Monitors with high refresh rates: The best high refresh rate monitors in 2023

How to Buy a PC Monitor: A 2022 Guide

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How do you choose a PC monitor? (Image credit: Shutterstock))

The monitor is the window to your PC’s soul. Without the right display, everything you do on your system will seem lackluster, whether gaming, viewing/editing photos and video or just reading text on your favorite websites.

Hardware vendors understand how the experience changes with different display specs and features and have flooded the market with a plethora of options. But which features and specs are most valuable for how you use your monitor? For example, should you get 4K, 1440p, 1080p or just plain HD resolution—and what’s the difference anyway? How much do refresh rates and response times matter? Are things like flicker-free, low blue light mode, G-Sync and FreeSync crucial? And how should your priorities change if your focus is gaming versus professional applications versus general use?

Before we get started, if you’re looking for recommendations, see our Best Computer Monitors page or gaming-specific Best Gaming Monitors list. We also have high-res picks on our Best 4K Gaming Monitors and Best Budget 4K Monitors pages and break down HDR displays in our How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor article. 

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  • Determine your monitor’s main purpose: gaming, professional or general use. Generally, gamers should prioritize fast refresh rates and low response times, professionals should prioritize color accuracy and general use users have less specific needs but will often opt for a monitor with a high-contrast VA panel.
  • The higher the resolution, the better the picture. A monitor’s resolution tells you how many pixels a monitor has in width x height format. 1920 x 1080 (also known as 1080p, Full HD (FHD) and HD) is the minimum you need. But you’ll get sharper images with QHD and even sharper with 4K.  
  • Size matters too. Pixel density has a big impact on monitor quality, and our sweet spot is 109 pixels per inch (ppi). A larger monitor will have low pixel density if it’s a lower resolution. For viewing from typical desktop distances, 32 inches is plenty ‘big.’ It’s not hard to find a 32-inch gaming or general use monitor at 4K resolution for under $1,000.
  • Refresh rates: bigger is better. This tells you the number of times your monitor updates with new information per second and is measured in hertz (Hz). Bigger numbers equal better, smoother, less choppy images. Refresh rate is especially important for gamers, who’ll want a monitor with at least 75 Hz (most monitors designed for gaming offer at least 120 Hz), combined with the lowest response time you can find. If you’re not gaming, a 60 Hz refresh rate should do.
  • Response times: Shorter is better, but it’s not a big priority unless you’re gaming.  Response time tells you how long a monitor takes to change individual pixels from black to white or, if its GTG response time, from one shade of gray to another. Longer response times can mean motion blur when gaming or watching fast-paced videos. For gaming monitors, the highest response time you’ll likely see is 5ms, while the fastest gaming monitors can have a 0.5ms response time.
  • Panel tech: For image quality, TN < IPS < VA. TN monitors are the fastest but cheapest, due to poorer image quality when viewing from a side angle. IPS monitors have slightly faster response times and show color better than VA panels, but VA monitors have the best contrast out of all three panel types. For more on the difference between panel types, see the dedicated section below.
  • Consider a curved monitor. Curved monitors are supposed to make your experience more immersive with a large field of view and are said to be less eye-straining. However, they can be prone to glare when viewing from certain angles (light sources are coming from various angles instead of one). Effective curved monitors are usually ultrawide and at least 30 inches, which both point to higher costs.

If you do buy a curved monitor, understand curvature specs. An 1800R curvature has a curved radius of 1800mm and a suggested best max viewing distance of 1.8 meters — and so on. The lower the curvature (as low as 1000R), the more curved the display is. 

Monitor resolutions

Images on an LCD panel are comprised of millions of tiny dots. Each pixel consists of three sub-pixels, one for each primary color. A monitor’s resolution provides a screen’s length x width in pixels.  The more pixels you can pack into each square-inch of a monitor, the more realistic and smooth the image. A higher resolution (QHD  or better) is important if you want a monitor that’s bigger than 27 inches.

You can tell how many pixels a monitor has based on the name of its resolution. Some resolutions have multiple names. Below are the most common monitor resolutions you’ll encounter from best (highest number of pixels) to worst (least number of pixels). Except where noted, we’re talking about a 16:9 aspect ratio.

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5K resolution 5120 x 2880
4K resolution 3840 x 2160 (typical monitor resolution) / 4096 x 2160 (official cinema resolution)
Ultra HD (UHD) resolution 3840 x 2160
Quad HD (QHD) aka Wide Quad HD (WQHD) aka 1440p resolution 2560 x 1440
2K aka 1440p resolution 2560 x 1440 (typical monitor resolution) / 2048 x 1080 (official cinema resolution)
WUXGA resolution   1920 x 1200
Full HD (FHD) aka 1080p aka HD resolution 1920 x 1080
HD aka 720p resolution 1280 x 720

While more pixels is generally better, two things can make you second-think getting a monitor with QHD or better resolution.  

The first is your PC’s graphics card. The more pixels you have, the more processing power your graphics card needs to alter those pixels in a timely fashion. Images on 4K monitors look stunning, but if your system isn’t up to the task of driving 8.3 million pixels per frame, your overall experience will suffer and that extra resolution will actually become a hindrance, particularly if you’re gaming. 

The second thing that can hold back a high-res monitor is your operating system’s font-scaling capabilities. Windows is best at a pixel density of 90-110ppi. If a monitor has a pixel density much greater than that, objects and text will look extremely small and potentially impossible to read. When reviewing 27-inch 5K monitors, we’ve been forced to use DPI (dots per inch) scaling for any hope of reading text in our apps. The quality of scaling varies among monitors and isn’t always a sure fix when text is too tiny.

What resolution do I need for gaming?

For the best picture, more pixels are better. But when gaming, those pixels can also slow you down if you don’t have a beefy enough graphics card. Most video interfaces don’t support refresh rates faster than 60 Hz for 4K/UHD or 5K signals. That’s starting to change (for a premium), but you still need a very expensive graphics card to play at 4K and push past 60 frames per second (fps). The GeForce RTX 3080 can usually get there, as can the GeForce RTX 3090, but good luck finding one!

The current sweet spot seems to be QHD (2560 x 1440) resolution. With monitors up to 32 inches, you see good pixel density and a detailed image that isn’t too difficult for mid-priced graphics cards to handle.

If you want ultimate speed that’s also not too taxing on your GPU, FHD (1920 x 1080) delivers the highest frame rates (you won’t find gaming monitors today with lower resolution). But avoid stretching that resolution past 27 inches, as you may notice a dip in image quality, with pesky individual pixels being visible. 

Minimum graphics card requirements vary based on the game, but if you plan on buying a monitor for gaming at QHD resolution (and don’t want to have to turn the in-game settings down to low), you’ll want at least a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon RX 6800.  

4K gamers should find the fastest card they can afford. The GeForce RTX 3070 might be sufficient for lighter games or if you turn down some settings, but the GeForce RTX 3080/3090 or the Radeon RX 6800 XT or Radeon RX 6900 XT would do you better. For more tips on picking a graphics card, see our Graphics Card Buying Guide, Best Graphics Cards and GPU Benchmarks Hierarchy pages. For help choosing a 4K gaming display, see our Best 4K Gaming Monitors page. 

What kind of panel do I need? TN vs. VA vs. IPS

There are three major LCD technologies used in today’s PC monitors: twisted nematic (TN), vertical alignment (VA) and in-plane switching (IPS). Each has several variations that offer different advantages. We won’t get into the intricacies of how these differing panels work. Instead, the chart below explains how each impacts image quality and the best use cases for each panel.

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Row 0 – Cell 0 TN VA IPS
Performance Fastest: low response times, highest refresh rates, minimal motion blur; Low input lag Longest response times typically; Higher refresh rates possible Slower response times than TN, faster response times than VA; Gaming-quality refresh rates are rare
Display Worst viewing angles;Worst color Viewing angles typically better than TN, worse than IPS; Good color; Best contrast;Best image depth Best viewing angles; Best color
Pricing Cheapest Pricier models can have performance comparable to TN Most expensive
Best Use Gaming General Use Professional

While that graph should be enough to make a quick decision on panel type, if you want to dive deeper, consider the following:

  • Contrast is the most important factor in image quality and reliability (5,000:1 is better than 1,000:1). As such, we consider VA panels to offer the best image quality among VA, IPS and TN.
  • We’ve reviewed plenty of TN screens that can hold their own in the color department with more expensive IPS and VA displays. While the general perception is that TN offers less accurate color and contrast than VA and IPS panels, there’s a chance you won’t notice the difference. Many gaming monitors use TN panels for their speed. We’ve found that color quality differs by price more than it does by panel tech.

Gaming monitors: Which features matter?

There are many confusing choices and even more confusing marketing terms to sift through when buying a new gaming monitor. Let’s break down the features that actually benefit gamers. Note that some factors depend on a player’s skill level.

For our top gaming monitor recommendations, check out our Best Gaming Monitors page. And for 4K stunners, see our Best 4K Gaming Monitors page. 

Competitive gamers should prioritize speed, which calls for high refresh rates (144 Hz or more), as well as the lowest response time and input lag (see our gaming monitor reviews) possible. This will likely limit you to 25 or 27 inches, possibly with lower pixel density and without extended color or HDR.

But maybe you’re a casual gamer who won’t notice the difference between 60 fps or 144 fps. You can settle for 75 Hz or even 60 Hz coupled with FreeSync or G-Sync (more on that below) and prioritize things like strong image quality, pixel density and  30 inches or larger. If your budget allows, this could also allow for more saturated color or even HDR.

What should my gaming monitor’s refresh rate and response time be?

Credit: Acer

Ideally, you want a monitor with at least a 75 Hz, combined with the lowest response time you can find. Refresh rate is particularly important for gamers, so most gaming monitors have a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz, (the fastest availabile is 360 Hz), and you’ll want a maximum response time of 5ms.

However, there are some worthy 60 Hz gaming monitors, and many 4K ones are limited to 60 Hz. If you opt for a 60 Hz display and plan to game, G-Sync or FreeSync is a must (more on that below).  

Lower resolution + good graphics card = faster refresh rates. Look at the on-screen display (OSD) above from the Acer Predator Z35 curved ultrawide. Its resolution is low enough where a fast graphics card can hit a 200 Hz refresh rate with G-Sync enabled. If you’re buying a monitor for the long-term, remember that the graphics card your PC uses 1-3 years from now may be able to hit these speeds with ease.

Worried about input lag? Input lag is how long it takes your monitor to recognize output from your graphics card or when you’ve pushed a button on your keyboard or mouse and is something gamers should avoid. High refresh rates generally point to lower input lag, but input lag isn’t usually listed in specs, so check our monitor reviews for insight. Sites like DisplayLag also offer unbiased breakdowns of many monitors’ input lag.

Should I get a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor? 

Credit: Nvidia/AMD

Gaming monitors usually have Nvidia G-Sync (for PCs with Nvidia graphics cards) and/or AMD FreeSync (for running with PCs using AMD graphics cards). Both features reduce screen tearing and stuttering and add to the price tag; although, G-Sync monitors usually cost more than FreeSync ones.

Another thing to keep in mind is that G-Sync relies on DisplayPort, while FreeSync works with both HDMI and DisplayPort. For more on which port is best for gaming, see our DisplayPort vs. HDMI analysis. And for more on the two popular Adaptive-Sync flavors, see our G-Sync and FreeSync pages in the Tom’s Hardware Glossary.

Regardless, if your budget only has room for a low to mid-speed graphics card, you’ll certainly want a monitor with either G-Sync or FreeSync that works at a low minimum refresh rate.

So, should you opt for G-Sync or FreeSync? Here’s what to consider:

  • Which hardware do you already have? If you’ve already nabbed a shiny new RTX 3080, for example, the choice is clear.
  • Team Nvidia or Team AMD? If you’re not tied to either, remember that G-Sync and FreeSync offer comparable performance for the typical user. We learned this when we tested both against each other in our Nvidia G-Sync vs. AMD FreeSync faceoff.
  • What’s the Adaptive-Sync’s lowest supported refresh rate? G-Sync monitors operate from a 30 Hz refresh rate up to the monitor’s maximum, but not all FreeSync ones do. FreeSync monitors usually support Adaptive-Sync up to a monitor’s maximum refresh rate, but it’s the lower limit you must note. We’ve reviewed screens that bottom out at as high as 55 Hz. This can be problematic if your graphics card can’t keep frame rates above that level. Low frame rate compensation (LFC), which G-Sync kicks in at below 30 Hz, is a viable solution but will only work if the max refresh is at least 2.5 times the minimum (example: if the maximum refresh rate is 100 Hz, the minimum must be 40 Hz for LFC to help).
  • Many FreeSync monitors can run G-Sync. Nvidia has tested and certified some of these as G-Sync Compatible. Many non-certified monitors can also run G-Sync too, but performance is not guaranteed. See our article on how to run on G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor for more. 

If you plan on doing a lot of competitive gaming with HDR content, consider getting a G-Sync Ultimate or FreeSync Premium Pro display. Both features are certified for lower input latency and include additional benefits for HDR titles. 

Do I need overdrive or motion blur reduction?

Overdrive and motion blur reduction are available in many gaming monitors (under various brand names). To understand their value, you’ll first need to understand ghosting. Ghosting is that blurry trail a moving object creates on the screen sometimes. That’s caused by uneven pixel transition, or when it takes a monitor’s pixel longer to change from Color A to Color B than from Color B to Color A.

Overdrive reduces ghosting by speeding the rate at which pixels transition through higher voltages. When done correctly, the pixel reaches that level quickly, then changes for the next frame before voltage gets too high.

Meanwhile, motion blur reduction, also known as ultra low motion blur (ULMB in the photo below), maintains motion resolution when on-screen action becomes more intense.

Credit: Asus

Here’s what to consider before deciding for or against the two:

  • Overdrive can create inverse ghosting artifacts, so check our reviews to learn how good a monitor’s overdrive feature is. You can test your own monitor’s overdrive by using the BlurBusters UFO test. Watch the UFO while switching between your monitor’s different overdrive options. When you see a white trail behind the saucer, you’ve gone too far.
  • You typically can’t use motion blur reduction and G-Sync / FreeSync at the same time. (There are rare exceptions, like the Asus ROG Strix XG27AQ.) Gamers should opt for Adaptive-Sync every time. A fast graphics card running at 60 fps and higher with G-Sync or FreeSync will pretty much eliminate any need for motion blur reduction.
  • Motion blur reduction reduces overall brightness. We’ve tested monitors that cut brightness by over 60% if blur reduction is on.

What’s a good gaming monitor deal?

Gaming monitors often go on sale, but it’s hard to tell if you’re actually getting a good deal. The first way to find out is to check reviews to make sure it’s the right monitor for you.

You can also tell if you’re getting a good sales discount on a name-brand monitor with the following guidelines: 

  • 144 Hz at 1080p (27 inches or more): $200 or less
  • 60 Hz at 4K: $250 or less

Finally, we love PCPartPicker.com and, for Amazon listings, CamelCamelCamel for tracking the price history of specific monitors. 

General use monitors: Which features matter?

Credit: Dell

Both gaming and professional monitors are more than qualified to serve as general use displays. But if you want to avoid spending extra money on a specialized monitor, you need something that works well for every kind of computing, entertainment and productivity. Here’s how to decide what’s best for you:

  • Contrast is king, so VA panels are too. We consider contrast the first measure of image quality, followed by color saturation, accuracy and resolution. When a display has a large dynamic range, the picture is more realistic and 3D-like. VA panels typically offer 3-5 times the contrast of IPS or TN screens. If you place a VA and IPS monitor next to each other with matched brightness levels and calibration standards, the VA screen will easily win in terms of image quality.
  • Consider flicker-free if you’ll be staring at the screen for over 8 hours. They won’t flicker at any brightness level, so even those particularly sensitive to flickering will be pleased.
  • Low blue light isn’t a buying point. Most operating systems, including Windows 10, have modes for reducing blue light, based on the theory that blue light interferes with sleep. But although many monitors offer this feature, it’s not necessary. Low blue light can make a computer image less straining on your eyes, but so can accurate calibration. And since reducing blue brightness also affects all other colors, you may experience an unnatural look in graphics and photos. This is especially distracting in games and videos. There’s no need to prioritize low blue light, but it’s becoming harder to find monitors without it.

Professional monitors: Which features matter?

Credit: Asus

Professional users have special needs. If you’re a photographer, print proofer, web designer, special effects artist, game designer or someone that needs precise color control, this section’s for you. Here’s what to know:

  • Monitors vendor-certified as color accurate cost more but are worth it. If you want a monitor that’s accurate out of the box, this is your best choice. It’s especially important for monitors without calibration capabilities. Professional monitors should come ready for work with no adjustment required. A DeltaE (dE) value of 2 or lower is a good sign. A dE under 3 is typically considered invisible to the human eye. 
  • You want calibration options. There are two ways to accomplish this: the on-screen display (OSD) and software. Check our reviews for monitor-specific calibration recommendations.
  • Calibration options should include choices for different color gamuts, color temperatures and gamma curves. At minimum there should be sRGB and Adobe RGB standards, color temperatures ranging from 5,000 to 7,500K and gamma presets from 1.8 to 2.4. Monitors used for TV or movie production should also support the BT.1886 gamma standard.
  • Flicker-free goes a long way if you’re spending eight hours or more in front of a computer screen. Many pro monitors today offer this.

What bit-depth do I need?

  • Higher is better, and professionals need at least 10-bits. An 8-bit panel won’t cut it for most professional graphics work. If possible, opt for 12-bit. For more, see our article on the difference between 10 and 12-bit.
  • A deep color monitor won’t do you any good if your graphics card can’t output a 10- or 12-bit signal. Yes, the monitor will fill in the extra information, but only by interpolation. Just as with pixel scaling, a display can’t add information that isn’t there in the first place; it can only approximate. Many consumer-grade graphics cards are limited to 8-bit output.

No matter what PC you have, your monitor choice has a dramatic effect on everything you do. That makes buying a new monitor a worthy investment and one that can benefit you immediately, whether your playing games or doing work, with the right selection. Just make sure you don’t waste money on a screen with excess features or without the specs you need to help your PC shine. 

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: Best 4K Gaming Monitors

MORE: HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which Is Better For Gaming?

MORE: All Monitor Content

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Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.

What Is AMD FreeSync? FreeSync, FreeSync Premium and FreeSync Premium Pro Explained

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 FreeSync off vs. FreeSync on (Image credit: AMD)

AMD FreeSync is a technology found on specific gaming monitors, gaming laptops and TVs to help fight screen tearing, stuttering and input latency (the time between when you move your best gaming mouse and when the cursor actually moves) during fast-paced games and video. 

Introduced in 2015, FreeSync is AMD’s alternative to Nvidia G-Sync and requires an AMD (including third-party branded) graphics card. There are over 2,000 FreeSync-certified displays as of June 2022. The feature comes in three tiers: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium and FreeSync Premium Pro.  

FreeSync vs. FreeSync Premium vs. FreeSync Premium Pro

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There are three types of FreeSync: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium (announced in January 2020) and FreeSync Premium Pro (renamed from FreeSync 2 HDR in January 2020).  

Swipe to scroll horizontally

FreeSync FreeSync Premium FreeSync Premium Pro
Tear-free At least 120Hz at FHD resolution HDR support
Low flicker Low framerate compensation (LFC) At least 120Hz at FHD resolution
Low latency Tear-free Low framerate compensation (LFC)
Row 3 – Cell 0 Low flicker Tear-free
Row 4 – Cell 0 Low latency in SDR Low flicker
Row 5 – Cell 0 Row 5 – Cell 1 Low latency in SDR and HDR

You can find a list of every FreeSync monitor here.

How Does FreeSync Work? 

FreeSync fights screen tearing.  (Image credit: AMD)

Screen tearing is an unwelcome effect (see photo above) that makes the on-screen image look disjointed. It’s the result of the game’s frame rate (the rate at which the game displays frames) failing to match the display’s refresh rate (the frequency at which the display redraws the screen). FreeSync displays have a dynamic refresh rate (also known as a variable refresh rate or VRR), allowing it to sync its minimum and maximum refresh rates with the frame rate of the system’s AMD Radeon graphics card. That refresh rate range, known as the FreeSync range, can go as high as the monitor’s maximum refresh rate. However, if you seek max frame rates that are greater than your monitor’s refresh rate, you may still see some tearing.

All versions of FreeSync are based on VESA’s Adaptive-Sync protocol, so it works over DisplayPort (which also works over USB Type-C) and HDMI ports. For a display to be FreeSync-certified, it must pass AMD’s testing process, which looks at its Adaptive-Sync support range, brightness, color range and more.

The best gaming monitors typically come with either a flavor of FreeSync or G-Sync. Some general use and professional monitors also use one of these types of Adaptive-Sync, as well as certain laptops and TVs (more on these below). 

FreeSync vs. G-Sync

FreeSync is AMD’s take on Adaptive-Sync, similar to Nvidia’s G-Sync. Just like you need an AMD GPU to use FreeSync, you need an Nvidia GPU (it could also be third-party branded) to use G-Sync.

One key difference is that in addition to DisplayPort (which also works over USB-C), FreeSync works with HDMI. G-Sync only works with DisplayPort, with the exception of LG’s G-Sync Compatible TVs, which work over an HDMI connection to a supported PC. For a look at which port is better for gaming, see our DisplayPort vs. HDMI analysis. 

Performance-wise, we’ve found negligible discrepancies between standard FreeSync and G-Sync. For a detailed exploration of the performance differences, see our FreeSync vs. G-Sync article.

FreeSync is built on an open standard, and display makers don’t have to pay AMD a licensing fee or for hardware modules to incorporate it. Contrastingly, to use G-Sync, monitor makers have to pay for Nvidia’s proprietary chip, which replaces the scaler they’d typically buy. As a result, FreeSync monitors are usually cheaper than G-Sync ones. However, Nvidia is fighting back with G-Sync Compatible monitors, which are certified to run G-Sync despite lacking the hardware as a standard G-Sync display. Many G-Sync Compatible displays are also FreeSync-certified, and we’ve found that numerous FreeSync monitors can also run G-Sync Compatibility even though they’re not certified to do so. To learn how, check out our instructions for how to run G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor. 

FreeSync Premium

While all types of FreeSync fight against screen tearing, flickering and low latency, FreeSync Premium kicks things a notch up by requiring a 120Hz refresh rate or greater when operating at FHD, aka 1080p (1920 x 1080), resolution. It also adds low frame rate compensation (LFC). With LFC, if your game’s frame rate drops below the monitor’s lowest supported refresh rate, frames automatically display multiple times. This means you’ll stay in your monitor’s supported refresh rate range and, therefore, maintain smooth gameplay. 

There are currently more than 300 FreeSync Premium monitors, according to AMD.

FreeSync Premium Pro

FreeSync Premium Pro, known as FreeSync 2 HDR until January, targets those with HDR content (for HDR recommendations, see our article on choosing the best HDR monitor). 

A FreeSync Premium Pro display should differ from a non-FreeSync HDR monitor by offering lower input latency by having games tone map directly to the display, circumnavigating large in-between steps. It also promises over 400 nits brightness with HDR. 

And like FreeSync Premium, FreeSync Premium Pro automatically activates LFC if the game’s frame rate dips below the monitor’s refresh rate.  

Gamers should note that not all games support FreeSync Premium Pro. Here’s every game that works with FreeSync Premium Pro.

What You Need to Run FreeSync

To use any form of FreeSync, you need a FreeSync-certified display and a PC with an AMD graphics card or APU. Alternatively, you can pair a FreeSync display with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S (no PlayStations). 

For PC gamers, your system will need a DisplayPort, (which also works over USB-C) or HDMI connection, plus the compatible Radeon Software graphics driver. Supported graphics are all AMD GPUs, including third-party branded ones, from 2012 (Radeon HD 7000) and on and any AMD Ryzen-series APU. 

To use a PC monitor’s FreeSync, you have to turn it on in AMD Radeon Settings software.

To use FreeSync, you have to turn it on via software.  (Image credit: AMD)

For FreeSync TVs, you have to turn on its Game Mode by entering the Settings menu. 

FreeSync Laptops

Some laptops running AMD graphics have FreeSync built into the display. They’ll say so on their spec sheet. 

In addition, any laptop with an RX 500-series or newer GPU supports external FreeSync monitors. 

Here’s a list of every FreeSync laptop

FreeSync TVs

Samsung has dozens of TVs with FreeSync. Of course, you could pair these displays with a gaming PC, but they primarily target those with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, which both also support FreeSync (sorry, PlayStation fans). 

You turn on a TV’s FreeSync function by activating the Game Mode in its Settings menu. 

Here is every FreeSync TV currently available.  

This article is part of the Tom’s Hardware Glossary.

Further reading:

  • AMD FreeSync vs. Nvidia G-Sync
  • Best Gaming Monitors
  • Best 4K Gaming Monitors
  • PC Monitor Buying Guide

Join the experts who read Tom’s Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We’ll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.

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Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.

Monitors at 144, 240, 360 Hz: do they provide real benefits?

03/30/2022

Author: CHIP

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144, 240, 360 Hz monitors: do they offer real benefits?

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The topic is not new, but we decided to talk in detail about all the nuances.

In the technical specifications of any display, you can find such a parameter as the refresh rate. It is measured in hertz and displays the maximum number of frames per second that the monitor can display. Budget models operate at 60 Hz, but now on sale you can find devices with a hertz equal to 144, 240 and even more. Such devices are significantly more expensive than their low-frequency counterparts. Is it worth paying extra for it? Or is it all marketing?

How did it all begin?

Our brain is arranged in such a way that a set of a certain number of consecutive pictures that are very similar to each other is perceived as an animation. The more images in the set, the smoother the animation looks. And the missing fragments are completed with the help of imagination. Thus, in the era of the birth of cinematography, directors took the number 24 as the standard. It was 24 frames, in their opinion, that was the minimum necessary for comfortable perception of smooth animation, without noticeable gaps between images.

But the basis of the film recording was not only the physiological characteristics of the human body. Do not forget about the economic costs of production. Why should a slide projector pass through itself more than 24 frames per second, if this value is enough for comfortable perception? Indeed, in this case, the costs associated with storage, transportation and printing of the film itself increase. And this is unprofitable.

  • Computers and laptops

    TN, IPS, OLED: what are the matrices of monitors and laptops

It all just started, but the benefit of technology does not stand still and the technical characteristics of all gadgets are improving. In the future, the developers switched to the standard 60 frames. Now we see 144 and 240. What will happen next? 500? Or maybe 1000?

How many frames can the human eye capture?

It is almost impossible to objectively answer the question in the subheading, since this is an individual parameter. You can’t tell how fast a person’s reaction is. Someone reacts to a stimulus within a tenth of a second, while for someone a few seconds are not enough. No, of course, you can cite an example of an individual with a lightning-fast reaction. But, most likely, it will be a person who regularly practices this. So it is with the perception of a change in the visual environment.

People whose activities require maximum concentration and attention, as a rule, are able to catch the slightest changes in the environment. For example, pilots, stuntmen, policemen and so on. According to research, their eyes can perceive up to 1000 frames per second. But not all people have such sensitive visual perception. To understand how different a high-frequency monitor is from a low-frequency one, you can only try the displays from the first category. Someone will immediately feel a huge difference, but someone will not be impressed with the result. Nevertheless, there is a profit from 144 and 240 Hertz. But do not forget that you will also need the appropriate hardware.

What if my hardware is weak?

As you understand, the monitor polling rate is the maximum number of frames that the screen can display. But what if the hardware produces fewer frames per second than the monitor’s hertz? The answer is very simple: no way! To take advantage of a smooth picture, your frame rate must be at least as high as the hertz of your monitor.

That is, if the monitor is at 144Hz, and you have 60 FPS in the game, the result will be equivalent to running a 60Hz display. The same works in reverse. If the FPS value is higher than the monitor’s hertz, then this will not give additional smoothness. Of course, there are benefits to higher frame rates. For example, you will get more responsive controls and will have some headroom for especially dynamic and heavy scenes in games, as a result of which the frame rate sags a lot. But if we talk purely about smoothness, remember: the frame rate should be higher than the monitor’s polling rate.

  • Computers

    Gaming monitor: how not to overpay for what you need

Does a frequency of 144 or more hertz give an advantage in games?

In theory, yes. The higher the hertz, the more relevant frames regarding what is happening in the game you see. When using a 60-Hz monitor, the current frame lags behind the actual game conditions by 16 milliseconds. It seems to be a negligible value. But let’s remember that the response time of gaming monitors is only 1 millisecond. The response times of good gaming mice and keyboards are the same. And when using a 144Hz screen, you see a frame that is only 7 milliseconds behind. For 240-Hz models, the figure is even lower. In addition, you see a smoother image due to less time allocated to each frame.

The described advantages are suitable only for professional e-sports players and fans of competitive online games. For players who prefer single projects, this makes little sense. In this case, in our opinion, the quality of the picture is higher than the smoothness of the image. Also, a high-hertz monitor is not needed to watch movies, as 60 frames per second is the standard for many digital video formats.

Increased hertz – is it expensive?

A high refresh rate does not always make the monitor more expensive. In the game series, she has become just a “must have”. For example, even the relatively inexpensive Acer Nitro RG241YPbiipx already has a 165Hz refresh rate.

If you’re serious about competitive shooters, flight sims, or racing sims, you’re looking for not only the highest possible refresh rate, but also the lowest latency. Accordingly, it makes sense to consider more advanced models – for example, Acer Nitro XV252QFbmiiprx with a frequency of 360 Hz and a delay of 1 ms. Of course, in order to realize the potential of such a monitor, you will need to take care of the hardware and even cables: for example, the bandwidth of the HDMI 2. 0 standard will no longer be enough, you will need 2.1.

In a word, even if you buy a universal monitor for the home, it will most likely already have a matrix with an increased frequency. And this will be quite enough: it is unlikely that in a year or two you will begin to miss your 144 or 240 Hz.

Of course, this is not the only parameter by which you need to choose a monitor for your PC. Read in our guide what else is important.

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60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz or 240Hz monitor – which one will be the best in 2020

Your choice of refresh rate monitor will largely depend on your budget and individual gaming needs. If you’re an avid competitive gamer, then you’ll probably be investing in a 144Hz monitor, and if you don’t have one, it’s time to reclaim the edge.

Some gamers prefer aesthetics and graphics over fast response times, so they prefer a 4K monitor with an IPS panel that typically runs at 60Hz. There are a few things to consider before upgrading, and by the end of this article, you’ll know whether you should go with a 60Hz monitor or upgrade to a 120Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz model.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of our top monitors for each category, with lots of information, comparisons, and more. All of which you can use to narrow your search and improve your gaming experience.

But before we get into the specifics, let’s look at the basic concepts.

What is hertz?

Hertz (Hz) is the number of frames displayed by the monitor per second. This means that a 60Hz monitor will refresh 60 times per second, while a 120Hz monitor will refresh 120 times per second.

Essentially, more hertz than means you get more frames per second than , which creates a smoother display of action on the screen. This is very important in games.

Until recently, we were convinced that human eyes can only see 30 frames per second and it makes no sense to rise above 60 Hz. Since the advent of 144Hz monitors a while back, everyone has noticed a huge difference when you go from 60Hz to 144, you can clearly see it even when you jump to 120Hz. With a jump to 240Hz, we don’t notice much of a difference, and this can be a limitation for our eyes, but in a 240Hz monitor, all movements become very smooth, proving that the higher the better.

How does this affect gameplay?

The difference is not obvious to the average user. But for gamers, these small differences play a very important role in competitive gaming, especially FPS games like CS:GO, Overwatch, Battlefield, Fortnite, and PUBG.

Image quality will not improve. Improves fluidity of movement. 120Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz monitors give gamers the ability to respond faster than a 60Hz monitor.

What makes a 60Hz monitor different from 120Hz, 144Hz and 240Hz?

60 Hz monitors

60 Hz monitors were once the standard, and some CRT monitors ran at 85 Hz. This means that a new image is generated every 16ms .

Now that 4K gaming monitors are taking over the market, if you want one of these, your best bet right now is to go for the 60Hz gaming monitor until you can afford something more expensive.

Our personal selection comes in the 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and 240Hz categories, so be sure to check them out.

Our choice of 60Hz monitor is the BenQ EW3270U HDR 4K

Although it only has a 60Hz refresh rate, the picture is a delight as it is an IPS gaming monitor.

The sleek design features a simple, attractive stand, and the bezels are quite thin. The monitor supports HDR and gives out one of the pictures in the 60 Hz category, but it also remains quite sensitive! You can even take advantage of the built-in FreeSync technology for smooth 4K gaming! You won’t be disappointed.

120 Hz monitors

In addition to what was mentioned earlier, 120 Hz monitors provide much better performance than 60 Hz monitors, which you will immediately notice. In terms of timing, this is outputting a new frame every 8ms .

However, we do not recommend the category to our readers. The existence of the 120Hz category seems silly when 24Hz steps into 144Hz territory. That’s why we want to showcase our selection from the next category.

ASUS ROG Swift PG279QZ

This G-Sync monitor from Asus combines an excellent ergonomic stand and bezel. It runs at 144Hz and can be overclocked to 165Hz if desired.

Nice design combined with a great 27″ IPS 1440p screen! This is a great all-round monitor for casual and competitive gamers.

144 Hz monitors

For a 144 Hz monitor, a new image is generated approximately every 7 ms . This is one of the reasons why you can see images much smoother compared to 60Hz monitors.

In the 144Hz category, our pick is another product from Asus, the almighty ROG Swift PG27UQZ – arguably one of the best gaming monitors available on the market.

Our 144Hz pick is the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ

This behemoth of the gaming world offers some of the best features we’ve seen on a gaming monitor.

In addition to G-Sync technology, 144Hz and a crisp IPS display, you get 4K resolution with a fast response time of just 4ms! It’s a 27-inch screen with stunning HDR support, enough connection types to suit anyone, and a brilliant ROG ergonomic stand.

240Hz Monitors

The 240Hz Gaming Monitor is the latest solution and definitely worth buying, but only if you have a high performance PC capable of running games at high FPS, especially if you want to run G-Sync, we would personally recommend getting started with the RTX 20 series GPU .

In our 240Hz category, our top recommendation is the BenQ ZOWIE XL2740 gaming monitor.

Our 240Hz pick is the BenQ ZOWIE XL2740

This is our top recommendation for a 240Hz monitor for serious gamers.

The Zowie XL2740 is loaded with features including a lightning-fast 1ms response time and G-Sync compatibility. The monitor features anti-glare side panels, a sleek stand that can help organize your cables, and is of the highest quality.

The video below does a great job of showing the difference between 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and 240Hz in slow motion.

Now the real comparison question:

Which monitor should I upgrade to?

If you have a 60Hz monitor and want to upgrade, choosing 120Hz instead of 144Hz isn’t the worst thing in the world if you can’t afford the 144Hz option. However, if you can afford a 144Hz monitor, then you should invest in one.