The term refresh rate is spewn across laptops, TVs, gaming monitors, mobile devices; basically
anything with a screen. But what does it actually mean? What does the refresh rate of a screen
actually measure of? Is higher actually better?
In today’s article, we are going to talk all things Refresh Rate. We are going to discuss what
it is and how does it matter depending on what device you use and, why.
Let us start at the beginning
What is Refresh Rate?
Refresh rate, as the name implies, is the number of times a screen refreshes in order to display
the same image. In more simple terms, when you are displaying a single image on the screen,
your screen does not illuminate a few pixels and stay that way.
It constantly turns off the pixels and puts them back again very fast (therefore un-noticeable by
the naked eye). This rapid succession of changing of pixels on a screen for the same image in
every second is known as the refresh rate of the screen.
Measured in Herts (denoted by Hz), Refresh rate of a screen gives you a broad idea on the
screen’s capacity of handling content. More precisely, the quality of the content. Higher the
refresh rate, better is the capability of the screen.
Standard refresh rates of monitors today is about 60 Hz but you can easily find high definition
monitors with higher refresh rate as well. But Refresh Rate is not the only thing that dominates
the screen’s quality.
Frames Per Second (FPS) and Refresh Rate
One of the most confused about things when it comes to monitors is the difference between
Frames Per Second (FPS) and the Refresh Rate. Often than not, people think that both are the
same things. But in reality, they are not.
FPS is defined as the name spells out, the number of total frames can be shown in a single
second. FPS refers to the content quality more than it has to do with the screen or the display it
is being projected on to.
The refresh rate, on the other hand, refers to the quality of the display and more about its ability
to display content. Refresh Rate and FPS go hand in hand and often complement each other to
optimize the overall picture quality.
To put things in a clear picture, consider this. A video is first produced (animated, built or shot)
in a certain device. The output is defined with respect to its production frame quality. Let us say
that a video is shot in 60 FPS, then the device it is being played on, should have a refresh rate,
to suit this quality, this means, 60 Hz.
Here, you need to understand that higher refresh rates do not guarantee higher video quality if
the FPS of the original content is low. This is exactly why an old movie, even in HD quality, does
not look like its shot yesterday. Content can only be reproduced to its original production quality
to an extent and not further.
Refresh Rates of Gaming Monitors
Now that we have understood the concept of refresh rates, let us look at the impact of refresh
rates on individually different types of monitors starting with the obvious, the Gaming Monitor.
While there are monitors specifically built for gaming, you can use a wide range of monitors if
their given specs are good enough or the specific game that you want to play.
More and more gaming monitors are coming out with a refresh rate as their top priority and their
best selling proposition. Modern-day high powered gaming monitors even have as high as a 240
Hz refresh rate gaming monitor which, is usually professional and competitive grade.
In gaming, it is particularly important to have a higher refresh rate because of two things.
1. Video is constantly and dynamically produced in real-time. This means that the monitor
should have a high graphics rate to deal with the higher FPS quality of the content being
2. The second most important thing to consider is that gaming has a real-time response
content. The gaming monitor also needs to be responsive and refreshes the screen fast
enough not just to suit the content but also the user’s intent. This means that the screen
needs to move faster than your thought is put into action.
To help us understand this, we are going to take in an example and explore it.
For high definition RPG battle royale games such as PubG, Fortnite or call of duty, the screen
transition is fast and is in real-time. Your computer’s screen needs to move about as fast as it
can to keep up with the ever-changing graphics in real-time.
A meagre 40 Hz screen may not cut it and if the game is too much of a high definition (like Red
Dead Redemption 2, Crysis 3 or GTA V), a meagre 60 Hz screen may not be enough. You
would have to get a higher refresh rate screen if you were to be going expect a tear-free and
lag-free FPS complementing the flow.
The same goes for racing or high FPS demanding games such as Asphalt or other games with
no real-time changes but demand high graphics.
Refresh Rate of Video Streaming and regular usage
When it comes to video streaming, it all boils down to the highest video quality you are going to
burden your screen with. For content with higher FPS production or content shot on 4K or even
8K Resolution (not common but slowly picking up), obviously, a meagre 60 Hz screen refresh
rate is not gonna cut it out. 120 Hz, 144 Hz, the choices go up and above.
Which choice of a monitor should I go for?
It is easy to say that this is a personal choice but it is really to say that it is going to come down
to what exactly are you going to use this for. Depending on this, you can fit in either of the
1. Get a simple 60 Hz or maybe even 75 Hz monitor if you are more of a TV+ Streaming
person. The simple 75 Hz push might be good with some basic gaming as well.
2. 120 Hz to 144 Hz for simple gaming and to suit high definition TV and streaming
3. 180 Hz to 240 Hz, serious gaming and maybe TV + OTT Streaming as a side dish.
Wrapping it up
Of course, it goes without saying that a monitor can be a personal choice and you HAVE to take
other points into considerations such as the Resolution, RAM available, the processing chipset
and multiple other factors, such as the brand too.
While that was our take, what do you think? Can Refresh rate really cut a difference or is it just
another vanity metric used to sell more screens? Got any burning questions about screens,
monitors or displays? Shoot them to us in the comments section below and our team will write
back to you soon.