Do you wants to know how to change monitor refresh rate? Playing games at a higher refresh rate can have a substantial influence on your gaming experience. This is especially relevant with fast-paced, competitive games where each frame counts.
However, directly buying a 144Hz or 240Hz display is not enough to see the benefits. Your system has to power the frame rates necessary to take advantage of higher refresh rates.
Understanding Monitor Refresh Rate
As explained, a higher refresh rate refers to the frequency that a display updates the onscreen image. The time between these updates is measured in milliseconds (ms), while the display’s refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz).
Your display’s refresh rate refers to how many times per second the display can draw a new image. This is measured in Hertz (Hz). For instance, if your display has a refresh rate of 144Hz, it is refreshing the image 144 times per second. When paired with the high frame rates produced by a GPU and CPU working together, this can occur in a smoother experience and potentially higher FPS.
To take advantage of higher refresh rates, three of the most critical components to consider are:
- A monitor with the ability to refresh quickly.
- A CPU that’s fast enough to provide necessary game instructions, including AI, physics, game logic, and rendering data.
- A GPU that’s fast sufficient to execute these instructions quickly and create the graphics you see on the screen.
The monitor can only display an image at the rate the system produces it, so your CPU and GPU must be capable of completing this process quickly. If you’re CPU and GPU are inadequate in supplying the monitor with a sufficiently high number of frames, then your monitor won’t be able to produce a high-refresh-rate image regardless of how good its specs are.
If your monitor has a refresh rate of 144Hz, but the GPU is only supplying 30 frames per second, that higher refresh rate is not being used.
The level of hardware needed to drive a higher refresh rate varies based on the refresh rate you hope to achieve, as well as the games you’re playing. Generally speaking, the higher a monitor’s refresh rate, the more FPS your CPU and GPU will require to supply, and the more benefit you’ll receive from higher performance options.
With that in thought, games vary in how much load they put on the CPU and GPU. Older games or games that don’t emphasize the latest graphics technologies will be less resource-intensive than cutting-edge titles. That means higher refresh rates might be available on less powerful hardware, depending on the game you want to play.
The graphics settings used will also influence how hardware-intensive the experience ends up being. Lowering the resolution to 1080p will result in a higher refresh rate at less of a performance cost, turning off or lowering graphical settings. As with achieving higher resolutions, the less taxing the gameplay experience is on the hardware, the easier it will be to push the frame rate high enough to see the benefits of a high-refresh-rate display.
This might mean modifying the settings and resolutions of your games to find the balance that works for you.
Determining Your System’s Capabilities
Before upgrading to a high-refresh-rate monitor, it’s a good idea to assure your system is up to the task.
The best — and the simplest— way to know what refresh rates your system can support is by playing games and seeing how they perform. Use a frame rate monitoring service like Fraps to display your current FPS (frames per second) as you play. Most frame rate monitoring utilities will have the ability to benchmark your average FPS, which keeps track of how your system performs throughout a gameplay session.
Ideally, you’ll want the game’s frame rate to match the monitor’s refresh rate 1:1 for an ideal experience. For instance, your system should be outputting 144 FPS to get the full benefit of a 144Hz monitor.
That said, you can still have a higher refresh rate, even if it doesn’t reach the limits of what your display is capable of. Playing at 110Hz is better than playing at 60Hz, and you can continually upgrade your CPU and GPU later to get to 144 FPS.
If your system tries to run games higher than 60 FPS, it’s unlikely you’ll see much benefit from a high-refresh-rate display, but it might be worth investing in one if your PC is able of producing higher than 60 FPS.
If you don’t own the game, you’re hoping to play yet, and you can test similar titles and extrapolate. Games released in the same year, belonging to the same genre, or built in the same engine often have relatively identical performance requirements. You can also research other player’s experiences and relate your hardware configuration to theirs to get a sense of what to expect.
If your system struggles to achieve your desired FPS, a display with adaptive sync might be helpful. Many modern displays incorporate this technology. Adaptive sync enables a display to communicate directly with the GPU. The display’s refresh rate is synchronized as each frame is produced, even if the FPS is inconsistent.
Vertical Sync (VSync) is a similar feature that can often be allowed in-game. Adaptive Sync technologies and VSync can help reduce or eliminate visual artifacts like screen tearing when dealing with fluctuating frame rates.
Choosing the Right Monitor
High-refresh rate monitors are available at many different refresh rates, with 144Hz being a considerable improvement over standard 60Hz monitors and 240Hz being a popular high-end option. Check out our breakdown of gaming monitors by refresh rate and resolution to learn more.
You don’t necessarily need to buy the monitor with the highest possible refresh rate your system can support. Instead, look for a monitor that gives the right combination of features for you. Finding a display with the refresh rate, resolution, screen size, and aspect ratio that matches your PC’s performance capabilities should be the priority.
Upgrading Your System for Smoother Gameplay
A high-refresh-rate display can have a substantial influence on your gaming experience, assuming your hardware is powerful enough to meet the higher requirements.
Regardless of your system configuration, remember to pair it with a display that has the features you’re looking for. When the CPU, GPU, and display are compatible and working together, the results should demonstrate the advantages of higher refresh rates.