The refresh rate is significant for gaming. However, there is a point of diminishing returns when it stops making as much sense. Also, the higher the refresh rate, the more powerful your PC needs to be.
The primary difference between all the refresh rates is how smooth your game can be when taking advantage of the full refresh rate. However, you need a PC that can match the refresh rate in FPS.
Now we will talk about more of the advantages of higher refresh rate monitors and when it stops making sense to upgrade.
60hz vs. 100hz vs. 144hz vs. 240hz Monitors
The refresh rate is how many frames your monitor is capable of showing in a single second. Often, this is represented in terms of a number followed by Hz or hertz.
The higher your refresh rate, the more image changes your monitor can display in a single second. However, it’s still up to your PC and, most specifically, your GPU to deliver those frames to the monitor.
When the image updates more frequently, more of the smaller movement changes are registered that may have been skipped before.
Also, the display lag decreases since the time between frames being shown are significantly decreased as you scale up from a low refresh rate like 60 to a higher one such as 144hz.
This also means that people in competitive games like CSGO or any other title may appear on your screen sooner, giving you more time to react.
Overall, it’s essential to get a higher refresh rate monitor if you plan on playing competitive multiplayer games.
If you are only playing single-player, story-driven titles, I would recommend sticking with your trusty 60hz monitor.
144hz monitors may not be all that more expensive these days, but at max graphical settings in single-player games, you are less likely to come anywhere near 144 FPS.
You can also use the extra money you save on getting 60hz and reinvest it into 1440p or a better monitor panel that provides better visual quality.
After all, that is the much more important and impacting feature when playing single-player games since you don’t quite need all the speed advantages of competitive players.
The jump from 60hz to 144hz is described as one of the most legendary advancements a PC gamer can make because of how much better games feel with it.
The display lag goes from 16.67 milliseconds between frames with 60-hertz to 6.94 milliseconds between frames with 144-hertz.
You can very easily calculate this yourself for any refresh rate by using this simple formula.
1 / Refresh Rate = Time Between Frames
This means that not only are you seeing more updates to the picture every second, but you see every change about 10ms faster than someone with a 60hz monitor.
This also helps us understand why the difference between 144-hertz and 240-hertz isn’t as noticeable.
Since 144-hertz is 6.94ms between every frame, then 240-hertz would be 4.16ms between every frame, which is a noticeable difference, but it wouldn’t be nearly as prominent as the previous upgrade.
This is also why you only really need 144-hertz to see the most significant difference, and anything more, although it does make a slight difference, won’t be as noticeable.
The only refresh rate left that we haven’t discussed is 100hz, which weighs in at ten milliseconds between every frame.
I have a 100hz monitor, and it does indeed feel much smoother than 60hz when I’m able to achieve it.
However, since I have an ultrawide that runs a 1440p resolution, I can rarely reach 100 FPS in most newer games at the higher graphical settings I prefer.
I believe it could be the perfect resolution for casual multiplayer gamers and even single-player gamers.
If you have a regular 1440p or especially if you have a 1080p resolution, this wouldn’t be very difficult of an FPS to reach to get a much smoother feeling game.
They also tend to be cheaper than 144-hertz monitors, so you can save some money to reinvest in the monitor or save for a rainy day.
Whenever I can get a newer single-player title to reach 100 FPS, it feels much better than 60hz, and the game looks much better.
Now, we will break down each refresh rate deeper and try to shed some light on some of the more popular or trending new refresh rates available.
Are 60hz Monitors Good For Gaming?
60hz monitors can be perfect for certain types of gaming, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you are serious about competitive gaming.
60hz monitors can provide an experience that is plenty smooth for single-player games or simulation/strategy games that don’t require much in terms of reaction time.
They can also be pretty useful for racing games, although even those can benefit more from a higher refresh rate.
60hz monitors are without a doubt the best budget choice as well. Since we have refresh rates spanning up to 360hz, which no-one needs, it has made 60hz monitors extremely cheap these days.
With some models even being as low as under $100! So if you are on a budget, I recommend looking for an IPS, 60hz monitor that is 1080p.
You can easily reach 60 FPS in a 1080p resolution, and with some visual tweaking, it wouldn’t be hard if you had older PC parts.
You can get good-looking visual quality for gaming, and since movies are filmed in 24 FPS and often shown at 60hz, you will have no problems watching movies on these monitors.
I do recommend IPS because it has better viewing angles and color quality. Meaning you can get more accurate colors from any angle of the monitor, which is unique to the IPS panel type.
TN panels are the worst for color quality and viewing angles, but they are the cheapest. You can read the full comparison of all the different panel types in our IPS vs. VA vs. TN article.
Are 144-hertz Monitors Worth It?
There is no secret that 144-hertz monitors are fantastic for gaming and likely the best overall refresh rate for all gamers.
However, with the price hike you get from 60 to 144-hertz, it is a fair question to ask if you need it.
With that being said, 144-hertz is fantastic and most definitely worth it if you aren’t on a budget and want the best feeling monitor.
As we mentioned earlier, this is most definitely one of the BEST upgrades you can make to your PC setup.
Games become much smoother, but only if you have a PC that can reach 144 FPS.
If the PC you are currently using is incapable of running at 144 FPS, it may be a good idea to hold off on a 144-hertz monitor.
You could, of course, get a 144-hertz monitor and gradually build your PC to max out your monitor, but if you are on a budget, I would recommend going with 60-hertz and investing in better parts until your PC is powerful enough.
To see the visual differences in 60hz and 144hz, watch this video that demonstrates the advantages in multiplayer games very well.
If you are a competitive gamer, this is a MUST HAVE item. The faster you can see your opponents in games means you can react even quicker.
It may take some time to adjust to this much smoother FPS, but many studies by component manufacturers have shown higher refresh rate monitors increase win rates.
As far as movie watching, that won’t be much better on these monitors since movies are filmed at 24 FPS.
This is likely for the best, though, as many movies filmed at 60 FPS or greater can feel almost too smooth for comfort.
Wrapping this section up, if you are a competitive gamer with a PC that can reach 144 FPS and you don’t have any budget restrictions, I would recommend getting a 144-hertz monitor.
However, if you are a gamer on a budget, I would recommend going for a 60-hertz monitor until your computer can achieve 144 FPS or have plenty of extra money to throw at a better monitor.
Are 240-hertz Monitors Worth It?
Now we are starting to get to the point of diminishing returns.
240-hertz monitors aren’t going to feel much difference in performance, but they will feel much different in price.
You can currently get 144-hertz monitors for $200 cheaper than 240-hertz monitors and you may even be able to get better visual quality or extra features such as low motion blur, adjustable stands, and FreeSync.
Also, even at 1080p, you are highly unlikely to reach this FPS unless you have an insane PC and are playing games at lower graphical quality.
If that is the case, you can feel free to get a 240-hertz monitor, but know that if you currently have a 144-hertz monitor, it won’t feel all that much different.
Since the time between frames is only changing by around two milliseconds, as opposed to the ten milliseconds change you get from 60 to 144 hertz, the difference in how smooth the game feels isn’t as apparent.
If you are a high-level competitive gamer with an unlimited build budget, that is the only situation I see making sense for you to buy a 240-hertz monitor; otherwise, it is overkill.
Are 360-hertz Monitors Worth It?
If only the best of the best could reach 240 FPS, you need a NASA level computer to get 360 FPS in any game.
Not to mention, if you can get this in games like CSGO or any other well-optimized, low intensive game it is likely the graphical quality will be relatively low.
If you are looking for a monitor that will last you for the very distant future, you have that with 360-hertz monitors.
There would be no higher refresh rate you would reasonably need, and any PC upgrade you make will be taken full advantage of by this refresh rate.
There aren’t any drawbacks to overbuying when it comes to refresh rate other than price.
Having a monitor with a very high ceiling may even be good since you will never need V-sync on, nor will you experience screen tearing.
Screen tearing happens when you exceed your monitor’s maximum refresh rate, which won’t be a problem for these monitors.
V-sync is only needed when you exceed your monitor’s maximum refresh rate, and once turned on, it will increase input lag. Luckily, that isn’t a problem with 360-hertz monitors right now.
Lastly, in the past, high-speed refresh rate monitors were exclusively TN panels with low color quality, but now many of them seem to run Fast IPS technology so that you can have it all.
You should check for this before you buy an expensive 360-hertz monitor, though. The last thing you want is a $700 monitor with inferior color or visual quality.
There aren’t any 1440p or 4k options available for 360-hertz at the moment, so that could also be counted as a drawback for this technology.
Resolution typically makes the images look a lot better and sharper as you get higher in resolution because more pixels are on-screen.
The problem is that with more pixels, your GPU has more work to do, which would make it even more impossible to reach even 240 FPS at 1440p.
With all that being said, this is the ultimate buy for anyone that doesn’t want to buy another monitor for a long time and has the money to shell out.
IMPORTANT: What Refresh Rate Does HDMI Support?
If you are using an HDMI 1.4, your HDMI can display a max refresh rate, which varies depending on the resolution.
These are the refresh rates for each resolution on HDMI 1.4 cables:
These are the refresh rates for each resolution on HDMI 2.0 Cables:
These are the refresh rates for each resolution for Displayport 1.4:
Double-check the ports on the monitor you decide to buy and check the item details to see what cables you get with the monitor.
I’ve seen tons of people leave negative reviews or return products because they couldn’t get the advertised refresh rate when needed to use the correct cable.
Refresh Rate Vs. Response Time
I can completely understand the confusion on any PC terms because there are so many of them.
With that being said, refresh rate and response time are two measurements and features many companies brag about on the sales page, but they are quite different from each other.
The refresh rate is the number of frames that a monitor can display in a single second.
The response time is the number of seconds it takes a monitor to change from one color to another.
Both of these are very important to the visual quality while gaming, which is why they are so often displayed on the sales page.
If you have a higher response time that is bad. Higher response times mean it takes longer for colors to change, leading to an effect known as ghosting.
Ghosting is like a dark trail of color that follows around moving objects in a game or movie. It’s not the game; in most cases, it is the monitor.
This is why you typically shop for a monitor with lower response times, such as 3ms or lower, with 1ms being the best.
You can also do 5ms for gaming, and if you want to read more about this, we have an article covering what response time is good for gaming?
With refresh rate, it is the opposite. You want a higher refresh rate to get a much better experience.
The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the game will be, permitting your PC can match the refresh rate in FPS.
Or, in the case of 240-hertz and 360-hertz monitors, if you can reach even 144-hertz, the game will look and feel much better than 60hz.
Refresh Rate Vs. FPS
This is another measurement new PC gamers can confuse, which is perfectly understandable since they are often used in the same sentence when talking about monitors.
The refresh rate is how many frames your monitor can display in a single second.
FPS stands for frames per second and measures how many frames your PC or graphics card can output in a single second.
One refresh rate is equal to one FPS. So when buying a monitor, you want to buy a refresh rate you know you can achieve the FPS equivalent of in your favorite games.
The refresh rate is typically a fixed value that a monitor is built to run consistently. Whereas with FPS, it is always changing while playing a game and is dependent on how strong your PC is.
FPS lowers during very graphics intensive scenes in a game and typically rises in very simplistic scenes.
Call Of Duty Cold War has given me the perfect example of this recently because I get super high FPS while playing on the Desert map since there isn’t much to the map.
However, when I play on maps such as Miami, my FPS can get much lower, especially when there are several effects like fire, explosions, etc., happening near me.
Another good demonstration of this is CSGO vs. Battlefield. CSGO, when using lower settings, is a straightforward game you can reach 240 FPS on at 1080p reasonably easily.
But even with lower settings on Battlefield 1, you will be hard-pressed to reach anywhere near what you can get on CSGO.
CSGO is a much simpler game in terms of graphics, whereas Battlefield has tons of detail to its maps and environment.
FPS also varies from PC to PC based on what components you are using in your build. When I upgraded my GPU from a 1070ti to a 2070 super, I saw a massive leap in my FPS.
This is because more powerful components will be better equipped to run games and make it possible for your PC to output more frames every second.
What Is Variable Refresh Rate?
The variable refresh rate is a technology that will match the refresh rate of your monitor to the FPS in-game.
The benefit of this is you can remove screen tearing without having the many issues that might happen when V-sync is enabled.
The most annoying issue for gamers is that the game will stutter if the GPU can’t deliver a frame in time.
This is why variable refresh rate technology was created to always match your FPS refresh rate to avoid this very disruptive and frustrating issue.
To use Variable Refresh Rate technology, you need to be using a DisplayPort connection, not an HDMI. This technology relies on the VESA technology-supported DisplayPort cables.
This technology also has to be built into your monitor, and if it is, there will be a unique identifier for what type of VRR is being used.
Currently, two types of VRR are for each type of graphics card manufacturer. There are G-sync and FreeSync.
FreeSync is the AMD Radeon version of variable refresh rate that only worked with AMD graphics cards in the past.
You will see many more monitors using FreeSync over G-Sync, and typically they will even be cheaper. If you are using an AMD graphics card, this is a great feature to have.
Even if you aren’t, keep reading for more information on some FreeSync monitors that support G-Sync and can be used with NVIDIA graphics cards.
G-Sync is the other type of VRR that also originally was only for NVIDIA graphics cards.
Now, FreeSync will still work with AMD graphics cards, but now it will also work on other NVIDIA compatible monitors.
As of 2019, NVIDIA has begun certifying specific FreeSync monitors as compatible with G-Sync, so you can use the VRR technology on those monitors if you are using a compatible NVIDIA card.
For the full list of compatible G-Sync monitors, read the list on NVIDIA’s website.
Whichever refresh rate you choose, make sure it makes sense for your budget, PC, and the games you intend to play.
Many casual gamers will only need a 60hz monitor, and anything more is nice to have but may not be necessary.
If you are more of a competitive gamer, I would recommend going for a 144-hertz monitor because they give you a competitive edge without overspending.
Anything past 144-hertz is entirely up to you and whether or not you need the very high refresh rate. If you have a ton of money, go for it, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are on a budget.
The higher you go with your refresh rate, the smoother the game will feel and the quicker you can react in games where every frame counts.
NVIDIA has done a study that shows higher refresh rates leads to more wins, and I would believe based on the refresh rate jumps I’ve made.
Every time I have increased my refresh rate thus far has been worthwhile because it feels tremendous to play something so smooth.
But every time I’ve increased my refresh rate, I also had to upgrade my PC, so keep in mind your average FPS needs to match the refresh rate!
If you can, try to get a variable refresh rate on your monitor and make sure it’s compatible with your GPU.
VRR is a fantastic alternative to V-sync that doesn’t struggle with the constant stutters that some can experience with V-sync.
Enjoy your new monitor, and happy shopping!