Computer monitors or screens with a high refresh rate were used to be reserved and dedicated for high-end gaming.
However, starting in 2019 and further onwards, even mid-range and premium smartphones and high-end tablet devices have featured IPS LCD or OLED panels with refresh rates of at least 90Hz and 120Hz as one of their defining selling propositions.
What exactly are the advantages of a high refresh rate on screens? What are the specific benefits to users? What are the disadvantages?
Pros: Advantages of a High Refresh Rate
The rate of refresh corresponds to how many times per second the display or screen draws a new image. As an example, a screen with a 60Hz rate means that it refreshes the displayed image 60 times per second. The higher the rate the screen can refresh the image, the smoother and more fluid the overall viewing and user experience.
Below are the specific advantages or benefits:
• Smoother Scrolling and Browsing Experience: A monitor or display panel with at least 90Hz or 120Hz rate provides a better user experience than a counterpart with a 60Hz rate. Scrolling through the web or social media apps or browsing through the user interface feels and looks buttery smooth. A high refresh rate also provides an impression that the device is fast and fluid.
• Ideal for Gaming and Supports Graphics Processing: Another advantage of a high refresh rate is that it provides screens and devices with a better gaming experience. Specifically, when paired with the high frame rates provided by a CPU and GPU, refresh rates of at least 120Hz provide not only a smoother experience but also support higher frames per second. This is ideal for fast-paced gaming.
• Eases Eyestrain for A Comfortable Viewing Experience: Note that a 60Hz rate is ideal. However, for individuals immersed in scrolling and gaming, a screen with a high refresh rate can help ease eyestrain. Furthermore, those used to panels with rates of at least 90Hz to 120Hz would find panels with 60Hz rates tiring to the eye because flickers and stutters become more noticeable.
Cons: Disadvantages of a High Refresh Rate
While it is true that the advantages of a high refresh rate collectively center on better overall viewing and user experience, it is important to take note of its disadvantages Screens with rates of more than 60Hz have notable drawbacks that can even affect user experience and the performance of the display panel or the entire devices.
Below are the specific disadvantages and issues:
• Consumes More Power and Lessens Battery Capabilities: One of the notable disadvantages of a high refresh rate, especially on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, is that it requires more power. Devices with panels set at 120Hz rate would consume more power than panels with 60Hz rate or those with adaptive refresh rate technology. This can be a serious issue for smartphones or tablets with lower battery capacity or during instances when the battery charge is running low.
• Tendency for Gaming Experience to Look Jumpy: Another drawback is that games running on high frames per second would feel jumpy or look stutter when viewed with cheaper panels with no adaptive synchronization or adaptive refresh. These panels cannot adjust on frame drops or are not compatible with GPUs that cannot deliver graphics performance with high frames per second.
• Overheating Issues and Diminishing Returns: The graphics processor of a particular device with a rate of at least 120Hz will need to work a lot harder than a counterpart device with a lower rate. This can result in noticeable heat built up and possible overheating. Furthermore, rates above 144Hz is not ideal because the overall viewing and user experience are negligible.