If you are currently gaming on a 60Hz TV or monitor, more than one person has probably suggested to you that you need to upgrade to a 120Hz model. Is it really necessary? For gamers, absolutely. In this article, we will explore exactly why 60Hz vs 120Hz matters in gaming.
If you buy a new TV or monitor today it will inevitably be at least 120Hz; 240Hz is also available, but these more expensive models are only really necessary for very serious competitive gamers. The higher refresh rate can make a big difference to your gaming experience.
It is worth noting that streamers won’t notice the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz when watching, so if a techie friend is encouraging you to update your TV for this reason, don’t pay them much heed. The next time you are ready to upgrade, you’ll almost certainly get 120Hz anyway.
Nevertheless, we have included our top recommendations for the best 120Hz smart TVs if you are looking to upgrade and want to futureproof your investment. We will also look at some of the other main features to consider when buying a new smart TV to ensure you get something that will stay in pace with changing technology.
What Are Hz And Why Do They Matter?
First and foremost, let’s be clear as far as what we are talking about. Hz is a unit of frequency, and in this context, it refers to how many times (specifically, how frequently) your screen refreshes per second. The more times your screen refreshes each second, the more quickly new information reaches your screen.
How high a refresh rate you need depends on how many frames per second your content is delivered.
Most 4K movies and programs are delivered at 24 frames per second. This means that they will look the same regardless of whether you are using a 60, 120, or 240 per second refresh rate.
The most sophisticated games, however, can output at 120 frames per second so if you are using a TV or monitor that only delivers 60Hz, then you are missing a lot of the detail.
In addition to missed details, the motion of your picture can feel jumpy as moments are skipped. You can also end up with screen tearing, which is when two different images try to appear on your screen at the same time.
More than this, tests have shown that users can notice a significant difference between 60Hz and 120Hz when gaming, and that higher Hz levels tend to result in better gaming performance.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. If you are gaming you really do need a TV or monitor with at least 120Hz, while streamers still don’t need the upgrade. A higher frames-per-second rate for movies is still a few years out.
Serious gamers might want 240Hz, and there are affordable options at this frequency, so if you are making a current purchase it can be worth it to futureproof your setup.
Rating Criteria: Other Considerations
When buying a new TV or monitor, Hz level is not the only updated technology to consider; you should also be getting something that has an HDMI 2.1 connection. It is actually significantly more advanced than HDMI 2.0 and is essential if you want to get those higher frames per second.
HDMI 2.1 enables the faster transfer of frames, which allows you to take advantage of the high output of your gaming graphics card and the high Hz level of your TV or monitor.
It also introduces higher dynamic range formats, which allows for more graduation between the darkest and lightest colors of what you are watching, and you get better audio as you get an enhanced audio return channel that can transport uncompressed and full-resolution audio.
If you are investing in a new TV or monitor today, HDMI 2.1 should be one of your “must-have” features.
The type of panels that your TV or monitor use can also make a difference in your viewing experience. While most TVs use an LCD (liquid crystal display), they use different panel technologies to deliver this and it can make a difference to your viewing experience, especially when gaming.
There are three different panel types: TN, IPS, and VA. What distinguishes them?
TN – Twisted Nematic
This is the oldest type of panel, but also the fastest. It is the only panel that can deliver less than a one millisecond response time, which is absolutely necessary for 240Hz technology. The other options max out at around 200Hz.
While this might seem like an obvious choice, especially for gamers, there are trade-offs. The biggest problem is color, as it is limited to the standard RGB color range and a 1000@1 contrast. It also has a limited viewing angle of 170/160. This means that if there is a group watching, those at the outskirts will receive compromised color and image fade.
Nevertheless, this is still the top choice for serious gamers who want to sit immersed in front of their monitor and not miss a single moment of action on the screen.
IPS – In-Plane Switching
When you are looking for the best color so that you can enjoy designs and graphics as they were meant to be experienced, IPS panels are the way to go. They offer the full DCI-P3 color gamut that you get in digital cinema. The only issue is that they can crush black levels too much, which can diminish dark details.
You also get a slower response time. Traditionally it was as slow as a 4-5 millisecond response rate, but the technology is improving all the time.
One of the most important bonuses of IPS is that it has a wide viewing angle or 178/178, which means that pretty much everyone sitting around the screen gets a true vision of what is happening.
VA – Vertical Aligned
VA panels sit between the two. They have better color than the TN and a much better contrast of 3000:1, but they also have a faster response rate than the IPS, around 1-2 milliseconds. You also retain the 178/178 viewing angle.
The VA is often chosen by those who want the best of both worlds.
What To Buy?
We’ve already reviewed the best gaming monitors for 2022, all of which offer a minimum of 120Hz. You can read the full article and find our recommendations here.
But what if you are looking for a new TV that you also plan to use for gaming? Below are our top three recommendations for the best new 4K TVs with a minimum of 120Hz. We’ve chosen 55 inches as our standard size, but you can get bigger or smaller on most models.
It uses the Android operating system, which means you have full access to everything in the Google Play Store rather than being stuck with the more limited app selections available from proprietary app stores.
For gamers, it has a Game Mode Pro, which optimizes input for faster response times and a better gaming experience. IPS panels offer the clearest images whether you are streaming or gaming.
- Android operating system
- IPS panels
- HDMI 2.1
- 55-inches for $600
Not sure about the best operating systems for smart TVs? Read our article on Google TV vs Android TV for some insight.
IPS panels power self-lit pixels that deal with some of the traditional black problems and deliver over a billion colors with a wide viewing angle.
This TV stands out for being compatible with all of your gaming systems, offering Nvidia G–Sync but also FreeSync Premium and VRR to link with systems that aren’t powered by Nvidia graphics processors.
On the downside, it does use LG’s WebOS operating system, which means that you are limited to downloading apps from the LG Content Store, and there are no possibilities to sideload or “hack” your TV without plugging in a separate Android TV box.
- WebOS operating system
- IPS panels
- HDMI 2.1
- 55-inches for $1,400
This TV uses the proprietary SmartCastOS which, like other proprietary operating systems, has a much more limited app store than the Google Play Store. Unlike others, though, Vizio gets around this by letting you cast from your smartphone using Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. If you can’t get what you want on your TV, you can get it on your smartphone and easily mirror it to your TV from there.
- SmartCast operating system
- VA panels
- HDMI 2.1
- 55-inches for $1,000
What if you want 240Hz? Expect a big jump in price. For example, check out this 75-inch, 240Hz option from Samsung which will set you back almost $4,000.
Does 60Hz vs 120Hs make a difference?
For gaming, 120Hz makes a big difference to your experience. Most new games are now delivering 120 frames per second, so with a 60Hz TV, you’ll only be getting half the frames. Not only does this undermine your experience, but it can also lead to screen tearing. Streamers won’t see a difference between 60Hz and 120Hz since even most 4K movies are delivered at just 24 frames per second.
Is 60Hz OK for gaming?
Casual gamers will still have a great experience with 60Hz when gaming, but if you are already accustomed to gaming at 120Hz you will certainly notice the downgrade and may find it frustrating. Professional gamers will often use monitors that deliver 240Hz to ensure that they don’t miss a millisecond of the action.
Is 120Hz better than 60Hz for the eyes?
Yes, 120Hz delivers a smoother viewing experience that looks more like “real life.” This can put less strain on the eyes, so if eye strain is a major concern a higher refresh rate can help relieve eye stress.
Is 60Hz enough for PS5?
Yes, 60Hz is enough for PS5. While many newer games are delivered at 120 frames per second, games are optimized to still look smooth at the lower refresh rate. It will also make no difference to how quickly your PS5 responds to your input.
Do you need to upgrade from a 60Hz TV or monitor to 120Hz? The short answer is yes. If you are into gaming, you will want to do this as soon as possible since all the new gaming consoles and PCs now deliver content at 120 frames per second. If you don’t have a 120Hz monitor or TV, you’ll be missing a lot of the action.
If you are more of a streamer, there is no pressure to upgrade immediately since most 4K streaming content is delivered at just 24 frames per second; however, when you buy your next TV you will want 120Hz to be future-proof as the technology continues to improve. Most new TVs are now 120Hz as standard, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
As well as looking at Hz and refresh rate, make sure your new purchase has HDMI 2.1 to ensure that it will be a viable model for years to come.