Why use a high refresh rate monitor?
The importance of a high refresh rate monitor is something that is hard to describe, because it really is an interesting experience going from one to the other. Outside of subjective enjoyment level, there are some hard facts on why it is objectively better than using standard 60Hz displays.Lightboost? What is this?
Much is said about graphical fidelity to present a lifelike creation to fully immerse the player. I’m sure everyone has been told by Dennis how important this is. No matter how pretty those pixels are, you also need proper illusion of motion. Without this, you just have a pretty slideshow.
“But 60 fps/hz is great, it’s so smooth”, you say. There’s also a lot of people who insist their 30 fps times are great too. But, there’s still room for improvement. Though for some the transition from 60 to 120/144hz might not be as significant as going from 30 to 60 for some, for others it’s the difference between night and day.
Generally this split is between competitive gamers and those who enjoy more standard AAA, RPG, strategy, or indie games. The high speed and movement in competitive games does lend itself towards being more obviously smooth with a higher refresh rate. Don’t count yourself out, as even people who are bad at games like Sethos and Smokey will attest to an improved experience in most games. It’s even been known to reduce or eliminate frame tearing.
The other major factor is motion blur. For those who started being extremely interested in games in the last console lifecycle, I can see the confusion on your face right now. Motion Blur is not a graphical improvement. It was designed to make a sub-par 30 fps experience feel smooth. What it does is muddy everything on screen, reducing graphical fidelity. Getting rid of that mess is the key to having a consistent level of clarity and richness.
Using everyone’s favorite blur tool, Testufo, take a look at these differences.
120Hz w/ Lightboost
You should read this. But, the tl;dr version is that it strobes the backlight only when the LCD panel has fully refreshed, presenting a series of clear images rather than holding on to a refresh before the next occurs.Okay mkenyon, I’m intrigued, but don’t you need like 15 Titans in SLI with a 20 core processor?
Click this to read more about why even OLED’s with a zero response time have motion blur, due to the sample-and-hold effect.
What this means is a return to CRT days when everything was crisp, without the downsides of the technology.
Well, for your graphic hog type games you do need a beast of a system. But most games can get to 8.3ms frame times (120 fps), fairly easily. Here’s some results from benchmarks I ran about a year back on a 3570K and 7970 @ 1100 MHz. All games were set on max everything at 1080p.What monitors should I be looking at then? Are these things expensive?
Generally, you’re going to have a pretty easy time hitting 8.3ms. You might need to turn down a bit of AA or some other minor setting to get there, but it’s worth it. Metro and Crysis are a different story, but they always are.
BlurBusters to the rescue with a full list of 120/144Hz monitors. The ones with lightboost ability are noted as well.Durante told me that if I didn’t get something with G-Sync, that my firstborn will be sacrificed to the Gods of Frame Tearing and High Input Lag.
My personal recommendation would be between three monitors. First up is the ASUS VG248QE.
This is a TN panel with a very low native input lag. One of the downsides to lightboost is that it has a tendency to wash out the image a bit. For whatever reason, the colors on this monitor look much better than other similar monitors. The huge plus to this, is that it is the first monitor to be officially supported by NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, with add on modules available for it in a few months. It also has a pretty low price, ranging anywhere from $230 to $300 USD.
The second option is my personal favorite, the Eizo Foris FG2421.
This is a VA panel, which means prettier colors and better viewing angles. VA panels are typically found on TVs. This has a firmware based strobe (lightboost) that works incredibly well. This is basically the middle ground between IPS colors and TN response times. If you aren’t inclined towards lightboost, or have issues with PWM backlights, it can be run 100% PWM free as well.
It also has the very special esteem of being the only monitor recommended by n0tail. No guarantee of a better Meepo game after buying it though. This is a pricey one, around $550-600 USD.
The third option is for the type of gamer that will just not refuse to give up their 1440p IPS display. The QNIX QX2710 Evolution II is what you want.
This is a 1440p PLS panel that is very capable of being overclocked to 120Hz. The major downside to this is that there is no lightboost option, so it will not eliminate blur. It will still look great to those who aren’t too sensitive to blur. Here is a video comparing the blur on the QNIX to a TN panel with strobing enabled. These can be found for $350-400, with Pixel Perfect models available.
It will be interesting to see what happens with G-Sync capable displays outside of what’s already been mentioned. The big downside is that as of right now, the variable frame rates with G-Sync will not work alongside a strobing backlight.How do I get lightboost working?
The big upside is theoretically monitors will be able to refresh to their maximum response time. This means possible 170Hz+ TN panels, and native 120Hz IPS/PLS panels. The latter of those two is something that might make me hold off on diving into the QNIX.
Though this is entirely anecdotal, everyone I’ve talked to with 120Hz panels, which includes about 10-15 people I play games with nightly, do not notice frame tearing anymore. I won’t speculate on the science behind it, but it’s definitely a thing.
No. TVs use interpolation to insert additional frames, but they cannot accept a 120Hz signal due to a bandwidth limitation on HDMI. You will need a Dual Link DVI or Displayport connector. Read Scogoth’s helpful post on the different connections.Can you really tell a difference? I mean, games are super smooth at 60 fps.