Monitor Refresh Rate


Today’s Question: I’m looking for two new monitors for my home system, is there any advantage in purchasing a monitor with a refresh rate over 60Hz? Would I be better off concentrating on other aspects of monitor performance?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Unless you will be using your monitor display advanced gaming, I would not prioritize a refresh rate over 60 Hz. Instead I would focus on display resolution, color gamut, and dynamic range (contrast ratio).

More Detail: The refresh rate was a more important consideration for older CRT monitors that it is for today’s LCD displays, where flicker isn’t a concern. Therefore, the only reason you would want to opt for a faster refresh rate is so that you could in effect play “faster” video. What I mean by faster video is video with a very high frame rate, which typically means things like playing advanced video games.

So if you are focused on your photographic workflow, perhaps with a little bit of video editing as well, I wouldn’t worry about finding a display with a particularly fast refresh rate. Instead, I would focus on factors that more directly affect a photography workflow, such as display resolution, color gamut, and dynamic range (expressed as a contrast ratio).

Display resolution is a bit subjective, since it affects the relative size of objects on the screen. While extremely high-resolution displays with 4K resolution can present stunningly crisp details, such a display can also cause interface elements to be extremely small. I tend to prefer a display with a resolution of around 2560×1440. This is largely a matter of preference, however, so it is best to see a display set at various resolutions before you make a final decision.

For color gamut, if at all possible, I recommend opting for a display that supports the full Adobe RGB color space. And for contrast ratio (dynamic range) I recommend looking for a display with a value of 1000:1 or higher.