The terms “60Hz” and “120Hz” may be familiar to you if you’re looking to buy a new smartphone, laptop, TV, or monitor. Which of the two frequencies—60Hz vs 120Hz—do you believe should be chosen?
But what do they actually mean? And is a 120Hz panel worth the extra money spent on it? In this guide, we’ve answered both of these queries.
60Hz Vs 120Hz: What’s the difference?
Both 60Hz and 120Hz are numerical representations of display refresh rates.
At its most basic level, a refresh rate denotes how frequently a display updates itself to present a new image every second. You can check out our refresh rate explainer for a more in-depth look at what a refresh rate is and how it works.
The smoother the screen will look to the human eye, the higher the number.
A 120Hz display, which updates itself 120 times per second, will therefore appear noticeably smoother and more natural than a typical 60Hz panel, which refreshes itself just 60 times each second.
The type of TV—LCD, plasma, LED, or OLED—its refresh rate, and the video or film being shown all play a role in how well a TV displays images.
Frame Rate and Refresh Rate
Frame Rate: How frequently a video source can send a frame of visual information to a screen for display is known as the frame rate. The video source, not the display screen, determines the frame rate. Videos are frequently shot at 24 or 30 frames per second (fps). The normal frame rate for transmissions (NTSC) in the United States is set to 30 frames per second, yet watching a movie at this speed would make it choppy and slow. Refresh rate becomes crucial at this point.
Refresh Rate: A display’s refresh rate is a feature, such as that of a computer or TV monitor. It establishes how frequently the visual data from a frame is shown on a screen and is expressed in hertz.
Screens “refresh” a frame more frequently by duplicating certain images or making a pseudo-transition with motion blur effects to make slow, if standard, frame rates appear smoother. Due to this, there appears to be a greater frame rate when there isn’t one. A 60Hz TV, for instance, will show each frame twice as quickly if the video source is 30 frames per second. Because 60Hz can be divided by 30, thirty frames per second works well with this frequency.
Frame Rate Difficulties
Film, which is normally shot at 24 frames per second, might complicate things. This means that a TV with a refresh rate of 60Hz will not be able to distribute frames uniformly, and a movie transmitted at 30 frames per second won’t look exactly like it did in the theater. Although 3:2 pulldown interlacing, a technique used by TVs to improve smoothness, is an imperfect method, more observant viewers may observe film judder, flickering, or “tearing” effects.
In contrast, since 120 is divisible by both 24 and 30, a TV with a refresh rate of 120Hz doesn’t need to do anything unusual to display video or film. This means that watching at 120Hz will generally be more comfortable.
The key distinctions between 60Hz and 120Hz TVs are covered in more detail in the video that follows.
Although 60Hz TVs are still available and, depending on TV size, may be two to three hundred dollars less expensive, all contemporary TVs feature refresh rates of 120Hz or greater.
Although some manufacturers now claim to offer refresh rates of 240Hz or higher—typically for a much higher price—CNET reported in late 2013 that this is frequently just deceptive advertising and that many 240Hz TVs actually have refresh rates of 120Hz (or lower), just with additional smoothing effects. In any event, other from a slight reduction in motion blurring, refresh rates greater than 120Hz certainly don’t contribute anything particularly useful.
60Hz Vs 120Hz For TVs
It’s not always beneficial to have greater refresh rates because TVs operate differently from monitors. Here is a brief comparison of TVs running at 60Hz and 120Hz.
What kind of content you are watching mostly determines whether you choose a 120Hz or 60Hz TV. When playing video games and watching native 24FPS material, 120Hz TVs are preferable.
The majority of modern TVs do, however, offer 120Hz, so you need pay attention to other crucial TV specs as well, such the type of panel, response time, input lag, etc.
Are you debating whether or not to buy a 120Hz TV and whether the move from 60Hz is worthwhile?
Given that the majority of contemporary TVs offer 120Hz, you won’t have many options if you want a brand-new TV.
For the majority of people, excluding gamers with compatible consoles or gaming PCs capable of 4K 120FPS, switching to a new TV solely because it supports 120Hz won’t be worth it unless you’re looking for other specifications related to new TVs such as 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR, and OLED technology.
120Hz TV vs 60Hz TV: Content Source & Type
What distinguishes “real” 120Hz from “false” 120Hz, then?
The term “Motion Rate 120Hz” may be used by some TV makers to describe a characteristic of a TV. The TV can only display up to 60FPS at this time, so it simulates the remaining frames to make action appear more fluid.
You can read more about motion smoothing, also known as framerate interpolation, here.
So check to see if the TV you’re considering has a native refresh rate of 120Hz!
Currently, the majority of new 4K TVs offer 120Hz, albeit typically only at 1080p and/or 1440p resolutions. However, there are some premium 4K 120Hz TVs on the market, such LG’s OLED TVs with HDMI 2.1.
Keeping this in mind, don’t forget that your device must also support a 120Hz refresh rate in order to use it.
The Xbox One X and S support 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p, while the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S support 120Hz at 4K as well. In fact, all modern PC gaming graphics cards support 4K at 120Hz and above.
However, the image on a 120Hz TV won’t differ from the one on a 60Hz TV if you are watching content at up to 60FPS. Many people believe that 120Hz for TVs is unnecessary because that constitutes the majority of material.
Alternatively, watching native 24 FPS content from a media source like Blu-ray would be an exception to this rule.
Consider this: a 60 Hz TV must alternate between adding 3 and 2 frames in between those 24 FPS in order to produce the image because the source feeds the display at a rate of 24 FPS.
This technique, known as “3:2 pulldown,” can slightly judder some sequences, though most people don’t detect it at all.
A 120Hz TV, on the other hand, adds 5 more frames in-between those 24 frames per second (5:5 pulldown), providing a smoother viewing experience because the amount of frames added is constant.
You don’t have to rely solely on 120Hz for that, as certain 60Hz TVs can eliminate this 24p judder by switching their refresh rate to 48Hz or 72Hz when 24FPS content is detected.
Is a refresh rate of 120Hz required?
No and yes. The quick response is that it depends on the purpose for which you’re utilizing it.
Therefore, if you mostly use your device to browse and interact with friends and family, you generally won’t experience a significant benefit from it. Fast refresh rates are still seen as a luxury feature on a smartphone or a display.
The benefit of the function is more visible to gamers because it can improve how fluid and natural gameplay feels.
Your favorite apps and games may not even be compatible with a faster refresh rate, so keep that in mind as well. There isn’t much point in aiming for a 120Hz display if they only go up to 60Hz.
Additionally, 120Hz displays consume more electricity than 60Hz displays. Purchasing a device with a variable refresh rate (VRR) as opposed to a set refresh rate is a wonderful approach to get around this.
With a variable refresh rate, your refresh rate will fluctuate based on the apps you use and the material being shown on your screen. This reduces latency and prevents screen tearing in games that do support a 120Hz image, as well as stopping your phone from squandering power by updating itself 120 times per second in apps that max out at 60Hz.
In conclusion, a 120Hz TV is a must if you already own or plan to purchase a gaming PC or console that supports it because it provides a more immersive and responsive gaming experience.
Remember that you need to be able to maintain about 120FPS in order to make the most of 120Hz (Frames Per Second). You need more than 60FPS in order to take use of a high refresh rate because 60FPS will appear the same at both 60Hz and 120Hz.
Since many console games are only capable of running at 30 or 60 frames per second, the difference between 60 and 120 frames per second won’t be apparent in terms of motion clarity. High refresh rates do, however, result in less input lag, which is fantastic for competitive gaming.
It is definitely not required to use 120Hz if all you want to do is watch movies and TV episodes. Make sure the TV includes a feature that can correct 24p judder if you are sensitive to it.