Is Refresh Rate Worth the Big Bill?

When it comes to PC gaming, there seems to be insider advice that applies to each facet of a setup. Some will focus on posture, emphasizing the chair, desk height, and keyboard and mouse in order to prevent back and neck discomfort.

Others will instead pay attention to brands. They’ll hawk peripherals from Omen to Corsair to Origin PC to Intel. And then there are those who focus on other aspects of gaming—the nitty-gritty of hardware and software.

Some gamers might even choose to build out their own CPU in order to make sure each aspect runs as smoothly as possible. After all, any lag or pixelation can cost a gamer big-time during live matches. As such, the refresh rate gets brought up a lot.

Refresh rate is the rate at which a screen will update its display. The faster, the better. However, there are huge disparities in refresh rate; the most basic type is 30Hz, though many consider 60Hz to be the lowest acceptable refresh rate for gamers.

Most gamers are working with a monitor with a refresh rate of 140Hz or 240Hz, both of which will provide a top-tier experience for a reasonable price. The highest is 300Hz, which is currently only available from Acer… for over $1,000.

Evaluating Needs

Clearly, the better the refresh rate, the more money a gamer will need to shell out for this—but is it actually necessary to seek out rates of 140Hz to 300Hz? For most gamers, the answer is no. Those who spend more time watching eSports than competing themselves won’t need access to hair-trigger refresh rates, whether watching or playing.

Some may prefer a better refresh rate solely for viewing purposes. As eSports become more popular for viewers, there are more ways to interact with top teams and leagues. For example, New York recently legalized sports betting, which means locals can now wager online—esports included.

With New York free bets on the table, gamers can look into eSports markets offered by groups like BetMGM, which covers major tournaments. This includes live markets, which lets viewers bet live on what’s happening in a major tournament. A refresh rate won’t have any effect on how a team performs or how a bet pans out… but it could influence how someone bets in a live setting.

In live viewing scenarios, whether watching Twitch or the League of Legends World Championship, the monitor acts more like a TV. On average, most LCD TVs offer a refresh rate of 120Hz to 240Hz. As such, there’s no reason to reach for a highly optimized 300Hz refresh rate or even the 240Hz option.

How to Evaluate a Full Setup

There’s one huge caveat gamers need to take into consideration when building a gaming setup: a top-tier monitor won’t do anything to fix deeper hardware issues. In other words, even a 300Hz monitor won’t improve a lagging system.

Still, as mentioned above, not many gamers are familiar with the intricacies of their PC’s hardware. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help a newcomer learn what their system is capable of. One is a frame rate monitoring service, such as Fraps, which will calculate a system’s performance during a period of gameplay.

A good report would be fully aligned with the monitor’s refresh rate. For example, a 240Hz monitor should see the same number in FPS (frames per second). An FPS of 160 to 200 might be acceptable for certain gamers, while others will want to upgrade their hardware (CPU or GPU) before purchasing a high refresh monitor.

And keep in mind that refresh rates are only one aspect of a quality monitor. Other important features to pay attention to include resolution, screen size, and aspect ratio. Typically, gamers will weigh what’s most important to them before building out a gaming setup. For this reason, newcomers don’t often jump into pricey upgrades until they’ve intuitively learned what sort of setup will work for them.

Leave a Comment