This Is Why Your Second Monitor Should Be 144 Hz.

When it comes to buying monitors, a lot of people don’t know the finer details of monitor specs. Depending on your usage needs, you may be buying a monitor that doesn’t support your work to the fullest. This article will help you understand everything related to monitor refresh rate so you can make the correct decision when purchasing a new monitor.

If you are in the market for a second monitor, should you get a 144 Hz one? If you want to play video games competitively and your graphics card supports the 144 Hz frame rate for the games you want to play, you should get a 144 Hz monitor. Many a professional gamer has attested to improved gaming performance when switching from a 60 Hz display to a 144 Hz display. You should also consider a 144 Hz display if you work with high frame rate video footage and need to view it at a higher frame rate when editing.

However, if the above does not apply to you, you most likely don’t need a 144 Hz display and can save cost by choosing a 60 Hz display. 60 Hz display can offer some of the best color and video quality and accuracy when compared to their high frame rate counterparts.

Of course you probably need a little bit more detail before coming to your decision. The rest of this article is structured to be a complete guide to monitor refresh rate and should help you make your decision of whether or not to get a 144 Hz monitor or higher for your next monitor.

What Is Monitor Refresh Rate?

The refresh rate of a monitor is the number of times the image on the screen gets updated in a second.

When we look at a monitor, we see what looks like a continuous image. In reality, the image on the screen is updated at discrete intervals. This interval is so fast that it looks continuous to our eyes. This number of these intervals in a second is referred to as the monitor refresh rate.

Refresh rate is measured in Hz which is a measure of frequency. Put simply, if your monitor refresh rate is 60 Hz, it means that your screen is capable of updating up to 60 times a second. Similarly, if your monitor spec says 144 Hz, it means that monitor is capable of updating up to 144 Hz.

Other terms for refresh rates include frame rate and frames per second (fps). I use these interchangeably in this article and they mean the same thing.

Your Monitor Refresh Rate Doesn’t Matter If Your Graphics Card Can’t Support It.

Many people fall into this trap. There are three things that need to fall in place for you to actually get a higher refresh rate, such as 144 Hz, coming from your monitor.

First, your monitor needs to support the higher refresh rates. Typically, normal monitors only support 60 Hz max. Monitors with larger refresh rates cost more. Depending on the refresh rate, the cost can increase significantly. Currently you can buy monitors with up to 240 Hz refresh rates.

Second, your graphics card needs to be able to support the frame rate as well. Your monitor is simply displaying the images at a fast rate, but your graphics card is what produces the images and they need to be produced at a fast rate too. This topic can get a little complicated because it’s not just up to your graphics card capability, but also the application you are running should also work with high frame rates.

Generally, most relatively new video games support this and so does your computer’s operating system (Windows). You just need to make sure that your graphics card can play those games at high frame rates and this varies based on game and graphics cards. You can find out if your graphic’s card supports a certain game at high frame rates using a benchmark site such as this one.

Third, you need to make sure you use the right cable to connect your graphics card and monitor. Monitor’s allow a variety of ports and so do graphics cards. While you can connect any pair of ports to get the monitor display working, high refresh rates are only supported by some port types such as display port. You need to make sure you use the port on your monitor that supports the high frame rate and connect it to the appropriate port on the graphics card.

Comparison of 144 Hz vs. 60 Hz Monitor Refresh Rate.

Here’s a comparison table of the different frame rates compared based on each category. Bear in mind these are grouped results and you may be able to find specific monitors that fall out of the generalizations.

Category144 Hz or More60 Hz
Performance– Noticeable difference in smoothness
– Competitive advantage in gaming
– Less interpolation required
– Good enough for enjoyable experience with most, if not all, applications
Color Accuracy and Quality– Same or worst
– Worst contrast
– Same or better
– Full variety of panels and screen resolutions supported
Cost– Can be significantly higher– Lower
Applications– Competitive gaming
– High speed action/sport video editing
– Pretty much everything else

While the table above is fairly straight forward, I do want to talk about the color accuracy and quality a little bit more in depth. While frame rate doesn’t directly correlate with color accuracy and quality, the type of panel used in the monitor affects both things.

TN panels, which typically have worst contrast and smaller viewing angles are the fastest when it comes to refresh rate. You’ll see a lot of high refresh rate monitors that use TN panels, and while they are great for gaming in order to give you a competitive edge, they aren’t the best for watching high quality movies.

IPS panels also have poor contrast, but great viewing angles, but tend to be slower in terms of refresh rates. That being said, you can still find up to 240 Hz monitors with IPS technology, but it tends to be more expensive than TN. Personally, I use a 165 Hz IPS monitor, and I really notice the contrast hit while watching dark scenes in movies.

There are other panel types as well, but those two are the most popular for high frame rate monitors.

Should My Second Monitor Be 144 Hz Frame Rate?

If you’ve been reading everything up to this point, you probably have your answer already. In summary, if you are a hardcore gamer and want to get as much competitive advantage as possible, your second monitor should be 144 Hz or even higher. The other reason to get a second monitor that is 144 Hz is if you edit and produce high frame rate video content such as Go Pro footage. You’ll be able to see the high refresh rates while editing, assuming your editing software supports this.

Even still, you should only get a 144 Hz monitor (or higher frame rate), if your graphics card can support the high frame rates, or you plan on upgrading to one that does. If your graphics card is maxing out at 60 Hz or below, you’re not going to see any difference than if you had a 60 Hz monitor.

If you aren’t a hardcore gamer or video editor, I would get a 60 Hz second monitor since it will typically be cheaper for comparable display quality.

Can You Run Two Monitors At Different Refresh Rates?

Yes. This is a function of your graphics card and operating system. I use a 60 Hz monitor alongside a 165 Hz monitor with a NVIDIA Geforce RTX 2080 Ti with no issues whatsoever. I enjoy the high frame rate for gaming, and the better color display of my 60 Hz monitor for watching Netflix.

Can You Run Two Monitors At 144 Hz?

Yes, again this is up to the capability of the graphics card, but you can definitely do this if your graphics card is good enough.

Is HDMI Enough For 144 Hz?

This is an important question and if you plan on purchasing a high refresh rate monitor or a high resolution monitor, you should definitely read this section.

The type of display cable you use whether it’s VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort, limits the bandwidth of data you can transfer. You can think of bandwidth as water pressure in a pipe, the higher the pressure the faster the water that can come out. This is the same in the context of data being transferred from your computer to your monitor.

VGA and DVI will generally not be able to do 144 Hz even at 1080p which is the most common resolution nowadays. There is one type of DVI port, Dual-Link DVI-D, which does support up to 144 Hz at 1080p resolution and up to 75 Hz at 1440p (2K).

When it comes to HDMI, there are two version considerations, HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 or higher. HDMI 2.0 will support 240 Hz at 1080p, 144 Hz at 1440p, and 60 Hz at 4K. HDMI 1.4 however is 144 Hz at 1080p, 75 Hz at 1440p, and 30 Hz at 4K.

For HDMI 1.4 in the 144 Hz case, you need to make sure your monitor supports the full 144 Hz, as most HDMI 1.4 high frame rate monitors cap at 120 Hz.

DisplayPort is the most common for high frame rate monitors and starts at up to 240 Hz at 1080p, up to 165 Hz at 1440p, and up to 75H z at 4K with newer versions improving the bandwidth.

Other Dual Monitor Considerations

Here’s an article about the best desk size for dual monitors as well as one pointing out the benefits of having dual monitors of the same size.

I also talk about whether you should use a vertical orientation for your second monitor here.

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