June 19

How to Check Monitor Refresh Rate

It’s the 21st century and technology is ruling the world. Your computer at home is used in a whole bunch of different ways and most people have a computer they can bring with them everywhere they go. You can find a piece of technology that seems to be created just for you if you really look for it. You can even buy a little robot that vacuums your house all day.

We’re not quite to the Jetsons’ level of technology, but at least we can send selfies to our friends around the world whenever we want.

Even though technology, in general, is rapidly advancing, we somehow still haven’t invented a way to check your monitor’s refresh rate in 2020.

That’s it. End of article.

I’m joking. It’s pretty easy, and I’ll show you how to do it for both Windows 7 and Windows 10.


How to Check Monitor Refresh Rate

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to adjust many settings on your PC in the name of optimizing it for gaming, working, or some other purpose. But some people don’t like to mess with those settings, so they decide to get a prebuilt PC, and that’s fine. If that’s you and you’re on a tight budget, go ahead and check out the best budget PCs that we can recommend.

Other than the best CPU for gaming, a whole lot of RAM, and a powerful GPU, a good gamer cannot imagine their PC without an excellent gaming monitor. The specifications of a monitor can strongly influence your gaming experience.

For example, a newer title like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will look exponentially more satisfying on a 4K gaming monitor, than it would on a 10-year-old ViewSonic (like the one I’m using right now).

The main characteristics of a modern gaming monitor are the screen size, resolution, connection type (DVI, HDMI, etc.), and refresh rate. Any single feature that a monitor has is important enough to modify the gaming experience significantly. Monitor refresh rates aren’t often pushed very hard in marketing, but they really matter when it comes to gaming performance.


How a Monitor Works

To show you motion on a screen, your monitor has to draw pictures on it over and over again. The human eye perceives motion when pictures change about 25 times per second (or more). That changing of images on the monitor is called refreshing, and the number of times it happens in one second is called the refresh rate.

Acer's 24-inch Monitor


What Is a Refresh Rate?

First of all, the refresh rate is measured in Hz (frequency). Old CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors used to draw an image on the screen by bombarding it with electrons. The process would start at the upper left corner. Our monitors would then draw a horizontal line to the right from the starting edge, and then it would move down to the next line. One screen ‘refresh’ would end when the monitor draws the final line.

After all of the lines were ‘drawn’, the screen would turn blank, and the process would start again for drawing the next picture. Monitors had to refresh fast to make the picture smooth for the user.

monitor refresh rate

With CRT monitors, the refresh rate had to be at least 60Hz (60 images per second) to avoid screen flickering. Given the technology at the time, screen flickering was a critical issue. If you attempted to run a graphically-taxing program on your PC, the flickering would become frequent. In fact, it would be so prevalent that it could cause eye strain and headaches after only a short time.

Modern Refresh Rates

Compared to CRT displays, modern LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors are better in every way. LCD monitors have flat screens and better resolutions. On top of that, they don’t have blank-screen moments and generally don’t flicker. Even though flickering has mostly ceased to be a problem, refresh rates continue to be extremely important. The refresh rate of a monitor is vital for gaming because it determines the smoothness of the picture and influences the quality of your gaming experience.

The refresh rate of an average monitor is 60 Hz. Some more expensive monitors and graphics cards can support rates up to 144 Hz or even 240 Hz. The difference between these refresh rates is evident the first time you look at them. Nevertheless, a higher refresh rate does not necessarily mean a better experience. If the refresh rate is too high, it could have adverse effects on the user, and some people simply don’t care for a higher refresh rate.

refresh rate

It’s also important to mention that possible refresh rates depend on a couple of factors. For example, as the screen’s resolution increases, the maximum possible refresh rate becomes lower. The highest potential refresh rate can also be limited by your graphics card. If you own the best graphics card for gaming available, you’ll be able to rock any refresh rate that your monitor supports. However, if you bought a graphics card under $100, getting the refresh rate to 240 Hz will be impossible.


Checking the Monitor Refresh Rate in Windows 10

Here’s what you came for. The step-by-step guide is fairly simple.

  1. Right-click on your desktop
  2. When the pop-up menu shows, choose “Display Settings”
  3. A new menu will show up; scroll down and choose “Advanced Display Settings” from the right side
  4. Within that menu, select the “Display Adapter Properties” for the display that you want to set
  5. Next, click on the “Monitor” tab
  6. Once there, the screen refresh rate will show
  7. If you want to change the refresh rate, choose the desired rate within the appropriate box
  8. Click “OK” and the changes will immediately take effect

Checking the Monitor Refresh Rate in Windows 7

Steps to check and change the refresh rate in Windows 7:

  • Right-click on your desktop
  • Choose “Screen Resolution” under the pop-up menu

monitor screen resolution

  • Select the display that you want to configure (if multiple screens are connected)
  • Click on “Advanced Settings”
  • Next, click on the “Monitor” tab
  • Under that tab, the refresh rate will be displayed
  • If you want to change the refresh rate, choose the refresh rate within the “Screen Refresh Rate” box and click “OK”

I Cannot Change My Monitor Refresh Rate, Help!

Sometimes you can’t select a refresh rate that your monitor claims it supports. In that case, there are a couple of things to consider that could be the root of the problem.

First, check your display driver and update it. If you’re unsure about how to do that, check our guide on how to update graphics drivers. Usually, this simple fix should finish the job.

However, a bad cable can also be a problem. A low-quality connection cable can influence the possible refresh rate of your monitor and cause you other minor issues in the future. Try going to your nearest store or visit Amazon to grab a new cable, they aren’t expensive. Aim for the cables that cost a little bit more money (they are all cheap). The higher-end cables will enable you to manipulate your refresh rate to your heart’s desire.


How to Change Monitor Refresh Rate: Final Words

By following the steps I just outlined, you should be able to check and change your monitor refresh rate. If you’re having some issues with the instructions, make sure your graphics drivers are up to date and that your display connection cable isn’t old, frayed, or otherwise damaged.


Sources:

  1. Ronald Kim, Refresh Rate (Hz) Explained, Benq, November 17th, 2015

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About the author

Matthew Lyons