The refresh rate refers to the to the number of frames a television can show per second. It's measured in Hertz, which is a unit of frequency. A TV with a 60Hz refresh rate can display 60 images per second.
As mentioned in our fake refresh rate article, TVs will often be marketed using refresh rate numbers that bear no real relation to the actual specification of the television. This is unfortunately very misleading to the average buyer, but manufacturers have thankfully started to integrate real numbers. Most of the time, the number listed will be double the actual refresh rate. If you ever see a refresh rate above 120hz, you can also automatically assume that it is an exaggerated number.
60Hz vs 120Hz
As much as manufacturers would like you to believe that a 120Hz TV provides an important advantage over 60Hz models, the refresh rate itself does not inherently improve the motion. In theory, content playing at twice the refresh rate should have half the motion blur. The issue is that almost nobody uses a 120Hz source.
When displaying 30 or 60 fps content
A 60 fps video played on a 120Hz TV will look no different than on a 60Hz TV. In a case like this, the TV either adjusts itself to match the refresh rate of the source, which effectively turns it into a 60Hz TV, or it simply doubles every frame.
As you can see from the picture above, a TV with a higher refresh rate does not produce less motion blur. Since both of these TVs have a very similar response time (which causes the blur), 60 fps content results in an almost identical picture.
To better showcases these difference, we compared two TVs side by side, a 60Hz model and a 120Hz model with similar response times. We filmed these TVs in slow motion to easily compare each individual frames.
When displaying 24 fps content
While a 120hz TV doesn't inherently produce better motion, it can provide a few advantages over standard 60Hz TVs. An important one is proper playback of content meant to be displayed at 24Hz such as cinema. Most TVs now can simply adjust the refresh rate of their panel to fit the source, but some devices (such as chromecast) can only output at 60Hz regardless of the content being played. This can lead to issues since 24 is not a multiple of 60Hz. To display this sort of content, what is called a "3:2 pulldown" is used. Basically, the frames alternate between being repeated 3 times and 2 times. Not everybody notices this, but it causes some scenes, notably panning shots, to appear juddery. 120hz TVs can avoid this entirely since they can just display each frame 5 times. Some 60Hz TVs can manage to do it, but if this is an important feature for you, you will probably have to get a 120Hz model. Learn more about judder, our related tests as well as a list of judder free TVs.
When using the motion interpolation feature
Another place where 120Hz is useful is if you enjoy the motion interpolation feature found on TVs (soap opera effect). Most TVs have this feature, even 60Hz ones, but since motion interpolation works by adding generated frames between existing ones, having a higher refresh rate allows you to have twice as many extra frames. This allows the TV to make better interpolated frames as it can spread the movement into more precise steps.
Another useful feature caused by having a higher refresh rate is the ability to use motion interpolation on 60p content. Since they cannot display more than 60 frames per second, a 60Hz cannot use its soap opera effect feature on content with higher frame rates. A 120Hz TV has the advantage of being able to add an additional interpolated frame between each of the 60Hz ones, since it is capable of displaying twice as many. Unless you have a 120Hz TV, you will only be able to use this feature on 24p or 30p content.
When displaying 120 fps content
If your TV is connected to a PC and it supports a 120Hz input, then this is where having a 120Hz TV can be a strong advantage. While it is rare to find content other than games with this framerate, the impact on the quality of the motion perceived is large.
As you can see, the 120 fps picture is much clearer. This is because the 120 fps frames stay half as long on screen. When your eyes track a moving object across a screen, it blends the two frames together. Since the 120hz content has twice as many steps, it doesn't require as much blending (this is called blur persistence). For a more in-depth explanation of this subject, check out our video on taking pictures of motion blur.
Black frame insertion
There are other ways to apply this principle, some TVs have a feature called black frame insertion. Essentially, the TV only displays the frame for a short amount of time (instead of keeping it displayed until it is time to show the next one) and turns black between each one.
Since the image only appears where your brain expects it to be, it doesn't have to correct the motion with blending, and if done properly, this leads to an exceptionally clear image. Unfortunately, though, not everyone can stand the flickering, and most people get annoyed after a while.
This trick works even better if combined with a 120Hz refresh rate since it looks even smoother and the flickering is much harder to notice. Almost no TV supports this though (even gaming-oriented PC monitors with this feature are rare).
True 120Hz content is rare, no online streaming service officially supports it, and the only sources that use that refresh rate are PCs or Apple's iPad Pro. We've compiled a couple of lists of common entertainment sources as well as their respective refresh rates.
24 fps to 60 fps
24 fps to 60 fps
30 or 60 fps
Cable/Broadcast TV (NTSC)
30 or 60 fps
Cable/Broadcast TV (PAL)
25 or 50 fps
Xbox One S/X
24Hz to 60Hz
PS4 /PS4 Pro
24Hz to 60Hz
24Hz to 60Hz
Up to 240Hz
For most people, a TV with a 120hz refresh rate doesn't serve a purpose. There is no difference when compared to a 60Hz model if they are both playing standard content. If you are sensitive to judder or if you like the soap opera effect, then it can be useful.
If you're into PC gaming though, a TV that supports a 1080p @ 120Hz input is very beneficial, since video games can actually be played at that faster refresh rate. A 120Hz monitor or TV displaying 120 fps content will have much smoother and clearer motion.
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How noticeable is the difference between 120hz and 240hz, like in Samsung h6400 vs h7150?
Not very noticeable in terms of motion. Here are the pictures that we took in our reviews of the H7150 and the H6400:
As you can see, the length of the motion blur trail is the same. The difference is the backlight. The H7150 flickers twice as fast, which we perceived as more superposition of the logo. Which method is better is a personal preference. Keep in mind that we are nitpicking here. Most people won't even see the difference when watching normal content.
That said, the H7150 is a better TV than the H6400, even if the motion is relatively the same. It has a better uniformity and screen finish. It is worth the upgrade, provided you don't mind the price difference.
I just recently purchased the Samsung 40EH5300, and while I love the TV, 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 (like the LED Motion Plus setting) to reduce it.
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 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 TV, that means you couldn't actually buy a 120Hz TV in your country. You can convert a 60Hz based refresh rate to a 50Hz by simply dividing by 1.2 and this also applies to the inflated marketing number, like Samsung's Clear Motion Rate: 240 = 200, 480 = 400, 720 = 600, 840 = 700 and 960 = 800. For simplicity's sake, we did not put both in the table above. There is one difference though, and it is how they handle playing video at 24 frames per second. With a 60Hz TV, 24 fps is fit by using the 3:2 pulldown technique 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.
Does 60hz vs 120hz matter for gaming on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, or PS4; especially for 1st person shooters?
There is no console that outputs at 120Hz. Also, motion interpolation increases input lag, making it unusable for games - especially FPS. Therefore, no, a 120Hz TV 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. Do not look at the refresh rate, but you will have a better picture quality with higher end models.
I guess I am one of the weird people who actually enjoy the soap opera effect. I have a Samsung 60 inch F8000. Could you possibly help me with the custom setting that would give me the smoothest possible picture. For example, on the "judder reduction" setting, would I want that at 0, or would 10 be better? Same for "Blur reduction." Thanks for your help.
"Blur reduction" is the one that creates the soap opera effect, so bring that to the max.
Do all 120Hz+ televisions support display of source input at 120Hz? My concern is that in five years or so I would need a TV to support this.
No, very few HDTVs available officially support playing 1080p @ 120Hz - not even the high-end 240Hz televisions. Most can only display at that speed with their own motion interpolated frames. Unless you plan on using your TV as a PC monitor for gaming, don't worry about this. Movies/TV shows/sports/console gaming won't need that feature for at least 5-10 years.
I live in Europe and want to play 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 as 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.
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 with 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 Plasma TVs now also support image interpolation and 24p playback, but some older/lower-end models don't.
I considering 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 over the difference in picture quality that the jump from 120Hz to 240Hz (real refresh rate, not Motion Flow) would offer. The difference in picture quality is there, but unless you are very picky, the difference in size is bigger.
On the new curved Samsung, is there a difference between Clear Motion Rate 960 and Clear Motion Rate 1320? And will 120 hz be enough that I won't need to go up to 240?
Refresh rates aren't important for picture quality, so you'll be fine with the 120 hz TV. For the 2015 models, the Motion Rate number for the 4k TVs is double the actual refresh rate. For example, a Motion Rate of 120 equals a native refresh rate of 60 hz. Clear Motion Rate numbers are not being used for 2015 models. For Samsung's 1080p TVs, the motion rate number is equal to the actual refresh rate.
What makes the biggest difference in terms of picture quality: the screen or panel or the guts of the TV?
In order: the panel, the backlight (for LED TVs), and then the software processing. The panel is really 90% of the picture quality. If two TVs have the same panel, once they are calibrated properly you won't really see a difference between them.
I just purchased a Samsung Series 6 6300 LED 60" TV. I assumed the CMR 240 was 240 Hz. I realized later it was not. My question is, is there a noticeable difference between a 120Hz and a 240Hz TV? Is it worth the upgrade to go for a 240Hz? Thank you in advance for your response.
No. Refresh rates tend to be pretty unimportant when it comes to buying TVs. Both 120 hz and 240 hz TVs have the motion interpolation feature, and that's about all that sets them apart from 60 hz TVs. No need to get a different TV.
Thank you much for your hard work on this site. It is amazing!
Background: First off, I'm looking for a 1080p TV (not ready for 4k yet). I'm a gamer and a 3D artist. I use my TV as computer monitor 90% of the time (the other 10% is for the PS4). As a result, 40" is my preferred size, though I would consider something up to 50".
Question: I'm trying to find out if there are any TVs out there that not only accept 120hz signals, but also show that same signal in 120fps. Have you guys found any that fit those specs?
Unfortunately, we only started testing for 120 fps playback with the 2015 models. So far, the only TVs we have confirmed can play 1080p content in 120 fps are the 2015 Vizio M and Vizio P, which are both 4k TVs.
We have been told, though, that the 2014 Vizio M (a 1080p TV) can display in 120 fps, so that would be a good choice for your needs.
I just got the JS9000. My question is, does gaming mode affect picture quality, or can I just leave it on?
It removes some of the processing, so it does look a bit different. Leave it on for game consoles - it won't make apps and video look worse - but there's really not much reason to use it with other media sources.
I tested samsung h6400 with and without "clear motion rate" turned on and the difference while playing videogames is just absolutely amazing. For example, the game Split Second: Velocity only runs at 30fps on an Xbox 360 console, but with "clear motion rate on" the game seems to be running at lovely 60fps. For playing, this is amazing. I also tested Fifa 14, which runs (according to specifications) at 60 fps. Sometimes this game suffers frame drops due to the high amount of ram the game needs when it handles too many subjects on the screen, but again with clear motion rate on, the game runs so smooth that it seems as though you are playing it on next gen consoles instead of the actual one. I did the same test on an old LG with true motion 120 (obviously real refresh rate was 60hz) and even when you can feel there was some true motion improvement, the trumotion fails dropping frames and makes true motion disappears at times, which is so annoying when you are playing fast games. So after this brief intro, my question: Which is the best LED for getting the best cmr, motion flow, or motion index available? Would 240hz make games look better? (I couldn't test that myself because I do not own a TV with that refresh rate)
No TV interpolation is perfect. Frame drops will happens on all of them as soon as something big moves too fast. Artifacts are also common, even on 240Hz TVs. Have you had a look at our motion test pictures? You might find the pictures of the motion interpolation settings interesting. The G letter of our logo is not complete on almost all of them. Honestly, there isn't a visual difference between the interpolation on a 120Hz vs 240Hz. The difference is more visible without interpolation due to the backlight strobbing (check out, for example, the H6400 vs H7150 with no interpolation to see what I mean by this). At that point, it is the response time of the pixels that is the bottleneck (unless using an aggressive backlight setting).
I'm in the market of purchasing 3 TVs. I have to say that money is not a consideration.
The first one is for a total black cinema room and my choices are Panasonic AX-800 (4K) 3200$ or either VT60 3500$ or ZT60 4300$ (plasma) 65 inches. Which should I choose?
The second one is a kitchen TV, meaning it will be around light and windows. I present I only have the choice of an LG 42LB6300 (IPS, 1080p) is there anything else better?
The third one is for a bedroom and the choices are LG 32LB5800 or Samsung UN32H6350. Again, is there anything better out there?
1) Get the ZT60. Arguably, the VT60 is almost as good for less, but if money is not a concern, get the ZT60. The Panasonic LED 4k is simply no match for plasma's picture quality in a dark room.
2) In a kitchen, you probably do need an IPS panel to benefit from its wide viewing angle. They reflect a bit more light, though. The LG 42LB6300 should be more than enough here.
3) For the bedroom, get the Samsung UN32H6350 (assuming you don't care about viewing angle here), because you can just rotate the TV towards your bed). It has better blacks than the LG.
We are remodeling our living room and I want to upgrade to a bigger and better television before paying for our TV to be mounted. We do not play video games, but we do use Netflix, etc, so Internet access would be nice. My husband watches football. We want excellent picture and at least a 50 inch screen, with a goal of spending less than $900 total with tax. I can get a Samsung UHD HU6900 series television for under $800 (before tax), but I'm worried about this motion effect people keep talking about. I've heard there are some settings you can modify to try to reduce the motion effect. How bad is it for regular television watching compared to the 2007 model year of big screen TVs? Do you think the Samsung UHD HU6900 will suit our needs? Greatly appreciate your thoughts!
You can always turn off the soap opera effect on every TV, so don't worry about that. Instead of buying a 4k TV, though, you will be happier with a 1080p one, because you can get a bigger size for the same price. 4k is not worth it for a 50" screen at a normal viewing distance.
Hi. I watched a lot of fast-paced sports and have been disappointed with the two TVs I have tried out. First was the Samsung 8700 curved, and now the Sony XBR65X850B. Both have motion blur that cannot be ignored. Can you make a recommendation in the 65" arena that is good when it comes to watching fast-paced sports? Thank you.
Every LED TV is going to have some motion blur, and it may be tough to find a TV that meets your standards. Unfortunately, we did not review the TVs that you mentioned, so we can't really compare their motion blur to other 4k TVs. In the 1080p category, the Sony W850B was the TV we tested as having the least motion blur last year, but it is only available in 60" and 70". It got a 9/10 for motion blur in our motion blur test.
Are there any TVs on the market that work at true 120hz 1080p, running from a computer, and that are also 3D? I read that the TC-65AX800U is 3D and has a DisplayPort 1.2 input, but nobody has been able to tell me if it accepts a true 120hz signal. All they talk about is 4k@60hz.
It's possible that one exists, but we have not yet encountered a 3D TV that can accept 1080p @ 120 hz.
I noticed only the tv's that accept a true 1080p 120hz signal can display a completely judder-free movie (including judder-free 24p at 60i and 60p). Is this correct? Is there a direct relationship here?
We see that often but this isn't always the case. For example, the Sony w850c doesn't accept 1080p @ 120Hz but is judder free in all 24p modes we tested. So no direct relationship.
They are not bad. zit 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.
Your site seems thorough and accurate overall. I get the impression that it under-weights the value of backlight strobing vs interpolation, especially for gaming (or 60 fps material).
In PC gaming circles it is quite popular and has special site dedicated to its use (along with other innovations like variable framerate sync (which is named otherwise). Of course for gaming, input-output time matters too, but not really for TV's. Anyway I thought it would be nice if your site went into strobing a bit more, as many of us feel it is the only way to go and interpolation is a no-go. Of course it reduces brightness but different backlights will be impacted more or less, hence a need to reveiw such things. I think perhaps if brighter LEDs were used so the strobing was an always on feature that would perhaps improve TVs in general. But that is a subject worthy of knowing more about.
Thanks for the feedback. Backlight strobing is indeed very effective, especially for gaming. We talk a little bit about it on this page. We even took pictures of it in action on the Sony and Vizio TVs. Samsung TVs also have that feature, but you can't use it under game mode, so it comes with very high input lag, unfortunately.
I am looking to buy a 65" Samsung TV. I am comparing the UN65HU7250, 8700, and 9000. Main difference is CMR, i.e. 960, 1320, and 1440. I am not into high-speed gaming or car racing. Just looking for something nice for a family room. Reading this forum makes it seem like CMR in that range should all be good. The prices are $7k/8k/9k. Price is not the main concern if there is value. Which TV would you suggest between these three?
Unfortunately, we did not review any of those TVs, so direct comparisons won't be possible. That said, we expect all of them to have similar picture quality to the HU8550. The differences are mostly aesthetic, and the CMR is meaningless. The HU9000 does come with the One Connect box, which accounts for a lot of the price difference, but that is available separately anyway.
Overall, you won't be getting much more value from the more expensive ones, so just go for the cheapest, or whichever you like the look of more.
I'm under the impression that Samsung CMR 2014 1080p models are normally cut in half. (240cmr=120hrz) etc. Is this the same for 2015's 1080p models? Also, if it is a 4k TV, is there a different hrz rate?
I have noticed many TVs are misleading. It seems Vizio is straightforward with the hrz on the box.
Thank you for all the knowledge and keep up the good work! One more thing: When do you think they will have dedicated 4k channels? I'm sure when they do it's going to be at least an extra $20 per month just to have it.
Samsung's numbers have become very confusing. Here's what they all work out to.
For Samsung's 1080p TVs in 2015, the motion rate number is equal to the refresh rate (MR 60 = 60 hz). For Samsung's 4k TVs in 2015, the motion rate number is double the refresh rate (MR 240 = 120 hz).
Samsung has also now switched its 2014 TVs to list a motion rate. For 1080p TVs, the motion rate is equal to half the refresh rate (MR 60 = 120 hz). For 4k TVs, the motion rate number is double the refresh rate (MR 240 = 120 hz).
Vizio also lists misleading information (typically an 'Effective Refresh Rate,' which is double the real refresh rate). As a rule of thumb, you're better off ignoring the listed refresh rate with any brand, as it is almost always misleading.
There will not be traditional dedicated 4k channels (with scripted or reality shows) for a while to come, and when there are, the videos likely won't be good quality.
Why would the Sony R510C have a better motion blur rating than the 120 hz Sony TVs if it is 60 gz?
The refresh rate is only one element involved in motion blur. Pixel response time (essentially, how quickly the pixels can switch color/brightness) is also very important. The R510C has lower response time than any other 2015 Sony TV we've tested, and so it has less blur.
I have a "first generation" 3D TV and I've noticed that the 3D effect disappears (or gets jumbled) during rapid motion on the screen. I'm wondering if a 120Hz 3D TV would have this same problem? I'm hoping that a 120Hz TV could give 60Hz to each eye vs the 30Hz I'm probably getting now.
Assuming it is an active 3D TV, yes it would help. However, the best 3D for motion is on passive 3D screens, but the option is more limited for passive TVs.
I just bought a Samsung UN50H6203 TV. I have it hooked up to a Yamaha RX-V377 receiver. I had a tech come out to hook everything up, including my Blu-ray player and my Panasonic PV-8451 VCR+. The VCR sound works, but I receive no picture. I have recorded quite a few TV specials, and shows over the years, and would like it to work. I know you can transfer from tape to DVD, but I feel it would be easier to fix the no picture issue. The tech was only there to set up my cable box. He plugged the composite cables (red, yellow, and white) from my VCR into the number four inputs in the back of the receiver. Do I need to hook up an HD converter box in order to get a picture?
You should be able to connect your receiver to your television without getting an HD converter box. You'll need another set of yellow/red/white cables. Plug one end of those into the "AV Out" outputs of the receiver, and then plug the other end into the "Component/AV-In" inputs on the back of your TV. You could also try just unplugging the cables from the receiver and plugging them from the VCR directly to the TV, just to make sure it works.
I currently have a Panasonic Plasma that looks great at 24p with blu-ray. But I no longer buy Blu-rays and play a lot of movies from Apple TV, which only outputs at 60p (no 24p). Can you explain how "Judder-free 24p via 60p" works, and is it possible to get a list of display recommendations that have this feature?
It's a reverse telecine feature, and means the TV can recognize the 24 fps video in the 60 hz signal and is able to adjust its refresh rate to display the video properly, judder-free. We don't have a full list, but all the Sony TVs we tested were able to do this consistently, as were our 120 hz Vizio M and P-series TVs (the 60 hz M-series TV may not be able to).
I am considering purchasing a new 50" TV in the next month or so. I am looking at the Vizio M50-C1 and the Samsung UN50JU7100.
I have a small apartment. The viewing angle is not important; I sit approximately 7-8 feet from the screen, directly in the middle/front. I enjoy movies, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. I do enjoy gaming on my Xbox One. I understand that 4K content is not in abundance currently, and that is not a big concern.
I was curious as to your opinion between the two models listed, or if you had a better recommendation. I understand you all are very busy. I thank you for taking the time to read my question.
For gaming, the JU7100 is definitely a better choice. It has much less blur on fast movement in video games, which is something you'll appreciate. Apart from that, both TVs are very good for overall picture quality.