60Hz Vs 120Hz Monitor – Which Is Best and Why

60Hz Vs 120Hz Monitor

For the unversed common man, 30Hz vs 60Hz vs 120Hz Monitor are just technical jargon meant to be ignored. What difference would it make if the user is oblivious to the information that is vital for his or her visual satiety? Simple folks would surely choose the higher number, explicitly because it is, in their opinion, higher hence better. Worry not. Let me open the gates of Hogwarts for you. 

The 60 Hz simply means that the screen of your display (TV or Monitor) will refresh 60 times in a second. Whereas 60 FPS, would mean that your processing unit is putting out 60 frames per second. So, higher the Hz the better because then the display will appear smoother to our eyes, Hence 120 Hz is the best!

So what does it have to do with you? 

Simply put, a 120 Hz refresh rate would ideally work with a 120 Fps Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), giving you a lag-free experience that is essential for high-speed, visually immersive gaming or designing. So think of it like this, FPS is what your Display unit (monitor) gets, and Hz is what your monitor gives to you.  Having established the basics, we now move on to the main question. 

60Hz Vs 120Hz Monitor

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60Hz Vs 120Hz Monitor

This has made quite many experts hot under the collar. My approach to this complex, subjective choice is very simple; let the user decide. So, after getting to know the basic conditions, choosing between a 120Hz and a 60Hz Monitor(or TV) mostly depends on what type of content you will be watching. Generally speaking, 120Hz monitors are better for playing video games and watching native 24FPS content.

Demonstration of 60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz on Alienware AW2720HF IPS 240hz Monitor

Most new monitors support 120Hz though, so you should also focus on other important specifications, such as the panel type, response time speed, input lag HDR performance, etc. However, unless you’re looking for other specifications related to newer models of monitors such as 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR, and OLED technology, switching over to a new monitor solely because it supports 120Hz won’t be worth it for most people.

The exception is if you are a gamer with compatible consoles or gaming PCs capable of dishing out 120FPS (which would render a 120Hz Monitor a must since it will go glove in hand with the GPU output). It is also important to know the difference between a true 120Hz and a ‘fake’ 120Hz.

Some manufacturers may advertise a feature as ‘Motion Rate 120Hz’, however, this is a misnomer (to be polite) and a marketing strategy. These monitors do not have a  ‘true’ 120Hz refresh rate as they can only display GPU outputs up to 60FPS, and simulate the rest to make motion appear more fluid.

This is referred to as motion smoothing or frame rate interpolation (also known as the ‘soap opera effect’). This means that extra verification is required before tapping into your wallet and forking out a heftier price only to end up with an imitation. 

Also, bear in mind that only the latest GPUs support 120Hz – some of them only at lower 1080p and/or 1440p resolutions. Some high-end 4K, 120Hz supporting GPUs are available in the market as well, so having this in mind, don’t forget that to make full use of a 120Hz refresh rate monitor, your GPU must support it too.

All new PC gaming graphics cards support 4K at 120Hz and over. However, as far as consoles go, the Xbox One X and S support 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p, while the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S support 120Hz at 4K, too. 

On the flip side, if you are watching content up to 60FPS on your 120Hz monitor, the image won’t be any different than it would be on a 60Hz monitor. This is particularly important these days since 60 FPS makes for the majority of streaming content.

This would in turn mean that forking out extra bucks for a 120Hz monitor is not necessary if the majority of your viewing content would be supplied at 60FPS, for which a 60 Hz monitor is more than adequate.  

An exception to this would be watching native 24 FPS content from a media source such as Blu-ray where the source feeds the display 24 frames per second.

A 60Hz TV has to alternate between adding 3 and 2 frames in between those 24 FPS to produce the picture. This method is referred to as ‘3:2 pulldown‘ and can introduce slight judder in certain scenes, though it might not be noticeable sometimes. 

120Hz vs 60Hz

On the other hand, a 120Hz monitor adds 5 frames in between those 24 frames per second (5:5 pulldown), which offers a smoother viewing experience, since the number of frames added is always the same. However, some 60Hz TVs can remove this 24p judder by changing their refresh rate to 48Hz or 72Hz when 24FPS content is detected, so you don’t have to rely on 120Hz for that alone (gotta love technology)

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Benefits of using High Refresh Rate Monitors

There are countless! But still some notable are:

What are the downsides of a High Response Time

Smoother Motion: 

A 120-Hz refresh rate monitor would process 120 frames in a second. This would mean that it is automatically better than a 60 Hz monitor which in turn processes 60 frames per second, resulting in a clearer and smoother viewing experience. Such an immersive display is quite necessary for gamers who rely heavily on sensory visual input to make split-second decisions affecting gameplay.

In addition, a 120 Hz monitor showing 24-fps content, for example, can display each frame five times, but with a 60-Hz refresh rate and 24-fps footage, you end up showing an uneven number of frames, which can cause a juddering, shaky effect for some viewers. Some TVs use motion smoothing (or frame interpolation) as mentioned earlier. 

Reduced Screen Tearing: 

As mentioned earlier, a higher fps would require a higher refresh rate monitor. I.e. fps of 60 and above would require a minimum of 120 Hz monitor, otherwise the refresh rate would render the image to be affected since the frame rate and refresh rate are out of synchronization.

This leads to image distortion, namely screen tearing. As a gamer, this affliction is nothing short of malignancy, since it makes the gameplay rugged and causes the player to miss vital sensory input leading to faulty decisions. A 120 Hz monitor would process a 60 fps input as well as above ( albeit on a lower resolution e.g. 1080p), however a 60Hz monitor processing fps above 60 would lead to screen tearing. Hence it would be wise to invest in a 120Hz monitor especially so if you are a professional or amateur gamer. 

Enhanced Motion Resolution

Motion rate is sometimes confused with refresh rate. This is a marketing strategy designed to confuse the customer into buying a monitor that does not have a native 120Hz refresh rate. The trick lies in the fact that even 60 Hz monitors can simulate a 120 Hz refresh rate due to a process called frame rate interpolation that can enhance the quality of the picture. The extra clarity added is what is often referred to as the “soap opera” effect.

However, this is a simulation and does not hold up to the quality of visual clarity required by true users of 120Hz refresh rate monitors. Users, especially gamers, usually complain about screen lagging during important visuals, when they have been duped into buying a 120-motion-rate monitor which is instead of a 60Hz TV that can simulate 120 FPS (Frames Per Second). A 120Hz monitor would ensure that any enhancement in motion resolution would be an added benefit instead of duplicity with nefarious intentions.  

Increased Responsiveness:

Gaming is an art form wherein a speedy and fluid image means that you prevail over an obstacle and failing to do so would mean defeat. In this context, a higher refresh rate can give you an advantage in terms of reaction time, accuracy, and smoothness, as you can see more frames per second and respond faster to the game events. This would make you, as a gamer, more snappy in decision-making and ultimately, victorious.

Enhanced Gaming Experience

Although gaming PCs can hit high frame rates, gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series XS are still limited to a max of 120 fps. This means you don’t need a high refresh rate monitor for gaming with those consoles, but modern monitors have native refresh rates higher than 120Hz. Overall, the gaming experience is dependent severely on the refresh rate, and the higher it is, the better the experience. 

Improved Eye Comfort:

A higher refresh rate means a smoother-looking screen that’s easier on the eyes. So, if you’re trying to ease your eyestrain, a refresh rate of 120 Hz is optimal and anything less would lead to eye fatigue which in turn adversely affects the visual experience. 

Improved Input Response

Essentially the higher the refresh rate, the lower the input lag. So, a 120Hz display will have half the input lag in comparison to a 60Hz display since the picture gets updated more frequently and you can react to it sooner. To a gamer, this results in a quicker response to a stimulus, which can be a tremendous advantage even if it amounts up to a 10-second better response. 

Future-Proofing

Modern times require modern solutions to modern problems. One such problem is that any new technology is liable to become obsolete soon, being replaced by a higher or more modern tech. This proceeds into a conundrum when the consumer has to decide as to what to buy. Future-proofing is the answer to this obstacle. It is to make (a product or system) unlikely to become obsolete or fail in the future.

Monitors fall into the same category. A 120 Hz monitor supports 4K resolution and high-end gaming, whereas a 60 Hz monitor is essentially a temporary ‘fix’ for your gaming (and other visual) requirements. Hence forking out the extra cash for a 120 hz monitor is, in essence, future-proof.

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Who should use 60 Hz?

If you have followed the soul of the article so far, you would tend to believe strongly in favor of 120 Hz monitors. You would not be completely wrong. However, there are certain scenarios wherein the extra price tag of a 120 Hz Monitor does not seem justified. 

Who should use 60 Hz

Casual Users

As mentioned earlier, 120 Hz is a refresh rate that is the absolute minimum required of a professional or amateur gamer. However, not all of us are as such, invested in this visual experience. For the casual user, 60 Hz Monitors are adequately powered to get them the visual experience they require.

Budget-Conscious Users 

For the common man (or woman), a seamless visual experience is not a must. A degree of screen tearing and negative affliction in terms of visual output is somewhat acceptable. Especially so, when the lower limit of a 120 Hz monitor hovers around 130 USD. If you are, like the rest of us, living in budget-constrained times, you are more likely not to fork out exorbitant amounts for an experience you might feel is not that necessary. 

Power consumption 

The 120hz display consumes about 140% of what a 60hz does. This adds significant cost to an already bloated budget when thinking about buying a 120 Hz. In addition, while gaming, the standard GPU consumes power twice as much as normal. So, you are left with an increased electricity bill along with a dearer monitor. If you are not a gaming or visual aficionado, you might not feel like dropping extra bucks on a 120 Hz monitor.

Office Environments 

Most office environments are uniform. I.e. The same monitor models are bought ( mostly as a wholesale lot) for the entire office. Buying 120 hz monitors for the office would not only be a financial mistake, it would also disturb the office decorum. In addition, 120 hz monitors can provide enhanced visual experiences which could also result in disciplinary issues.

Content Consumption 

As mentioned earlier as well, choosing between a 120Hz and a 60Hz Monitor mostly depends on what type of content you will be watching. Generally speaking, 120Hz monitors are better for playing video games and watching 24FPS content. However, if your visual dish-serving is not above 60 FPS (regular programs), then a 120 Hz monitor is above and beyond your need.

Non-Gaming Users

As mentioned earlier, those of us who are not playing games professionally or even in an amateur capacity, would not necessarily feel the need to pay extra for a monitor that enhances our visual experience at the cost of our budget. Hence most nongamers prefer a 60 Hz, low-consumption monitor over a 120 Hz one.  

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Who Should Use 120 Hz?

A higher refresh rate equals a better-quality picture because it cuts down on blurriness. A 120Hz display decreases the appearance of “film judder” or blurring which might be noticeable to some on a 60Hz screen. This might be a small issue to the common users, but for those who are highly invested in the gaming industry and those of us who are visual aficionados, visual quality is not something we can compromise on. 

Alienware 120Hz UltraWide Gaming 34 Inch Curved Monitor with WQHD 3

Gamers

Gaming is an art form wherein a speedy and fluid image means that you prevail over an obstacle and failing to do so would mean all your efforts are ultimately doomed to be a failure. A 120 Hz monitor would provide the following advantages to professional as well as amateur gamers : 

  • Smoother Motion:  
  • Reduced Screen Tearing: 
  • Enhanced Motion Resolution
  • Increased Responsiveness
  • Enhanced Gaming Experience
  • Improved Eye Comfort
  • Improved Input Response

Content Creators

The enhanced refresh rate of a 120 Hz monitor would mean that the modern-day content creator would feel as if his or her content is coming to life in front of his or her eyes. This is something that would be missed on a standard 60 Hz monitor. 

Multimedia Enthusiasts

The seamless display and motion clarity, which is the hallmark of a 120 hz monitor, is something that will be acutely appreciated by a multimedia enthusiast. Couple this with reduced screen tearing, and voila, you have the perfect visual experience. 

VR (Virtual Reality) Users

Aggressively touted as the next horizon in gaming and visual experiences, a faster refresh rate in theory means a smoother experience and less chance of motion sickness when playing VR games. Not all games support this mode though, which is a good thing for battery life but not so much if you’re trying to experience a meaningful VR usage. 

Graphic Designers and Animators

For graphic design, 60Hz refresh rates are good; however, if you want a monitor that is more focused on video editing, you should consider a 120Hz refresh rate, though this might cost you more in terms of budgeting. 

PC Power Users

With a 120hz monitor you want to run games at 120 fps for vertical sync instead of the usual 60 fps, you would run for vertical sync on 60hz monitors. That is going to need more power and if you have a powerful CPU/ GPU, then it makes sense to couple it with a 120Hz Monitor. 

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FAQs

How many Hz is the human eye?

Human eyes cannot see things beyond 60Hz. So, the million-dollar question is: why are the 120Hz monitors better? The answer is that the brain, not the eye, does the seeing. The eye, essentially, transmits information to the brain, but some characteristics of the signal are lost or altered in the process. For example, the retina is capable of following lights that flash at a rapid rate however, the ability to process flicker itself is not uniform across the retina.

The periphery is sensitive to large flickering lights and can follow them at fairly rapid rates, whereas the fovea is less sensitive to flicker and prefers smaller objects. All this visual information is transmitted to the brain, wherein the processing of the visual image takes place. Therein lies the effectiveness of a better refresh rate, which allows extra smoothness to be perceived by the brain.

Is a 120Hz display better for the eyes?

A better refresh rate means a smoother visual experience which directly translates to a less exhausting experience for the human eye. A better refresh also means that the user is straining his or her eyes less than when he or she is using a 60Hz monitor. This contributes further to eye comfort.

Is a 120Hz monitor worth it?

If you’re not using VRR, 120Hz can make 60FPS content appear a bit smoother as screen tearing is less noticeable and you get lower input lag. A lot of console games are limited to 30FPS or 60FPS, so the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz won’t be noticeable when it comes to motion clarity unless you are into immersive gaming experiences and rely on quick decision-making based on visual stimuli.

What refresh rate is the human eye?

The Human eye can process a frame rate of up to 60 FPs. However, the brain can perceive images and their motion at a higher refresh rate than 60 Hz.

Can the human eye see 4K?

Provided that the person is static and does not possess any visual acuity issues, the human eye can see pixels up to 8K.

Does higher fps mean better quality?

High fps is desirable because it can make your games look smoother, more realistic, and more immersive. High fps can also reduce input lag, which is the delay between your mouse or keyboard actions and the corresponding response on the screen. For a gaming experience to be meaningful, a higher fps coupled with a high refresh rate monitor is an absolute necessity.

Ending Note 

All in all, if you have or plan on getting a gaming PC or a console that supports 120Hz, you should get a 120Hz monitor as it makes for a more responsive and immersive gaming experience. On the flip side, if your budget is range-limited and your visual priorities do not extend north of 60 FPs, then a standard 60 Hz Monitor is most likely to be adequate for your needs. 

Having said that, keep in mind that to get the most out of 120Hz, you should also be able to maintain around 120FPS (Frames Per Second). 60FPS will look the same at 60Hz and 120Hz when using a variable refresh rate (VRR), so to benefit from a high refresh rate the most, you’ll need to have over 60FPS in GPU output.

In addition, If you’re not using VRR, 120Hz can make 60FPS content appear a bit smoother as screen tearing is less noticeable and you get lower input lag. So it is advantageous in this regard as well, however, a lot of console games are limited to 30FPS or 60FPS, so the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz won’t be noticeable when it comes to motion clarity. 

In contrast, you do get a lower input lag at high refresh rates, which is essential for competitive gaming. In case you’re sensitive to 24p judder, make sure that you go for a 120Hz monitor.

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