Confused by 120Hz refresh rates? We can't blame you. With the latest consoles looking like a PC than ever before, you've probably talked a lot about the kind of gaming TV you need and the future of 120Hz refresh rates if you want your PS5 or Xbox Series X to be at its best, but , really matters? And what does 120 Hz even mean?
Do not worry. While it may seem incredibly confusing where to start, especially if you're planning to buy yourself a new 4K TV to get the most out of the latest consoles, we're here to help you crack the magic behind refresh rates. 120 Hz and if that really matters to you or not.
Read on as we discuss the differences between the types of refresh rates and let's take a look at its effect on your gaming sessions.
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What is 120 Hz?
Hertz, also known as Hz, is a unit of frequency that indicates how many times the screen is updated every second. A higher number means new information arrives on your screen faster, but this is also affected by the frame rate of what you're watching or playing. More on that in a moment.
In the case of 120Hz, that means that 120 frames per second are displayed on each update, which means a much smoother picture, which makes a huge difference when playing on your new PS5. As long as the game you are playing supports 120Hz.
You'll find 120Hz support on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles
Hertz vs frames per second
The number of frames per second (fps), also known as the "frame rate," is the number of frames sent to your screen every second. It is controlled by hardware. For example, a mid-range PC trying to run Cyberpunk 2077 will run the game at a lower frame rate than a high-end system. Again, the higher the frame rate, the smoother the image.
Of course, you need to be able to run games at a high frame rate and at the same time be able to watch them on a TV or screen with a high refresh rate. Almost all new gaming monitors and gaming TVs now have a refresh rate of at least 60Hz (unless you're using very old technology), but that means it won't be up to the capabilities of the Xbox Series X or PlayStation. 5 120Hz. (Some inexpensive TVs may surprise you with a 50Hz panel, too.)
30Hz, 60Hz, 120Hz: what is the difference?
Look around when shopping for a TV or monitor and you'll notice a few different refresh rates. For the most part, 30Hz, 60Hz and 120Hz are the most common you will see, but there are also 50Hz and 85Hz screens, as well as 144Hz and some other unusual numbers.
Each of these boils down to the number of times a new image is displayed on the screen. For example, a 60 Hz screen displays a new image every 16 milliseconds, while a 120 Hz screen produces an image every eight milliseconds.
However, whether you can tell the difference is another matter. There is a handy comparison tool called Blur Buster UFO Motion Tests that can help you see the difference, although you must already have high refresh rate displays to see what we mean. This is a good example of the difference lower refresh rates can make and gives you a little idea of your existing hardware.
What is the speed of motion of 120 Hz?
Look around on some TVs and you may notice the mention of a 120 Hz shake rate rather than a 120 Hz refresh rate. This means that this is not a true 120 Hz refresh rate, but rather a 60 Hz refresh rate. a TV that can only display up to XNUMX frames per second, simulating the rest to smooth out motion.
Depending on your budget, this may be the maximum you can handle, but it is important to know that it is not the same as a TV that supports 120Hz natively.
How does the 120Hz refresh rate affect your game?
In the past, many game consoles focused on 30 FPS with standard 60Hz output to keep costs down for both manufacturer and consumer. That changed with the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, with both consoles supporting the new HDMI 2.1 standard, meaning enough video output bandwidth to deliver 4K resolutions at 120Hz. Xbox One X and S supported 120 Hz but only at 1080p and 1440p.
However, does it make a difference? Not quite. While compatibility exists, relatively few games currently support 120Hz.
Look for a game that does, though, and the title will run much smoother, if you also have a TV that supports 120Hz. You'll see less stuttering during fast-paced scenes and an overall improvement in motion or animation. It's not necessarily a huge game-changing difference, but for those who want the best possible image, it's definitely a nice bonus.
Will it make a difference to your game performance? This is a contentious issue. An Nvidia study found a link between higher refresh rates and drive performance, but it's safe to say, given it's selling high-end graphics cards. However, some independent reports have found similar results. Although this is just a placebo effect, if it means you're playing better, it might be worth it.
Borderlands 3 is one of the few games that already supports 120Hz/120fps gaming
What games support 120Hz?
The list of games that support 120Hz continues to grow, but don't assume that all games support it. Note that some will need to be played at a lower resolution to do this.
We have a regularly updated list of all PS5 and Xbox Series X games with 120Hz support:
Do I need a 120 Hz TV?
First of all, do you have an Xbox Series X or a PlayStation 5? It is important that you have a device that supports 120Hz; otherwise there is no point in having a fancy, expensive TV that can't show off your talents. If you watch 60Hz content on your 120Hz TV, it will still look the same as watching it on a 60Hz TV.
It's also important to note if you're playing games that support 120Hz. Again, if you're not playing any of the games that are already supported and there aren't any on the horizon for you, it's probably not worth it.
Of course, if you want to buy a new 4K TV right now, it makes sense to go ahead with your purchase and plan ahead. If you can afford a 4K 120Hz TV, you'll be ready for any next-gen game plan.