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High refresh rate monitors have traditionally been aimed at gamers, but they have broader appeal. Device makers like Apple and Samsung have begun to include high-refresh-rate displays on their tablets and phones. So should you get one for your office computer too?

What is a high refresh rate monitor?

A monitor’s refresh rate is the number of times the screen refreshes per second and is measured in Hertz (Hz). Most entry-level displays stick to 60Hz, which means the maximum frame rate you can see on these displays is 60 frames per second (FPS).

If you play a lot of games and have invested in a powerful computer to do so, you could hit frame rates over 60 FPS. Some competitive gamers lower resolution and detail settings to maximize frame rate. This reduces input lag and makes the overall experience smoother.

Doing this on a 60Hz monitor may result in a slight reduction in input lag, but you won’t see the benefit of those extra frames because the monitor can’t keep up. This can result in motion blur on the screen. Monitors with high refresh rates are designed to solve this problem.

In general, anything above 144Hz is considered a high refresh rate monitor. However, most displays above 60Hz count, including the 90Hz displays on VR headsets and the 120Hz display on the iPad Pro.

If you’re looking for a high refresh rate monitor, you’ll probably want to look at 144Hz or higher. For a gamer who must have it all, there are 240Hz monitors. They are especially favored by competitive multiplayer gamers because overall graphical fidelity is not as important as latency and response times.

One issue you may experience with a high refresh rate monitor is screen tearing. This occurs when the frame and refresh rates do not match. It creates unsightly horizontal lines (or “tears”) as the monitor tries to process the image.

Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) monitors try to solve this problem with technologies like NVIDIA’s proprietary G-Sync and AMD-backed open source FreeSync. VRR monitors reduce the refresh rate in real time to match the frame rate of the game you are playing to eliminate screen tearing.

You don’t need one, but it’s still cool

So how does a high refresh rate monitor perform on more pedestrian tasks? Basic computing tasks, like browsing the web or managing files, don’t require a lot of power. That’s why a desktop is where you can get the most out of a high refresh rate monitor.

First of all, your computer will seem more responsive. Everything from moving your cursor and dragging windows to launching apps will feel better. It’s something you may have to experience yourself to measure the benefits. You’ll definitely notice the difference if you ever go back to a 60Hz monitor.

One of the best benchmarks for a higher refresh rate monitor is Apple’s iPad Pro. In 2015, Apple introduced the first 120Hz displays in a consumer tablet. Both reviewers and customers noticed the difference right away. We’ve had our hands on several iPad Pro models since these screens were introduced, and they feel noticeably better.

An Apple iPad Pro 2020.
Apple

Apple added 120Hz displays to the iPhone 13 Pro as part of the “ProMotion” feature. Samsung also went to 120 Hz with the Galaxy S20. OnePlus, ASUS, OPPO, and Razer all sell Android smartphones with 120Hz display modes. On a mobile device, doubling the refresh rate can affect battery life, but that’s not something you need to worry about on a monitor. desktop. (That’s why the iPhone’s ProMotion uses variable refresh rates, allowing it to go below 120Hz when there’s no motion on the screen.)

No one needs a high refresh rate monitor for simple computing tasks. A 60 Hz monitor does the job just fine. In the office or studio, a high-refresh-rate monitor is like a comfortable chair or an expensive mechanical keyboard: you don’t need it, but it’s nice to have.

RELATED: Why you should upgrade your old computer monitor

High refresh rate monitors are now cheaper

High refresh rate monitors with variable refresh rates were once cutting edge. However, 144Hz is starting to look a bit outdated as 240Hz monitors arrive en masse. This also means that monitors with the more modest 144Hz refresh rate have come down in price.

The type of panel also makes a big difference in terms of price. TN panels are the oldest type of LCD on the market. They have improved considerably since they were first introduced. However, they still suffer from less than favorable color accuracy, disappointing viewing angles, and washed-out blacks.

They are also the cheapest of all panel types. Ever since LG hit the millisecond barrier on its UltraGear IPS monitor in 2019, TN panels are no longer the only option for competitive gamers. Now you can get better blacks, color accuracy, and viewing angles in an IPS panel, complete with low latency and high refresh rates.

LG UltraGear 27-inch IPS gaming monitor with 1ms latency.
LG

With this new kid on the block, TN panels are no longer in high demand. So you should be able to pick up a high refresh rate monitor with a TN panel at a modest price. You can find off-brand monitors with high refresh rates for around $250; add an extra $50-$100 if you want something brand name.

High refresh rate monitors are available on all panel types. VA panels offer the best image quality at the expense of input lag. IPS panels offer a good compromise between responsiveness and image quality. TN panels, however, are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to general image reproduction.

RELATED: TN vs. IPS vs. VA: Which is the best display panel technology?

Try a high refresh rate monitor in person

There is no one monitor for all. There are just too many things you need to consider when buying one.

For example, in addition to standard office work, will you be playing games or editing photos and videos? A TN panel is likely to be sufficient for basic office work. But if you want color accuracy for video or photo editing, a VA panel is ideal.

Screen size and resolution are also important. If you want to make the jump to 4K, a high refresh rate monitor will be expensive. Would you trade pixel density for smoothness and ease of use?

Price is also an important consideration for most people. If you’re buying a better-than-average monitor, it might also include a higher refresh rate, even if it’s only 75 or 120 Hz. You can certainly save money by opting for a more modest display that sticks to 60 Hz. .

The best way to decide if a high refresh rate monitor is for you is to use one. Drag a few windows, type fast, use your favorite apps, or play a game or two.

For some people, the difference will be eye-opening, while others will prefer to spend the extra money on another feature. Give a high-refresh monitor a try and find out what camp you’re in!


High refresh rate monitors aren’t the only products aimed at gamers that have broader appeal. To increase productivity, you might also consider upgrading to a gaming mouse, mechanical keyboard, or SSD.

RELATED: These “Gamer” PC Products Are Great for Office Work