120Hz monitor – What are the benefits?

Monitors come in a variety of refresh rates these days. The most common refresh rates that a monitor comes in are 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz. Right now, you could potentially even own a 30Hz monitor. The benefits of higher refresh rates primarily affect gamers.

I believe that it depends on what you use your computer for in the first place. Both options have pros and cons associated with them that are important to consider. I personally have owned both 60Hz and 144Hz monitors over the years and have found big differences between the two. But you may not notice that much of a difference, depending on how you use your computer. Firstly, it is important to decipher what the benefits are of a higher refresh rate.

Before we cover the benefits of a 120Hz monitor, it is important to know what refresh rate is all about. We have covered it before in previous articles but you must know exactly what monitor refresh rate is. Below I have a video from 3kliksphilip that goes into detail on the benefits of a high refresh rate monitor.

What Is Refresh Rate?

We have all seen monitors and displays with a Hz rating associated with it. In basic terms, the Hz means how many times the monitor updates in one second. If your display is 60Hz, the display will update 60 times per second. Respectively, if it is 120 Hz, that means it will refresh 120 times per second. The higher your refresh rate is the smoother the rendering will be on your display.

Higher refresh rates can be especially important if you play fast-paced video games. If this is not you, a higher refresh rate will not impact you that much. However, if you are into video games, a high refresh rate monitor can offer you greatly improved visuals. It is also important to consider your PC’s frames per second (FPS) output as well. If your FPS cannot match or exceed the refresh rate of your monitor, then you will see no difference between the refresh rates. I will touch on this a little later on.

Check out our article on 60Hz vs 144Hz Refresh Rate for more information on those two respective refresh rates.

What refresh rate is best for me?

As mentioned before, the refresh rate you should get depends on how you use your computer. If you are big into gaming, I recommend you investigate a monitor with a higher refresh rate. If you primarily use your computer for work or general purposes, a 60Hz refresh rate monitor will suit you just fine.

gaming monitor setup

In general, 60Hz monitors are perfectly suited for all-around computer users. This includes basic work purposes, casual gaming, and typical internet browsing and applications.

FPS Limitations

FPS (frames per second) limitations are something that people often forget to consider when looking at monitors. Depending on what GPU or graphics card you have, your computer will only output a certain number of FPS. In basic terms, this is how many frames (images) your computer is showing you per second.

It is important to have your FPS at least equivalent, preferably higher than your refresh rate. If it is lower than your monitor’s refresh rate you will be limited to that frame rate. Meaning that, if your computer is outputting 40 FPS, even if you have a 144Hz monitor, you will still see 40 FPS. If you are not pulling an FPS higher than the refresh rate of your monitor, you may want to stick to a 60Hz monitor. When you do not have a higher FPS than refresh rate, a higher refresh rate will not make any noticeable difference.

On the flip side, if your computer is outputting 200FPS and you have a 60Hz monitor, you will only see 60 FPS. This means that if you were to upgrade to a higher refresh rate monitor, you would see a significant difference. If this is your case, I would absolutely recommend the upgrade.

What Are the Benefits?

Now that we have covered what exactly refresh rate is, it is time to uncover the actual benefits of using a higher refresh rate monitor.

NVIDIA has an official web page that goes over the competitive advantages a higher refresh rate can offer to gamers. I have also included a video from LinusTechTips, which discusses at a high level the advantages of FPS, and its relation to refresh rate. The video explains in great detail how your monitor’s refresh rate directly impacts your gaming performance.

There are three groups of individuals to which I would recommend a high refresh rate monitor:

  • Everyday Users
  • Casual Gamers
  • Competitive Gamers

Everyday Users

For everyday users, the benefits of a high refresh rate monitor are not extremely substantial. The increased refresh rate will provide you with a buttery-smooth experience when browsing through anything on your computer. Beyond this enhanced smooth experience, there are not many benefits to having a monitor higher than 60Hz for everyday users. Videos are often restricted to a maximum of 60FPS, meaning you will not see improved visuals when watching videos. Movies as well are typically filmed in 24FPS which means there will be no improvement there, either. The only noticeable differences will be when browsing your computer and when playing games.

Casual Gamers

If you play a lot of video games, high refresh rate monitors are perfectly suited for you. The gameplay feels completely different in a good way when compared to a 60Hz monitor. This is especially prevalent in first-person shooters and AAA titles. The higher refresh rate makes every aspect of the game feel smoother, even the little details like aiming in on a target. If you consider yourself a gamer, I recommend a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor if it is within your budget.

casual gamer minecraft

Additionally, with the new PS5 and Xbox Series X supporting 120+ FPS. I recommend picking up a 120Hz monitor for console gamers looking to try out some super-smooth gameplay.

Competitive Gamers

For competitive gamers, a high refresh rate monitor is a necessity, as it can provide an actual competitive advantage. In certain games, a higher refresh rate can directly correlate to when an object appears on your screen. Meaning that if you have a 120Hz monitor, a character could appear on your screen faster than it appears on a 60Hz monitor. This can provide you with a big advantage over those with a lower refresh rate monitor. Almost all top gamers use a monitor with a refresh rate of 120Hz+. Players within competitive scenes in games such as Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and Valorant, almost exclusively use a 120Hz+ monitor. If you are trying to be competitive within a fast-paced video game, you have got to try out a 120Hz+ monitor.

60Hz vs 120Hz monitor

A 60Hz monitor works perfectly well for almost all situations. The 60Hz monitor can keep up with 60 frames per second and thus can run videos, games, etc. at 60FPS. For gamers looking to experience FPS levels above 60, then a 120Hz+ monitor is recommended. A 120Hz+ monitor provides buttery-smooth visuals, that you need to see to believe. So, for these reasons, I will recommend a 120Hz+ monitor to you only if gaming is in your arsenal.

Unless you are a PC enthusiast looking for the smoothest possible experience. I would recommend sticking with a 60Hz monitor and possibly opting to instead upgrade your resolution.

120Hz monitor vs 144Hz

The difference between 120Hz and 144Hz is so minimal that noticing the changes between the two is very hard. The only distinction between the two is the additional 24 refreshes per second that the 144Hz monitor receives. This means a 144Hz monitor refreshes itself 144 times each second and 120Hz refreshes 120 times every second. If you are deciding between purchasing a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, I would go for whichever is less costly. It is possible to find 144Hz monitors for less than 120Hz monitors it just depends on where and when you are looking. To get the most bang for your buck, we recently published an article that goes over the best time to buy computer parts.

computer setup

120Hz monitor vs 240Hz

The leap between 120Hz and 240Hz may seem drastic, but there is not that much of a change. A 240Hz screen refreshes twice as many times as a 120Hz screen in a second, and in real-time, this is hardly noticeable. If you were to slow down a 120Hz and 240Hz monitor side by side, the 120Hz monitor would look slightly choppy in comparison. This is because 120Hz essentially outputs half the number of pictures per second as 240Hz.

In real-time, however, it’s quite difficult for the human eye to catch all those 240 refreshes each second. In the case of 60Hz vs 120Hz, noticing the difference of 60 refreshes per second and 120 is quite easy. At some point, it becomes difficult for the human eye to comprehend the additional refreshes per second. This being said, most professional-level gamers still opt for 240Hz monitors as it provides the greatest competitive advantage. And hey, a ton of people use more than one monitor so don’t feel bad about buying a second one!

Conclusion

In conclusion, a 60Hz monitor provides great service and will work perfectly fine in most scenarios. If you primarily use your computer for work, school, videos, and browsing, a higher refresh rate will not offer you that much benefit. But, if you spend lots of time gaming and have a graphics card that provides 120+ fps, I recommend a higher refresh rate monitor. This is primarily for PC gamers and enthusiasts. I personally love my 144Hz monitor for playing video games. Apart from that, a 60Hz monitor would do me just as well.