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Key Points:

  • Frame rate refers to the number of frames displayed on the screen each second. The computer monitor displays many frames in a second to show the movement of objects and other animations on the screen. 
  • A higher frame rate tends to result in a smoother animation and movement of objects on the screen.
  • Refresh rate refers to the number of times the display gets refreshed and is usually measured in terms of hertz (Hz). Higher refresh rates are better since the movements will be smoother, such as when you move the cursor on the screen.
  • A computer with a powerful GPU must also have a good monitor. A monitor incapable of displaying as many frames as the GPU produces will usually mean that the extra frames will be lost.

Whenever you are shopping for a high-quality monitor or display, there are several factors that you must consider. Frame rate and refresh rate are two terms that often confuse computer users as they describe a similar concept. However, it is essential to clear this confusion to make your shopping a bit easier. 

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A higher frame rate tends to result in a smoother animation and objects on the screen.

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Refresh Rate vs. Frame Rate: Full Comparison

Frame rate refers to the number of frames displayed on the screen each second. The computer monitor displays many frames in a second to show the movement of objects and other animations on the screen. 

A higher frame rate tends to result in a smoother animation and movement of objects on the screen. A lower frame rate means fewer frames are displayed each second, slowing the animation. Many frames are also dropped or lost when the monitor has a lower frame rate. 

In comparison, refresh rate refers to the number of times the display gets refreshed and is usually measured in terms of hertz (Hz). Higher refresh rates are better since the movements will be smoother, such as when you move the cursor on the screen. For more demanding applications such as gaming, it is crucial to have a high refresh rate since the game will appear more real-time. 

Refresh Rate vs. Frame Rate: A Side-by-Side Comparison

The two terms can often be confusing since they refer to properties of a display, and as such, knowing the differences is essential.

Refresh RateFrame Rate
MeaningDetermines how many new frames you seeDetermines how many frames can be drawn
MetricMeasures how many times the monitor refreshes each secondMeasures the ability to draw a number of frames each second
PurposeImportant for smoother animationImportant for detailed images on the screen
What’s It Affected By?The monitorThe graphics card and software used
Why’s It Important?Low rate causes blurLow rate causes missing images 

Following from the comparison above, refresh rate and frame rate have to be high to provide you with an optimal visual experience. With lower frame and refresh rates, you will often notice blurring of the images, and some images might even appear to be hanging.

Refresh Rate vs. Frame Rate: What’s the Difference?

Here, we explain the details and relationships between the refresh rate and frame rate.

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate enables the computer monitor to eliminate the previously displayed image and draw new ones on the screen.

As such, you will easily get rid of blurring on your screen when you have a higher refresh rate. There will be no stuck images on your screen when you have a reasonable refresh rate, and the viewing will be much more entertaining. 

For gaming, the refresh rate must match the frame rate since the images drawn on the screen must be refreshed each second. If the two parameters do not match each other, you will experience a tearing where some images seem stuck on the screen. 

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Having a high refresh rate and a high frame rate is especially important for gaming to prevent any lagging or screen tearing.

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Frame Rate

The frame rate determines the amount of content you can enjoy on your screen. When you have a higher frame rate, more frames will be drawn on the display each second, which means that movements will be smoother. You will notice even the smallest details on your screen with a decent frame rate. However, a number of factors will determine the frame rate, such as the GPU on your computer and the software you are using. 

You must always compare the two parameters when looking for a computer monitor. A computer with a powerful GPU must also have a good monitor. A monitor incapable of displaying as many frames as the GPU produces will usually mean that the extra frames will be lost. Both parameters have to be high to ensure smooth gaming, and the monitor you buy has to be capable of a high-enough frame rate. 

A lower frame rate will impact your experience as you will not be able to get all the frames that are being sent from the GPU. As such, you must be keen on both frame rate and refresh rate as both contribute to the best display experience when using your computer. 

Refresh Rate vs. Frame Rate: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Movies are filmed at 24 frames per second (FPS), while live sporting events are usually recorded at 30 FPS.
  • Whenever frame rate and refresh rate are not in sync, screen tearing occurs. This means that the screen will be refreshing information from several frames simultaneously.
  • The refresh rate is determined by the monitor, while the frame rate is a combination of your GPU and CPU.
  • Modern monitors require a minimum refresh rate of 60Hz, though 75Hz is the ideal minimum. Gaming monitors have refresh rates of 120Hz or higher.
  • Technologies such as FreeSync and G-Sync can be used to prevent screen tearing.

Conclusion

When looking for a good display, you must look at the refresh and frame rates.

A refresh rate means how often the image on the screen is refreshed, while a frame rate means the number of frames being pumped to your screen to be displayed.

These are both important for an optimal display and, as such, they have to be reasonably high. They also need to match to avoid them being out of sync.

Hopefully, the comparison above has given you better insights into these parameters and how they factor into the final visual experience so you can best enjoy your monitor. 

Up Next…

Refresh Rate vs. Frame Rate: How Do They Differ? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is frame rate, and why is it important?

Frame rate means how many frames your computer can produce each second. It determines the level of details that you can observe on display.

Why does the refresh rate matter?

A reasonable refresh rate is essential for a good experience on your display. A low refresh rate means you will often lose out on the details displayed on the screen.

What do gamers need for the best gaming?

Gamers need both high refresh rates and frame rates since the graphics and animations tend to change very fast. An ideal experience should have a balance of both.

What determines the refresh rate?

The monitor will usually determine your display’s refresh rate, which is a factor to consider when purchasing a new one.

Can the frame rate be increased?

Yes. Buying a GPU for your computer can improve the frame rate and experience you get on screen. 

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