When looking to buy a new computer, all you hear is CPU, SSD, RAM, and 4K. It’s easy to lose sight of an important specification that makes it all blend together: the monitor refresh rate that creates the ultra-fine visual experience you desire on your screen. Do you want to know everything about your monitor’s refresh rates? We share the best tools available on the Web to give you the information you need.
What Is Monitor Refresh Rate?
A PC or laptop monitor’s refresh rate indicates the number of times the display updates its onscreen images every second. This frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), and the duration of the refresh is captured in milliseconds (ms).
The standard refresh rate for most desktop and laptop displays is 60 Hz, which is quite fast. The higher these rates, the more quickly your images will flash on your screen due to an increase in pixel response time. To imagine how this works, think of Tetris, where some blocks are falling much faster than others.
Many high refresh rate monitors support 120 Hz, 144 Hz, and even 360 Hz (Ultra High). Gamers will find their graphics more enjoyable at these superior speeds. In addition, you will benefit from less input lag, more vibrant colors, and sharper images if you work with Photoshop or any video-editing software.
However, if you think you can replace your existing 50 to 60 Hz display with something higher, you may run into a bit of disappointment. A monitor can only reproduce the same refresh rate as the frames per second (FPS) produced by the CPU and GPU. If you plan to use a 240 Hz display for a system that can, at most, recreate games at 120 FPS, you won’t get the desired mileage. Therefore, it’s a good idea to evaluate these parameters on your current display before spending money on a monitor upgrade.
Benefits of High Refresh Rate Monitors
- Faster motion on the screen
- Precision and accuracy in mouse pointer movement
- Reduced ghosting and tearing for smooth visuals
- Quicker pixel response
- No blur in images
- Smooth video rendering
How to Change Refresh Rate on Monitor
Many modern laptops support variable refresh rates. Changing this value helps you derive better-quality graphics in games and other memory-intensive apps. You can change these default numbers in both Windows and macOS.
- In Windows 11, go to “Settings -> System -> Display” and click the “Advanced display” option.
- Navigate to “Display information,” where there is an option to “choose a refresh rate.” Change the values to coordinate with your system.
- In Windows 10, go to “Settings -> Display -> Advanced Display Settings” to open the graphics settings pop-up menu.
- Go to the “Monitor” tab and change your screen refresh rate under “Monitor Settings” if a different rate is available.
Go to “Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Displays.” You can change the default “Refresh Rate” values for all of your screens.
While you can check and reset refresh rates on your device using the built-in settings, many websites provide the same information with more details.
Best Sites for Checking Monitor Refresh Rate
Knowing your current refresh rate helps make informed decisions on a newer laptop or PC purchase. It gives a baseline for determining the best you can extract from an existing display. The following websites generate the refresh rate for your device, offering a lot of additional information you may find useful.
TestUFO is a reliable display-testing arena that gives a no-frills glimpse into your monitor’s vital stats. The refresh and frame rates are directly visible on the homepage, along with pixels per frame and pixels per second. If you are facing browser stutter, it gives you a warning. You can fix this problem by closing unnecessary background apps and processes.
TestUFO has a related Moving Picture Response Time test that shows how far your display will remain stable under the impact of fast-moving pixels. If you are a gamer, it helps you know whether your screen can measure up to the rapid motion requirements of a game. The site has a few other tests to determine persistence, video game planning, and eye tracking.
2. VSYNC Tester
VSYNC Tester runs an HTML5 script to calculate your browser’s refresh rate on its display. The value is accurate to three decimal points. It also shows the frames per second, the refresh time in milliseconds, and the number of tests performed. All the data is plotted on a graph for easy visualization.
There is a VSYNC Synchronized Indicator that finds out where there are any faults on your screen, with the gray values indicating that everything is working as expected. Other colors, such as red or cyan, may indicate failure, which can be fixed by closing unnecessary background processes and refreshing your browser. VSYNC Tester also has other tools, such as a GPU memory usage tester that assesses whether the GPU is prone to crashing.
DisplayHz is closely related to the VSYNC Tester site and gives an elaborate count of your monitor refresh rate – the value is given up to six decimal points. It is one of the most accurate refresh rate numbers you can find on any website or natively on Windows and Mac.
DisplayHz is a very simple site with no fancy features. Its refresh rate value is best suited for changing your video graphics card. The site also supports old Linux browsers from Mozilla 5.0 upward, Windows NT, AppleWebKit, and Safari.
The DeviceTests website is another place to check if you are looking for a quick visual tour of your refresh rates along with other parameters. It has an elaborate FPS Test section to compare frame rates under a different number of pixels per second, which can give you an idea of how much load your browser can take under your current monitor settings.
Other online tests include a dead pixel test to assess whether your computer screen has dead pixels. The site can assess all of your hardware, including the mouse, microphone, webcam, keyboard, and sound drivers. It also checks the Internet connection, packet loss, and ping status.
5. FPS Test
FPS Test has a simple refresh rate tester that offers greater accuracy than DisplayHz, as it determines the value up to eight decimal points. The results are displayed almost instantly if you don’t run elaborate tests. You can use this tool with versatile displays, such as computer monitors, smartphones, gaming monitors, and iPads.
The FPS Tester website has some additional cool features, such as a dead pixel tester and a dead pixel fixer. Once you start the screen-fixing process, you will see a draggable window with flashing pixels. Leave it over the damaged pixel area for around ten minutes, and the dead pixels will disappear!
While all of the other websites give you a glimpse of your refresh rates, RTings gives you actual recommendations if you are looking for an immediate purchase. It maintains a current list of PC monitors supporting variable refresh rates ranging from 75 Hz all the way to 360 Hz.
For example, Dell Alienware AW21H is a Windows monitor that is likely the most superior graphics display unit you can buy at the time of writing. It generates an incredibly fast response time at a refresh rate of 360 Hz with extremely low input lag. The site has other excellent recommendations, such as Asus ROG Swift PG279QM (240 Hz), with fast IPS and NVIDIA Reflex Latency Analyzer.
7. Frames Per Second
Frames Per Second is a little-known microsite that gives screen refresh rates with an interesting twist. Instead of giving you the value directly, it makes you visualize what a refresh will look like on your display. The colors jump right off the screen with the characters involved.
The site has an interesting bevy of presets, such as Autumn, Forest and Milky Way, and objects such as spheres, soccer ball, baseball, and the moon. Just increase the velocity, frames per second, motion blur value, and other details. You can also use the 60 Hz preset value with these variables.
8. Refresh Rate Checker (Google Play)
Refresh Rate Checker checks the refresh rate on Android phones, giving a simple indication of the refresh rate values on your handheld device – that is, how quickly your phone updates each second with apps and browsers open.
At less than 3 MB, it is a very lightweight application.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between FPS and monitor refresh rate?
Frames per second (FPS) and monitor refresh rates have a similar purpose. Both measure how many times a monitor refreshes every second. However, there is one major difference: the FPS value is a measure of the graphics card (GPU) on your device, which indicates how equipped your PC system is for screen refreshes. The monitor refresh rate, however, is strictly about the monitor hardware’s capability to refresh every second.
Is it safe to use online tools to test the monitor refresh rate?
Yes. All online tools mentioned above are safe to use to test the monitor refresh rate. They do not depend on your system or monitor hardware but derive the data from your Windows or Mac display settings.
Does a higher refresh rate use more power?
Yes. A higher rate gives smoother motion but uses more battery power. If you want to conserve your battery, you may prefer to keep the device plugged in at higher refresh rates.
Is it worth getting a high refresh rate monitor?
If you are planning to purchase a display with a higher refresh rate, you should assess whether you need it at all. Gamers will definitely benefit from such a system configuration, as will designers who use memory-intensive software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X.
However, if all you plan to do is browse the Web, watch videos and movies, use normal Office applications, and do some light gaming, then there is no need to upgrade your monitor. Check out our definitive monitor buying guide for more details.
Image credit: ExplorerBob via Pixabay. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.
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