Does refresh rate matter for console gaming?
Yes, refresh rate does matter for console gaming. To start, here’s a quick definition of “refresh rate”.
Refresh rate describes the number of times a monitor redraws its image each second. Matching your refresh rate with your frame rate will create a better overall experience.
The average frame rate is 30 frames per second (FPS), which is easy to match, but as games get more intensive, their supporting equipment needs to improve as well.
The primary function of a monitor is that it shows still images at such a fast pace that our brains believe the images are moving. When you have large frame rates from your game console, a lower refresh rate from your monitor could lead to movements that aren’t as smooth.
Another issue that happens when your frame rates and refresh rates don’t match is tearing. When your monitor’s image isn’t refreshing as fast as your game is sending these images, tears can show on your screen.
Even though most people can’t see differences in a lower refresh rate compared to the frame rate, nearly everyone can see tears. These broken bits of game graphics on your monitor can ruin your gameplay.
If you are a hardcore gamer or a regular gamer who’s seeing lag in your game, purchasing a higher-end monitor with a higher refresh rate can improve your play and you can see my reviews of the best console gaming monitors in 2019.
Other improvements you can see with a monitor that has a higher refresh rate is an increase in sharpness of fast-moving action scenes, less blur at all times, and reduced lag.
For many people, these changes in Hz might not be visible, but for others, they notice the differences immediately. Professional or highly competitive gamers need the smoothest experience possible to compete.
Another possibility that can help your gameplay is Variable Refresh Rates (VRR). These come with some monitors and TVs. With this technology, your console’s GPU can control the refresh rate of your monitor, so that tearing won’t happen.
This technology removes all of the problems that happen when the frame rates and refresh rates don’t match. One caveat though: this technology works between 40 Hz and 60Hz. If your game is running 30 fps, VRR won’t help if there is lagging or tearing.
In summary, the average frame rate is 30 fps. Most game consoles barely run at 60 fps. However, if they do, VRR can bridge the gap between your frame rates and refresh rates to even out your gameplay.
Currently, there are only a few games that natively run at 120 fps, or the more graphic-intensive, 240 fps.
Your monitor depends on what kind of games you plan to play. If you’re playing games with lower-end graphics, a regular monitor should be fine, but if you’re playing the latest releases, opt for a monitor that can keep up.
It will be some time before you need higher-end monitors, but if you want to be ready when the games come, buy monitors that have higher Hz so you can easily play at 240 fps or higher.
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