Do you need a high refresh rate monitor for office work?

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High refresh rate monitors are traditionally aimed at gamers, but they have broader appeal. Device makers such as Apple and Samsung have started incorporating high refresh rate displays into their tablets and phones. So, should you buy one for your office computer too?

What is a high refresh rate monitor?

The refresh rate of a monitor is the number of times per second that the display is updated, measured in Hertz (Hz). Most basic monitors stick to 60 Hz, which means the maximum frame rate you can perceive on these monitors is 60 frames per second (FPS).

If you play a lot of games and buy a powerful computer for it, it may achieve frame rates higher than 60 FPS. Some competitive gamers will lower resolution and detail settings to maximize frame rates. This reduces input lag and results in a smoother overall experience.

Doing this on a 60 Hz monitor might reduce input lag slightly, but you won’t see the benefit of those extra frames because the monitor won’t be able to keep up. This can cause motion blur on the screen. Monitors with high refresh rates are designed to solve this problem.

Generally, anything above 144 Hz is considered a high refresh rate monitor. However, most monitors over 60 Hz count, including 90 Hz monitors in VR headsets and 120 Hz monitors in iPad Pro.

If you’re in the market for a high refresh rate monitor, you may want to look at 144 Hz or higher. For gamers who must have everything, 240 Hz monitors do exist. They are especially favored by competitive multiplayer gamers, as overall graphics fidelity is less important than latency and response time.

One problem you may encounter when using a high refresh rate monitor is screen tearing. This happens when the frame and refresh rate don’t match. When the monitor tries to process the image, it produces unsightly horizontal lines (or “tearing”).

Variable refresh rate (VRR) monitors try to solve this problem with technologies such as NVIDIA’s proprietary G-Sync and the open source FreeSync powered by AMD. VRR monitors reduce the refresh rate in real time to match the frame rate of the game you’re playing, eliminating screen tearing.

You don’t need one, but it’s still great

So how do high refresh rate displays perform in more pedestrian tasks? Basic computing tasks, such as browsing the web or managing files, don’t require much power. That’s why desktops are where you can get the most out of a high refresh rate monitor.

First, your computer seems to be more responsive. Everything from moving the cursor and dragging windows to launching applications will feel better. You may have to experience it yourself to measure the benefits. If you go back to a 60 Hz monitor, you’ll definitely notice a difference.

One of the best reference points for higher refresh rate displays is Apple’s iPad Pro. In 2015, Apple introduced the first 120 Hz display in a consumer tablet. Both reviewers and customers noticed the difference immediately. We’ve touched several iPad Pros since the introduction of these displays, and they feel noticeably better.

apple

As part of the “ProMotion” feature, Apple added a 120 Hz display to the iPhone 13 Pro. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 also hits 120 Hz. OnePlus, ASUS, OPPO, and Razer all sell Android smartphones with 120 Hz display modes. On mobile devices, doubling the refresh rate can affect battery life, but on desktop monitors you don’t have to worry about it. (That’s why the iPhone’s ProMotion uses a variable refresh rate, allowing it to go below 120 Hz when there’s no movement on the screen.)

nobody need High refresh rate monitor for simple computing tasks. A 60 Hz monitor will do the job just fine. In an office or study area, a high refresh rate monitor is like a comfy chair or an expensive mechanical keyboard – you don’t need it, but it’s nice to have.

related: Why you should upgrade your old computer monitor

High refresh rate monitors are now cheaper

High refresh rate monitors with variable refresh rates used to be cutting edge. However, with the arrival of 240 Hz monitors in droves, 144 Hz is starting to look a bit old. It also means that the price of monitors with a more modest 144 Hz refresh rate has come down.

Panel types also vary widely in terms of price. TN panels are the oldest type of LCD on the market. They have improved a lot since they were first introduced. However, they still suffer from poor color accuracy, disappointing viewing angles, and black fading.

They are also the cheapest of all panel types. After LG hit the one-millisecond threshold in its UltraGear IPS monitors in 2019, TN panels are no longer the only option for competitive gamers. You can now get better blacks, color accuracy and viewing angles in IPS panels with low latency and high refresh rates.

LG UltraGear 27
LG

With this new kid, TN panels are no longer a hot demand. So you should be able to buy a high refresh rate monitor with a TN panel for a modest price. You can find off-brand monitors with high refresh rates for around $250; if you want name-brand stuff, add $50 to $100 more.

All panel types offer high refresh rate monitors. VA panels offer the best picture quality at the cost of input lag. The IPS panel offers a good balance between responsiveness and image quality. However, TN panels are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to overall image reproduction.

related: TN vs. IPS vs. VA: What is the best display panel technology?

Try a high refresh rate monitor for yourself

There is no one-size-fits-all display out there. When you buy an item, there are so many things you need to keep in mind.

For example, in addition to standard office work, do you play games, or edit photos and videos? TN panels may be sufficient for basic office work. However, if you want color accuracy for video or photo editing, the VA panel is ideal.

The size and resolution of the display are also important. If you want to jump to 4K, high refresh rate monitors are going to be expensive. Would you trade pixel density for smoothness and ease of use?

Price is also a major consideration for most people. If you’re buying a better-than-average monitor, you’ll probably find that it also includes a higher refresh rate, even though it might only be 75 or 120 Hz. You can certainly save money by opting for a more modest 60 Hz monitor.

The best way to determine if a high refresh rate monitor is right for you is to use one. Drag a few windows, type quickly, use your favorite apps, or play a game or two.

For some, the difference will be an eye-opener, while others would rather spend the extra money on another feature. Try a high refresh rate monitor and see which camp you fall into!


High refresh rate monitors aren’t the only products aimed at gamers with a wider appeal. For increased productivity, you may also want to consider upgrading to a gaming mouse, mechanical keyboard, or SSD.

related: These ‘gamer’ PC products are perfect for office work

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