If you’re shopping for a new PC monitor this Christmas then you may realise that you’re confronted with a bunch of numbers that might not make too much sense to you. In this blog post we will go through some of those numbers, specifically the resolution and the refresh rate.

What exactly is monitor refresh rate?

Refresh rate

Refresh rate in simple terms if how many times an image is displayed on a screen per second and is measured in hertz (Hz). This is similar to Frames Per Second (FPS) in games, except this is a constant refresh rate that is not hindered by computer performance. Because of this the FPS of a game will make no difference once it goes beyond the refresh rate of the monitor.

For example, if your game is playing at 60 FPS but your monitor is 58Hz – as is standard for many monitors in the UK – then you are not seeing that extra 2 frames per second that the game is running at. This means if you are an avid gamer that is looking to run their games at 120 FPS then you may want to look at a monitor that can accommodate that. A higher refresh rate, even when running a lower FPS will still allow the player to have faster reaction times than someone that has a poorer quality monitor

Depending on the monitor and graphics setup you have, refresh rate may be something you can alter. There’s the overclocking method, but more simply, with some modern monitors you have adjustable refresh rates you can alter yourself using Windows 10. To do this you simply right click on the desktop, select display settings, then advanced display settings and finally display adapter properties. You’ll then see the image above, with a drop-down box that contains different values if your monitor supports variable refresh rates.

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What you should look for when buying a monitor

Even for non-gamers, going below 60Hz will start to hurt your overall PC experience. If you went down to say, 30Hz, that’s only 30 redraws a second, which isn’t going to look great. The good news is that even without spending a lot of money, 60Hz is common enough nowadays that you should be able to find one.

As you increase the resolution of your panel, however, you’ll generally decrease the refresh rate. You won’t find a 4K monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate right now, for example, but you will find one at 60Hz. That’s something to balance, particularly if you’re a gamer. You have to make a sacrifice somewhere.

If you were wondering what the jargon is about, this story hopefully helps. If you’re a PC gamer, then a 144Hz monitor will be a great shout. A console gamer or an average PC user will get by just fine with 60Hz for now. However, if you’re on the bleeding edge and like things faster than fast, 240Hz is calling your name.

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