Most LCD monitors update the display at 60Hz—once every 16.7 milliseconds. Faster 120Hz displays have been around for a while, though, and I’ve always been curious about how their higher refresh changes the user experience. None of the 120Hz displays I’ve used have been set up for a proper apples-to-apples comparison, so I haven’t gotten a good sense of the difference.
Cue the folks at Hardware.Info, who set up a blind test to determine whether gamers prefer playing at 60 or 120Hz on otherwise identical systems. The results were pretty conclusive: 86% preferred the 120Hz setup. Impressively, 88% of the subjects were able to correctly identify whether the monitor was refreshing at 60 or 120Hz.
Those who preferred gaming at the higher refresh rate reportedly described the experience as smoother and more fluid. Their improved experience didn’t consistently lead to better kill-to-death ratios, though. A higher refresh rate probably won’t augment your mad skillz.
The test was sponsored in part by AOC, whose 120Hz displays were used in the systems and given away as prizes. Asus, another maker of 120Hz displays, also supplied gear for the systems. While both companies have an interest in promoting 120Hz displays, the test appears to have been a fair one.
120Hz displays are pricier than their 60Hz counterparts, and there are other caveats attached. You need a pretty fast system to pump out frames at 120 FPS, and you may need to live with TN panel technology. Apart from "overclocked" Korean LCDs selling on eBay, we haven’t seen any IPS monitors advertise refresh rates above 60Hz. I spend too much time in Photoshop to give up true 8-bit color on my desktop display, but I wonder whether gamers would prefer a higher refresh rate to accurate color reproduction. More blind testing is required.