz. In recent years, we’ve seen an influx of 120Hz monitors as well as 144Hz monitors. These monitors promise to refresh the screen’s image more frequently, leading to smoother scrolling and reduced motion blur in games and movies.

The limits of the human eye

Keep in mind that humans perceive reality at a rate estimated to be about 66 frames per second. In other words, we can’t really tell the difference between 70fps and 80fps, but we can certainly tell the difference between 30fps and 40fps.

Real world testing with PC gamers

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Maximum PC tested two monitors with a bunch of gamers to see if they would notice. One monitor was the Asus 24 inch VG248QE running at 144Hz with a 1ms response time, while the other was the Asus VN247 running at 60Hz with a 1ms response time. Both were running on the exact same rig and testing was done like this to prevent any bias from seeping through:

Participants were shown a 1080p video file shot at 24fps (which would look about the same on both monitors) as well as 120fps Fraps gaming footage and 120fps GoPro footage, as well as a scroll through a sample website.

What did MaximumPC discover?

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-All participants choose the 60Hz monitor for the 24fps video footage because it looked better

-3 participants thought the 144Hz monitor looked better for the web scrolling test, while 2 participants thought the 60Hz monitor looked better. Two participants chose ‘neither’

-All but one person picked the 144Hz monitor for the GoPro 120fps video footage

-4 people picked the 144Hz monitor for the window moving test compared to 2 for the 60Hz monitor

The distinction between the 60Hz monitor and the 144Hz monitor wasn’t quite night and day. However, for gaming and high-fps footage, the majority of participants chose the 144Hz monitor. So yes, the higher refresh rate looks better for PC gaming, and it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the added cost.

Watching standard definition video files? Refresh rate doesn’t matter

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As you may know, movies and TV shows are shot at 24 frames per second. The Hobbit garnered a lot of criticism for shooting at 48fps, leading to a weird, ultra-real appearance. Unless you’re watching the Hobbit, then your standard video and movie files will look exactly the same on a 60Hz monitor as they do on a 120Hz monitor because the refresh rate is well below the limit of each.

Not as expensive as you may think

Most people spend between $100 and $200 on a high-quality monitor. The high-refresh rate monitors listed above are not as expensive as you may think, and they continue to drop in price. If you want a 3D monitor, however, you will have to pay a little more.

For example, Asus’s 24 inch VG248QE monitor is available for $265 with a refresh rate of 144Hz.

 

 

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