One of the most popular topics for gamers these days is about which refresh rate they should be gaming on. There are two different refresh rates: 60 and 75 Hz. The difference between them is not very dramatic, but there are some key differences that you need to know before you make a decision on what’s best for your setup.
We will discuss how each one affects gameplay and if we think it’s worth upgrading from 60Hz to 75Hz or vice versa in this blog post.
What is Refresh Rate?
The refresh rate of the monitor determines how many times per second the computer can send a new image to the display. This process happens so fast that it’s unperceivable by the human eye, which results in steady, seamless images, without flickering.
The best way to comprehend this is by visualizing a movie. For example, let’s take an old silent movie with low frame rates (e.g., 12 or 16 frames per second (FPS)). The images will look choppy and static because there’s not enough fluidity to suppress the flickering effect.
On the other hand, a movie filmed with modern high-frame rates (e.g., 60 FPS), will look very fluid and life-like because every frame is refreshed in time before the human eye can notice the difference.
This same effect also happens with computer games but at a much faster rate since movies are filmed at 24 FPS typically, while games run at 30 to 144 FPS (or more).
Of course, there are several factors that affect the fluidity and performance of your in-game graphics including the resolution, hardware specs, and rendering techniques. But we’ll keep it simple here by focusing on the refresh rate.
Why is There a Difference Between 60Hz vs 75Hz?
Variable refresh rates also exist and they are a welcome alternative to the traditional fixed refresh rates. However, we will not cover it in this article because not all computer users can take advantage of them.
Nevertheless, you should know that Radeon graphic cards support variable refresh rates while NVIDIA cards don’t at this point in time.
The current standard refresh rate for modern LCD/LED monitors is 60Hz, which means that the display refreshes its image at a rate of 60 times per second. But why did manufacturers choose to limit the standard refresh rates to just 60Hz? Well, this has to do with limitations imposed by old CRT monitors.
Before LED displays were invented, all monitors were huge CRT (cathode ray tube) screens, which worked very similarly to the cathode ray tubes in old TVs. These CRTs can draw and refresh images at a much faster rate of around 100 to 120 times per second, but there was one major downside: image flicker.
To produce the picture on a CRT screen, the electron beam must first scan to the left side and back again to the right side as many times as required.
To build up one complete image, multiple horizontal “lines” are drawn in this manner. This process happens so fast that your eyes can’t see it, but you may clearly feel it (especially if you had a headache) when you move your head to the left and right very fast.
Refreshing the display at a faster rate means that there will be more lines drawn in that same amount of time, which is why refresh rates are measured by the number of lines or cycles per second (Hz).
So in order for CRT monitors to produce fluid images without flicker, they must limit their refresh rate to approximately 120 times per second. This is exactly what it was limited to back then (e.g., 75Hz (75 times per second), 80Hz, 85Hz, etc.).
Nowadays LCD screens use completely different technologies compared to CRTs and can’t achieve anywhere near 100 Hz, so refresh rates have been standardized limiting them to 60Hz, which is fine for most users.
However, gamers have been pushing the boundaries since 60 FPS or even 30FPS wasn’t smooth enough, so the race to newer higher refresh rates was on.
For a long time, 75Hz has been considered the ideal choice due to technological limitations and because it’s faster than 60Hz while not as fast as CRTs (which were limited to 120 Hz). But now we’re seeing more options hitting the market like 80Hz, 85Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz.
So what makes these new higher refresh rates so special? Once again, we must consider how our eyes work. The human eye perceives flickering at around 55-60 FPS (or 50-75 times per second), so the difference between 60Hz and 75/80/85/120Hz is noticeable.
At 120 or even 144Hz, it becomes pretty much impossible for your eyes to see any flickering, which makes this refresh rate ideal for action games.
What is a 60Hz Monitor?
A 60Hz monitor means that your computer’s graphics card can only update the screen 60 times per second. This number refers to how many images or frames are shown on the screen every single second.
A 60Hz monitor is a standard display that has been around for years. The refresh rate on this type of monitor will never go above 60 frames per second, which means only the most basic games can be played in full detail and at their best with no problems.
The higher this number, the smoother things will look during gameplay and any type of fast motion. On the other hand, a 60Hz monitor can sometimes look choppy and pixelated during any type of fast motion.
These types of monitors are typically very affordable so they are good if you just want to get into gaming and don’t have a lot of money.
What is a 75Hz Monitor?
A 75Hz monitor means that your computer’s graphics card has the ability to update the screen up to 75 times per second (75fps).
This number refers to how many images or frames are shown on the screen every second. The higher this number, the smoother things will look during gameplay and any type of fast motion.
A 75Hz monitor has the same resolution as a 60Hz monitor, but it can handle more graphics on screen at one time without any problems. This means you are going to be able to play some pretty intense games and have a really fun experience while you’re at it.
These types of monitors are typically more expensive than the 60Hz monitor, but they are worth the money if you want to get into gaming and don’t mind spending some extra cash for a better overall visual quality.
Benefits of Higher Refresh Rates
1. Better Fluid Motion in Fast-Paced Video Games
One of the most important benefits of higher refresh rates is better fluid motion, which means that objects appear smoother when you play fast-paced games.
Let’s take a 60Hz monitor for example: if a 60 FPS game renders 60 frames per second and the standard 60Hz monitor refreshes 60 times per second, all those frames will be displayed at once as shown in this animation.
However, if you have a 75 Hz monitor instead, it can show 75 FPS, which means that there are 60+15 additional frames to display between the 60 frames from a 60Hz monitor. With this higher frame rate, you will get 15 extra “in-between” images in addition to 60 new images. This is why higher frame rates give you smoother motion compared to standard 60 FPS.
2. Less Eye Strain/Fatigue
The other main benefit is less eye strain/fatigue, which was in fact the main reason 60Hz monitors used to be standard. As explained earlier, 60Hz screens are better for people who experience screen flicker because 60 frames will make up one second and there is no time for your eyes to perceive any flickering.
But now that panel technology has evolved allowing manufacturers to build higher refresh rate displays (120Hz), you can eliminate this problem entirely and enjoy much more comfortable gaming or working session.
3. Higher Responsiveness in Fast-Paced Games
Another big advantage of high refresh rates is higher responsiveness in fast-paced games where every millisecond counts. The 60Hz monitor will have to wait 16.6 milliseconds (ms) in order to refresh 60 times per second, which means that if the game is running at 60 FPS it can only process 60 new images per second.
On the other hand, a 60+ Hz monitor will have enough time to render and display up to 120 new images in one second, which means that games and videos will look much more fluid and responsive on high refresh rate displays.
While 60 FPS might be enough for slower-paced video games, it doesn’t cut it for fast-paced games like CSGO or Starcraft where you have to be extra precise.
4. Reduced input lag
Input lag is the time it takes for your monitor to process your inputs and display them on the screen. Or rather, you can perceive it as the delay between pressing a button and seeing the result on-screen. This usually happens due to inefficient communication between the PC and monitor.
For example, when you turn your head from one side to another, it takes approximately 0.01 seconds for signals to travel from your eyes to your brain then back again. So if there is any delay between the moment you pressed a key/button/flicked a joystick and when you actually see the image change on-screen, your reflexes will not be able to take advantage of them in time.
On older fixed refresh rate monitors, this is typically not an issue since they update their images at consistent rates (60 times per second), but as mentioned earlier, these fixed refresh rates are not ideal for gamers.
Computer monitors with higher refresh rates reduce input lag significantly, but it’s important to note that they’re still not as fast as CRTs which is why the difference is noticeable only when you’re playing fast-paced games.
However, most gamers will agree that the reduced input lag is well worth the slight decrease in FPS because your actions feel more fluid and you become a lot better at reacting quickly to whatever is happening onscreen.
5. Reduced Motion Blur
Previously we talked about how human eyes can perceive flickers at around 55 or 60 frames per second (FPS) and how this limit increases as we age, but did you know that some amount of motion blur occurs even on displays that are refreshing at above 75-80 FPS?
This is due to the persistence of your eyes, which continue to “see” what was on the screen before even if new images appear as a result of higher refresh rates. This causes moving objects to look blurred because your eyes can’t see them updating as fast as they’re drawing, but it’s not really noticeable in most cases unless you look closely.
Moving images that appear smeared and blurry due to low response times caused by traditional displays can be improved with higher refresh rates because they show a clearer image.
This is especially important in action games like first-person shooters where you’re constantly moving your camera around.
6. Reduced Visual Artifacts
Visual artifacts happen when certain displays incorrectly interpret data being sent from your computer and show incorrect colors or shapes resulting in distorted picture quality.
Sometimes this results in screen tearing (an effect similar to watching TV through an old analog antenna) where parts of different objects appear separately because different images were being drawn at the same time.
Higher refresh rates help because they result in a renewing of image data every second/every other frame which means that the graphics being sent are interpreted correctly more often, therefore reducing noticeable visual artifacts significantly especially on TVs.
7. Reduced Lag During FPS Games
Most first-person shooter (FPS) games require you to turn 180 degrees pretty quickly or aim directly at an enemy behind your back and this requires extremely fast reaction times from your eyes which sends signals down to your brain, then back again so that you can move your gun/aim before the enemy shoots you.
The delay from when you see the enemy and when you react by moving/shooting is called “reaction time”. This limits how fast FPS players can turn around and how fast they can move, which is why many gamers use gaming monitors to gain a competitive advantage.
As we mentioned above, older fixed refresh rate displays (60 Hz) refresh at a reasonably high frequency but are not ideal for FPS games because the images don’t update as often as required – so gamers turn to 120/144Hz monitors that update their image twice or four times per frame to gain this advantage.
This reduces the delay between seeing an enemy on screen and reacting by turning around or aiming quickly, giving you more time to act before he shoots you first.
How Do Higher Refresh Rates Work?
So higher monitor refresh rates result in less motion blur, visual artifacts, and a reduction of input lag which helps FPS gamers respond faster to what they see on the screen because their monitor updates fast enough to display the images as they’re drawn.
Higher refresh rates work by refreshing your monitor’s image more often than previously before, so even though an older 60 Hz display refreshes at 120 times per second (every 16.6 milliseconds), it can’t update half of that time – therefore each frame appears for 33.3 ms which is too long compared to how quickly you move/react in games these days.
Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as turning up the monitor’s refresh rate because you need to also perform separate tasks like increasing output frequencies and adjusting V-Sync settings (which we’ll talk about in a moment).
So to get the most out of your 120 Hz monitor you would need to set your V-Sync to “On” and change two separate settings if you want a tear-free image.
Which is Better: 60 Hz or 75 Hz?
The difference between 60Hz and 75Hz is quite dramatic. If you have never experienced it before, you will notice a huge improvement in how smooth fast-paced actions appear when compared to lower refresh rates (which aren’t nearly as bad as some people make them out to be).
However, even if you upgrade your PC, monitor, and graphics card, you’re still limited to 60 FPS whether it be through a game’s built-in settings or by the monitor itself.
Some 60 Hz monitors have a motion blur reduction feature. However, 60 Hz is too slow to reduce motion blur and there are only a few monitors that will work with ULMB at 60 Hz. This is why it’s best to purchase displays with 75 Hz or higher because they usually come with an integrated motion blur reduction feature.
How Can I Achieve Higher Refresh Rates?
You have two ways of achieving faster monitor refresh rates:
1) By Upgrading Your Display
The simplest way to increase your monitor’s refresh rate is by purchasing a new model that has a faster response time and supports at least 240Hz (if not more).
It’s important that the display you choose is compatible with your graphics card as well as having all the features required for smooth gaming performance as we mentioned above, such as Adaptive-Sync/FreeSync.
2) By Adjusting Your In-Game Settings
One way to increase your monitor’s refresh rate is by enabling VSync and the display’s maximum refresh rate (most monitors now support up to 240 Hz). This doesn’t mean that you can enable only VSync, otherwise, things will get ugly because this forces the monitor to refresh at a fixed frequency of 60 times per second which causes tearing on fast-moving objects.
This is why Nvidia GTX users should choose G-sync over V-sync as it syncs with the monitor’s refresh rate, effectively doubling its response time and providing tear-free images.
However, It does require an additional proprietary hardware module on your graphics card to function properly which isn’t compatible with AMD cards (unless you purchase a G-sync monitor).
Older monitors with fixed refresh rates (60 Hz) work well in games as they simply update on the same frequency that was set by the user.
Unfortunately, newer models (120+Hz) don’t allow you to simply choose your refresh rate – whether it’s 60, 75, 120, or 144 Hz and still be able to turn up/down V-Sync settings in games since a majority of games need to match this setting with their game’s frame rate so that there is no screen tearing issues.
So if your FPS drops below your monitor’s VSync threshold you will see noticeable screen tearing – but turning on ULMB might help achieve smoother images. We recommend using NVIDIA cards for gamers who want tear-free images as the ULMB mode works with G-Sync, effectively doubling its response time.
What is ULMB?
Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) is a motion blur reduction feature that’s available on some monitors and was made popular by NVIDIA’s Lightboost technology.
It essentially limits the monitor’s refresh rate to refresh rates higher than 85 Hz in order to display sharper images during fast-paced games – but this can get rather costly because you cannot use this feature along with FreeSync/G-SYNC or any other monitor overclocking tech (unless your monitor supports both).
How Does ULMB Work?
As mentioned above, ULMB limits your monitor’s maximum refresh rate to 85 Hz or more. The higher the monitor’s refresh rate, the less motion blur you would see while playing fast-paced games (such as racing or first-person shooters). Since your graphics card has to produce at least 85 FPS for ULMB to work, this feature isn’t available in 60 Hz monitors.
ULMB is a great addition to G-Sync and FreeSync monitors as it reduces motion blur even further but there will be noticeable flicker which some users might find distracting (which can be adjusted to reduce eye fatigue) – think of it as CRT flickering that was eliminated by LCDs in the first place.
Fortunately, most gamers don’t find flicker distracting enough to make them stop using ULMB so we consider it a worthy trade-off between clarity and flicker.
All in all, speed isn’t everything especially if you’re looking for the best 60 Hz or 75+Hz monitor that can display beautiful images without screen tearing and motion blur – but then again, we will always recommend buying a new display instead of spending countless hours trying to fix your current one.
When shopping for your next 60 Hz vs 75 Hz monitor keep in mind that these monitors not only differ in their response time but also vary greatly when it comes to input lag (which is why some gamers prefer 60 Hz displays) as well as color accuracy and image clarity.
We hope this article was useful and until next time…Happy gaming!