Does Refresh Rate Matter?

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ShayneG

All we need is a perfect 60 fps, no mismatch in framerate ratios, no delay in pixel updates, no tearing, so scaler issues, etc. These monitors are obvious not identical in all other factors besides refresh rates. If humans can only see ~60 fps, then a perfect 60 would be fine, except that there's all these other factors complicating this, which is why certain factors have to exceed human vision to try to compensate.

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Galaxitus

You're actually close to the reality about the refreshing rate of monitors.

The main issue we, in the world of computation of digital images, are facing is now not about the hardware capacity, but about the software capacity that is managing the hardware.

Someone can see something "wrong" on a 60 fps displayed screen because the 60 fps isn't constant. About every 10 frame, it either loose or get an additional fps and even if you look at the FPS notice, it won't budge from 60 FPS because it does an average only a couple of time per seconds. (it doesn't update per frame)

Another example of limitation which made the tests shown in this article somewhat biased is the limitation of the refreshing rate of the OS. Windows 7 and 8's Aera theme plugin is limited to an equivalent of 45Hz so even if you see a video at 120 or 60, all the area around it runs at 45.

As for video games, thinking that it's "better to run at 120 instead of 60" as it's supposed to look sharper or smoother is actually false. the reality is that a game can't officially run at 120Hz because of how shaders work. Shaders update at a strict frame rate regardless of the Hz of the screen. The reason being that a game time is run via delta.time and not in seconds. Delta.time*1 = one cycle in the frame rate (either 30 frames or 60 frames depending on the shader used).
A computer that can run its screen at 120HZ will simply repeat the same frame twice in row instead of showing 2x more frames because the shader won't have generated the new mid-frame that is supposed to appear.
Another reason why video games "fakes" whenever it can reach higher fps is due to how much VRAM such process would really take. At 60 fps, a game engine have to recalculate every pixel on screen 60 times per second. Unlike with videos, video games doesn't just calculate via X and Y, but also via Z (the famous Z buffer which allow textures and asset to be reduced on screen). Any recent game would require around 8Go-12Go of VRAM if they were to generate the games for the full potential of any 120hz screen.

This, the eye notice it even if it's not able to fully comprehend it. It's like if you pass the same card twice in front of the eye instead of once and that explain why the players think it's sharper, while in reality it's the same as the lower Hz. This is also why players who are used to 120hz tend to not feel well if they downgrade to 60hz. It's not that it's "poor" in the quality, but simply that they are unable to analyses singular frame anymore.
In that instance, 120hz is actually worse for the brain and the eyes linked memory.

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dgrmouse

You are wrong on nearly every single point, Galaxitus.

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Cube

I like the fact they brought out lab coats even though there is almost zero chance of them getting dirty from a chemical spill or other substance.

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yammerpickle2

Looking forward to 4K X 120 hz.

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nsvander

I have been using a 120HZ monitor for a few years now, and it took some getting use to it when working with a lot of text, but what I ended up finding was that over prolonged periods of time that my eyes seems less strained, even when using in a room that was dark with the only light being from the monitor. Just my 2 cents!

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Army Of One

Gordon,
In this article you said "It’s said that humans perceive reality at about 66 frames per second."

Could you post a link to an article that says this? I'd really like to read it.

If you've ever read gaming forums for any of the AAA games, this argument about how many FPS the human eye can see has been going on for years now without anyone providing any proof.

My personal opinion is that the actual ability to see higher FPS varies from person to person. Just like some humans need glasses to see @ 20/20 while other do not. This might also be the reason why you're getting different results from the people you've used in this test.

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MageSTYK

I'm not Gordon, but here's a link.
http://movieline.com/2012/12/14/hobbit-high-frame-rate-science-48-frames-per-second/

He's right! I would also like to point out that 'Google' is Fantastic if you use it to search for stuff. Porn, Videos, Images, or in your case 'How many fps a human eye can see'

Try it!

@Gordon, great job on the Article.

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Army Of One

I've already googled it
I've already read that 8 month old article.
It was an incredibly scientific article from "movieline". Thanks for that link......sigh, moving on from the troll.....
I asked Gordon because I was interested in seeing if there was an article he happened to have read about human FPS that I didn't know about.

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dgrmouse

This Wikipedia entry seems to suggest the number is around 60fps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_rate. It gives a paper published by a Nasa research fellow as a source.

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gothliciouz

is only natural that people would prefer the high refresh rate monitor in gaming. especially in fps games, the motion is just more realistic.

but really, good luck keeping a constant 120/144 fps in most modern games.

as for hd movies, the 24 fps will always be preferred. since higher fps removes the cinematic illusion and reveals that everything is actually fake.

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vrmlbasic

I can't wait for a higher framerate than 24 to become standard. 24 is too low for me.

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dgrmouse

24 actually divides evenly into 144, so I don't exactly understand the argument there.

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wolfing

that's similar to the reactions of those who didn't like the Hobbit's high def. Personally, when I watched the movie, it did feel strange at first, but then I got used to it and now really prefer the new framerate. It does have an issue for CGI "green background" stuff as it's harder to hide. I think it's just a transition period, the current knowledge and tools are made and calibrated for 24fps, but I think once they're better adapted to 48, the cinematic illusion might hold better.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

I'm not convinced the testing was entirely serious, so I enjoyed the ASUS interview more and wish there was more of it.

Since moving from CRT to LCD, I've grown to hate the low 60 Hz refresh rate because of screen tearing I see in nearly every FPS I play. Tearing was never so bad with a CRT. I'd be interested in moving to a larger panel with a 144 Hz signal.

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SirGCal

One big problem though; if you didn't color match the monitors to each other, there will still be those differences people will pick up on. Even with both TN panels, etc. Colors won't be the same.

I have a collection of monitors at home myself... currently 8 that I've used and retired. I'm currently on an ASUS 144Hz version which the colors are very 'odd' for and you have to tweak it significantly to get it happy. After that however, it's the best monitor I've had.

I even have one pixel-geak that likes it (otherwise swears by more pixels instead of speed, 2560x1600 for example). Also a gotcha is having enough horsepower to actually run games in full tilt and do so well over the 60Hz mark to make it all matter. In videos however, if that is your focus, I do believe this becomes a much mooter point. I bought it for very high-speed racing games and eventually plan to pair it up with 2 more.

Plus, it is also person dependent. People like myself gaming on digital monitors who are sensitive to the signal can get migraines to <60Hz flicker. The 144Hz systems help stop the headaches. So for me it simply allows me to play. Simple as that. And for me, that is the priceless factor above all else. But also the bummer to why I can't find a laptop I can game on for long.

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Ninjawithagun

...uhhhh, you do know that both Asus and Alienware (Dell) sell gaming laptops that have 120Hz refresh rates, right?

http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-17/fs (3D 120Hz model is on the far right)

http://www.asus.com/us/Notebooks_Ultrabooks/G750JW

So, don't fret. If you really want a 120Hz refresh rate in a laptop, the choices are here today and have been for several years now.

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SirGCal

Actually, no I did not. Thanks for that. :-) kudos. I haven't looked hard for a gaming laptop. Being a cripple though, I don't leave the house much. But being in the hospital for the last 2 weeks.. I miss my gaming rig. (only problem is they are both Win8 but... that's another topic... I have some unused 7 OEMs I can push back to em...)

UPDATE: The ASUS G750 is not a 120Hz screen... Just called and checked... It's a 60Hz screen. Thought it was a bit too cheap for that.

Thanks again!

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FatOldGuy

My wife has a 24 inch BenQ 120 hz Monitor, and I have a 24 inch Asus 60hz monitor, I like mine quite a bit more than hers, but mine is IPS and hers is not which may be why.

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Ninjawithagun

You need to go get yourself a 27-inch 120Hz S-IPS 2560x1440 LED backlit monitor now! I bought mine from Overlord Computers and LOVE IT! An absolute game changer...literally. Seeing games at 120Hz on an S-IPS monitor is night and day compared to gaming on a TN panel monitor. Never again will I own a TN panel monitor after gaming on an S-IPS monitor at 120Hz. Go here and check it out for yourself:

http://overlordcomputer.com/collections/27-displays

Make sure to get the X270OC model. It's the only one capable of up to 120Hz refresh rate. There are two main versions; a glossy and matte (anti glare) finish screens. So you have a choice based upon your own preference. These monitors are usually sold out, so you better pre-order now!

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Uh huh.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

darn it

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mhouston100

I enjoy tests like this where it tries to be unbiased.

Question though, do you think the results would change after extended usage?

Seems kind like the switch form SD to HD TV... all the non-tech people I knew hated Full HD when they first saw it but now to show them SD they can't believe we ever watched stuff so bad...

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RGN07

@75 Hz my games are smoother than 60Hz on a Samsung 732NW lcd, this is so true but why does everyone tell me otherwise? and besides isn't refresh rate for CRTs?

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Ninjawithagun

That's because most people are not educated in the matters of specifics regarding refresh rates. Refresh rates apply to all forms of displays and not just CRTs. CRTs were famous during their time because they were the only means to enjoy high refresh rates due to the fact that they were analog displays. When LCD screens first started becoming mainstream back in the early 2000s, they were only capable of 60Hz and 75Hz (depending upon resolution). Then, in the late 2000s a company called Acer was able to come up with a way to overclock pixels using TN panel technology. And from there, the 120Hz revolution took off. Asus, Viewsonic, and BenQ (to name a few) released there own versions of 120Hz capable gaming monitors. NVidia then released 3D technology a couple years later which required a 120Hz monitor in order to support their proprietary 60Hz 3D stereoscopic effect. Now we have 144Hz capable TN panel monitors and 120Hz capable S-IPS monitors on the market. As you can imagine, the price premium for entry into these types of gaming monitors is not cheap. Prices have fallen recently on the TN panel gaming monitors because there is an ongoing shift to S-IPS 120Hz (and higher) gaming monitors. Catsleap, Overlord Computers, QNIX and Crossover are the primary manufactures of these new generation of monitors. I've owned one of these monitors for about one year now and LOVE IT. An absolute game changer that will reshape the way you look and play PC games!

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dgrmouse

Wow, a wall of text that doesn't really even come close to addressing the actual question...

Refresh rates on CRTs are a natural result of an electron gun making successive horizontal passes over a phosphor screen. When it gets to the bottom-right, it moves back up to the upper-left and begins anew. The transit time between frames is your vblank for vsync and the overall time determines your refresh rate. This said, I think it is very natural to ask what it means to talk about a refresh rate in the context of an LCD.

Most LCD elements are controlled by a matrix of signal and power lines. A single picture element can be addressed individually, but because it requires using the grid rather than direct access, it limits which other pixels can be simultaneously accessed. Conceptually, it seems like it might be possible to update a whole row or column at once - I'm not sure if even this is possible, however. So for now, LCD panels have a relatively low practical limit with regard to how fast they can shuttle an input image to the screen. This is why LCDs have refresh rates.

I'd guess that if individual pixels in an LCD panel could be toggled independently and simultaneously, we'd probably still talk about LCD refresh rates but would instead be talking about black-to-black time or some other measurement (though it would surely be advertised ambiguously).

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thematejka

Interesting test. I would love to see deeper testing and speculation on why 60Hz was so preferred with the 24fps video. Maybe it is because the lower fps and low refresh rate match up better?

In general, I would think that high fps matched with high refresh rate would be the best thing, as would low fps with low refresh rate, but everybody has their preferences. Heck, I'm a University psych student and I know that test results with a subject can change if they are repeatedly asked to take the same test!

Anyways, very neat little bit of research. I know for myself, I see a huge and pleasant difference in 120fps/120Hz movies compared to the older method. The Hobbit was the first I saw and I loved it.

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gothliciouz

i believe "the hobbit" was shot in 48 fps.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

When I saw The Hobbit in theaters, I found the picture insanely sharp and lifelike. I absolutely loved the added clarity.

Guess I'm not a film or video connoisseur. Darn....

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

double post edited away

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RandomInt

Nice job.

It looks like you told the test subjects beforehand that you were evaluating refresh rates. I wonder if the results would have been different if you didn't tell them that, and instead just asked (like an optometrist), "Better one...or two?"

"The tester was careful not to suggest one panel over the other."
In order to minimize BS, you gotta go double blind.

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thematejka

Agreed. Double Blind would yield more interesting and probably different results.

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dan4real

I have the 144hz monitor mentioned in the article and it sits on my desk next to a 2ms 60hz Samsung monitor that is a very nice screen. I do video editing and gaming and I can definitely say I prefer the 144hz. 3D is also a nice option to have. Another thing to mention is, the ASUS monitor mentioned is capable of "Lightboost" (a technology included to improve 3D gaming brightness with glasses). Lightboost strobes the LCD backlight which improves ghosting quite a bit for games. Do a Google search and you'll find ways to force your panel into Lightboost when not in 3D mode ;)

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limitbreaker

My 120Hz monitor definitely is smoother than my 60Hz and I can easily tell the difference between the two. Although, if it wasn't for the 3d glasses, I would be happy with 75Hz.

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squarebab

Yes.

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Danthrax66

These are fairly shitty tests, the best test is to take a DEMO in a game like css/csgo (it creates a video file of the gameplay that can then be played back natively in the game on multiple PCs and scale to their graphics settings), then play it back on both monitors while filming them with a slow motion camera. Then compare them frame by frame. You should see that the 144hz/120hz monitor draw extra frames that can make a difference in an online FPS game. A frame showing an enemies body a millisecond or two before it would be displayed on a 60hz panel can make a huge difference in reaction time. None of these tests really address that though because it isn't someone actually playing a fast paced FPS game on them. Which is the entire purpose, and probably why Portal 2 showed a difference. Also I hope you got them set to run at 120/144hz because you have to set a bunch of launch flags on games for it to actually work.

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dgrmouse

Danthrax66 said, "A frame showing an enemies body a millisecond or two before it would be displayed on a 60hz panel can make a huge difference in reaction time."

Please explain your reasoning. It seems to me that seeing an enemy a millisecond or two faster should only change reaction time by a millisecond or two. Since that's still much smaller than the latency from input devices, output devices, network devices, human reaction time, etc., I don't understand why 1-2 ms is a big issue.

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TommM

The intent of the test was to see which monitor people preferred based on their visual assessment only.

Not to see if there was tearing or what the draw rates were based on frame-by-frame camera shots.

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MdX MaxX

I'm really surprised by the almost universal preference of the 60Hz panel over the 144Hz panel in the case of the 24fps movie.

I would have expected the experience to be worse on the 60Hz panel, considering 60 is not a multiple of 24, but 144 is.

I've never seen a 120Hz+ panel in person, though, so I can't speak from experience.

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Nixon

I would love to have a 144Hz panel for the upcoming Project Cars game. I already have the steering wheel and the computer, but no money left for even a 60Hz 1080p panel.

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Ninjawithagun

Time to mow some more lawns! ;)