60Hz/120hz/144hz Monitor for Gaming: Which is Better?

Gaming is a very enjoyable experience if you know what I mean. And part of the glamor is the visual aspects of gaming.

Apart from trying to improve gameplay every year, video game companies also try to improve the graphics. It’s true that people enjoyed video games 30 years ago.

People still have fun memories today. But who actually wants to play those games today? I’ll be surprised if you find someone.

One of the gadgets that gives your game the visual appeal is your monitor. Some gamers use their TVs for gaming.

However, what you’ll find is that a majority of gamers prefer to use their monitors for gaming. This is because monitors usually offer a lower response time than TVs. This can eliminate blur that you might experience on your TV.

But for those who prefer to use the PC, which monitor is the best for you?

This guide will explore 3 popular choices you can make when looking to buy a monitor for your gaming needs. These monitors are:

  • 60Hz monitor

  • 120Hz monitor

  • 144Hz monitor

What’s Hertz?

First of all, what does hertz mean when talking about a monitor? Generally, Hertz is the unit of frequency. This is the number of cycles per second. However, for a monitor, this is the refresh rate.

It can be illustrated as the number of slides of images your monitor displays to you in one second. For instance, a 60Hz monitor means the monitor will show 60 slides of your gaming images per second.

Of course, with a frequency as low as 3Hz or 5Hz, it’s easily noticeable as the slides changes.

However, as the number of slides increase, it becomes difficult for the human eye. 60 slides per second on your monitor stops looking like slides and becomes a video.

As the number of cycles per second goes up, the images put less stress on the eyes and consequently the brain.

There have been many assertions over the years that after a frequency level, it becomes impossible for the eyes to notice. Some have put that value at 60Hz. But gaming has actually shown that the human eye can notice differences as the frequency goes up.

In gaming, this could make a lot of difference. A 3ms lag could be an issue in competitive gaming. If you engage in competitive gaming, the last thing you want is your opponent gaining an advantage over you just because of the technology you use.

Monitor technology

There are 3 major technologies used to make monitor panels. These are TN, IPS, and VA panels.

TN Panels

The TN panels are the oldest panels. The twisted nematic display is a type of liquid crystal display (LCD) that consists of a nematic liquid crystal.

A pixel of TN panel has 3 rectangular sub pixels which are red, green, and blue colors.

This is the most popular type of monitor display you can find on the market. Furthermore, it’s also the cheapest.

The TN panels are slower than the OLED or plasma displays but are the fastest of LCD panels. They can boast a response time as low as 2 milliseconds.

With this response time, the monitor can reduce blur on fast moving pictures and users can have a better viewing experience especially in gaming. The TN monitors are also able to have a high refresh rate due to the response time.

One of the main drawbacks of the TN panels is that they produce the lowest quality image compared to IPS and VA.

This is because TN panels don’t display as much of the total color spectrum as other types of panels.

When you look at a TN screen from different angles, you get different views as the image darkens or washes away depending on the angle you view.

IPS Panels

To eliminate the poor color production and limited viewing angles, the IPS technology was developed.

This was done by Hitachi in 1996. In-Plane Switching (IPS) can display a better color as its red, blue, or green sub pixel can display 8 bits of brightness or more. The display can also produce a higher number of colors than the TN.

Another advantage the IPS panel has over TN is that it has wider viewing angles. You can view from various angles and still see a good color and contrast display.

This makes IPS panels suitable for design, photography and other color-sensitive tasks.

One of the disadvantages the IPS has compared to TN is that it doesn’t get as bright as a TN panel. Another is that they have poor refresh rates compared to TN. This is a big disadvantage when it comes to gaming.

The most popular IPS monitors you’ll find suitable for gaming have 60Hz refresh rate.

It’s rare to find a 120Hz IPS monitor or higher. Another problem is that if you do, it will be more expensive than its TN equivalent.

VA Panels

In between the TN and IPS panels are the VA panels. The vertically aligned (VA) panels have a better color display than the TN. It also possesses wider viewing angles than the TN.

However, the VA panels have poorer color display than the IPS. The viewing angles are not as wide as that of IPS too.

How to check your monitor’s refresh rate

How do you know the refresh rate of your monitor? I’ll show you how you can check it on both Windows 7 and 10.

To check your refresh rate on Windows 7, right-click on your desktop and click on “Screen resolution.”

You’ll see your display and resolution in the new tab. Click on “Advanced Settings.”

After that, click on the “Monitor” tab. You’ll see the screen refresh rate here.

If you’re on Windows 10, right-click on the desktop and select “Display Settings.”

On the next page, click on “Advanced display settings.”

This will take you to the page where you see display specifications. Click on “Display adapter properties.”

On the next page, click on the “Monitor” tab and you can see the screen refresh rate.

It can be tempting to overclock your monitor beyond its refresh rate. This is a dangerous practice as it could ruin your monitor if it’s not programmed to do so.

60Hz monitor

This is a type of monitor that refreshes its images 60 times per second. A 60Hz monitor might look like the little brother in this comparison. But that doesn’t mean it’s inferior in all aspect.

There was a time people were happy with 30Hz monitors.

But time has changed and that means you should be looking for the best option today. Even though the 120Hz and 144Hz monitors boast of more refined images for your gameplay, a 60Hz monitor is capable of your basic needs in playing a game.

If you play light games and rarely play competitive games with other players, then a 60Hz monitor will meet your needs.

Advantage

The major benefit of a 60Hz monitor is that it’s cheaper than the 120Hz and 144Hz monitors.

The only situation when a 60Hz monitor could come at a high cost is if you’re buying one with an IPS panel.

Disadvantages

A disadvantage of a 60Hz monitor is that it could be an issue if you play competitive gaming and your opponent uses a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor.

They would likely react a bit faster than you and this would make a lot of competitive difference.

Another potential disadvantage is screen tearing. This usually occurs when your graphics card produces a much higher frame rate than your monitor can display.

For instance, if your graphics card sends images at 100 frames per second to your 60Hz monitor, your monitor is unable to produce the best images.

Likewise, there could be a mismatch between the frame rate and refresh rate causing a tearing of images on your monitor screen.

120Hz monitor

The 120Hz monitor is able to refresh its images 120 times every second. This is a jump from the 60Hz monitor as it refreshes images twice the number of times.

There is usually a clear difference between the images on a 120Hz monitor and a 60Hz monitor especially when the graphics card of your computer can render the images as fast as your monitor can display them.

This is especially visible in gaming. If you watch movies on your 60Hz monitor, you probably won’t notice a difference if you upgrade to 120Hz.

This is because most movies render at lower frames per second that the capacity of your 60Hz monitor. In this case, 60Hz is more than enough.

But gaming is a different ball game altogether. Many games render faster than 60 frames per second and you may need a 120Hz monitor to gain this advantage.

Advantage

One advantage of the 120Hz monitor is that you can get a faster gameplay with a smoother display than the 60Hz monitor.

Although not everyone can feel the difference, people usually notice if they have to use a 60Hz monitor after an extended period of using the 120Hz monitor.

Disadvantage

A disadvantage is that the 120Hz monitor will cost more than a 60Hz monitor. Likewise, if all the games you play run at 60 frames per second or lower, then a 120Hz won’t make your gaming experience better.

In some cases, your graphics card could limit the frame rate. Upgrading to a monitor with a higher frame rate won’t make much difference.

144Hz monitor

The difference between the 144Hz monitor and the 120Hz monitor may not be as visible as between a 120Hz and 60Hz, but there’s still a difference.

In some cases, these visual differences may be absent if the graphics card of your computer is rendering at 120 frames per second or lower.

However, if it’s rendering at 144 frames per second, then there’ll be a difference between the images of the two monitors. For most gamers, they’re oblivious to the improvement.

They only notice it when they have to play a game with a 120Hz monitor after a prolonged use of the 144Hz monitor.

For most gamers, it’s better to go for a 144Hz monitor instead of the 120Hz version.

There’s only a small difference in extra cost but the small difference in performance can make a lot of difference during competitive gaming.

Advantage

The main advantage of the 144Hz monitor over the other 2 monitors is that it has a higher refresh rate.

In professional gaming, this could make a lot of difference. It would also be beneficial if your graphics card can render images at 120 frames per second or higher.

Disadvantage

The major disadvantage of this monitor to the other 3 is that it’s costlier. If you’re just a regular gamer, there’s no need to stretch your pocket thin for this. A 60Hz monitor will do just fine.

Considerations for picking the right monitor

To pick the best gaming monitor for your needs, you need to consider these important factors:

Strength of your computer

While you may be tempted to shell out your money for a better monitor, you have to consider the strength of your computer. How fast can your graphics card render the game images?

This is measured in frames per second (fps).

For instance, if your graphics card renders images at 60 frames per second and you use a 60Hz monitor, there’s no need to upgrade your monitor.

This is because even if you upgrade your monitor to let’s say 120Hz, you won’t see much difference to your former monitor as the monitor will only process the images sent to it.

In this case, you may have to upgrade your graphics card too.

This is why you’ll see a big difference between a 120Hz monitor connected to a graphics card rendering at 120 frames per second compared to the same 120Hz monitor connected to a graphics card rendering at 60 frames per second.

The first thing to consider before upgrading your monitor, you need to know the specifications of your rig. With this, you can know whether you’ll get a better visual experience when you upgrade.

When your game produces many more frames per second than your monitor can process, then you should start thinking about upgrading your monitor. This can lead to screen tearing.

Screen tearing occurs when there’s a mismatch between your monitor’s refresh rates and your game’s frame rates.

This is common when the frame rate is much higher than the monitor’s refresh rates.

It’s possible for half frames to be shown together on the screen. It can show as a split between two portions and this can be distracting during gameplay.

To eliminate these issues, gamers can use frame synching technologies like G-sync or FreeSync. These synching technologies prevent screen tearing by synchronizing the refresh rates and the frame rates.

Your Budget

Buying a new monitor is not an undertaking for the faint-hearted. The truth is that you need money to get the type of monitor you want.

If you’re upgrading to a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, it could set you back for as much as $2,000.

A 144Hz monitor will cost you more than the 120Hz version. But if you’re a gamer, you can pay a bit more for the visual benefits.

However, if you have a low budget, you can stick with getting a 60Hz monitor if you currently use a monitor with a lower refresh rate.

Another way your budget could affect the monitor you buy is the monitor technology you want to choose.

For instance, if you want a better picture from every viewing angle, then an IPS monitor is a good fit. But this monitor also costs more.

Your gaming needs

If you’re a professional gamer, the choice is simple really. The best monitor will not make you the best gamer. But at least, it gives you a level playing field.

In competitive games, a small lag could be the difference between winning and losing. For a professional gamer, the 144Hz monitor is a no-brainer. It’s your profession and you should be able to invest in it to make gains. If your graphics card has a lower frame rate, you should upgrade that too.

If you play games as a hobby, the 60Hz monitor is capable of meeting your needs. Maybe there’ll be a small lag when playing some heavy games but that won’t matter so much.

If you’re really bothered about screen tearing, you may just use a sync technology to eliminate this problem.

If you have a graphics card that has a maximum frame rate of 100 fps, and you want a monitor with the best display possible, you should go for a 120Hz monitor.

A 144Hz monitor, in this case, will be redundant as a 120Hz monitor will meet your needs.

If you have no plan of upgrading your rig anytime soon, then the 120Hz monitor is the best way to use your budget.

Conclusion

Selecting a gaming monitor is an important decision if you love smooth gameplay. To select a monitor, you need to consider many factors.

If you just play games for fun during your free time, the 60Hz monitor is sufficient for your needs.

However, if you’re a professional gamer where a small lag could cost you an important victory, you should invest in a 144Hz monitor.

Of course, while thinking about upgrading, you have to know that your graphics card is able to render images at a frame rate that corresponds to your monitor’s refresh rate.

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