When shopping for monitors, you’ll see some with high refresh rates—like 120hz, 240Hz, or even higher. So are they even worth the premium price tag usually attached to these monitors? Let’s look at the benefits, limits, and potential drawbacks.
The More Hertz the Better?
Hertz is the unit of measurement for the maximum number of frames your monitor can display per second. A 60Hz monitor will only show you up to 60 frames per second, while a 120Hz monitor can show twice as much.
In the gaming world, getting more frames per second is always better as it gives you a competitive edge over your opponents with lower rates. You’ll be able to see all the action on-screen faster, which allows you to react quickly. Having higher refresh rates also reduces motion blur and gives you the smooth gameplay you see at high-level gaming.
For regular use outside of gaming, such as scrolling through web pages or social media, moving around files, or watching an action-packed movie, a higher refresh rate will make these activities feel smoother. The reduced motion blur when doing anything on the computer can reduce eye strain. It can also improve how accurate you are when controlling your mouse.
What Higher Refresh Rates Offer and Require
If you’ve only used a 60Hz monitor, especially for fast-paced games or regular use, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re also missing out on the immersive experience that higher frames can provide. Going from 60Hz to 120Hz will be a drastic improvement, and you’ll see it right away. This is especially true when playing video games.
That said, you won’t see any noticeable difference going from 120Hz to 144Hz or 165Hz. You will, however, see another small difference going anywhere from 120Hz up to 240Hz. It’ll be a big difference if you jump up all the way up to 360Hz, but we’ll talk more about those sky-high rates later.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you want to reap the benefits of your monitor’s refresh rate, your computer needs to be strong enough to deliver the same number of frames. This is mainly dependent on your graphics card. You also need to make sure your display cable is capable of transmitting the expected refresh rate.
In other words, if you have a 120Hz monitor but your system can only deliver 60 frames per second, then you’re not going to see beyond 60 frames. Without the proper hardware, it’ll be no different than using a 60Hz monitor. So, focus on your PC and cables before investing in a monitor with a higher refresh rate, or at least plan on upgrading later.
AOC CQ32G2S 32” Curved Monitor
A frameless and curved 165Hz gaming monitor that offers 2K resolution on a height-adjustable display.
You Probably Don’t Need More Than 165Hz
Most people won’t need a high refresh rate monitor over 165Hz as it’ll usually be overkill. Even as a gamer or someone who wants a high-end gaming experience, anywhere from 120Hz to 165Hz will be more than enough. For general use outside of gaming, a 120Hz monitor suffices because you’ll barely notice any difference going beyond it.
You may also experience screen tearing if your monitor’s refresh rate exceeds your system’s capabilities (or vice versa). Screen tearing happens when your PC or console can’t deliver frames fast enough to keep up with your monitor. This causes horizontal lines to appear that make your screen look like it’s cracking. In this case, you’ll want to use variable refresh rate technology like AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync to eliminate tearing.
Who Would Need 240Hz and Higher?
The only people who might benefit from a 240Hz monitor or above are professional gamers who want as much of a competitive edge as they can get. It’s hard to beat the in-game responsiveness you can get with these monitors.
With such high frames, you might be able to react slightly faster to everything that’s happening in your game, making it feel more fluid. High refresh rate monitors above 165Hz will generally have less input lag, but unless you’re extremely attuned to it, the difference is so tiny after 120Hz that you likely won’t notice it at all. It’s just another small bonus competitive gamers might strive for.
What Should I Buy?
High-refresh monitors can get very expensive, especially in the 240Hz to 360Hz range. It’s extremely difficult to justify the cost of anything beyond 240Hz, however. Additionally, monitors with higher refresh rates only offer up to 1440p resolution, with most of them still at 1080p. This is one of the main disadvantages, as higher-resolution monitors in the 4K range typically have lower refresh rates.
If you value image quality over performance, you’ll want to get a monitor with higher resolutions, which will usually be 60-144Hz monitors. If you value performance over visuals, you’ll benefit more from a higher refresh rate monitor. Again, even if you prioritize performance, 120Hz will suffice for most people.
You might consider, though, a monitor that meets in the middle, such as the AOC CQ32G2S 32” Gaming Monitor. It’s a 165Hz gaming monitor with 2K resolution on a curved and frameless display. You’ll get amazing image quality with a good number of frames!