Are High Refresh Rate Displays A Must For Competitive Gaming

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Is High Refresh Rate a necessity?

Story Highlight
  • A higher refresh rate monitor can make a huge difference in competitive games.
  • 240Hz still remains the dominant refresh rate for pro players; however, that is likely to change in the near future.
  • Playing with a 60Hz display will significantly lower your chances of winning, especially when competing at the highest level.

High refresh rate displays have taken the PC industry by storm, and for good reason. I mean, even someone like me, who does not have a tonne of experience competing at a higher level, can see the perks of gaming on a higher refresh rate. However, is the difference drastic enough to warrant an upgrade for every competitive gamer?

A Massive Advantage

For casual gamers, higher refresh rate monitors aren’t really a requirement. However, the advantages they can yield are still evident.

Comparing Refresh Rates (Image Via LinusTechTips)

In Linus Tech Tip’s video comparing different refresh rates, the difference between 60 Hz and 240 Hz was astounding, with those involved being able to triple their scores by simply switching to a 240 Hz monitor. What’s more, this wasn’t limited to a single test either, with every single test performed showing a significant difference in response time.

Comparing Refresh Rates
Comparing Refresh Rates (Image Via LinusTechTips)

Of course, the results shown in these tests aren’t just effective due to the refresh rate change. Higher refresh rate monitors usually provide significantly less input delay and latency when compared to their 60 Hz counterparts, which is also a huge advantage.

To put that into perspective, there’s a 28-millisecond difference between a 60 Hz and 360 Hz display, an amount that makes a huge difference in competitive settings.

How High Is Enough?

There’s no correct answer to the best refresh rate for competitive gaming. However, with monitors constantly evolving, I wouldn’t be surprised if competitive gamers made the switch to 540 Hz in a few years. In fact, some Esport professionals, such as TenZ, have already made that transition.

That said you are going to start seeing diminishing returns as you go up the refresh rates. Sure, a 540 Hz display is going to feel better than a 360 Hz one; however, the improvement won’t be nearly as drastic as the switch from 144 Hz to 240 Hz.

Personally, I still consider 240 Hz the sweet spot for competitive shooters, and most pros seem to have stayed on the resolution. 240 Hz will also allow you to choose between 1080p and 1440p; however, running games at 1440p 240 Hz can be a demanding task.

Interestingly, Riot Games also used 240 Hz monitors for some of their recent Valorant LAN events; however, they have already started transitioning to 360 Hz displays for newer tournaments.

Competing Without Higher Refresh Rates?

As Shroud pointed out in the previously mentioned LTT video, a 60Hz player is capable of beating someone with a higher refresh rate; however, that doesn’t change the fact that he would be at a hardware disadvantage. Higher refresh rates have and will always be a clear advantage, no matter what competitive game you play. 

In a recent video, Monitors Unboxed described the jump to a high refresh rate monitor as a “revolutionary upgrade” and I completely agree with that take. And now that more people have started taking advantage of these faster displays, most pros will have no choice but to switch if they intend on competing at the same level.

The Difference Can’t Be Ignored

When talking about competitive gaming at higher levels, high refresh rate displays have certainly become a necessity. I mean, the difference is certainly monumental, especially considering how much your skill improves when upgrading to a high refresh rate display. The jump seems to be even more drastic for those competing at the highest level, justifying the need to upgrade to faster displays.

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