Is a 60 Hz TV okay?

If you‘re buying a new TV, especially for gaming or fast motion video, you‘ll see a specification called the "refresh rate." This number is usually 60 Hz or 120 Hz on modern TVs. But what does this value actually mean? And is a 60 Hz TV sufficient for most viewing and gaming? In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the details behind refresh rate and help you decide what‘s right for your usage and budget.

What is a TV‘s refresh rate?

The refresh rate, expressed in Hertz (Hz), tells you how many times per second a display updates to show a new image. Standard TV video content runs at either 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 frames per second (fps). So a 60 Hz TV redraws the screen 60 times per second, fast enough to avoid flicker and show smooth motion in most content.

Higher refresh rates like 120 Hz allow the TV to update even more frequently. This helps reduce motion blur and creates an even crisper image during fast on-screen motion. It‘s especially useful for sports, video games, and 24p movies.

How refresh rate impacts picture quality

To understand why a higher refresh rate improves motion clarity, we need to compare how CRT and modern digital displays work.

Old CRT televisions painted the image on screen continuously like a flickering light bulb. This meant motion was perfectly smooth with minimal blur.

But today‘s LCD and OLED TVs use a sample-and-hold approach. Each pixel is displayed static for the entire duration until the next refresh. Rapid motion can cause blur and stutter as a result.

So a faster refresh rate like 120 Hz gives you closer to that perfectly smooth CRT-like image. There‘s less time for each frame to blur into the next.

The benefits of higher refresh rates

Here are some of the key advantages a 120 Hz or 144 Hz display provides compared to standard 60 Hz models:

  • Reduced motion blur – By minimizing the time each frame is held static, objects in motion stay sharper and clearer. This really improves sports, action films, and gaming.

  • Lower input lag – A faster refresh cycle means less delay between your controller input and seeing the response on screen. Crucial for competitive gaming.

  • Sync to frame rate – A 120 Hz TV can perfectly match and display a 24 fps movie file natively. This eliminates judder you see when 24p doesn‘t divide evenly into 60.

  • Higher frame rate support – PCs and the latest consoles can exceed 60 fps. A higher refresh rate display fully realizes this extra performance.

  • Variable refresh rate – VRR syncs the Hz to the fps output to prevent stuttering and screen tearing. Requires HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort on PCs.

Is a 60 Hz refresh rate good enough?

For most casual TV watching and console gaming usage, a 60 Hz display is still perfectly adequate. The jump from 60 Hz to 120 Hz is a smaller improvement than 30 fps to 60 fps. Many people don‘t notice the additional smoothness unless looking closely.

The latest game consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X do support 120 Hz output. But many games run at 30 or 60 fps. So you‘ll still get an excellent experience gaming on a 60 Hz television. Fast paced competitive gaming sees the most benefit from 120+ Hz displays.

60 Hz avoids flicker and provides decent motion resolution for TV shows, live sports, and films. That makes it a good default choice for home theater setups focused more on visual quality over fast motion clarity.

What about using a 60 Hz TV for gaming?

When it comes to gaming, a 60 Hz television is still very usable, but higher refresh rates become more impactful. As a base line, 60 Hz means a new frame is drawn every 16.7 milliseconds.

Many console games target 30 fps or 60 fps capped frame rates. At 30 fps on a 60 Hz TV, each frame is displayed twice. This avoids visual stuttering but has more motion blur.

Competitive PC gaming is where you‘ll want the highest refresh rates possible. Top esports gamers use 360 Hz monitors to get the smoothest and most responsive experience. This pairs with graphics cards outputting very high frame rates.

For single player games though, 60 Hz provides a good experience. The visuals and responsiveness are excellent even if not quite as fluid as 120+ Hz displays. It‘s ultimately a trade-off between price and performance.

Do you need HDMI 2.1 for 4K 120Hz?

To achieve 4K resolution at 120 Hz refresh rate requires the extra bandwidth provided by HDMI 2.1. This newer HDMI specification can handle up to 48 Gbps throughput. Older HDMI could only manage 14 Gbps which was enough for 4K 60p but not higher.

4K 120 Hz gaming requires an HDMI 2.1 connection between a compatible GPU, game console, or video source and the display. When buying a 4K TV for gaming, make sure it supports the latest HDMI 2.1 standard. Some manufacturers use "HDMI 2.1 features" without full 48 Gbps support.

Many GPUs and consoles utilize DisplayPort for even higher bandwidth to achieve 144Hz+ refresh rates at 4K resolution. However most TVs have HDMI inputs only. So HDMI 2.1 is essential to maximize quality.

TV panel types and refresh rates

The underlying display panel technology in a TV also impacts what refresh rates it can achieve. Here‘s a quick comparison:

  • VA – Native 60 Hz panels. Some can be overclocked to 120 Hz at 1080p. Good contrast but slower pixel response.

  • IPS – Native 60 Hz panels. Can achieve 120 Hz+ at lower resolutions like 1440p and 1080p. Faster response times than VA.

  • OLED – Reach 120+ Hz at 4K. Very fast pixel response time. Only limited by the driver boards and HDMI inputs.

As you can see, OLED TVs have a big advantage when it comes to maxing out refresh rate and resolution thanks to fast pixel response times. Different panel types have trade-offs between image quality and speed.

Blur reduction techniques beyond just refresh rate

In additional to a higher refresh rate, there are other techniques TV and monitor manufacturers use to further reduce motion blur for an even clearer moving picture:

  • Backlight strobing/BFI – The backlight flickers in sync with the refresh to reduce the time each frame is displayed. Can create visible flicker unless strobing is at very high frequency.

  • PWM dimming – Rapidly cycling the backlight brightness instead of holding a static value. Can reduce blur but also has visible flicker drawbacks above ~300 Hz pulse rate.

  • Pixel response accelerators – Overdrive technology that pushes pixels to change faster. Too much overdrive can create overshoot artifacts though.

These extra technologies help improve motion clarity beyond just refresh rate. But higher Hz panels still provide the biggest overall benefit for fast moving visuals.

VRR support for smoother variable frame rates

Displays with variable refresh rate capabilities like AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync Compatible can match the panel‘s refresh rate with the fps output from a game console or computer in real-time.

This prevents stuttering and screen tearing that happens when the frame rate fluctuates or doesn‘t match the fixed refresh rate. VRR ensures the smoothest gameplay experience even if FPS drops below the display‘s max refresh rate.

HDMI 2.1 includes support for VRR. So for the best console gaming experience, having both HDMI 2.1 and a high refresh rate panel takes full advantage of the latest hardware for incredible fluidity in motion.

Do next-gen consoles need 120 Hz TVs?

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support up to 120 frames per second output for super fluid gaming. However, relatively few games are designed around 120 Hz gameplay. Most target 30 or 60 fps still.

Here are the tech specs for the latest consoles:

  • PlayStation 5

    • GPU: 10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz, custom RDNA 2
    • RAM: 16GB GDDR6
    • Max resolution: 8K
    • 120Hz refresh rate supported
  • Xbox Series X

    • GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz, custom RDNA 2
    • RAM: 16GB GDDR6
    • Max resolution: 8K
    • 120Hz refresh rate supported

As you can see, both are extremely capable systems well beyond 60 fps output. To experience the smoothest gameplay on these powerful consoles, a 120 Hz TV fully unlocks their performance potential. But even at 60 Hz, games look and run beautifully.

Expert recommendations for gaming and viewing

Here are some panel suggestions from professional TV reviewers:

According to RTings, "To experience next-gen gaming without compromises, we recommend getting a TV with HDMI 2.1 that can display 4k @ 120Hz."

HDTVTest explains, "A 120Hz panel provides significant motion resolution improvements for video games, sports, and movies. It‘s a big upgrade over 60Hz, especially for fast gaming."

And Digital Trends states, "A premium 4K/120Hz TV like the LG C2 OLED will offer the absolute best next-gen gaming experience. But more affordable 4K/60Hz TVs still look and play great."

These experts agree that 120 Hz gives a better experience particularly for gaming. But it‘s not an absolute necessity for everyone. A quality 60 Hz television will still provide many years of gorgeous 4K entertainment.

The diminishing returns above 120 Hz

While 120 Hz brings noticeable improvements in motion clarity over 60 Hz, going even higher results in diminishing returns. Many people cannot discern the difference between 144 Hz, 240 Hz, and higher refresh rates.

Extremely fast 360 Hz displays primarily benefit professional esports players where every millisecond counts. Such rates require incredibly powerful GPUs costing thousands of dollars to drive the frame rates needed.

For the average gamer, 120 Hz or 144 Hz is a sensible sweet spot between price and performance. Unless you have cutting edge hardware and play hyper competitive titles, higher rates won‘t provide much extra advantage.

TV buying recommendations

Here is a quick summary of guidelines for purchasing a TV optimized for gaming and video viewing:

  • Console gaming – Aim for 4K 120Hz HDMI 2.1 TV. Provides headroom for smooth gaming now and in the future. 4K 60Hz still works great if budget limited.

  • PC gaming – Get the highest refresh rate 1440p or 4K monitor in your budget. 144Hz is a good 1080p target. 240Hz for esports. Sync tech like G-Sync is also key.

  • Movies/streaming – Focus on 4K HDR picture quality. 60 Hz is fine for most film content. May still want 120Hz+ if you watch lots of sports and action movies.

  • General usage – It‘s tough to go wrong with a quality 4K 60 Hz TV from known brands. Offers great visuals for streaming shows, web browsing, and console gaming.

No matter your particular needs and budget, understanding the basics of refresh rate helps ensure you get a TV or monitor well suited to your particular situation. With the right research, you can enjoy top notch visuals whether gaming or sitting back to binge watch your favorite shows!

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