60Hz vs. 144Hz and Beyond: Why High Refresh Rates are Worth It

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Feb 25, 2021

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60 Hz vs. 144 Hz and beyond: the modern gamer’s dilemma. High refresh rate monitors used to be rare and expensive, but they’re now quite commonplace and accessible to gamers on more modest budgets.

You’ve probably heard that a 144 Hz monitor is “totally worth it.” But you may not be entirely sure why, especially if you haven’t seen one yourself. That’s why we’re here, to help you understand some of the things that set 144 Hz and higher refresh rate monitors apart.

The Benefits of 144 Hz and Beyond

Refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz), is the maximum number of frames your monitor shows each second. Essentially, a 60 Hz monitor can show up to 60 frames per second (FPS), while a 144 Hz monitor shows a maximum of 144 FPS. In the context of this article, Hz and FPS are mostly interchangeable.

If you’re happy with your 60 Hz monitor, then you might be thinking that there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken. Well, 60 Hz may not be “broke,” but we believe 144 Hz is the new standard. Here’s why.

Smoother Animations

The first thing you’ll notice on a 144 Hz monitor is how fluid everything looks. A faster monitor can show more animation frames, which makes characters, movement, and animations look smooth and silky in a way that 60 Hz displays can’t match.

This video shows the 144 Hz vs. 60 Hz difference wonderfully:

Whether you’re a sweaty Overwatch player trying to track a Lucio or a more laid-back gamer admiring the gorgeous animations in Death Stranding, the smoothness of 144 Hz makes all sorts of gaming more enjoyable. It’s a real treat for the eyes.

Less Motion Blur

Higher refresh rate monitors also reduce motion blur. We’re not talking about the graphical setting that everyone loves to hate, though. We mean the blur that happens when your eyes track a moving object on an LCD, caused by the sample-and-hold LCD monitors use.

A higher refresh rate reduces this sample-and-hold motion blur. Below are photos from Blur Busters’ well-known UFO test. Here’s a pursuit photo taken at 60 Hz:

Motion blur in 60Hz

And now at 120 Hz:

Motion blur in 120Hz

As you can see, the UFO is much clearer at 120 Hz. In games, this translates to better clarity during motion whether it’s scenery barrelling towards you in DiRT Rally 2.0 or an enemy hero invading your Dota 2 base. With less motion blur, you’ll be able to pick out moving details better.

Less Ghosting

Another difference between 60 Hz and 144 Hz monitors is less ghosting at higher refresh rates.

60hz vs 144hz ghosting

Source: Nvidia

At 240 Hz, the enemy player model is free of any distracting ghosting. Compare that to the 60 Hz example, where you almost see double. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a big thing, but this gives you a cleaner, more stable image that lets you focus entirely on winning your matches.

Lower Latency

Since a high refresh rate display updates more often, it’ll also reduce the overall display latency, which is the gap between your inputs and what shows on screen. It makes everything feel snappier and more responsive, as if you’re more connected to the game.

The more images your monitor shows each second, the more up-to-date the visual information is that you get.

Source: Nvidia

It’s a matter of split seconds, sure, but at a high level, those split seconds can be all the difference between winning and losing. It’s no surprise then that esports pros have unanimously embraced high refresh rate monitors.

60 Hz vs. 144 Hz: Things To Consider

144 Hz sounding like a good idea? Great, but there are a few things to be aware of before you upgrade.

GPU Power

Running games at 1080p and 60 FPS is well within reach of most rigs these days, but going past that may take a bit more horsepower. You’ll need a rig capable of pushing out 144 FPS if you want to make the most of a 144 Hz monitor.

Fortunately, competitive shooters like CS:GO are pretty easy on your system. You’ll be able to max out even a 240 Hz 1080p monitor with a relatively mainstream card like the GTX 1660 Super.

CS:GO GPU benchmarks at 1080p

Source: Techgage

The GTX 1660 Super will handle 1440p 144 Hz with ease, too. If you want a 1440p 240 Hz experience, though, you’ll want at least an RTX 2060 Super or Radeon RX 5700 XT.

CS:GO GPU benchmarks at 1440p

Source: Techgage

While most competitive titles will run happily at blazing-fast framerates on mid-tier GPUs, some games do need a bit more juice for 144 Hz gaming.

For instance, Apex Legends needs something like an RTX 2060 or Radeon Vega 64 to reach the 144 FPS ballpark at 1080p medium. An RTX 2070 is what you’ll want for a locked 144 FPS experience.

Apex Legends GPU benchmarks at 1080p

Source: PCMag

If you want to run Apex Legends at 1440p and 144 Hz, you’ll need an RTX 2080 at least.

Apex Legends GPU benchmarks at 1440p

Source: PCMag

The most essential thing when moving to high refresh rate gaming is picking the resolution for your GPU. After all, there’s no point buying a new 1440p 144 Hz monitor if your PC isn’t powerful enough to run your games at anything more than 60 FPS at 1440p.

If you want some GPU and monitor pairings to get you in the right ballpark, check out our guide to the best GPU and monitor pairings.

Panel Technology: TN vs. IPS vs. VA

Another big thing with monitors is the panel technology. Twisted nematic (TN) and In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels are most common, with vertical alignment (VA) panels also on the market.

TN panels are the cheapest and have the quickest response times. However, color reproduction is sub-par, and viewing angles are horrible. Here’s what we mean:

TN panel viewing angles

Source: TFTCentral

IPS panels have better viewing angles and image quality but, generally, slower response times. Unfortunately, IPS panels have a backlight glow issue that’s especially noticeable in dark scenes.

IPS panel viewing angles

Source: TFTCentral

VA panels have similar viewing angles to IPS panels but with better contrast. Backlight glow is a non-issue, too. However, VA panels have even slower response times than IPS panels, leading to motion blur even at high refresh rates.

Overall, a high refresh rate IPS monitor like the ASUS VG27AQ is the best choice. The colors, viewing angles, and decent-to-good response times make for a great overall experience. For a more in-depth discussion of LCD panel types, check out our IPS vs. TN vs. VA comparison.

FreeSync vs. G-Sync

In the past, Nvidia GPUs only supported adaptive sync on G-Sync monitors. However, Nvidia now certifies selected FreeSync monitors (like the LG 27GL850) as G-Sync Compatible. So, they’ll work with Nvidia cards while still offering the full adaptive sync experience.

On the AMD side, you’re mostly going to be shopping for a FreeSync monitor. Yes, future G-Sync monitors will support AMD cards. However, they’re still pricier than FreeSync equivalents at no extra benefit to AMD users, so there’s really not much point there.

Not heard of adaptive sync before? This video does a good job explaining it.

It’s a must-have feature and, thankfully, mostly standard on high refresh rate monitors now.

Hertz So Good

Smoother animations, lower latency, and a cleaner, sharper image that’s easier to track are just some of the reasons 144 Hz is, as Nvidia says, “the new 60”. Will it make you a better gamer overnight? No, but it’s definitely going to become a critical part of your long grind to the top.

60 Hz vs. 144 Hz is a transformative change, and once you go high refresh, you’ll find it hard to go back. With the glut of relatively affordable 144 Hz and beyond monitors out there now, there’s really no better time to make the jump.

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