PC DISCUSS IS SOOOO DEAD THIS MORNING!!!
Here's a small preview of the PC Guide I'm working on. Discuss.
...This section is not about actually selecting a monitor, however. Here, we will focus on only two factors that will significantly influence your overall gaming experience: Resolution and Refresh Rate. You probably already know what resolution is, so let’s save resolution options for later and take a moment to discuss refresh rate. In that respect, monitors generally come in two flavors: 60hz and 120hz. Some people mistakenly view this as a direct indication of frames per second (FPS). While this does have a significant and somewhat absolute correlation with frame rate, it’s important to understand that FPS (number of frames per second being processed) is independent of the monitor refresh rate, which is, you guessed it, the rate at which the monitor’s hardware is refreshing the display. Why does that matter? Answer: Just because you have a 60 Hz monitor doesn’t mean that anything beyond 60fps is useless and unnoticeable. You can notice a benefit with a frame rate higher than 60fps, even on a 60hz monitor.
“WHAT?! But the human eye can only perceive [24/30/60/XX] frames per second!”
Forget that bull shite. We aren’t watching a movie. We’re playing a game that requires your physical interaction as well as dynamic input from other hardware (i.e., mouse and keyboard). It’s a different experience, and here’s why.
When you play a game, you have the option to enable or disable vertical sync (VSync). When you enable it, your video card’s goal will be to keep the frame rate of the rendering engine (the game) equal to your monitor’s refresh rate. In this case, 60. Assuming you have a video card powerful enough to achieve this, VSync turns your monitor into the frame rate bottleneck. This isn’t a bad thing, visually. 60 full frames per second is the maximum your 60hz monitor is capable of allowing your eyes to see. It’s the frame rate you want to achieve, minimum, in most cases.
When you disable VSync, your video card will work independently to output the highest frame rate it’s capable of producing under that game engine at the graphics settings you’ve chosen. So, without VSync, you might run a FPS monitoring program and see that you’re getting 90fps on your 60 Hz monitor. What you’re actually seeing is the FPS that the GPU can produce before it reaches your monitor. The monitor is processing all of those frames, but it is not displaying every whole frame. But this surplus of frames, so to speak, lends itself to another absolute necessity in fast-reflex games such as First-Person Shooters, especially online: low-latency mouse response. Mouse lag. That’s why 30 fps and 60 fps and 90 fps are three different levels of performance.
In the simplest of terms, when in VSync mode, your graphics card waits for the monitor's next refresh operation before rendering the next frame. In such a case, when you move your mouse, it must wait for the game engine to respond, which is waiting for the graphics card, which is waiting for the monitor to refresh, and then you see your cursor/crosshairs move. If the frame rate is even lower than the refresh rate, the monitor is now performing more refresh cycles before the next frame is rendered, causing an even longer waiting time for the mouse to respond. The latency between the graphics card and the monitor is the largest, which is why watching a cut-scene at 24-30fps doesn't look bad to your eyes, but trying to manipulate your character in real-time at that frame rate can feel loose, slow, and unresponsive. This is an oversimplification of the process, but hopefully you understand the point...