If you’re looking to buy a new monitor you may be interested in major specifications like the resolution, screen size, and display. You may have also come across a spec called ‘refresh rate’ and wondered what it meant. If you’re looking to build a gaming system then getting a monitor with the right refresh rate is very important. In this article, we explain what the monitor refresh rate is and why it matters.
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What is Monitor Refresh Rate?
Simply put, monitor refresh rate is the frequency at which the monitor displays the visual information it receives from the CPU. If the frequency is higher, the images on the screen will be updated at a greater pace and will result in a smoother motion. Since refresh rate is a frequency, it is measured in Hertz (Hz). You may have noticed that monitors offer a refresh rate of 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240Hz.
Does Monitor Refresh Rate Matter?
Monitor Refresh Rate is not the only factor in displaying a smooth motion on the screen. Remember, the refresh rate is only the rate at which the monitor can update the images on the screen. A smooth motion display is also dependent upon the rate at which the video frames are being fed to the monitor. This is also known as fps. The GPU generates certain frames per second and sends them to the monitor which then displays them on screen. Each frame is a still image, and the effect of motion is created when the frames are played one after the other. A higher frame rate means smoother motion.
As you may have guessed by now, the refresh rate and the fps need to be in sync in order to correctly display the information on the screen. If the frame rate is higher than the refresh rate of the monitor, the image on the screen might ‘tear up’. This is a common issue faced by most gamers when their monitors aren’t updated.
What do you need to know when buying a new monitor?
If you buy a high-end monitor with a high refresh rate but have a graphics card that doesn’t generate a high frame rate, the refresh rate is wasted on the system as the video will move according to the frame rate. You can buy the high-end monitor if you plan on updating the GPU later on.
If you are not interested in gaming, then a monitor with even a 60Hz refresh rate will be optimum for your needs. Motion pictures and TV broadcasts stream at 24fps and modern video recording devices capture videos at 60fps. A monitor with a refresh rate of 60Hz will perform well in this situation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get a monitor with a higher refresh rate?
It depends on what you will be using the monitor for. If you’re looking to build a gaming system then a refresh rate of 144Hz or higher will greatly improve the viewing experience and keep the video from tearing up. If your primary needs are viewing video content and browsing the internet, then a 60Hz monitor will work just fine, and you should focus on other specs like screen resolution and size.
What is adaptive sync?
The refresh rate may adapt itself to the frame rate being fed to it by the GPU. The monitor and graphics processor work with each other to produce a smooth motion on the screen. This is known as adaptive sync.