60Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz vs 360Hz – What Is The Best Refresh Rate For Gaming?

With the technology moving at the rate it’s moving, you’ll probably wondering how hard you should try to keep up. The flashy capabilities of GPU often overshadow that a monitor with a matching refresh rate is the key to actually be able to experience those high-end graphics.

Before grabbing a brand new 240Hz monitor, you should first and foremost make sure your GPU can provide that output. The common wisdom is that your graphics card should output more frames per second than monitor refresh rate and that holds true.

For clarity, it’s better to have a system that produces 200 FPS on a 144Hz monitor than to have a 144 FPS producing system on a 144Hz monitor.

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Why Is Monitor Refresh Rate Important?

A Man With Cap Enjoying Computer Game

Games (and movies and other moving images) are displayed on the monitor when the GPU sends a bunch of still images in rapid succession. The better the GPU, the images will be sent faster, and if it gets below a certain point, the illusion of movement will be shattered.

If you want to enjoy a smooth showing from your graphics card, it has to be up to par with the game you’re trying to play, that much is obvious. But the idea that sometimes slips through the cracks is the need to have a good monitor that can keep up with the GPU. Otherwise, the GPU will needlessly produce frames that the monitor can’t show and you might even be tempted to fix the problem that isn’t there.

Not to mention that unnecessary overworking the GPU might lead to overheating and some other bottlenecking issues.

Let’s talk about some potential advantages and disadvantages of each monitor refresh rate and why you should choose one over another.

60Hz vs 144Hz

The biggest reason you’re still using a 60Hz monitor is probably budget. As it goes with technology, this is the oldest and the most well-established refresh rate tech, but it is going out of fashion fast.

The simplest answer as to why is that people tried 144Hz monitor (or even a 240Hz one) and just can’t go back. Many who have tried it reported that when they tried to go back that everything, from the mouse cursor on the desktop to actual heavy-duty gameplay felt sluggish. But, you shouldn’t despair if you’re still enjoying your 60Hz monitor – just don’t try ones with a higher refresh rate.

Comparison Between 144hz And 60hz.
Comparison between 144Hz and 60Hz.

The stark contrast of the above picture will surely leave many wondering how doctored the image is, but the truth is that that actually is a good comparison. Of course, a racing game is where this is very noticeable, hence why it was chosen as an example.

There is only one good reason to sticking to 60Hz monitor in 2020 and that’s budget. If you’re not playing games where the frame rate is of importance, then that is just fine. A ‘Civilization 6’ can be experienced perfectly fine on a 60Hz monitor. But, if you’re playing a game like ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’, you will factually have a worse experience than on a 144Hz monitor.

This is because such games rely on your ability to spot the enemy fast and react instantaneously. If you’re only seeing less than half, or even a quarter of frames your opponent is seeing, you’re going to be in trouble.

And not only that, but 60 FPS setup has an end to end latency in the range of 55 to 75ms (in full-screen mode), while a 144 FPS setup ranges from 30 to 45ms. What this means in practice, is that the setup with more frames per second and with accompanying higher monitor refresh rate can actually produce a higher response rate.

144Hz vs 240Hz

Now we’re getting somewhere. For a long while, a 144Hz monitor refresh rate has been a minimum requirement for competitive play. But, the current trends are a lot more in the 240Hz camp.

One of the biggest reasons why people haven’t dived in headfirst to the 240Hz monitors is that the difference between these two refresh rates isn’t as jarring as the jump from 60Hz to 144Hz.

The difference is nothing to sneeze at though, as it means you’d be going from a frame every 6.95 ms to a frame every 4.17 ms. The jump might seem small, but humans always get used to good things quite quickly, so don’t worry about that.

One thing that’s very important to note is that if you’re playing an older game, like the previously mentioned CS: GO, you’d still be able to game at 240Hz with a mid-tier CPU and GPU. The video below shows a really good comparison for all previously mentioned monitor frame rates.

A really important thing to say when discussing the difference between these two monitor refresh rates is that more and more professional eSports gamers are switching to the 240Hz and as time progresses, it will become the new minimum.

The buying advice here isn’t like for other hardware. If you’re already moving away from 60Hz, you should definitely skip the 144Hz point and jump to a 240Hz monitor. However, if you’re on a 144Hz monitor already, and you’re desperately looking for a competitive edge, you might want to wait just a little bit and go straight to 360Hz.

All of that matters only if you have the machine that can support such frame rates.

360Hz Monitor Refresh Rate

Originally announced as an April Fools prank in 2019, Nvidia and Asus shocked the world when they announced their very real 360Hz monitor at CES 2020. Many who believed that 240Hz is already as good as it gets were in for a surprise when this monitor was announced.

The biggest improvement appears to be the ability to display game frames once every 2.8 ms and it seems that the jump will be similar to the 144Hz to 240Hz. At least on paper however, it appears that jump from 144Hz to 360Hz won’t be as jarring as the jump from 60Hz to 240Hz. The math checks out, trust us.

For this Asus ROG Swift 360Hz monitor, Nvidia is providing an “advanced G-Sync processor” and that certainly sounds very promising, but it appears we’ll still have to wait a little. The release date is rumored to be in late 2020, but given the current world situation and the way Asus has a history of slow turnarounds from the product announcement to the release, it’s possible that there won’t be a new 360Hz monitor until 2021.

Asus isn’t the only one who has a 360Hz monitor coming out, but they were the first to announce it. Alienware also announced their version which will be in fact a 240Hz monitor, but can be overclocked to 360Hz. So far, neither have announced the release date nor pricing.

Prerequisites For 144Hz Gaming And Beyond

This is the bottom line – a high refresh rate monitor is useless unless you have the necessary hardware.

Of course, it is possible to get a good frame rate if you optimize a few settings. Sometimes it might even be better (and bring that much-desired competitive edge) if you lower the visual settings in favor of a higher FPS. Still, strive to keep your games playable and not just a bunch of pixels at 300 FPS because who wants that?

144hz Monitor Front And Back View

However, there’s only so much that you can do to increase the frame rate, and after a certain point, you’ll simply need a stronger GPU.

Nvidia’s RTX 2080 series seems a great choice at the moment for 240Hz gaming, while RTX 2060 series would be enough for a 144Hz experience. Keep in mind that these are suggestions based on the most modern titles as you’ll be able to play an older and less demanding game at 144Hz with a GTX 1080.

Once you have your hardware at capable levels, there might be still some kinks to iron out. One that’s often missed is enabling Windows to run at your monitor’s native refresh rate. You do this in Settings -> System -> Display -> Advanced Display Settings -> Display Adapter Properties -> Monitor -> Monitor Settings – Screen Refresh Rate.

You probably already do this, but just to make sure, you need to be running the game at full screen. And of course, adjust the in-game settings if possible.

G-Sync and FreeSync

Nvidia G-sync

These are technologies developed by Nvidia and Amd, respectively, but they do the same thing. They fix the nagging issue that can happen sometimes when the monitor refresh rate differs from the GPU’s output frame rate. This effect is called screen tearing and the technologies that work against it are actually really cool.

It’s recommended to use G-Sync or FreeSync, depending on your GPU, but it’s important to highlight that there is some talk going about them causing input lag. However, when you’re gaming at 240Hz, that makes the input lag incredibly hard to notice while screen tearing will be hard to miss. The conventional wisdom says that that is not a good trade-off, but you’re free to try it yourself and personally be the judge.

So, Which One Is The Best?

A Man With Headphone And Glasses Playing Computer Game

360Hz. It’s a numbers game and you don’t even need a high-school diploma to know that 360 is the biggest number here.

However, the more important question should be – which one should you get?

And the answered to that question is layered and depends on what games you play and what you want to get out of your gaming experience.

If you enjoy simulation-based games at a leisurely pace, then gaming at 60Hz is great for you. You can invest the money you saved on a cheaper monitor to upgrade your RAM or CPU.

But, if you’re at least a casual multiplayer gamer, then a 144Hz monitor should be the bare minimum. It’s actually slowly losing its position at the forefront of the discussion, but for at least a few years you’ll be able to play at 144Hz and not feel like your hardware is limiting you like it would be the case if it’s 60Hz vs 144 or 240Hz.

240Hz monitors are necessary if you’re looking to get anywhere in the world of professional gaming. They’ll give you an advantage if you’re a casual player as well.

While only a few people have tried the 360Hz monitors, not a lot of them have reported any noticeable difference. Admittedly, the sample size is rather small, but as of 2020, it’s not worth to get one of those, even if you could.

Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.