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I have some questions regarding gaming monitors.

My PC is a Corsair One with an GTX 1080ti

I've been looking at the Alienware aw3418dw with a 100hz refresh rate and a cheaper alienware that's 25 inch that has 240hz and is less then half price.These differ primarily in terms of refresh rate.

I primarily play FPSes like rainbow 6 seige. What is the practical advantage of a higher refresh rate and what should I be looking for when looking for a monitor for FPS gaming?

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    Hi - as per this meta post I've done some edits that move your question from which monitor you should get (which is more in Hardware Rec's wheelhouse) to working out what the advantages of a high refresh rate are in general, which is more on topic on us. I do realise these are substantial edits to your post but they will help keep this question open and get an answer that's useful for both you and a broader audience. – Journeyman Geek Aug 29 '18 at 2:29
  • I'd add as an aside, there may be other differences - panel tech matters (or even other panel properties like viewing angles), colour accuracy and size. Price (and refresh rate) isn't everything. – Journeyman Geek Aug 29 '18 at 2:37
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Here's a more generalized answer:

The 60, 120, or 240 Hz refresh rate on your TV or monitor measures the maximum speed at which that gadget can flash new images, independent from the media you're trying to watch on that screen.

The thing is, say you're playing a game at 60fps on a 240fps monitor, that means that your game is delivering only 60 frames per second whereas your monitor has a refresh rate four times that. So what happens is that the same frame gets flashed four times, instead of just one.

So to answer your question "What is the practical advantage of a higher refresh rate and what should I be looking for when looking for a monitor for FPS gaming?", A higher frame rate is generally better (video appears to be smoother, but many people claim it's not noticeable), but a 240fps monitor is not going to do much for you unless the game delivers that and you have the hardware to support it.

References:
http://blog.logicalincrements.com/2015/04/does-fps-matter-decide-for-yourself/
https://gizmodo.com/why-frame-rate-matters-1675153198

  • He's got a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It's not hard to get 200+ fps on a 1080p display in games like Rainbow Six Siege. pcgamer.com/rainbow-six-siege-benchmarks – bwDraco Aug 29 '18 at 3:30
  • @bwDraco Yeah, he does, but like I said, this question is more generalized in order to help other people who come across this question and who may or may not have the same hardware. – rahuldottech Aug 29 '18 at 3:34
  • Relevant: How TV Works in Slow Motion – Clonkex Aug 31 '18 at 3:19
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The AW3418DW is an ultra-widescreen monitor. It uses a 21:9 panel with a higher pixel count (3440x1440) than a traditional monitor of similar size. Running this monitor at higher frame rates may be difficult as a result. The AW2518H is a conventional Full HD (1920x1080) display capable of running at 240 Hz, and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti should not have much trouble pushing towards the high end of the refresh rate range at this lower resolution.

For competitive (eSports) gaming, higher refresh rates at moderate resolutions are generally preferable over high resolutions at lower refresh rates. Curved ultra-wide monitors are great for immersive gaming experiences, but for eSports, it's more important that you can react quickly to your opponents. The higher refresh rate helps you respond faster and gives you smoother motion, making it easier to keep track of the action. (More technically, a higher refresh rate means there's less time between each frame displayed, so the action appears on the screen faster.)

Furthermore, the AW3418DW uses an IPS panel with slower response times than the TN-based AW2518H. Although TN displays suffer from narrower viewing angles and lower color accuracy especially when viewed off-axis, they have faster response times, which results in less ghosting and motion blur. That, too, will make it easier to follow fast action during intensive gaming. IPS panels are great for color-critical professional applications like photography, and while though there are gaming-oriented IPS displays (including the AW3418DW), they can't achieve the sorts of response times the best TN panels can deliver. (Trust me, I know this first-hand after upgrading from a cheap IPS display to a Dell S2417DG. The faster response time is something you notice right away, even if viewing angles do suffer a bit.)

If yoy're looking at the Alienware 25 monitor, make sure you're buying the G-SYNC version (AW2518H) and not the FreeSync version (AW2518HF). The former is more expensive but since you have a GeForce card and not a Radeon, you'll need the G-SYNC display for the best experience.

Ultimately, while your choice of monitor is a major factor in overall latency, it is not the only thing that matters. This answer has more information about how different sources of latency can add up. In short, latencies from your processor, graphics card, the monitor's internal processing ("monitor input lag"), display response time and refresh rate, and even your mouse, can all add up.

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What is the practical advantage of a higher refresh rate

Objectively? You get more frames per second. Which means a shorter duration between frames. That is, if you go from 60 Hz to 100 Hz, you're going from 16.7 ms between frames to 10 ms between frames. Whether that 6.7 ms difference actually matters for gameplay is not possible to answer objectively. From 100 to 240 Hz is a further drop to 4.2 ms, a 5.8 ms difference.

Subjectively? Some people say it feels smoother (this is something you could test in-store). Some people say it lets you react faster. Some people like bigger numbers. I wouldn't subscribe to higher display refresh rates magically making you "play better", but if it makes you feel better that could also help.

The "feels smoother" part may be the most important (again: you really should see if you can find one in-store to physically try out). Any marginal benefit in reaction time in games is heavily outweighed by other latencies in the system (network, mouse input, processing), never mind that human reaction times are measured in the hundreds of milliseconds.

All of this only applies, of course, if your computer hardware is actually capable of outputting at these rates (in the games you play).


Aside from time between frames, another factor to look out for is input lag. That is the delay between the signal reaching the monitor and when it's actually visible on the screen, which includes decoding the signal and any post-processing the monitor may apply. This can be a couple times larger than the inter-frame time (we're talking from under 10 ms to over 40 ms depending on the monitor). This is not the "response time" of the panel that you may see in specs.

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