When buying a monitor, you may come across the term screen refresh rate. What is it about and how does it affect the user experience? First of all, a short definition of this term follows. The screen refresh rate is how many times the screen can “refresh” an image in one second. By refresh, we mean how quickly the screen “renders” images without the human eye detecting the process.
The standard and most common maximum refresh rate of LCD monitors we see today is 60Hz (hertz). This means that the screen displays the image 60 times every second. The refresh rate should by no means be confused with the term FPS – the number of frames per second because that term is related to how much individual frames in one second your graphics card can “knock out”. These two concepts, however, are closely related when it comes to PCs. A lower refresh rate number means that the user will notice a flicker. More precisely, they will notice that the images are plotted on the screen. This means that the refresh rate should always be kept at the maximum value supported by the monitor.
There are monitors today that have a maximum refresh rate higher than the usual 60Hz, so we have models with refresh rates of 120 or even 144Hz. Do these values make any sense at all, are these monitors better than standard 60Hz monitors? In short – they are. You will notice the biggest jump in the refresh rate in games, though the difference is noticeable even as you scroll a web page or move a window around the screen. Games will simply have less image blurring and less flicker, while normal desktop usage will appear much smoother.
Advantages of Screen Refresh Rate in Games
Is there any other advantage of a screen higher refresh rate? In fact – there is. If you monitor performance in games, you will notice the value of FPS they possess. With a good graphics card and a good processor, this value will often be “nailed down” to 60 FPS for games that are not extremely graphically demanding. In video game settings, you can turn off the V-Sync option and get a figure higher than 60 FPS, but with a monitor whose maximum refresh rate is 60Hz, it will still draw 60 frames per second, so the difference will not be too visible.
With a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, switching off the V-Sync options makes sense, as they plot 120 or 144 frames per second, so if you have a performance higher than 60 FPS, you may notice a difference in smoothness. However, how obvious this will be is a subjective notion. To some, 60 FPS it will be quite smooth, while others will notice the difference. It should also be noted that for more than 60 FPS, newer games require a fairly strong configuration. So if you want to make the most of a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, it will also be one of the limiting factors.