4K, 2K and 1080p High Refresh Rate Monitors & TVs

Published on December 7th, 2018 by Cody Ryan 

There are so many choices of computer monitors and televisions that it’s hard to decide which one to buy! 4K, 1440p (2K), 1080p, G-Sync, FreeSync, 240Hz, 165Hz, 144Hz, 120Hz, 60Hz, etc. Enough to lose your mind, right? That’s the point of this article. To help YOU decide which one to buy for the money. It really “hurts” to know how many “Hz” you need. See what I did there? 

Let’s begin with what a “High Refresh Rate” is. A High Refresh Rate is the rate at which a display refreshes to show new images. Let’s use Animation; as Flipbooks are a prime and great example of this! Drawing a picture, then drawing another picture with a slight difference in movement, then doing that over and over again to produce movement. The more pictures and more variety of tiny movement before the next, the smoother the video will be!

THAT is what a high refresh rate will do and this is the exact thing a high FPS (frames per second) can do as well, because both the High Refresh Rate and high FPS work together to achieve this! See GIF image below and keep reading! 

Now, while this is true for video content, this is also important for video games. Let me explain reasons for both:

Most people that just want to buy a computer monitor or TV just want to buy a computer monitor or TV. They don’t care about the refresh rate or don’t even know what it means! It’s honestly hard to explain without seeing it for yourself. So, I’m going to do the best that I can as I have so far. 

Since everyone is different and everyone has different perceptions/tastes, you might have to go to a nearby Walmart or Best Buy and look at the movement of the actors or objects on at least a 120Hz 4K Television. Walmart and Best Buy have several ongoing displays. Just make sure to look for the words “120Hz” or “TruMotion” (different manufacturers have different lingo words for the technology on their televisions).

In other words, don’t just look for “4K” or “1080p”, because that is just how clear, sharp and high the resolution of the image/video is on the display and NOT how fast and smooth the television can produce those images/videos. THAT is the difference. If you just want a “monitor” to watch youtube videos, browse facebook and stuff like that, then you don’t need a computer monitor with any higher of a refresh rate than 60Hz. When it comes to televisions however, I would definitely recommend a high refresh rate on those (120Hz or higher. Highest you can afford); because they have several Hz changing modes on them and you can always change to “Game Mode” (60Hz) if you want to play your game console on it… More on that below: 

Example, I have a 4K 120Hz LG television in my home. On Game Mode, it’s only at 60Hz because most video game consoles don’t hit above 60 frames per second anyways (Gaming “computers” go well beyond that, but we’ll get to that in a minute). This means that the game console is sending 60 “frames per second” to a TV that has a “refresh rate” of 60hz. Therefore, the TV is “receiving and showing” 60 “frames/images per second” from the game console and “refreshing” those 60 frames/images every second. By “refreshing”, I mean starting all over and doing it again… receiving and producing 60 frames/images, then receiving and producing 60 frames/images again. Every second, over and over again!

This is literally how video is made!  Hundreds to thousands of “images” in sequence/order. The more images that can be played “per second” from a computer or game system and be “refreshed” by the TV or monitor per second, the smoother the movement of the video will look! 

Now, let’s say I set it to 120Hz mode (or “TruMotion” is what LG calls theirs on their TV). BIG difference in movies and videos! It’s kinda like you’re actually seeing them on set if that makes sense. Special effects can even be seen as fake most of the time, if that’s a good thing. lol.

IS SETTING A TV TO 120Hz OR HIGHER, GOOD FOR GAMING?

This actually comes at a cost for video game players. Playing on a “console” that can only provide a maximum of 60 “frames per second” to a TV that has been set to “receive” 120 frames per second aka “Hz” can cause what’s called “input lag”.

This is the delay between controller input and what is displayed on the TV. You press a button and instead of being instant action on the game, the action on the TV is delayed by 1 to 2 small seconds. This is because the TV is only receiving half of what it was set to. It’s receiving 60fps from the game console when it was set to receive 120fps! Therefore, the TV will give a delay because it’s not done “refreshing” 120 frames/images by the time you hit another button on your game controller! If that game console could output 120 frames per second? Then there would be no input delay, because the game console would be sending 120 images a second to your TV that is set to receive those 120 images a second. Makes sense, right?

Hell, TVs wouldn’t have a “Game Mode” if the manufacturers knew we wouldn’t need it for game consoles…. A TV’s Game Mode does specifically what I mentioned earlier. Cuts whatever the refresh rate is in half if it’s above a 60Hz TV. If it isn’t a TV that has more than 60Hz, then having a Game Mode on it in the first place is useless in my opinion. Games shouldn’t have input delays and if there is no noticeable difference in controller input delay across all the display modes on your TV, then again… it’s completely useless to use a Game Mode input.  

WHAT ABOUT GAMING MONITORS?

The complete opposite is true with gaming computers! Gaming computers can reach well over 150 frames per second and higher (depending on your graphics card and rig) in video games and it’s insane!

This is where the high refresh rate “monitors” can benefit from! People could argue that higher Hz doesn’t give an advantage in competitive games like Call of Duty, but that’s where you could be seriously wrong! Reaction times, movement, aim speed, etc. all will be much faster, smoother and easier to see! This will give players a huge advantage because movement AND sight will be massively heightened! Especially on 4K 144Hz monitors (if you can afford it as of the date of this article). 

However, not having a monitor that can keep up with the high frames your graphics card is outputting can cause what’s called “screen tearing”. Example, your graphics card is outputting 100fps in a game at 2K resolution, but your monitor is only 60Hz! This can happen with that setup:

Hard to see at first, but with movement in games played on a monitor that doesn’t have a refresh rate of about the same number of frame rate the game is playing at can cause this during movement gameplay.   

THE CORRECT WAY OF BUYING A HIGH REFRESH RATE MONITOR?

Buying the specific amount of Hz for a gaming computer depends on several factors:

  • Do you have a graphics card powerful enough to achieve that Hz monitor you’re buying? Example: if it’s a 2K (1440p) 120Hz monitor, can you play PC games at 2K (1440p) resolution and achieve 120fps in those games? Research and Google benchmarks of your graphics card before buying a monitor to make sure beforehand…

  • Is your processor powerful enough to help the graphics card achieve those high frame counts? This is mostly for gamers who game at 2K or below. Especially 1080p, as gaming at lower resolutions actually benefits more from a powerful processor than the graphics card, because most of the workload will be managed by the processor instead. Again, research and Google benchmarks for your graphics card and processor BOTH (for this section) at those resolutions of 2K and 1080p. Not having a powerful enough processor to keep up with your graphics card or not having a powerful enough graphics card to keep up with your processor can cause what’s called “bottlenecking”. These are small to huge lag spikes throughout gameplay. Very serious, very irritating, very annoying and worth noting.

  • Are you using a Nvidia graphics card or are you using an AMD graphics card? This usually determines which monitor you should buy that has G-Sync or FreeSync. G-Sync is Nvidia technology for Nvidia graphics cards and FreeSync is AMD Technology for AMD graphics cards. More on that below.

G-SYNC OR FREESYNC?

As mentioned in the last bullet above:  

G-Sync is Nvidia technology for Nvidia graphics cards and FreeSync is AMD Technology for AMD graphics cards. While FreeSync is “free” for manufacturers to use, G-Sync comes at a premium and higher cost. Why? G-Sync uses an extra special modular chip built inside these monitors that is optimized to work with Nvidia GPUs the best to enhance and get the best possible experience. Monitors that manufacturers make have to pass certain criteria and tests by Nvidia. This could also be (and not limited to) testing by Nvidia themselves. 

This is why G-Sync monitors and Nvidia graphics cards are more expensive than their counterparts FreeSync and AMD graphics cards, because Nvidia puts extra legwork, tests and hardware (the extra modular chip inside G-Sync monitors) into giving consumers a better experience “in their eyes”. Both Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync were made to stop the screen tearing (as mentioned above with above pic) in high frame rate gaming movement.

CAN I USE A NVIDIA GPU ON A FREESYNC MONITOR?

Now, I’m sure lots of people have wondered this to save money. You bought a Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti or RTX Titan that is capable of outputting frames in the high 100’s at 4K resolution, but you spent over $1,000 on 1 of those graphics cards… You don’t wanna spend another $1,000 on a G-Sync 4K 144Hz monitor, do you?

Well, you see… that’s the hard part. Buying the cheaper FreeSync monitor for your Nvidia graphics card could (not saying it will) produce screen tearing because FreeSync was not meant for Nvidia graphics cards. Not to say you can’t try though, however. Some have reported buying a FreeSync monitor and having no issues with their Nvidia GPU. Some have reported they do have issues. So it’s honestly a tossup. If you can fork the extra money over to buy the G-Sync monitor for your Nvidia GPU, then you’ll honestly be set and done. 

“You get what you pay for” in life as always, but as such, you can always buy a FreeSync monitor to test with your Nvidia GPU or vice versa. As stated earlier, others have reported that it does seem like a tossup if you’ll experience screen tearing with the incompatibility of the FreeSync technology with a Nvidia GPU. Either way, it’s best to get a G-Sync monitor for a Nvidia GPU, but that’s most likely not gonna be feasible for a lot of you. You can always send the monitor back for a refund.

Here are some links to some fantastic monitors. Amazon makes it super easy to return the monitor within 30 days (also til almost the end of January from end of October during the holidays) if it gives you issues or it’s producing screen tears that are unbearable. Selection below are of 1080p, 2K (1440p) and 4K. All with high refresh rates with both G-Sync and FreeSync selections for your convenience.

Most might not be able to afford the Acer Predator X27 monitor or any other 4K monitor with a high refresh rate. That is 1 reason I only listed the Acer Predator X27. At the time of writing this article, the FreeSync variant (Acer Nitro XV273K) will be unavailable until the end of the year or beginning of next. I literally can’t find it anywhere for you online to buy. There is another Acer Predator G-Sync variant (which surprised me) that is cheaper by about $500. That is the Acer Predator XB273K. However, that also doesn’t come out until the end of the year or beginning of next as of the date of this article….  

The Acer Predator X27 has quantom dot, FALD (Full Array Light Dimming) and HDR technology to provide the best looking 4K display that has ever been on a 4K monitor. Take the first 2 features away (Quantom Dot and FALD) and you have the 
Acer Predator XB273K…

Hope you enjoyed my in-depth explanation of high refresh rate monitors and TVs, as well as what to look for when buying them (and if you need one). Don’t forget to subscribe to my gaming channel if you like watching game videos! Channel name is name of the website. GamingCanBeFun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *