Monitors are available in different resolutions and sizes. However, the refresh rate has become a key marketing metric for computer monitors over the last years. The refresh rate is the number of times a display refreshes to show a new image, but makes a monitor with a higher refresh rate a noticeable difference in your gameplay experience?

Your monitor creates the illusion of motion by a fast succession of still images. The refresh rate of your computer monitor indicates the number of images your monitor displays per second. As an example, a 60 Hz monitor displays up to a maximum of 60 still images per second.

Smoother gameplay experience

A monitor with a higher refresh rate on the other hand, is able to display more individual still images per second. A common example is a 144 Hz monitor which shows up to 144 images per second. The most common refresh rates are 60 Hz, 75 Hz, 144 Hz, and 240 Hz.

Your brain blurs together the series of still images to create a moving picture. A higher refresh rate makes it easier for your brain to create the moving picture as there is more information being provided and the differences between the individual images are less noticeable.

The higher the refresh rates, the harder it is for the human eye to notice a difference.

Refresh rate is not the same as frame rate

The refresh rate is not to be confused with the frame rate of your game. The frame rate refers to the number of still images being rendered per second by your computer hardware. A higher refresh rate, therefore, means the monitor is able to handle footage with a higher frame rate.

Any frame rates lower or higher than the refresh rate of the monitor may cause screen tearing. A visual distortion that occurs when the graphics processor is out of sync with the display and causes a computer monitor to show information from multiple still image at the same time. Most times, the top section of the monitor is out of sync with the bottom.

Different personal perception

There is a clear difference between a 60 Hz and 144 Hz computer monitor. As a more experienced gamer, it is better to use a 144 Hz gaming monitor if your computer can play a game at a high enough frame rate to match the refresh rate of a 144 Hz monitor.

Some people notice the difference between a 60 Hz and 120 Hz computer monitor immediately, while others do not see the difference at all. The difference between 120 Hz and 240 Hz is even more subtle and most gamers are not able to tell the differences in tests. As a result, the additional cost is not worth the benefits.

Disadvantages of higher refresh rates

To deliver higher refresh rates, there are some trade-offs to be made. The panels used in monitors with higher refresh rate deliver less colour depth and more limited viewing angles. Even if you do prefer performance over better visuals and more colour depth, a 144 Hz monitor remains the better choice compared to a 240 Hz panel. 

Is a higher refresh rate worth it?

In short, as a gamer it is best to upgrade from a 60 Hz or 75 Hz monitor to a 120 Hz or 144 Hz computer monitor. The faster succession of still images provides a smoother gameplay experience with less input lag. This is most noticeable in competitive games.

However, 60 Hz monitors are more than enough for open-world adventure games like Assassin’s Creed. If you prefer to play these types of singleplayer games, it is best to choose a monitor with a higher resolution and more colour depth as it has a larger influence on your gameplay experience than a higher refresh rate.

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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from the Asus ROG Swift PG65UQ, a monitor developed and produced by Asus. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.

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