What is a monitor’s refresh rate and how to change it?

By ivan.diskin | August 3, 2018 |

greater than 9 minutes

“Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles,

discouragements, and impossibilities:

It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

– Thomas Carlyle

You know, there’s a certain Beauty to consoles. A single box you buy, you plug it into any TV and play games. Even as members of the PC master-race, we have to acknowledge that this idea is attractive.

However, PC gamers also know the weaknesses of the console experience; the simplicity of an Xbox or PlayStation goes hand-in-hand with insufficient options to customize your gaming experience. On PC, there are a million and one ways to do just that. From the actual components of your gaming machine to the peripherals you use to interact with it – mice, keyboard, headsets, monitors. They can all drastically change how it feels to play games. This article will focus on one specific aspect of the gaming experience and how changing it can change everything!

Refresh Rates

Let’s start with refresh rate. Let’s talk about why you might want a 60 or 120 or 144 or 240 Hertz monitor, what graphics card you might need to power them, and at the end of the day, whether all this make that much difference from a console. Now before getting too deep, let’s quickly talk about what monitor refresh rate is.

The refresh rate is how many times per second your display can refresh the on-screen image measured in Hertz. This is different from frames per second, which refers to how fast your GPU can output images to the display. So, your GPU might be making 100 frames every second, but if your display only has 60 Hertz for refresh rate, it will only show 60 of the images or as close as it can to that per second.

Now, one thing that can happen in that scenario is screen tearing

The monitor tries to show two frames at once and ends up showing part of both. One solution to screen tearing is V-sync. It locks the frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor but that can lead to input lag; a delay between when you press a button and when its intended action shows up on screen. So, you end up choosing either tearing or lag.

AMD and NVIDIA solve this problem with their own variable refresh rate technologies. AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync dynamically changed the monitors refresh rate to match up with the frames coming from the GPU, ensuring you don’t get tearing or significant input lag. The catch is, you need a monitor compatible with either FreeSync or G-sync to take advantage of this. There aren’t really any monitors out there that can do both. FreeSync and G-sync also usually have a range of FPS values they work within on a given monitor. Keep in mind that the higher your FPS and refresh rate is, the less noticeable tearing will be

You may get tearing with an FPS of 200 on a 144 Hertz monitor. However, it might be so minimal and will not be an issue.

Next, let’s talk about gaming scenarios in which high refresh rates would be the most useful

Obviously, the higher your FPS, the better. However, not everyone has the budget or the need to go all out on a GTX 1080 TI and a 240 Hertz monitor. High refresh rates are the most useful for fast-paced games with a lot of rapid view switching like first-person shooters, third-person action games, and racing games. Games with slow or largely unchanging viewpoints like MOBAs, strategy games, or slower narrative-driven games won’t benefit as much from frame rates higher than 60fps. That is not saying playing DOTA 2 won’t be better at 240 Hertz. This means you’ll notice less of a change and will receive less of a benefit to your actual gameplay than if you were playing Counter-Strike or Overwatch. Simply put, it’s important to pick a graphics card and monitor that best suits your needs. If you have a set budget, you should get the best product you can within that budget. However, if you’re running a lower end gaming card like a GTX 1050, you’re not going to make anywhere close to full use of a 240 Hertz monitor. Therefore, you might as well save some money and not set your budget around that high-end part while you still have that low-end part you’re working with. Likewise, a super powerful GPU like a 1080 TI may not actually give you any real benefit FPS – wise, if your 60 Hertz monitor is incapable of taking advantage of that power. You might even get screen tearing that can make your gaming experience worse.

Recommendation for getting a good monitor.

Now with that being said, let’s talk about specific recommendations for monitors and what graphics cards you may want to pair with them. Say you’re an FPS junkie, you’ll probably be best served with a 120 or 144 Hertz monitor and anything from an RX 580 or GTX 1070 and up, assuming we’re talking about 1080p in high settings. Monitors with 240 Hertz exist, but as refresh rates get higher, the increase in smoothness gets less noticeable. In a subjective test of whether people could tell the difference between 144 Hertz and 240 Hertz about a quarter of test subjects correctly identified the 240 Hertz monitor. So, if you want even more of an edge over competitors than 144 Hertz monitors can provide, consider a 240 Hertz display. Additionally, you likely won’t even experience tearing even without G-sync unless your frame rate goes over 240 Hertz.

Now, if you don’t play many FPS games, the advantages of a 144 or 240 Hertz monitor are diminished

They may improve your gaming experience and they probably will. However, if you’re playing games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, StarCraft, or even slower third-person narrative-driven games, 120 or even 60 Hertz monitors may just do you fine. MOBAs and RTS games can usually run on pretty modest hardware and some FPS games like Overwatch in CSGO can, too. So, you’d be alright with a Radeon 560 GTX 1050 or even Integrated graphics depending on your CPU and how low of a frame rate you’re willing to accept.

This article puts together some information that will help you out by giving you all the lowdown on the different frame rates; whether it matters and ultimately tell you everything you need to know.

The first thing is that 30 FPS has nothing wrong with it. It’s the benchmark standard for any game. As long as it has a minimum frame rate of 30 frames a second, everything can be nice and smooth. While it’s not going to be as nice to some people as 60 or higher, realistically, many people don’t mind. As long as the frame pacing is good, which means 30 frames a second are delivered consistently, you can get a nice and smooth experience. If you’re using a controller, there isn’t that much of a problem with 30 frames a second. If you prefer 60, that’s fine. However, if you’re playing on consoles, they don’t always have the power to change settings and as such, 30 frames a second can be fine. Sixty frames a second is much better though if you are playing them on a PC where you actually have control over all the settings and of course their hardware. Many people prefer this just because it feels and looks a lot smoother. You don’t have to rely on things like motion blur to sort of disguise the fact that the frame rate is low. Ultimately, it just makes the game more responsive and that’s the main difference between the two. These days though, many people are reaching for a 120 or 144 Hertz monitor. Interestingly, these actually only came in because of 3D. This meant that people could play games like MOBA, FPS and just anything at a higher frame rate, and benefit from an even smoother and more responsive game.

There isn’t that much difference visually between 60 and 120. It can be seen, no doubt. However, it’s not about that. It is about the way the game feels. A common misconception in forums is about how many frames a second the eye can see. If you have a faster frame rate, good peripherals and a low-level input lag on your monitor, then you are genuinely going to feel a difference between 60 and 120. Anything over 100 frames a second is comfortable and genuinely “hand on heart” does make you a better player. You are going to need other things,including a decent set of skills.

The new thing that’s trending is the 240 Hertz monitor. It’s a lot more expensive. It is questionable whether a 240-hertz monitor is worth it at all to anybody. There will be people immediately writing in forums about how it has been proven there is a noticeable difference and it can make you a better player. Agreed! Some people may actually see and feel an improvement between 120, 144, and 240. The argument is simply that, at the moment, it’s so difficult to notice the difference. If you’re paying a lot of money for one of these high-end monitors and they’re going to be TN panels, it is not worth it unless you’re only into eSports.

Frame rate matters a lot, but people get a little bit confused because it’s not all about frame rate, it’s about smoothness and responsiveness, too. Ultimately, these two things, while related, are not the same.Look at the console market, for instance, if you want a higher frame rate in your games, then certain games will give you the sliders. It will give you the option between a higher frame rate or higher visual fidelity. However, take Horizon Zero Dawn, for instance. What you can do is pick the option that gives you a higher frame rate but it didn’t feel smoother. Why would that be? Well, because the frame rate didn’t immediately jump up to 60 with a decent frame pacing. The way it all works without getting too technical is that if you have a 60 Hertz screen e.g. a TV, then if you display a 30 frames per second game on it because 30 goes into 60, it means everything is nice, smooth, and consistent. If you start pumping in a 42 frames per second signal, while the frame rate is higher and in theory it’s smoother, the pacing is off a little bit and sometimes you’ll get jutted frames, a bit of stutter, a bit tearing and ultimately, most of the time it doesn’t actually feel that smooth.

Over on the PC side of things, there is something called FreeSync and G-sync or adaptive tech that will actually alter your monitor’s frame rate in relation to your game. This can increase the responsiveness and reduce stutter and tear in your game. If you get a new game, try to get a minimum of 60 FPS, so it ‘s always above 60 frames a second. This ensures you don’t get any stutter because that won’t be smooth. It doesn’t matter if you are getting between 55 and 70 frames per second. As soon as you drop below 60, you’ll get stutter.

So, the thing to take away from this article is the frame rate does make a big difference and if you want the smoothest experience, then look at getting a 120 or 144 Hertz monitor. If you want something that mixes visual fidelity with smoothness, you can get monitors that have a 100 Hertz refresh rate and are ultra wide. That’s the sweet spot for a lot of people, but if you want the best visual fidelity, grab a 4k screen. A 60 Hertz monitor is fine but, make sure it’s got FreeSync or V-sync and you’ve got an appropriate graphics card that can power it. Because this way, while the frame rate will be lower, you will still be getting a smooth experience. If you’re a console user, pick up a PS4 Pro or an Xbox One X. If you want flexibility, just stick with 30 FPS, which as long as the game is coded properly, should run smoothly.

How to set Refresh rate in Windows 10

Now, we are going to show you how to set a different screen refresh rate in Windows 10. Use the following steps:

  • Right-click on the Desktop and click Display Settings from the drop-down menu.
  • In the next window, go to the Display tab on the left panel and click Advanced display settings.
  • Now, click Display adapter properties for the display which you want to change its settings.
  • In the next dialog box, navigate to the Monitor tab and select the refresh rate you desire.
  • Click Apply and OK to confirm the changes you made.

To get the best out of your Monitor, you need to have up-to-date drivers of all your devices, especially the monitor and graphics card. An easy way to do this is by using Auslogics Driver Updater. This tool is capable of updating all your drivers in just one click. It scans your computer for drivers that need to be updated and installs the latest manufacturer-recommended versions. It is fast and simple to use, and you do not need to worry about driver incompatibility.

We hope this article has provided you information on refresh rates and how you can change a monitor’s refresh rate. Share it with others in need of such info.

We appreciate your ideas and comments and we are ready to answer all your questions regarding the above topic.

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