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60Hz vs 144Hz – Which Is Better For Gaming

by Jordan

Many of us think that a high-end graphics card is a complete solution to an effortless gaming experience.

It is one reason why people go crazy about the ridiculously expensive GPUs in the market.

But do you know what can make or break your gaming setup?

Well, the monitor. You cannot expect the best gaming experience from a random monitor from the market.

You have to consider a few factors like viewing angles, display brightness, input options, size, color coverage, and, most importantly, refresh rate. Refresh rate is one of those numbers that can affect your gaming experience. And most of the time, the competition is 60Hz vs 144Hz monitors.

In the following guide, we have analyzed the different things you should know about 60Hz and 144Hz display modules in the market.

Our primary objective is to find out which one is better for gaming. First, we will debunk the concept of refresh rate and how it can affect the gaming experience.

What is the Refresh Rate?

what is refresh rate

The refresh rate of a monitor is a number that denotes how often the image on the screen gets updated.

In other words, refresh rate refers to the frequency of the on-screen content updates. It is measured in Hz and is different from other factors like input lag, measured in milliseconds.

Suppose you have a monitor with a refresh rate of 60Hz. It means the display will update the content on the screen 60 times per second. On the other hand, if the monitor has a refresh rate of 144Hz, it means the display will update the on-screen content 144 times per second.

Because a monitor with a high refresh rate will include more frames in each second, the overall visual experience would become smoother. In theory, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the visual experience should be. But we will talk more about that in a minute.

Up until recently, 60Hz displays were the norm in the computing industry. Laptops, desktops, and all-in-one PCs had used display panels with a 60Hz refresh rate.

However, nowadays, you can find several display modules with higher refresh rates like 75Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz. Due to obvious reasons, most people tend to choose between 60Hz and 144Hz.

At the same time, we must keep in mind that many laptops ship with monitors having a refresh rate of 240Hz and 300Hz. We will talk about their efficacy and ultimate results in a few minutes.

It is also essential to know that high refresh rate displays are now available for smartphones as well. Famous brands have started including 90Hz and 120Hz displays in their gaming-focused or flagship devices.

However, in smartphone and mobile sectors, the primary use of a panel with a higher refresh rate is better gaming.

Why Does It Matter?

refresh rate on monitor

As we said earlier, a monitor with a high refresh rate will update the on-screen content more frequently than a monitor with a standard (60Hz) refresh rate.

Consequently, you can notice some differences in the gaming experience as well.

Note: To get the maximum results from a monitor with a higher refresh rate, you need two things. First, you need a CPU that can catch up with the frequency of content updates.

For instance, if you have a display with a 144Hz refresh rate but the CPU cannot handle data rendering and game physics at a competitive speed, you will not see any significant difference in the gameplay. Second, you need a powerful GPU with high speeds for graphics rendering.

The GPU must render graphics content according to the CPU and the update frequency that we mentioned above. If these things work as they are expected to, a monitor with a high refresh rate will matter a lot.

Higher FPS During Gameplay

In that case, the visuals on your computer display would become snappier. You can also enjoy a higher FPS during gameplay. As you may already know, a higher FPS is critical when it comes to online and offline games, including but not limited to PUBG, Devil May Cry 5, Overwatch, Battlefield, Apex Legends, Titanfall 2, CS: GO, etc.

It would be best to keep in mind that we have selected games with support for a 144Hz refresh rate. Some games do not support higher refresh rates like 144Hz; instead, they cap the refresh rate to 60Hz, which is a shame.

If the conditions are the best, you can get up to 144fps gameplay on your gaming system equipped with the right CPU, GPU, and high-refresh-rate gaming monitor. As we said, the experience would also depend upon the game you have chosen.

Similarly, things would be different depending on the resolution you want. For instance, playing a game at 144Hz refresh rate and 1080p Full HD resolution is relatively less resource-taking than playing the same game at 144Hz refresh rate but 4K UHD resolution.

Therefore, you have to consider these factors beforehand if you would like to see considerable differences while upgrading to a 144Hz display from a 60Hz display.

In short, a higher refresh rate matters because it can bring a snappier gaming experience when set up with the proper hardware like CPU and GPU.

Can You Actually See the Difference between 60Hz and 144Hz?

why is refresh rate matter

The short answer is Yes. You can see the difference between 60Hz and 144Hz displays.

The long answer is It Depends.

  • You must be playing one of the compatible games with support for a 144Hz refresh rate. You will see better performance if the game has been optimized for the GPU. As you may know, some games ship with advanced optimization for NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, especially in terms of anti-aliasing and frame drops. The same can be found for AMD GPUs as well.
  • The gaming system must have a CPU that can provide enough processing power. It must take care of game logic, game physics, data rendering, and other essential tasks. Depending on the size and vastness of the game, you may need some of the high-end processors. If we are talking about Intel processors, you may need an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor for a seamless gaming experience.
  • The gaming setup must also contain a GPU that can handle data rendering at the highest speed. In the ideal world, the GPU must be able to match the refresh speed with the FPS. If you have a 144Hz display, the FPS must be 144fps for the best results. In practice, however, anything higher than 60fps would perform better on a 144Hz display. But, as we said, the higher, the better.

If these conditions are taken care of, you can see the difference between 60Hz and 144Hz displays.

Let us consider the case of Overwatch, a popular, team-based multiplayer First-person Shooter game that was launched in 2016. The game, and its sequel, Overwatch 2, contain swift movements and actions from the players.

Even the delay of milliseconds can make or break your online gameplay. In these situations, having a higher refresh rate combined with higher FPS makes a considerable difference. The same is the case for the many online multiplayer games you can find in the market.

There are a few other games that can benefit from a high-refresh-rate monitor and competitive GPUs/CPUs. For example, we can consider The Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is a recent release.

In addition to 144Hz support, the game has been optimized for DLSS on GeForce RTX 2080 TI from NVIDIA. As a result, you can play this action-adventure title at 4K 144Hz quality without any problem. Experts also predict that the DLSS updates from NVIDIA can make 4K 144Hz gaming a reality for more people in the future.

Who Needs to Care about Refresh Rates?

Here are the few people who can benefit from a monitor with a higher refresh rate, especially 144Hz.

  • An enthusiast gamer who wants to get the best gaming experience from a compatible title should care about refresh rates. When competitive GPUs and CPUs power the system, an upgrade to a monitor with a 144Hz display will be worth the investment. Even though there are 240Hz displays in the market, they are pretty costly and may require compromises in terms of resolution. Therefore, upgrading to a 144Hz monitor seems the best decision. You can step up the hardware according to these needs as well.
  • On the contrary to popular opinion, a high-refresh-rate monitor can help you with non-gaming tasks as well. Many devices, including the Apple iPad Pro and other smartphones, have shown us the great benefits of having a higher-refresh-rate screen. The same would apply to Windows PCs as well. You would see that the overall navigation experience across the OS would improve when you connect the system to a high-refresh-rate monitor. We must warn you that it is quite addictive; you would not want to go back.
  • Last but not least, those who are into Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality should care about refresh rates. You need the snappiest experience when you connect a VR/AR/MR headset to the computer, you know. But, again, the display upgrade is useless if your CPU/GPU cannot keep up with the performance requirement. Anyway, a better refresh rate will help you to test and deploy the best VR solutions.

In addition to these, anyone who could benefit from a snappier PC experience should go for a monitor with a higher refresh rate. You need to ensure that the system can catch up with your requirements.

Is Buying a New Monitor Enough for an Upgrade?

new monitor for gaming

No, a new monitor is not enough for a gaming experience upgrade.

As we said, your gaming setup must render the game at high FPS if you want the best experience from the 144Hz display.

Ideally, the CPU-GPU combination should render the game at 140fps, but that is a little too utopian. Therefore, you should aim for an FPS of higher than 120fps or 100fps. Only then can you tell the difference between a 60Hz display and your new 144Hz.

Therefore, if the existing hardware cannot render the game at higher fps, you must upgrade the GPU and CPU. The best way to do this is to look at the popular gaming builds among the community.

You will be able to find a combination that suits your requirements and the budget. Of course, you can customize these builds as you please. You should also see which of these builds can support the games you want to play.

And, before you finalize on something, you should see if the game you want to play supports high-refresh-rate gameplay at the desired resolution. Otherwise, you may have to alter the gaming setup.

As we said in the introduction, you should consider a high-refresh-rate monitor as a complementary factor instead of a one-stop solution for better gaming.

What About 240Hz?

compared with 240 hz

We mentioned that you could get monitors with a 240Hz refresh rate as well.

In theory, you would have better gaming experiences as you increase the refresh rate of the monitor. However, there are a few problems in a real-world scenario.

  • To take the refresh rate to 240Hz, you may have to compromise the resolution. For instance, getting a 4K panel with a 240Hz refresh rate can be an expensive affair. Otherwise, you may have to spend more than $1500, which is not cheap by any means.
  • More importantly, it is difficult to tell the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz unless you have some particular games/needs. You cannot tell the difference when playing popular games, including the ones we have mentioned earlier. So, it is an upgrade you must think a lot about.
  • Compatibility is another point you need to consider before buying a 240Hz display. There is no point in upgrading if the OS/Game does not support a 240Hz refresh rate, you know. It is also worth noting that a  240Hz display will consume a lot of power, translating to a high battery drain in laptops.

Despite all these problems, you should try getting a 240Hz gaming monitor for your setup if you are looking for the best in the world. We hope this helps.

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