Thanks to games like PUBG, League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, and Overwatch (to name a few), the popularity of competitive online gaming is at an all-time high. Not to mention, the rise of eSports gaming—and the potential for ‘going pro’—has driven gamers to seek out every advantage possible to stand out from the competition.
One such advantage that many professional gamers utilize over the lower-tiers of competition comes through using high refresh rate gaming monitors. And, more specifically 144Hz+ monitors.
In this guide, we’re going to go over a few different scenarios where 144Hz is worth it for gaming.
144Hz is Worth it for Aspiring Competitive Gamers
In a lot of online games (especially first-person shooters), a small difference in a player’s reaction time can be the difference between victory and defeat. And, because a higher refresh rate monitor allows for the potential of your monitor displaying frames at a higher rate, that faster exchange of frames can make your game feel much smoother, which can give you an advantage in certain scenarios.
As an example, imagine that you’re playing a competitive first-person shooter and a competitor has located you and fired at you. Although you’re at a disadvantage because your opponent has already targeted you, you feel like your only option is to turn, locate the opponent, and engage.
In this scenario, it’s important to locate your enemy as quickly as possible. If you’re playing on a monitor with a lower refresh rate (like 60Hz) turning to locate your opponent won’t be as smooth of a process (in comparison to a 144Hz monitor) and there could be some stuttering or tearing as you scan to locate your opponent. Any of these things could delay you in locating your opponent, which could give them the time they need to finish you off.
So, while playing on a higher refresh rate monitor won’t make you a more skilled player, it will give you a little bit more time to react, which could result in more exchanges, fights, and/or battles going your way. This will also give you an advantage over opponents who are playing on lower refresh rate monitors and it will even the playing field against opponents who are already using higher refresh rate monitors.
What About FreeSync and G-Sync?
FreeSync and G-Sync are AMD and NVIDIA’s variable refresh rate technologies. Essentially, they solve the problem of both screen tearing and screen stuttering.
Screen tearing happens when your graphics card sends frames to your monitor at a rate that is higher than your monitor can display them. An example of screen tearing can be found in the image below.
Screen stuttering happens when your graphics card sends frames to your monitor at a rate that is lower than your monitor can display them. Screen stuttering can make your game feel choppy.
FreeSync and G-Sync force your monitor to operate at a refresh rate that matches the rate in which your GPU is producing frames (framerate, or frames-per-second). This is important because, in the past, monitors have operated at a fixed refresh rate, whereas graphics cards don’t always output a consistent framerate. Depending on the in-game scenario, your framerate could vary significantly. And, so, even if you averaged 144 frames-per-second in a first-person shooter, if your framerate dipped to 100 frames per second during a heated battle, your game could start stuttering, which would put you at a disadvantage in the fight.
So, with a 144Hz FreeSync or G-Sync monitor, you’ll never have to worry about screen stuttering, because even if your framerate dips, your monitor’s refresh rate will dip as well to match it.
You can read more about FreeSync and G-Sync and how they could help your in-game performance in the two articles listed below. But, since most high refresh rate monitors come with either FreeSync or G-Sync, it was important to note the role they play.
*NOTE: If you are considering getting a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor, just note that in order to utilize FreeSync, you’ll need an AMD graphics card in your system and in order to use G-Sync, you’ll need an NVIDIA graphics card in your system.
The Main Problem With 144Hz+ Monitors is Cost
The main problem with 144Hz (or higher) monitors is mainly cost. 144Hz monitors not only cost more than 60Hz monitors, but they also require a more powerful system in order to utilize properly. And, of course, a more powerful system will cost more money.
If you purchase a 144Hz G-Sync monitor to play your favorite competitive game, but you have a computer that is only capable of running that game at 60 frames-per-second, you will be wasting the benefits that come with running games at higher refresh rates.
So, it is important to note that just getting a 144Hz monitor is not going to deliver you an optimal performance. You’ll also need a system that can deliver a framerate that is high enough to take advantage of the higher refresh rate. And, that could mean spending more money to upgrade your computer.
Fortunately, if you’re just looking for an affordable way to run a 144Hz monitor, there are 1080P gaming monitors for under $200 that come with a 144Hz refresh rate. And, at 1080P and 144Hz, you could build a gaming computer for ~$700 that should be able to give you a high enough framerate to utilize the benefits of a higher refresh rate monitor.
Bottom Line: 144Hz is Worth it for Competitive Gamers & Gamers With Large Budgets
For competitive gamers who are looking for every advantage possible, 144Hz is worth it. Even if you aren’t into competitive games as much as you are into story-driven games with excellent graphics, a higher refresh rate monitor can help games feel much smoother and more immersive.
However, just note that, if you do want to get a 144Hz gaming monitor, you’ll need a high-end gaming computer in order to properly utilize it. And, again, remember that most high refresh rate monitors come with either FreeSync or G-Sync—and, you can only utilize FreeSync with an AMD graphics card and G-Sync with an NVIDIA graphics card.