You might have already heard that for competitive esports gaming, a 144Hz monitor is a must-have. If you’ve had a look around for one you will have quickly realized that they come with a somewhat higher price tag, and for a good reason. But is the higher price worth it for 144Hz, or is a 60Hz monitor sufficient? The answer depends entirely on what you want to use your monitor for.
Frame rate vs Refresh rate
Before delving into the specs, it’s a good idea to quickly revisit the difference between refresh rates and frame rates. While they are not the same, they do work in tandem.
Frame rates, as the name suggests, measures the number of frames are rendered to appear on the screen per second, which is dependant on the game and your graphics card. Often games will output as many frames as they can, although it can be limited in game or through V-Sync.
On the other hand, refresh rates are entirely dependent on your monitor. Refresh rate measures how often the monitor itself refreshes within any given second. If a game runs at 60 FPS, and the monitor refreshes at 60Hz, you will get a smooth video image, but if the frame rate is higher than your refresh rate, you won't see the benefit and maybe even see artifacting or “tearing”.
It’s important to note however, that resolution plays a significant part in how your game will look, not just frame and refresh rates. If the resolution of your monitor is low, the game will still look low res, even if the frame rates are high, which is why all three are important for consideration when choosing a gaming monitor.
Is a 144Hz monitor actually better for gaming?
The short answer is yes. 144Hz monitors are objectively better than 60Hz monitors, and one of the frustrating things about trying to illustrate this is the fact that the true difference cannot be properly conveyed on a 60Hz monitor, especially because the difference between 60Hz and 144Hz is very stark.
Essentially, you will need to compare the two monitors side by side to truly understand the difference.
While a very basic demonstration can be attempted, the true difference is only visible on a 144Hz monitor side by side with a 60Hz monitor.
An important caveat here is that the 144Hz monitor will be better than the 60Hz monitor when it comes to gaming. If you’re looking for a monitor to help you with video or image editing and you need accurate colours, then the refresh rate will not be as important to you as it would to someone looking to complete in esports or takes online gaming seriously.
Should you buy a 144Hz monitor and what should you look for?
Just purchasing a 144Hz monitor and connecting it will not guarantee that you will get the said refresh rate right out of the box.
Firstly, you need to make sure your rig is beefy enough to handle the refresh rates of your monitor. Your GPU and CPU needs to be able to handle processing at such high rates so that you can see actual benefits.
If your GPU is not strong enough to handle a 144Hz refresh rate, you will not be able to take the advantage of the 144Hz monitor as there will be bottlenecking, and your framerates will lock, usually at 60fps. Equally, if the game you’re running has locked fps, your monitor will automatically sync with your GPU’s frame rate and that’s the best frame rate you will get.
On the other hand, if your rig is powerful enough to run games at 144hz and above, but you do not have a monitor that can reflect that, you will still only see the max resolution and refresh rates that your monitor is capable of.
In this scenario, there’s also bottlenecking in that you’re not taking full advantage of what your rig is capable of. A good monitor is an extremely important part of your gaming setup, especially for the best gaming experience, in addition to competitions and esports.
As it stands now, 144Hz monitors are the most future proof. Right now, most lower and mid-tier gaming setups cannot take advantage of a 144Hz monitor, though in a generation or two of GPUs, this will become a lot more widely available, and if you have a 144Hz monitor, it will still be relevant and up to date a few years from now.
Which 144Hz gaming monitor should I invest in?
There are a myriad of 144Hz gaming monitors that range drastically in price as well as performance. The initial selection will be dependent on your budget and of course the rest of your rig, but as a starting point one of the best performing, future-proof, and well-priced for performance monitors is the ASUS ROG Strix 27" IPS monitor.
Priced currently at £700, the ASUS ROG Strix is a 144Hz monitor that has 4K capabilities, so an incredible resolution of 3840 x 2160. As previously discussed, many standard rigs are not yet powerful enough to run 144Hz in 4K, however in a few GPU generations, this may be a reality for the majority of gamers, making this an extremely future-proof monitor.
In summary, the monitor is OP for any current gaming set up, making it almost certain that a monitor upgrade may not be needed for many years to come.
Is a 144Hz monitor worth it?
If you are gaming and are wanting a monitor specifically for gaming, then yes, it is absolutely worth it. 144Hz monitors tend to be future-proof, especially if they come 4K-ready as well. Even if you have to choose between having the 144Hz refresh rate or playing in 4K, getting a monitor that has the capability for both and the option of which to use when (if you can’t use both), is a better investment that is reasonably future-proof – something that’s somewhat rare when it comes to gaming tech.
Article contributor: Pete Hulme