More pixels mean better image quality.
4K resolution is slowly becoming the norm in televisions and monitors since the difference between 1080p and 4K is palpable. Moreover, with the screens becoming more prominent than ever before, 1080p no longer guarantees non-pixelated visuals like it used to back in the day.
As far as the refresh rate is concerned, 60Hz is considered the norm in the TV space. 60Hz was also a pretty standard spec on smartphones. But with phone users having tasted 120 Hz on their handhelds, there’s no looking back from here on.
With gaming monitors, 144Hz is pretty much standard. Flagship gaming phones also do 144Hz to woo gamers.
Both resolution and refresh rate matter to user experience. It’s often a delicate dance between the two—raising the question, what is the highest refresh rate a 4K panel can do? Is 4K at 240Hz a reality? Are there 4K monitors with 144Hz at least?
We’ve got the answers. Read on to learn more.
- Do 4K 240 Hz Monitors Exist?
- Display Quality Matters More; Peak Refresh Rates Can Wait
- Should You Pick Video Resolution Over Refresh Rate?
- Overclocking Monitor Refresh Rate
Do 4K 240 Hz Monitors Exist?
There is no 4K monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate. There aren’t videos or games produced in 4K at 240 fps.
The standard rate at which a 4K video refreshes is 60Hz. 4K at 144 framerate has barely been achieved.
Why does 4K, 240 Hz not exist? Monitor manufacturers may believe the market for 4K at 240 Hz displays isn’t ready yet, or the production costs could be too high for wide-scale adoption of compatible products.
Then, there also aren’t GPUs that can power those configurations. Even if there are, those are few and far between and on the pricey side. Even spending more than $1,000 will not guarantee you a video card that’ll support 4K at 240 Hz.
A plausible reason such powerful video cards aren’t available is DisplayPort 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 are not commonly used interfaces in these devices yet. Monitors, too, don’t come with the latest HDMI and DisplayPort standard ports.
GPUs will not have the bandwidth to transmit 4K content at 240 Hz to connected monitors without the two latest versions of the two standards.
Future GPUs Could Pave the Way, However
The top two video card manufacturers, Nvidia and AMD, would eventually come up with video cards that’ll be able to power such power-hungry monitors.
AMD, for instance, is expected to come out with an RDNA 3-propelled Navi 31 video card with more than 15,000 cores.
A core count of five figures would be difficult to get onto one chip and make it feasible long-term. Therefore, a chiplet design or MCM (multi-chip module) would likely be the physical structure.
On the other hand, Nvidia may develop a 5nm-based, five-digit core configuration GPU in the future.
Both GPUs mentioned above are not expected before the end of 2022.
Even HDMI 2.1 or DP 2.0 May Not Cut It
As mentioned earlier, when powerful enough GPUs become available, they would need audio-video port interface standards to transmit that kind of power to an external device.
The latest HDMI 2.1 doesn’t offer 4K at 240 Hz. The maximum refresh rate it does with 4K is 120 Hz. The version is also capable of 10K (yet to be standardized) at 120 Hz.
P.S. Because 4K at 240 Hz is not widely used, the HDMI Forum site may have chosen not to mention support for the configuration.
That means HDMI 2.1 and the equally capable DisplayPort 2.0 could support 4K at 240 Hz. At this point, it’s not precisely clear when the HDMI Forum would confirm the same.
Do 4K 144 Hz Monitors Exist?
4K monitors with 144 Hz do exist. They aren’t as widespread as 1080p or 2K monitors with 144 Hz or even 240Hz refresh rates, but they are available for purchase.
The following are a few monitors with the 4K at 144 Hz refresh arrangement:
- Asus ROG Strix 27'' 4K HDR 144Hz DSC Gaming Monitor
- LG 27GN950-B Ultragear 27'' UHD Gaming Monitor
- AORUS FV43U 43'' 144Hz UHD Gaming Monitor
If you insist on 240Hz, you may have to bring down the video resolution slightly. 2K monitors with 240Hz exist but are rare.
When you knock the video quality to 1080p, there are options galore:
- Alienware 24.5'' 240Hz Full HD Gaming Monitor
- AOC C27G2Z 27'' Curved Frameless Gaming Monitor
- BenQ Zowie XL2546K 24.5'' 240Hz Gaming Monitor
- Samsung 27'' CRG5 240Hz Curved Gaming Monitor
- Acer Nitro XZ270 27'' 1500R Curved Full HD Monitor
If you could bring down the refresh rate requirements to 144Hz instead, your 2K monitor options will widen quite a bit.
Display Quality Matters More; Peak Refresh Rates Can Wait
The jump from 1080p to 4K was discernible. The upgrade from 4K to 8K was not much since you’d need screens much bigger than the existing ones to truly appreciate 8K resolution content.
Similarly, 60 Hz visuals render noticeably smoother compared to 30 Hz. Most YouTube videos are recorded at 30 fps. But videos recorded at 60 fps are noticeably slicker.
As stated earlier, the switch from 60 Hz to 120 Hz made the smartphone screen perform a lot more smoothly. However, a 144 Hz refresh doesn’t look like a significant improvement if you’re coming from a 120 Hz screen.
A refresh rate beyond that—for instance, 240 Hz or 360 Hz—is a more significant jump that is yet to take place.
Refresh rates are, no doubt, great, but they also are a bit overrated.
Solid and accurate color reproduction, wide viewing angles, high contrast ratio, flicker-free backlight, etc., are things that make displays great or are the foundations of a high-quality screen.
Even a 75 Hz panel coupled with minimal response time will leave most users content, but a display that makes orange look red could cause people to fume.
But companies focus more on refresh rate and video resolution than color accuracy or good contrast ratios because “240 Hz” and “360 Hz” sounds a lot more marketing-friendly than “accurate color”.
Therefore, do not feel let down by the non-availability of 4K monitors that do 240 Hz refresh rates. Your 1080p monitor with native 120 Hz is more than serviceable—and shall be so for at least a few years.
What you need to focus more on is the quality of the panel. It’s safe to say 260 Hz or even 240 Hz is not necessary.
Should You Pick Video Resolution Over Refresh Rate?
As mentioned above, 240 Hz is possible if you drop the resolution to below 4K—for instance, 1080p at 240 Hz. If you fancy more than Full HD, you’ll have to cut down on the refresh, like 2K at 144 Hz.
So, how much should you let go of the respective parameters? Should you prefer one over the other?
Although GPUs and digital AV interfaces have made 240 Hz and even 360 Hz pretty much a reality, 60 Hz is still the standard. For gamers, 144 Hz is just right.
If you’re not a gamer, you don’t need 240 Hz or even 144 Hz. 4K at 60 Hz should be more than ideal for productivity or media consumption.
Since 4K monitors sit in the slightly upper echelons, they are bound to offer much better color and details, which you’ll appreciate more when doing photo or video editing or while watching movies.
Although 4K is a real leap from 1080p, 2K resolution fares pretty well too. In other words, 2K at 144 Hz provides the right balance for gamers.
With 2K, you’d lose a bit of graphics details—which isn’t that big a problem compared to the synchronization issues that crop up with reduced refresh rates.
Therefore, if you don’t have the budget for a 2K monitor, a 1080p panel with a 144Hz would still fare well compared to a 4K at 60 Hz display for gaming.
If you’d like to top out on the refresh rate front, even 360 Hz at 1080p is possible. The monitor options, however, aren’t abundant. The following are our recommendations in the space:
- ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN 24.5'' Full HD Gaming Monitor
- MSI Oculux NXG253R Full HD 360Hz Gaming Monitor
If you don’t mind a slight drop in refresh rate but still greater than 240 Hz, take a look at the Acer Predator XB253Q 24.5'' 280Hz Full HD Gaming Monitor .
Overclocking Monitor Refresh Rate
You can overclock your monitor’s refresh rate—for instance, you can push 60 Hz to run at 75 Hz.
While that jump might seem minimal on paper, it would translate to significantly more responsive and smoother gaming performance. The games that would benefit the most from the increased frames per second are competitive shooter titles.
Also, the display (IPS, TN, etc.) and the screen’s native resolution play a role in the refresh rate overclocking.
How to Overclock Refresh Rate?
You can modify a monitor’s refresh through the CRU (custom resolution utility) or the GPU’s control panel. The CRU is a web-based program or suite of tools designed specifically for the task.
To alter the refresh rate in the GPU’s control panel, follow these steps:
- Right-click on your desktop and choose the video card’s control panel option from the drop-down menu. A window shall open with a host of options to play with the screen’s various settings.
- Look for the “refresh rate” option, which you should set to 60 Hz if it’s your monitor’s default setting.
- Change it to 75 Hz and click on the “test” button at the screen or window’s bottom. The screen may turn black for a few seconds, and the picture shall resume after that.
- Once the visuals resurface and things look fine, click on “OK” to confirm the changes.
If it doesn’t work, try dropping the resolution a bit, and test again. You may be able to push the refresh rate even higher if you bring down the video resolution a notch.
To overclock refresh rate using the CRU, here are the steps:
- Download the zipped application, and extract it.
- Open the downloaded folder and run the CRU application to learn about the officially supported refresh rates.
- Click on “Add” in the “Detailed resolutions” box to add your preferred video resolution and refresh rate combo. Once done, click on “OK” to activate the changes and restart your device.
- The screen could go black for a few seconds and re-emerge in the chosen resolution and refresh rate. If it doesn’t and resumes like before, maybe you pushed it too hard. Instead of 75 Hz, try 70 or even 65 Hz.
The following is the second phase of the process:
- Once the chosen refresh rate works and you’ve restarted the device, head to “Display Settings” and select “Advanced Display Settings”.
- Under the “Monitor” tab, your custom-set refresh rate shall be listed in the drop-down menu.
- Select your custom refresh rate and hit “OK”.
Words of Caution
There’s a ceiling to how much you can overclock your monitor’s refresh rate. You can push a native 144 Hz display up to 165 Hz or somewhere around that number. You, however, cannot overclock a 144 Hz panel to 240 Hz.
Then, there’s this floating or unfound theory that overclocking refresh rate could hamper the monitor in the long run. If this is so, it’s recommended you don’t overclock your monitor’s refresh rate or do it under the supervision of an expert.
Can I run 4K at 240 Hz?
At the moment (as of January 2022), you cannot do 4K at 240 Hz—at least, not natively. There aren’t even many 2K monitors that do 240 Hz at the panel level. And pushing those displays to do 240 Hz through overclocking (if you can) would not just be overdoing it, but it could also harm the monitor or put it under excessive strain.
4K monitors with a 240Hz refresh rate do not exist yet. While they could become a reality in the future, that isn’t happening anytime soon—at least, not in the next year or two.
If that sounds like bad news, trust us, the situation isn’t that grim. If you’ve heard about diminishing returns, that’s precisely the scenario with monitors and increasing refresh rates.
But if you’re a stickler for refresh rate and have a 4K at 60 Hz monitor, overclock the vertical scan rate and perhaps knock down the video resolution to 2K.
Dropping the video quality from native 4K to 1080ps is not recommended for work or gaming.
But because “refresh rate” is paramount for first-person shooter titles such as Apex Legends, Valorant, and CS: GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive); the stretch could be worth it.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.