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Which high-refresh-rate monitor is best?

Resolution, brightness and color volume are all important aspects of a PC monitor. However, a monitor’s refresh rate has become crucial for many gamers in recent years. And players who want to stay ahead of the curve should seriously consider investing in the right gaming equipment. If you want to take advantage of cutting-edge hardware to get the best visuals possible, you’ll need a high-refresh-rate monitor.

The top high-refresh-rate monitor is the Alienware AW2721D, thanks to its low pixel response time and high resolution.

What to know before you buy a high-refresh-rate monitor

High-refresh-rate expectation

Many people love using 144-hertz monitors, but some would even say they’ve become less impactful, especially in the gaming community. Nowadays, a high-refresh rate typically refers to 240 hertz or better.

How impactful is a high-refresh-rate monitor?

It’s remarkably easy to tell the difference between low- and high-refresh rates. In fact, modern and legitimate scientific studies indicate that humans can detect artifacts that flicker in and out of existence as quickly as 500 hertz. Many gamers (especially competitive ones) will benefit from high-refresh rates.

Ideal for highly detailed games

The smoother the graphics are, the better your reflexes and accuracy can be during gameplay. If you play more casual games, a high-refresh-rate monitor probably won’t make a huge difference in your experience. But if you play first-person shooter games or games with fast motion, you’ll be interested in using a high-refresh-rate monitor.

What to look for in a quality high-refresh-rate monitor

Variable refresh rate: G-Sync vs. FreeSync

G-Sync and FreeSync are two different variable-refresh-rate technologies that accomplish a similar goal. They allow the monitor to refresh only when the graphics processing unit is ready to display an entire frame. This technology reduces stuttering and eliminates screen tearing. Screen tearing happens when a GPU delivers a new frame to the monitor while it’s still displaying the previous one.

FreeSync is an adaptation of open-source technology and doesn’t add much to the cost of a display. However, G-Sync requires a specialized component inside the monitor. Today, most of the monitors that support FreeSync are also compatible with G-Sync. These monitors may also work well with Nvidia GPUs.

Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer

Some high-refresh-rate monitors include Nvidia Reflex, which charts the response times from your mouse and keyboard to the pixels on your screen. When using a monitor that’s compatible with Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU, you can cut your lag time to incredibly low levels.

High-dynamic resolution

High-dynamic resolution (HDR) is a relatively new feature that’s only now hitting the PC gaming market reliably. It allows games to map contrast levels dynamically, bringing out subtle highlights in dark scenes and enhancing bold highlights in bright scenes. Monitors with G-Sync Ultimate or DisplayHDR 600 certification can do a great job with HDR content.

How much you can expect to spend on a high-refresh-rate monitor

The cheapest high-refresh-rate monitors are pretty affordable, running just under $300. You’ll likely pay more for additional features like HDR and Nvidia Reflex. For the top options, you can expect to spend as much as $1,000.

High-refresh-rate monitor FAQ

Are there any high-refresh-rate monitors in 4K?

A. For the time being, no, there are not. Due to bandwidth limitations, the highest possible frame rate at 4K is 144 frames per second which means you won’t see any 4K monitors with higher refresh rates than that.

Why are high-refresh-rate monitors smaller?

A. While some gamers look for huge, high-resolution screens, several of the most successful competitive players prefer 24-inch screens. These smaller screens allow the player to move their eyes from edge to edge on the screen more quickly than on a larger display.

What’s the best high-refresh-rate monitor to buy?

Top high-refresh-rate monitor

Alienware AW2721D

Alienware AW2721D

What you need to know: This is one of the most full-featured high-refresh-rate monitors available, and it comes from a top manufacturer.

What you’ll love: With a 1440p resolution, it’s one of the clearest high-speed monitors on the market. It boasts DisplayHDR 600 classification and the rare top-level G-Sync Ultimate certification. It also sports the Nvidia Reflex latency analyzer, which works in conjunction with 3000-series graphics cards to practically eliminate input lag.

What you should consider: It’s not cheap, and it doesn’t quite match the refresh rate of some other, competition-oriented models.

Where to buy: Sold by Dell and Amazon

Top high-refresh-rate monitor for the money

Alienware AW2521H

Alienware AW2521H

What you need to know: Despite having one of the highest refresh rates on the market, this high-refresh-rate monitor comes at a budget-friendly price point.

What you’ll love: It can produce 360 frames per second, satisfying even the most demanding gamers. It even sports official Nvidia G-Sync support, which means it can perfectly match the graphics card’s output over a wide range of frame rates. There’s an even less expensive version called the Alienware AW2521HF, which is merely G-Sync compatible and can reach 240 hertz.

What you should consider: It’s on the smaller side, measuring only 25 inches. It also is limited to 1080p resolution.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dell

Worth checking out

Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR

Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR

What you need to know: If you want a competitive advantage without making a huge investment, this monitor is a great choice.

What you’ll love: It uses the Nvidia Reflex latency analyzer and Ultra Low Motion Blur technology to deliver lower lag and better motion handling than nearly any of the competition.

What you should consider: While it claims to be an HDR monitor, reports indicate that the HDR setting doesn’t make a huge difference.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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