Why Refresh Rate and FPS Matter More Than Resolution
In the long and storied history of gaming, there have been countless technological advancements that change the game. In the world of competitive gaming, these advancements are critical to gaining an edge over players’ opponents. While factors such as skill, strategy, and teamwork are crucial, having a top-notch hardware experience has become essential to esports professionals. One debate that has garnered attention is the importance of refresh rate versus resolution in competitive gaming. In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why refresh rate matters more than resolution in the realm of esports.
Understanding Refresh Rate
Refresh rate refers to the frequency at which a display updates the images on the screen per second and is measured in Hertz (Hz). This is similar to a more familiar concept to many gamers, which is frames-per-second (FPS). It doesn’t matter how many FPS your PC can output if you’re limited to a display with a mere 60 Hz refresh rate. Effectively, in such a scenario, this is the same as artificially capping your framerate to 60 FPS. A higher refresh rate means more frequent updates, resulting in smoother and more fluid visuals, assuming your FPS is high enough to match. Traditionally, monitors with a refresh rate of 60 Hz were considered standard. However, as GPUs and CPUs have gotten more powerful and output higher and higher framerates, refresh rates of 144 Hz, 240 Hz, and even 360 Hz have become standard for esports professionals.
The Impact of Refresh Rate on Competitive Gaming
Smooth Motion Clarity: In fast-paced games, smooth motion clarity is essential to track objects accurately and make precise movements. A higher refresh rate ensures that each frame is displayed for a shorter duration, reducing motion blur and providing a clearer image during quick actions and rapid camera movements. This enables players to maintain better visual focus and make more precise shots or maneuvers.
Reduced Latency: In competitive gaming, where split-second reactions can determine victory or defeat, minimizing latency is crucial. Latency refers to the delay between an action performed by a player and its reflection on the screen. A higher refresh rate significantly reduces latency, providing players with a more immediate visual feedback. This leads to a more responsive gaming experience, as the actions performed by the player are reflected on the screen almost instantly. This instantaneous feedback enhances the overall gameplay experience and allows players to feel more connected to their in-game avatars, almost as an extension of their own body and mind. (As a side note, this feeling of bodily extension is what Virtual Reality games hope to capture). It’s no wonder that the faster you are allowed to react to something, the better of a competitive advantage you get.
Competitive Advantage in Target Acquisition: Studies have shown that higher refresh rates positively impact target acquisition tasks in esports. In experiments comparing different refresh rates, it was found that performance improved monotonically with refresh rate, indicating that higher refresh rates lead to better accuracy and efficiency in clicking on moving targets.
The Impact of Resolution on Competitive Gaming
There is an argument to be made for the importance of resolution, as opposed to refresh rate, as the more impactful technology for esports. There are clear benefits to be gained from higher resolutions – they provide clearer visibility of in-game elements, enhancing gamers’ ability to spot enemies, read text, and distinguish small details. Improved visual clarity can significantly impact gameplay, especially in games that rely on precise aiming or require quick identification of objects or players in the environment.
Across the gaming world, higher resolution monitors such as 1440p and 4k are on the rise. The world of esports is a different story, though. Time and time again, we see the most cutthroat, ultra-competitive gamers choosing to prefer the most frames possible instead of higher resolution. It is true that most esports gamers prefer at least 1080p as a baseline resolution, but any higher than that is seen as a waste of valuable GPU power that could go to higher framerates. In fact, having a higher FPS rate than your monitor’s refresh rate is actually better in many cases than capping your FPS at your monitor’s refresh rate. CS:GO players are infamous for their preference of a 4:3 aspect ratio and decreased resolution. This is because of the way the game handles player models, but still, it is an example of how resolution matters little to esports pros when there is a competitive advantage to be gained.
In the competitive world of esports, where every millisecond counts, refresh rate holds more significance than resolution. While it is important to have some semblance of visual clarity through a decent resolution, outplaying your opponents rests more on being able to react quickly than being able to see the enemy clearly.
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