What is screen refresh rate?

Understand what the refresh rate means on monitors, TVs and cell phones, and learn how it affects image reproduction

refresh raterepresented in Hertz (Hz), indicates the number of frames per second that a screen displays. It is common to find the 60 Hz standard in TVs, conventional monitors and smartphones. However, manufacturers are investing in higher rates, 120 Hz or more.

Samsung Neo QLED QN90B TV has 144Hz refresh rate

Samsung Neo QLED QN90B TV has 144Hz refresh rate

Photo: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog / Tecnoblog


  • Factors that affect the refresh rate
  • 60 Hz, 90 Hz and 120 Hz: is it possible to notice the difference?
  • Common questions
  • The higher the refresh rate the better?

    Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the playback of videos or animations on the screen. High ratios also help to reduce unwanted motion blur, which gives higher than normal levels of blur.

    In practical terms: a screen with a refresh rate of 60 Hz refreshes 60 times per second. A 120 Hz screen doubles that frequency. This gain makes images with fast actions play more responsively and smoothly.

    But rates above 60 Hz are not always necessary, and the perception of fluidity may also depend on the type of use.

    That’s why cell phones, notebooks, monitors and TVs with rates of 90 Hz or higher are usually recommended for games, as this type of content usually has very busy scenes. A high refresh rate helps the player to improve performance due to the more accurate perception of actions in the game.

    On a monitor used for tasks that do not involve animations or games, a refresh rate above 60 Hz will contribute little or nothing to the user experience.

    Furthermore, screens with high refresh rates have higher power consumption and tend to be more expensive. Therefore, the number of Hz should not be the only factor considered when choosing the device.

    variable refresh rate

    A variable refresh rate (VRR, its acronym in English) is a technique that allows cell phones, monitors and TVs to adjust the frame rate in real time, according to the content reproduced. This is especially true for games, which change the rate all the time.

    With VRR, the screen works with a high refresh rate only when there is a demand for it, which results in energy savings and, in notebooks and cell phones, longer battery life.

    But the technique only works on compatible screens. This is the case with Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED technology, which sets the refresh rate between 1 and 120 Hz on cell phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra. On devices like the iPhone 14 Pro, the Super Retina XDR display uses LTPO technology to adjust the rate up to 120 Hz.

    Factors that affect the refresh rate

    The refresh rate of a screen is determined by the manufacturer and is related to technical characteristics, such as the panel technology used.

    Modern OLED screens can easily reach 120Hz, and on some devices that number doubles. This is the case with the LG UltraGear OLED gamer monitor that has a refresh rate of 240 Hz.

    In LCD displays, the TN type tends to have the highest refresh rates because of the speed with which the liquid crystals change position. In 2022, Asus even launched a Rog Swift monitor, aimed at games, with a TN LCD display capable of working at 500 Hz.

    However, liquid crystal displays of the VA and IPS types can already offer refresh rates above the standard 60 Hz.

    The technology of communicating with the screen also affects the parameter. This is the case of HDMI 2.1, which allows TVs and monitors with 4K resolution to work at rates of 120 Hz, or with 8K resolution and 60 Hz, as long as the cable follows the same specification. HDMI 2.1 is also required on models with variable refresh rate.

    60 Hz, 90 Hz and 120 Hz: is it possible to notice the difference?

    The refresh rate difference is noticeable between 60 Hz and 120 Hz, and can also be noticed between 60 Hz and 90 Hz, both on TVs or monitors and on cell phones.

    But differentiating between 90 and 120 Hz rates is more complicated, especially in high-end cell phones. This is because, in addition to the screens being relatively small, the hardware set (RAM and CPU) ends up being so advanced in these devices that it reaches a level of fluidity that is difficult to distinguish in common use.

    For example: the Motorola Edge+ has a refresh rate of 90 Hz, and the usability of Android proved to be as fluid as that of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, with 120 Hz, in practical tests.

    The system interface is also heavily weighted for a smoother experience. On devices like the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro, ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the refresh rate up to 120 Hz. But even on 60Hz clocked iPhones, iOS seems to make everything more responsive.

    iPhone 14 Pro has a rate of up to 120 Hz

    iPhone 14 Pro has a rate of up to 120 Hz

    Photo: Emerson Alecrim/Tecnoblog / Tecnoblog

    Common questions

    What is the difference between refresh rate and response time?

    A refresh rate indicates, in Hertz (Hz), the number of frames displayed per second by the screen. already the response time indicates, in milliseconds (ms), the speed with which the display pixels change color. For current standards, the ideal is a time of less than 10 ms. The lower this number, the better.

    What is the difference between refresh rate and FPS?

    FPS is the acronym in English for frames per second. It is a measure equivalent to the update rate. However, FPS is used to inform how many images per second a video or game reproduces, being very used to evaluate the performance of video cards. The refresh rate is limited to screens.

    What is screen refresh rate?

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