Importance of refresh rate (Hz) in gaming

A subject worthy of ending friendships, divorcing your partner and moving off to the mountains of Tibet to isolate yourself from horrors of humanity: Importance of Hertz (Hz) in gaming.

So, what is Hertz and how does it affect your chances of being the number one top gamer in the world?

Named after Heinrich Hertz… Ok, I’m not gonna get into the history of Hz, nor the in-depth mathematics of how Hz works (but I’ll give you a link at the end for your intellectual pleasure). Instead, I’ll give you the gist of it.

In basic terms, your monitor's refresh rate is the number of unique frames it can display in a single second, measured in Hz. This is not to be confused with framerate, which refers to how many frames per second your computer can output to the monitor.

The greater the frame rate in an FPS game, the smoother the rendering and the less blurring from graphics. Extremely crucial while playing first-person shooters or other fast-paced games.

Higher Hz and FPS allow for better targeting, tracking, and rendering, which boosts game performance and gives you a competitive edge on those with lower Hz and FPS.

Image credit: Intel

As shown above in this beautiful and simplistic representation: It’s not about seeing someone before they see you, it’s about seeing someone more accurately than they see you.

Now do a UFO Test on your gaming monitor to see the difference for yourself, if you don’t want to get out of the comfort of your home and make a physical comparison in an electronic goods store.

Put this test into the perspective of CSGO for example, visualize how the bottom 30 FPS guy compares to the upper 144 FPS guy (Of course this won’t mean anything if you have a monitor that’s under 144Hz, since it cannot visually show you 144 FPS on a monitor that can only generate 60-75-120 FPS.)

How it will make a difference (until it won’t)

For the typical user, the difference is not nearly as evident as it is for professional players and esports gurus. For pros and gaming enthusiasts little improvements make all the difference when it comes to winning competitive flick shooters like CSGO, Valorant, Overwatch and high-reflex dependent MOBA games.

But almost for anyone, jumping from a 60Hz monitor to a 144Hz will feel like night and day.

Things start to get complicated

If the monitor in question has a lower input response rate than you're used to, a higher refresh rate such as 144Hz or 240Hz won't make a difference to you. The input response rate is the time it takes for the display to receive input from your PC and change any relevant pixels accordingly. A shorter response time is always more important than the refresh rate of your monitor.

The refresh rate has some influence on response rate, although not immediately. The reaction time of a monitor determines its maximum possible refresh rate; for example, a 144Hz display must have a response time of 5-7 milliseconds or less if it's going to feel smooth as it looks.

60Hz monitors on other hand will never have a lower visible lag under 16 milliseconds.

That’s 16 milliseconds delayed maximum reaction time if your opponent has a 144Hz monitor.

In high-level competitive esports, reaction times are usually between 170-260 milliseconds. Anything under 200 is superhuman. Add on top of your old monitor's reaction lag of 16 or more milliseconds and you are dead, period.

Image credit: Nvidia

This is why there are 144Hz monitors that are in the same price range as 4K 60Hz monitors. This is also why you won't see a difference when watching a movie that's shot in 24FPS. To take full advantage of a high-refresh-rate monitor you also need to have the processor and GPU to accommodate those frames.

So there’s no need for you to get a 240hz monitor when your computer specs can only get 60 FPS in a certain competitive game for example.

If you are a console user don’t even bother, just buy a 4K 60Hz screen and be done with it.

But this is the mathematical side of things. Let’s see some demonstrations shall we:

144Hz is the new norm in gaming

144Hz monitors have been considered the flagship of gaming since the mid-2010s. If you have a 60Hz monitor and are just a casual gamer then what are you even doing in here, reading this article? Time to get out under the rock you have been and get yourself a 144Hz monitor with low input lag. You can thank me later.

We are not done yet though. The craze of 240Hz and 360Hz panels is already upon us and now most pros opt for a 240Hz, but not for a 360Hz. The reason is that even with 240Hz compared to 144Hz, the difference is minimal and won’t affect the user unless the user’s an esports pro who can squeeze that millisecond faster refresh rate into real-life response time. There’s scientific evidence to this.

360Hz monitors are on such a high refresh rate that it becomes imperceptible to the human eye, and the panels are not on par with the 240Hz generations, yet.

Image credit: Optimum Tech - UFO Test

For example:

In this article, I gave you the gist of the importance of Hz in gaming, but if you want; read here for an ultra-detailed dive into the 60Hz vs. 120Hz vs. 144Hz vs. 240Hz Gaming Monitor debate.

To sum it up: If you are a competitive gamer I’d advise you to not fall down anything below 144Hz. You will simply get outplayed and your skill won’t save you. Whilst at that go for a monitor with the fastest response time. Not all monitors are created equal.

240Hz is slowly becoming the new norm in esports, but it won’t matter unless you are on the extreme edge of the competitive gaming spectrum. Differences won’t be visible as much as 60Hz vs. 144Hz and you will only take its advantage with very powerful hardware coupled with a superhuman reflex time.

360Hz, just stay away from them. For the next couple of years at least. They are the latest hype, which doesn’t offer anything in return and definitely not a jump in monitor technology.

I wish you all the best in your esports endeavours. Take care.

The heart of the Luckbox team beats for esports. If you are an avid esports fan, visit Luckbox for the latest esports news and encounters, watch your favourite teams and bet on them.