The age-old question still plagues many prospective monitor owners today: Is 60hz good enough for gaming? In the past, 60hz was considered the golden standard for monitors. Even today, you’ll find a lot of peoples’ gaming rigs paired with a 60hz monitor. But is it good enough, or should you opt for a higher refresh rate monitor?
What is refresh rate?
Before we get too deep into why a 60hz monitor is or isn’t good for gaming, it’s important to understand refresh rate. It seems likely that some people reading this will already know what refresh rate is and how it works. If that’s you, feel free to skip to the next section.
Refresh rate is, in its most basic sense, the amount of times your screen refreshes the on-screen picture per second. If a monitor has a frequency of 60hz, it refreshes 60 times in a second. While refresh rate is not the same thing as FPS, it is a very closely related concept. If you have a 60hz monitor and your computer can generate 100FPS in a game, you’ll still only see 60 frames per second, since your monitor is only refreshing 60 times in that time period.
On the other hand, if you have a computer that pushes 500FPS but you only have a 60hz monitor, you’ll still only see 60 different frames per second. The frames per second you see are limited by both your monitor and your hardware, with the lowest threshold between the two being what you see displayed on-screen.
Because of this, a higher refresh rate monitor feels much smoother, as long as your hardware can push the frames to match it. This is the advantage of higher refresh rates such as 120hz, 144hz, 165hz, 240hz, or 365hz.
What are the advantages of 60hz?
Compared to their higher refresh rate counterparts, 60hz monitors only have one advantage: in general, they cost less. An 144hz monitor is objectively better than a 60hz one, but it costs more.
The cheapest 144hz monitor on Amazon costs $139.99 at the time of writing, while even a lot of name-brand 60hz monitors cost less than $100. Other than price, there is no benefit to having a lower refresh rate monitor.
Is 60hz good for gaming?
We must return to the original question, then. If it’s not better than a higher refresh rate in any way aside from cost, is 60hz good for gaming at all? My answer would be that it’s good enough.
If you’re on a tight budget and have a PC that gets roughly 60FPS on the games and settings that you play, there’s little reason to upgrade to an 144hz monitor (it’s worth noting, however, that you’ll be able to get 144FPS outside of games, where the software is less demanding of your software, so if you want the extra smoothness you’ll reap the benefits there).
If, however, you have hardware that can push 144FPS, you ought to take advantage of those extra frames by purchasing a faster monitor. 60hz is alright, but if you’ve already spent the money on the hardware to generate those kind of frames, it’s a waste of resources to settle for less. It’s definitely worth the extra money to enjoy years of faster refresh rates.
If 60hz is just alright, what’s the best refresh rate?
For gaming, for 90% of players, 144hz is the golden standard. 240hz monitors are slowly becoming more affordable, but even now the cheaper ones hover around the $260 price point. 360hz monitors are still outrageously expensive, and they offer very little tangible benefit over 240hz, if any. Every step up offers diminishing returns in smoothness; 240hz is better than 144hz, but only by a little bit, whereas 144hz is noticeably quicker than 60hz.
The sweet spot between price and performance right now is definitely 144hz. Even high-end 144hz monitors are available for less than $200, with name-brand monitors going for as low as $160. If you opt for an even higher refresh rate, such as 240hz, you may notice that it’s a little faster/smoother than 144hz, but not very noticeably so.
If you’re on a very tight budget and don’t plan to upgrade your hardware for a long while, you’ll be perfectly fine with 60hz. Up until a few years ago it was considered excellent. Standards inevitably rise over time, so 144hz may be considered obsolete within 10 years. For now, play with what you have. Upgrade if you can, but don’t worry about it too much if you can’t. Prices will continue to decrease for higher refresh rate monitors as technology develops.