When 144Hz just isn’t fast enough.
If you’re an eSports gamer or just play one online, a monitor’s Refresh Rate is of utmost importance. Though newbies are content with a traditional 60Hz, more advanced users typically opt for the much-faster 144Hz, and the most discerning go even beyond that, all the way up to a stratospheric 240Hz.
But what does this glorious refresh rate get you compared to a monitor with a lower refresh rate? First, it will help significantly with motion blur. The more times a moving image can be refreshed in a second the smoother it will appear. Second, since the image is being updated a greater number of times you have the possibility of reacting quicker to whatever is happening on screen. For a twitch gamer there’s nothing better than being able to respond faster than your enemy, and essentially it’s just about having the fastest refresh rate possible so you’re not giving up any performance at all.
So if you want maximum twitch-iness in a monitor, you need a 240Hz panel. Before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, as refresh rate goes up there are diminishing returns on what we’re able to perceive. While there’s a pretty significant difference in what you can see and/or perceive onscreen between 60Hz and 144Hz monitors, the perceptible difference between 144Hz and 240Hz monitors is much less – to the point where some people might not see or feel it at all. If you have a 144Hz monitor now, you are probably better off saving your money, in other words.
There’s nothing better than being able to respond faster than your enemy.
Also, at the moment all 240Hz monitors use TN panels, bringing with them the deficiencies of that technology – namely color accuracy and viewing angles. All currently available monitors are also limited to 27-inches and 1080p, so the increase of processing power needed for higher resolutions isn’t an issue, but you will need to be hitting 200+ frames per second, so you will need a very powerful video card (like a GTX 1080 Ti) to keep those frame rate numbers up.
Best Cheap 240Hz Monitor – Viewsonic XG2530
If you want 240Hz on the cheap you should check out the Viewsonic XG2530. It comes with FreeSync to take care of any screen tearing, and its 1ms response time matched with the 240Hz refresh rate will help eliminate any motion lag. Add to it Viewsonic’s Rampage Response setting – a five-level gaming monitor overdrive control – and blur is all but gone. If the control is set too fast it could add some artifacts, so be sure to play around with it to find the best setting for you. There’s also a G-Sync version of this 240Hz monitor that costs about $120 more. This monitor usually sells for around $380 or so, so if you find it online for $300 don’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Best Looking 240Hz Monitor – Alienware AW2518HF
For about the same price as the XG2530 you can get Alienware’s first foray into the monitor world, and it looks just as “modern” and cool as you’d expect from the extraterrestrial corporation. Aesthetically it’s striking, with a tripod-style base, razer-thin bezels around the sides, and LED lighting on the back of the chassis that reflects off the walls of your gaming area for a very cool effect. This 1080p monitor also has a built-in USB hub for peripherals too so it’s not just relying on its refresh rate alone to stand out. A G-Sync model is also available.
Best G-Sync 240Hz Monitor – Acer Predator XB252Q
The Acer Predator XB252Q is a bit more visually subdued than most of the Predator line, having eschewed the red accents for a completely black finish. But don’t take that to mean it’s a blah monitor. The XB252Q is still a full-on 240Hz gaming display, with a 1ms response time and G-Sync anti-tearing capabilities. Contrast ratio is a bit on the low side, even for a TN panel, but its color is great – again, for a TN panel.
Best 27 inch 240Hz Monitor – Acer Predator XB272
240Hz has primarily been the domain of 25-inch monitors, but last year we started to see some larger options. The best of these is the Acer Predator XB272. It’s still a TN panel so response time is the coveted 1ms and it comes with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, but it is also still a 1080p monitor despite being two inches bigger than the rest of the 249Hz options. This larger screen size causes the pixels to be easier to see than if they were packed tighter together, but if that doesn’t bother you and you bristle at the notion of a 25″ monitor, this is the one for you.
John Higgins has been writing and testing all manner of audio, video, computer, and gaming gear since the early ’00s. He has written for print and online publications including Home Theater, Wirecutter, Sound & Vision, SoundStage!, and Channel Guide. He is also a post audio editor, composer, and musician in Los Angeles.