DLJ System is supported by readers. If you buy products from links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more
By: Henz Llarves | Date Posted: July 28, 2022
Gamers are always on the hunt for a competitive advantage, and many of them believe that a 120Hz monitor gives them an edge. In an industry where even the tiniest of advantages may determine who comes first and last, it’s critical to have every tool at your disposal. Many gamers were intrigued when manufacturers like Asus and Acer started promoting 360Hz displays as the next big thing in gaming.
But does a higher refresh rate really make that much of a difference? And if it does, is it worth shelling out for one of these new monitors? Let’s take a closer look.
Refresh rate is one of the most important aspects of a monitor, especially for gamers. Every monitor has an optimal refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz). When this rate is exceeded with any sort of digital input source – a game, for example – visual artifacts known as screen tearing can occur. These tears happen because most monitors are set to run at only one certain refresh rate, so when the graphics card pushes out data faster than that maximum frequency, it causes multiple frames to display on-screen simultaneously.
So, if you’re playing your favorite shooter and things seem just a little off, there could be several reasons for that feeling. It might not necessarily mean that your new ASUS TUF Gaming VG279Q1A isn’t working properly; the monitor could simply be set to a lower refresh rate.
Now that we have a better understanding of what a monitor’s Hz means, let’s take a look at the differences between standard and high refresh rates in action.
Every monitor has a maximum refresh rate that it can handle, but not all of them are created equal. The standard for gaming monitors is 60Hz, which means the monitor will display 60 frames every second. But if you’re playing an FPS, for example, your monitor is only refreshing 60 times every second to keep up with the action. When it can’t keep up with rendering all 60 frames in a single second, screen tearing occurs. For this reason, most gamers have been trained to turn on v-sync in their games so that the graphics card will wait until the monitor is ready to refresh before sending any new data. It doesn’t always eliminate tearing but it does reduce its appearance significantly.
A high refresh rate monitor – anything above 144Hz – is designed to solve this problem by displaying twice as many still images every second. This means the graphics card has more data points over which it can spread rendering load, resulting in a much smoother gameplay experience.
In the case of 360Hz monitors, the same principle holds true. This is what allows for such a high refresh rate in the first place; it simply runs more times in a single second than most monitors do.
While the difference between standard and high refresh rates is noticeable in fast-paced games like shooters, it’s not as easy to spot in games like MOBAs as they don’t hit 144fps often enough for anything above that refresh rate to make a significant impact.
The screen tearing occurs when the monitor and graphics card are out of sync with each other. The monitor is only able to display a certain amount of data every second, so if the graphics cards try to push more images than that, they’ll end up onscreen at once.
When the images are displayed simultaneously, they’re overlapping one another which causes screen tearing because it gives the appearance that objects are either closer or further away from you in-game. This happens most frequently during fast movements where new frames are constantly being rendered like when you’re running through a really busy area in an FPS game but it can also happen in games where there aren’t nearly as many moving parts. That’s why some people can still notice screen tearing even though they have a powerful computer and a great monitor.
In this video from The Tech Chap, you can see how tearing is more apparent on a 60Hz monitor when the action gets heated. The momentary pauses in-between frames are noticeable enough that it creates a jarring experience for the player. That’s because individual frames are being displayed out of sync with each other, resulting in screen tears or multiple images appearing on the screen at once. This happens because the graphics card is pushing out data faster than the monitor can process it.
Once this same sequence is running on a higher refresh rate monitor (in this case, one with a 120Hz refresh rate), screen tearing becomes far less obvious since each frame – namely, individual images are displayed sequentially at twice the speed. So, when the graphics card is done processing one frame, it’s already ready for the next one. The result? An overall smoother experience, and one you might notice more in certain games than others depending on how fast-paced they are.
A 360Hz monitor can give you a smoother and more responsive gaming experience than a lower refresh rate monitor. This is because the refresh rate of the screen updates itself more often, allowing for your graphics card to push out more frames per second (FPS) and providing smoother motion overall. A higher refresh rate also has benefits in competitive online games such as Overwatch or League of Legends, where split-second actions can make all the difference in victory or defeat.
A common issue that gamers face is motion blur, which can cause a loss of clarity and negatively affect gaming performance. This occurs due to the screen’s inability to fully update itself as quickly as it ought to. By having a high refresh rate monitor, such as 360Hz, you will eliminate any potential motion blur issues resulting from less-than-optimal frame rendering speeds.
Having a higher-than-average refresh rate also gives you a better idea of how well your graphics card is performing in comparison with other players. Usually, when playing online games or benchmarking applications like 3DMark or Unigine Heaven (they both feature benchmarks with support for various monitors, including those with high-refresh rates), you run the risk of having your benchmark numbers skewed because of your monitor’s refresh rate. With a 360Hz monitor, however, this is not an issue as it updates itself more than twice as often as lower-end monitors.
The RTX 3080 graphics card, for example, is capable of around 240-300 frames per second in most fast-paced games at 1080p. So, pairing a high refresh rate monitor with the GeForce RTX 3080 ensures that you get the most out of its gaming performance.
For gamers who need to react quickly to what’s happening on the screen, it’s a perfect choice. In competitive online games like Call of Duty, a high refresh rate monitor is ideal because it allows you to react more quickly to what’s happening on the screen. In games where split-second actions can mean the difference between victory and defeat, this is an added advantage that could make all the difference in helping you win your next match.
The main disadvantage of a 360Hz monitor is the fact that they are significantly more expensive than lower-refresh rate monitors (unless you get lucky with your Black Friday deals). So, while they may not necessarily offer any extra benefits when playing single-player campaign mode games like The Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed, having a high refresh rate monitor can be a godsend when playing online competitive games.
If you’re playing more slow-paced games like Civilization 6 or Stardew Valley, then the benefits of having a 360Hz monitor are not worth it since they have few action sequences. If you want to know more about this, I suggest reading our separate article on whether you should get a higher refresh rate or higher resolution monitor, especially for slow-paced gaming.
The only question that remains is – should you get one? This will depend on how much you value responsiveness in your gameplay experience. If you enjoy playing fast-paced competitive games, then there’s no doubt that you should look at getting yourself a high refresh rate monitor. They are ideal for any gamer who prefers responsiveness over graphical fidelity in their gaming hardware.
If, however, your focus tends to be mainly on spending more time enjoying slower-paced single-player titles or occasionally hopping online to play a few rounds of Red Dead Redemption 2 or Battlefield 1, then this isn’t the best investment for you. The money that you’d spend on buying a 360Hz monitor can be put towards other things that will benefit your gaming experience more – such as investing in a better graphics card.
Another thing to consider is whether your hardware can handle a monitor with a higher refresh rate than usual, such as a 360Hz one. If you’re gaming on an older computer, and your graphics card is not powerful enough to push out over 240 frames per second consistently, then it’s probably not worth it for you since your monitor will be limited by the performance your hardware can provide. But if you have powerful hardware, and you feel that your current monitor is holding you back, then upgrading to a 360Hz monitor might prove to be beneficial after all.