What is the Refresh Rate?
Updated Feb 17, 2014
The refresh rate is the number of frames per second the television can display. Its unit is a Hertz, which is equal to 1/second. 120Hz means it can draw 120 images per second.
The refresh rate of televisions is misleading and is mixed with marketing lies. The increased refresh rate (120Hz and higher) was introduced by manufacturers as an indirect way to reduce the motion blur problem of LCDs and LEDs. However, the response time of 120Hz and 240Hz TVs is usually the same as 60Hz ones.
Do not look at the refresh rate of a TV. Not only the advertised number is false, but a 120Hz+ TV does not reduce the amount of motion blur in console games.
The response time is the best measure of motion blur in an LED TV. It is the time a pixel takes to transition from one color to another.
Additionally, manufacturers are inflating the advertised refresh rate number like with Samsung's Clear Motion Rate as explained in the next page of this article.
To prove that a 120Hz TV does not reduce motion blur, we filmed in slow motion a 60Hz TV next to a 120Hz one when displaying a Blu-ray movie. As you can see, the amount of blur is exactly the same.
The only advantages of a 120Hz+ refresh rate TV are the soap opera effect
and supporting 24p playback
. In our video, the soap opera effect option was set to off because most people don't like that option.
The same is true for video games. Video consoles games (even the Xbox One and PS4) displays at maximum 60 frames per second. When displaying this on a 120Hz TV, the panel just draws each frame twice, so it doesn't reduce the blur.
For a gaming PC monitor though, the 120Hz refresh rate does reduce the amount of motion blur considerably because computers can generate 120+ frames per second.
Does the refresh rate mean the same thing for an LCD, LED and Plasma?
No. An LCD/LED panel retains the picture for the entire frame duration. This is called the sample and hold method. A plasma TV works differently. It uses very short pulses to draw the picture. For each frame, it emits a series of pulse depending on the intensity of the colors.
When LCD TVs started advertising higher refresh rates meant to reduce motion blur, plasma TVs manufacturers didn't want to appear obsolete even though they display better motion by default. To keep up with their marketing, they started including a number in Hz. This number is not the amount of frames per second it can display, but the inverse of the duration of a small pulse. For example, a 600Hz plasma means its pulse length is 1/600 second, even though it only draws 60 frames per second.
Displaying a 120fps signal on a 120Hz+ television
As of 2013, there is no television officially supporting a true 120 frames per second signal as an input. Even a real 120Hz or 240Hz television does not support a source of 120fps. They can only display at that speed frames created by themselves using motion interpolation. For example, you can feed a television a 1080p @ 24Hz signal, which it will up convert to 1080p @ 120Hz internally; but you cannot feed it directly a 1080p @ 120 signal.
Although not officially supported, some people were able to hack it, either by faking the signal as being 3D or by overclocking it.
Despite the fact that the HDMI version 1.4 added support for 1080p @ 120Hz, there is no content available to display on a TV at that frame rate. Only a computer can generate this high frame rate. This will not change anytime soon. Gaming consoles are limited to only 60fps, even the PS4 and Xbox One. Movies are being shot at 24 fps. The first movie shot in 48fps is The Hobbit and it is only available at that speed in some specific theaters.
Currently, the only screens than can display a real 120fps signal are some 120Hz computer monitors on high end graphic cards.
For TVs, the refresh rate means nothing, especially with manufacturers inflating their numbers. A high refresh rate TV does not guarantee it to be motion blur free. Even for console gaming, there is no advantage to a 120Hz+ TV because the console video games are capped at 60 fps anyway.
For gaming on a PC though, a higher refresh rate monitor is definitely worth it if you have a strong enough graphic card.
The next pages of this article explains two features usually found on 120Hz+ TVs, but they are irrelevant to gaming.
Dec 07 2012
I bought a Samsung UA46ES5600 LED TV. It has 100Hz refresh rate. Is there a noticable difference in picture quality compared to a 120Hz tv? Should I trade it in for a 120Hz tv instead?
They are actually the same thing. The actual number depends on your country and the frequency of the AC electricity that goes into your home, 50Hz or 60Hz. A 100Hz refresh rate in a 50Hz country is the equivalent of a 120Hz refresh rate in a 60Hz country. They both are twice the base frequency. So if you bought a 100Hz, that means you couldn't actually buy a 120Hz in your country. You can convert a 60Hz based refresh rate to a 50Hz by simply dividing by 1.2 and this applies also to the inflated marketing number like Samsung's Clear Motion Rate: 240 = 200, 480 = 400, 720 = 600, 840 = 700 and 960 = 800. We did not put both in the table above to keep it simple. There is one difference though, and it is how they handle playing video at 24 frames per second. In a 60Hz, 24 fps is fit by using the 3:2 pulldown technique as described above. In a 50Hz TV though, the movie is actually speed up by 4.2%, so a 1h40 min movie will actually be played in 1h36. This isn't very noticeable.
Mar 12 2013
I just recently purchased the Samsung 40EH5300, and while I love the TV per se, I'm noticing a blue hue or halo around moving people and objects...what is this? How can it be fixed?
This is most likely motion blur: the panel cannot draw the images fast enough so they end up superposing themselves. This is common for TVs in this price range. While it cannot be fixed, you can try playing with the settings to reduce it (like the LED Motion Plus setting).
Dec 10 2012
I currently have a Sharp Aquos 40" smart Tv. I am considering buying a larger one and moving this one to a smaller room. Should I be looking at a 60Hz or is the extra money for 120 worth it?
If you do not care about the soap opera effect, get a 60Hz.
Apr 29 2013
Why dont you recommend more than 120Hz? Can some sports, such as football, formula 1, be watched perfectly on 100Hz actual rate?
The difference is reduced after that. Yes they are better but for the majority of people, 120Hz is good enough. There is no such thing as perfect especially on an LED.
Feb 08 2013
Can you please explain how plasma 600hz sub field motion fits into all this? Does it use image interpolation? How does this fit with 24p? 600/24 = 25? Will plasma with its 600hz perform on par or better than a true 240hz lcd/led panel?
A Plasma 600Hz is not the same thing as refresh rate. When LCD TVs started to advertised refresh rates, customers wanted to compare them to Plasmas so manufacturers came up with a number in Hz. It correspond to the number of times per second a plasma cell is charged to emit light. Note that Plasmas never suffered from motion blur like LCDs, so they only advertise this to make that clear. Most Plasmas now also support image interpolation and 24p playback, but some older/low models don't.
Jan 28 2014
I want to buy the LG 42LN5400
and using it as a display for my pc. Will this tv able to handle 60 Hz input from my GPU ?
Also is this tv 4:4:4 chroma capable ?
Yes and yes.
Nov 28 2012
Does all 120Hz+ televisions can support to display a source input at 120Hz? My concern is just that in 5 years or so, would I need a TV to support this?
No, there is currently no HDTV available that offically support playing 1080p @ 120Hz, not even the high end 240Hz televisions. They can only display at that speed with their own motion interpolated frames. Currently, only some computer monitors can display such signal, mostly because only computers can output at that speed. We updated this article to include a section on this, with further explanation.
Jan 12 2013
Does 60hz vs 120hz matter for gaming on Xbox 360 or ps3; especially for 1st person shooters?
There is no console that output at 120Hz. There is no TV that accept such signal anyway. Also, motion interpolation increase to much the input lag that it becomes unusable for games, especially FPS. Therefore, no, a 120Hz is useless for games. However, the best TVs are at least 120Hz these days, so good TVs with minimal motion blur and good picture quality are at least 120Hz. So do not look at the refresh rate, but you will have a better picture quality with higher end models.
Oct 27 2013
I'm looking for a 120Hz screen for my computer and I plan to watch movies and play games at over 100fps.
Is the Samsung 40f6100 a true 120Hz pannel with all the effects like movie mode-motion "magic" turned off? I want a screen able to behave like a 120Hz monitor.Or I should go for f6500?
Unfortunately, there are no TV that officially support an input frame rate of more than 60fps yet. It can be done on some TVs, but it is undocumented and not guaranteed.
Nov 20 2013
has 2500 Hz and GT60 has 3000 Hz. So what is the real refresh rate values for Panasonic of that kind?
The refresh rate of plasma TVs does not mean the same thing as of LCDs, so you can't really compare the number. It isn't the number of full frames that they can display per second, but the duration of the short period of excitement of the phosphor cell. To display a full frame, it will flashes multiple times (depending on the intensity of the picture).
Dec 01 2013
Does TV with 3D option take away from picture quality when on normal TV?
Not at all. It is a separate additional feature that doesn't affect 2D capabilities. If you want though, all 3D TVs contains a 2D to 3D converter (but it isn't as good as native 3D content).
Jan 21 2014
What do you think about IKEAs Uppleva 46" TV?
Unfortunately, we haven't tested it so cannot comment.
Mar 21 2014
Is there any improvement in the new Samsung F6xxx series over the equivalent D6xxx of 2011 in terms of picture quality? Are the new panels of 6th series better without ultra clear panel? The AMP works better in 2013 (less judder/stutter/blur) ?
Overall does it worth replacing the D series with the F other than for the new smart tv features and a faster multicore CPU?
Overall, the difference is pretty small. The backlight uniformity is better though. The AMP does work better but it still has artifacts. If your D6xxx TV still works, keep your money and wait a few more years.
Mar 30 2014
How noticeable is the difference between 120hz and 240hz, like in Samsung h6400 vs f7100
Not very noticeable. We will review the H6400 in a few weeks to confirm this.
Feb 01 2013
I am in doubt about two different TVs: one is a Sony 60" with motion flow 240hz and the other is a Sony 55" with motion flow 480hz. My preference is a bigger TV, but I'm in doubt about the refresh rate. Is the difference too big?
If you are in doubt, get the bigger one (the 60" with Motion Flow 240Hz, so a panel of 120Hz). The majority of people will prefer the difference in size than the difference in picture quality of the jump from 120Hz to 240Hz (real refresh rate, not Motion Flow). The difference in picture quality is there, but unless you are very picky, the difference in size is bigger.
Apr 20 2013
Do you think motion blur for decent/good quality LED TVs these days is significantly worse than for plasmas of the same size?
Yes, but LED motion handling is good enough for 90% of the population. Most people will not even be able to tell the difference between an LED and plasma motion wise. When using normal footage (like a movie), motion blur can barely be seen and most of the time it is actually in the video content. The difference between a plasma and LED is more evident when using special patterns, created to expose these flaws.
Aug 07 2013
I know you said not to worry about plasma hz, but I don't know whether to buy a LED or plasma, and I want the most true picture possible for my money. So a 2500hz FFD is equivalent in LED hz? Is it worth the cost in electricity bills to get a plasma rather than a LED? Lastly if I purchase a PVR TV, will any USB work or does it have to be the TV makers brand of USB or HDD for recording?
A 2500Hz FFD can't be compared to an LED Hz because it is not the number of frames per second the TV can display. Nearly all plasmas have less blur than an LED. Check out our full plasma vs led guide
for the full throw down including power consumption. Any USB drive will work with your PVR TV.
Oct 30 2013
Are 120Hz televisions bad for gaming?
They are not bad, it is just that the 120Hz is not useful for console gaming. Motion interpolation needs to be turned off during games because it adds too much input lag. Also, console games are only 30 or 60 frames per second.
Nov 12 2013
I was considering a 100Hz TV (LG), but now I can get the 200Hz version for the same price. The TV's are very similar, just some more features on the 200Hz version which also has better looks. Is there any disadvantage chosing the 200Hz version? Can you set the 200Hz to 100Hz instead if that's a problem?
There is no downside, so if they are the same price, get the higher model.
Nov 27 2013
I'm pondering over two different LED TV's the Samsung UN46F6300
and the LG 47LN5700
both are smart TV's and slightly different cost. Which is better?
It depends what you prefer. The UN46F6300
has an overall better picture quality, especially the contrast. However, the viewing angle is less than the 47LN5400
. If you don't care about the viewing angle, go for the Samsung.
Dec 18 2013
Good review about refresh rate on each brand and model. But I am confused about what is best for FPS or better for ps3, HD movies, streaming, 3D content on movies and ps3 games because I want to buy a tv that give me all my needs. I have two models in mind: Sony KDL-55w805a and LG 55LA6600. Which of these two you would recommend, or another one?
We haven't tested these exact models, but they should be really similar. Both uses IPS LCD panels and are passive 3D, therefore Sony most likely bought it from LG.
Dec 24 2013
I have a Samsung UE55F6740 and there is significant motion blur and ghosting effect with video games and sports streaming from satellite. They claim the TV has 600 CMR (Clear Motion Rate) even though the TV only has a refresh rate of 100 Hz. This additional processing does not help get rid of the blur or ghosting effect. Do you thing this is a problem with all Samsung LED TV's? and apart from the burn-in effect on PLASMAS, would you recommend the Panasonic P50GT60B or Samsung PS51F5500 for gaming?
Yes, this is common to all LEDs and it isn't due to the refresh rate of the TV. You will be better off with a plasma. Note however the part of the blur that comes from the low frame rate of the source content cannot be eliminated on any display.
Dec 29 2013
I bought LG 55LA7400
because of its capability of Trumotion 240HZ. But the thing is, I tried blu ray Disc, Xbox one Games, 3D Disc, and Live NBA games on this TV, when I press the display button on the remote, it only shows 1080P/60HZ. Is there anyway I can adjust the refresh rate. Or, like what you said, the TV will convert to 240HZ internally.
This is normal. It displays the input frame rate of the source, which is independent of the TV. If you turn on TruMotion, it will convert to 240Hz internally.
Jan 09 2014
I currently have a lg 55la691v on trial from a dealer. The dealer said it was 100hz, but the display on the tv while watching says 50hz no matter which channel I watch, and there's a sticker on the back saying something about power: 50/60hz. I'm also less than impressed while playing FIFA 14, and the goalie kicks the ball out and the picture is a bit blurry for a second. Is this the tv or the ps4? Is the tv 100 hz? I'm not sure I've found the optimal setting for playing though.
This is normal. The TV will display the input signal frame rate, not the panel. And at the back, it is the frequency of the electricity needed. When playing console games, the refresh rate of the TV doesn't matter anyway, because you can't use motion interpolation on it due to the increased input lag. The blur that you are experiencing is due to the TV and can't be fixed.
Jan 21 2014
Picture wise, when I go into BestBuy, the F8000
looks better than the F7100
Samsung. Is it noticeable by the eye to tell the difference between 240hz models or is it a ploy by Bestbuy to sell the more expensive TV? Looking to purchase shortly. Your preference between UN46f7500
Samsung default showroom settings are the cause of it. The colors are over saturated, with a red tint and the brightness set very high to make them 'pop'. Calibrated correctly, you won't see a difference especially in a bright room like a retail floor. If you do not want the extra features of the F8000
, save your money and buy a lower model.
Feb 04 2014
I live in Europe and want to play some console games that, even though they are PAL games, say "60 Hz only" on the cover. If I understand this article correctly, I should get a TV with a real refresh rate of 100 Hz, since if I get one with a real refresh rate of 50 Hz, it would be too low for the 60 Hz content. Is this correct, or would a 50 Hz TV actually work with 60 Hz games? What about motion blur and input lag, would I get worse picture quality and lag when playing games on a 100 Hz TV compared to a 50 Hz TV?
No, even 50Hz TVs can display 60Hz. In Europe, all Full HD TVs must support at least 1080p @ 60Hz and 1080p @ 50Hz. The inverse is not true. In North America, not all 60Hz TVs can display 50Hz.
Feb 04 2014
I just purchased the 75" Samsung F7100
Ultra Slim LED TV that says it has a clear motion rating of 720. Is that a 240Hz? What's your opinion on this TV?
Yes it is. It is a very good TV. The only major downside is the narrow viewing angle.
Mar 20 2014
What would you recommend for a 46" smart TV monitor that will be primarily be used gaming and sometimes for streaming?
Check out our article on 46-47" TVs
for our recommendation.
Have a question?
Ask your question here, or send us directly an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you find the best television for your own needs and budget.