A display unit or a monitor is a quintessential hardware requirement for competitive gaming. But the search for a perfect monitor is clouded by an outrageous number of technical jargon such as refresh rate, response time, Panel tech like TN, IPS, etc.
Different manufacturers varied different technical specs that tend to (often intentionally) create a lot of queries for consumers and prosumers alike.
New users can be easily confused and prompted to buy a piece of equipment not necessarily needed by them.
Experienced buyers too can have a hard time if they go shopping without sound research. A monitor serves the sole purpose of providing the output of your CPU and GPU.
Displays these days feature resolutions of up to 4k but the primary specifications used for promotions are its refresh rates. Is it better to go for the highest refresh rate available in the market?
High refresh rates are required for specific purposes more commonly to complement your CPU and GPU capabilities. The latest generation GPU like RTX 2080 can churn out 145 frames per second in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, while GTX 1080 produces only 85 frames.
The choice of refresh rate will depend on the capability of your GPU to produce frames. But in case it can, you need a monitor that can display the frames your GPU can churn.
What is the Refresh Rate?
Buyers often consider the ‘Hz’ in display units as a major performance spec, which it is. The refresh rate is a self-explanatory term, that represents the number of times a monitor can refresh to display a new image/frame per second.
Technically, the refresh rate of a monitor is related to its frame rates. For example, a 120 Hz refresh rate monitor can technically display a maximum of 120 frames per second. The impact of refresh rate can be noticed when playing games producing high frame rates.
Many still confuse refresh rate with frame rates. They both are different but converge during performance testing. A refresh rate is the capability of your monitor while the frame rate is the capability of your graphics card and software using it. The thumb rule is to buy a higher frequency (Hz) monitor than the frame produced by your graphics card.
Higher frames than refresh rate can cause image flickering during the gameplay. It is caused by the inability of the monitor to display all the images rendered by your graphics card. In case this happens even after your careful calculations, it is advised to limit the fps of the game.
What is the Best Refresh Rate For Gaming?
A 144Hz display can be the best choice if you want a gaming display under or around $500 that can deliver a sufficiently competitive gaming experience. In case you want to open the doors to esports and no-bar competition, you need a 240 Hz display and just as much budget to make sure it works out accordingly.
While there is no one size fits all when it comes to refresh rate for gaming, it would depend on how you want to enjoy and experience the games, even more so on the genre of games. First-person shooters games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty: Warzone, or even Valorant will require a higher Hz display to render all the images in time and deliver the necessary competitive edge.
However, a 144Hz display can deliver the gaming performance you want to complement your fps shooting skills. The budget comes into the question if you want the refresh rates and 2k resolutions. Instead, you can get a 144 Hz display delivering above 1080p resolutions for around $300.
While a higher refresh rate will display more frames per second without stuttering, you will have to consider other variables such as picture quality, brightness, and resolutions to an immersive gaming experience. A high refresh rate monitor does have an edge over motion blur as well.
Is a Higher Refresh Rate Better For Gaming?
Even though a higher refresh rate can display more frames per second, it is possible only when your GPU is capable of rendering an equally higher number of frames. A GTX 1060 graphics card has the capability to produce 70-90 frames per second which means you can buy a monitor above 90 Hz refresh rate for extracting every bit of performance from your hardware.
Purchasing a 240Hz or the latest 360Hz display monitor when your GPU can render only 90 frames per second will be a waste of money. In such cases, the potential of the monitor can only be utilized after upgrading the GPU. Once, it can churn out more frames per second. Buying a high refresh rate monitor only provides the possibility of displaying higher frames per second.
A higher refresh rate monitor will be a decent buy once your system is capable of producing higher frames per second. In such conditions, the higher refresh rate will allow you to have quicker response times and just as responsive controls for accurate and fast gameplay.
A higher refresh rate monitor will require a faster GPU that is capable of producing high fps. This, in turn, requires a versatile motherboard and RAM size to complement the CPU processing capability. When building a new gaming PC, it is important to use devices with balanced capabilities that can deliver performance with stability. The most important components of gaming PCs are CPU, GPU, RAM, and display unit. An overpowered device can never benefit your gameplay. Hence in the best interest of buyers, it is recommended to purchase the system as per their budget.