When it comes to not getting sucked in by advertising hype and paying too much for something useless that you don’t need, knowledge is your best defense. Understanding the difference between effective vs. native refresh rate is one of the many places you can start on your journey.

Fortunately for the serious tech user, the cause of this susceptibility of taking an advertisement’s or salesperson’s word for it is simple – laziness. The casual user doesn’t want to spend the time to dig in and find out what all the buzzwords mean. But you’re not that person, are you?

By reading on for a few minutes, you’re taking the first steps in being an informed consumer on the road to the best experience for the right price. We’ve broken this simple concept down to help out, and at the end of the article, we’ll have some links to guide you to other related subjects like LED, UHD, QLED, 4K, and others.

This technology applies not only to TVs but all the displays you use. So, getting an understanding of this feature is important. Here’s our simple outline of effective vs native refresh rate to get you started.

Effective vs. Native Refresh Rate: Side-by-Side Comparison

FeatureEffective Refresh RateNative Refresh Rate
Unit of MeasureHertz (Hz)Hertz (Hz)
MeaningCombined technology refresh rate.True refresh rate
Maximum Hz240Hz120Hz
Best UsesGamingMovies, YouTube videos, phones
DrawbacksMay not be compatible with current hardware.May lag in fast-action gaming.
Effective vs. Native refresh rate
A team of professional eSport gamers playing in a competitive MMORPG/ Strategy Video Game on a Cyber Games Tournament.

Effective vs. Native Refresh Rate: What’s the difference?

A Brief Explanation of Hertz

Because the refresh rate is measured in Hertz, let’s take a quick look at what the term means. The official definition is – hertz (symbol Hz) is “the unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI), equivalent to one event (or cycle) per second.” Simple. How many times per second does this happen?

So, a refresh rate on your TV, monitor, or smartphone with a rate of 60Hz will redraw the image 60 times a second. Just think of it as hitting the refresh button on a web page when it quickly reloads to update.

What is Native Refresh Rate?

Let’s break down what actually happens when you watch content on your system. In this case, let’s say it’s a movie. A video has been created, it comes to your machine, and then it’s displayed on a monitor or screen of some type. The point to remember here is that each part of the process has its own specs. The video will most likely be 24 frames per second, hardware pushes the content to the display and the display shows the images in succession. With movies still being filmed at 24 fps, a 60/120 Hz capability display will give you good, smooth quality.

Now, we’re trying to keep it simple here, so let’s do so. A modern flat-screen TV will have either 60Hz or 120Hz native refresh rate. That’s it. And the 120Hz is going to be a good thing for most users.

Some 60Hz TVs are known to experience an annoying flicker from time to time that can ruin your viewing experience. But for people looking at higher-performance TVs, the new standard is 120Hz, making that flicker a thing of the past.

For most users, it’s best to go with the K.I.S.S. rule here and not try to complicate things more than needed.

What is Effective Refresh Rate?

Effective refresh rate, also known as motion rate, is a newer concept mainly used by marketing departments to make their products seem faster. An effective refresh rate may actually be slower but with some tricky technology to make the rate appears faster to the eye. The effective refresh rate is generally twice that of the native refresh rate.

A good analogy here is the zoom on your camera. Optical zoom is what the lens actually does, and digital zoom is software that simulates zoom but is not as precise.

The bottom line of effective refresh rate is that manufacturers use specialized software to simulate faster speeds. Then they use the trumped-up numbers to market their product as something it is really not. In the case of Vizio for example, they have their own set of terms to promote refresh rate. The term “Clear Refresh Rate” is used, which is not clear at all. It’s three times the ERR, which makes it six times the Native refresh rate. This has nothing to do with the actual refresh rate of the unit.

To be fair, there are a lot of displays that do have faster refresh rates. But before you spend the money, make sure that the entire system, from the content to your hardware, and the display are all on the same page.

It’s not easy to come to terms with the fact that these companies number one goal is to make more money. And that’s okay, as long as they can deliver the goods.

Complimentary Technologies

Since we are keeping this simple, we’re not going to break these other aspects of refresh rate, frame rate, and your devices down in detail. It is, however, important to mention them if you decide to dig into the subject deeper.

  • Motion Interpolation – This feature of your display uses an algorithm to add frames to the content that doesn’t exist in the original to help smooth jumps in the animation between frames.
  • Interlacing – This is a picture-creating process that scans every other line and saves on the time costs of the refresh rate.
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) – For gaming, this feature of your display can help reduce tearing and stutter. Once again, the frame rate you’ll see is dependent on the game and the graphics you’re using.

These are just a few other things to consider if you’re serious about having next-level experiences and getting the most out of your display. Again, for the normal user, you don’t have to go this deep.

Effective vs. Native refresh rate
A refresh rate of 60Hz is more than enough for playing YouTube videos.

Effective vs. Native Refresh Rate: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • Movies are still filmed at 24 fps and a 60Hz display will give quality viewing.
  • Keeping an eye out for inflated effective refresh rates that are advertised is a good idea.
  • The best bet in 2022 is the 120Hz native refresh rate that will give most users everything they require.
  • Most 120Hz TVs will adjust to the frame rate of the source automatically.
  • YouTube videos are created at 30fps making the standard 60Hz refresh rate more than enough for smooth playback.
  • A higher refresh rate doesn’t always mean better viewing quality.
  • When it comes to refresh rate on your smartphone, higher refresh rates can mean more battery drain.

Effective vs. Native Refresh Rate: Which One is Better, Which One Should You Use?

If you’re looking for a great video experience, smooth scrolling on your smartphone, or even decent sports and gaming, a 60Hz or 120Hz monitor or TV is going to work very well for most users.

For the cutting-edge gaming freak, it might be worth looking into a higher refresh rate model. The thing to remember is that you’re trying to match your entire system to get the best performance. This may mean upgrading other hardware and spending more money to get the desired outcome.

Summary

Hopefully, by now you’ve got an idea of what you’re dealing with when deciding on the refresh rate for your next TV, monitor, or phone. We’ve done a ton of research, and unless you really trying to go pro as a gamer, the standard refresh rates of 60 Hz and 120 Hz will be just fine and probably help you avoid a lot of hassles.

Up Next…

Want more information on how to choose the best TV for your unique needs? Here are some other articles that cover the big questions everyone has!

Effective vs. Native Refresh Rate: What do They Mean? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is refresh rate important for gamers?

Refresh rate is most important for gamers, as the right combination of technology can reduce lag time and give you an edge.

Does a higher refresh rate mean I'm getting a better TV?

No. Just because you spend more on a higher refresh rate model, most content sources are still going to be in the 60Hz format.

What is the Max native refresh rate today?

The maximum native refresh rate in 2022 is 120Hz.

What is the best refresh rate for my smartphone?

An adaptive refresh rate is great for your phone, as it will adjust to needs and save on battery usage.

How do I know if the advertised refresh rate of a TV is legit?

If it’s higher than 120Hz, then you’ll need to dig a little deeper, as the waters can get muddy beyond that level and not give you any noticeable difference in viewing.

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