Is high refresh rate better than low latency?

Have you ever wondered if having a high refresh rate monitor or a low latency PC system could give you an edge over your opponents?

Well, a study from 2019 was made by gaming experts at NVIDIA to explore the impact of latency and refresh rate on gaming performance, specifically in first-person shooter games like Counter-Strike. They tested the time it took for skilled esports athletes to complete specific tasks under varying conditions of latency and refresh rate. This allowed them to analyse and draw conclusions about how these factors influenced their speed and efficiency performance.

Let’s dive into what the study found.

What is Latency and Refresh Rate?

First off, let’s clarify what latency and refresh rate are. Latency is the delay between your action (like clicking the mouse or keyboard) and the response on your screen, also known as click-to-display latency. A lower latency means faster response times. Refresh rate, on the other hand, is the number of times your screen updates with new images each second. A higher refresh rate means you get a smoother and more fluid visual gameplay.

NVIDIA Study- high refresh rate vs low latency

The Impact of Latency

The study found that latency significantly improved the time it took for the athletes to complete the tasks they were given. In other words, the lower the latency got, the quicker the athletes were able to complete the tasks. This makes sense because if your PC responds faster to your actions, your ability to react within the game will also improve.

The Role of Refresh Rate

When it comes to refresh rate, the results from the study were a bit different. They found that the impact of refresh rate on gaming performance was not as significant as latency. While higher refresh rates did contribute to a smoother visual experience, the performance benefits were relatively small. However, for certain tracking tasks, there was a small but marginally significant effect from higher refresh rates.

The Winning Combination

While a high refresh rate monitor can offer some benefits, particularly for tracking tasks, it’s the low latency that really gives you the competitive edge. Remember, though, that this doesn’t mean high refresh rate monitors are unimportant. If your budget allows for it, you should aim for a gaming monitor with high refresh rate and a PC system with low latency. This gives you the best of both worlds – lightning-fast system response time and smooth visual gameplay experience.

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