On televisions and computer monitors, "hertz" refers to the times per second that the image on your screen updates. You'll commonly hear this called the refresh rate. A 60-hertz refresh rate means the screen updates 60 times per second. The human eye comfortably perceives 60-hertz video as smooth animation, but in some cases a different refresh rate, usually faster, works better.
A Flickering CRT Screen Is Bad
Refresh rates are crucial on cathode-ray tube monitors and televisions, where the pixels continually fade out as soon as they're lit. This process causes CRT screens to flicker when the rate is too low. A 60-hertz refresh rate is slow enough to distract some people and cause eye strain for many more. A rate of 75 hertz works fine for most people, but for some, an even higher rate such as 90 hertz offers the best experience.
60 Hertz Is Usually Fine for LCD Screens -- but Not Always
On LCD screens, pixels don't fade out between refresh cycles, and most LCD manufacturers set refresh rates at 60 hertz. For fast-paced video like sports and full-screen video games, 60 hertz can be slow enough to muddy the details and make the action choppy. To address this, the industry also makes LCD screens with higher refresh rates like 120 hertz or 144 hertz.
Faster LCD Refresh Rates Are Not Always Better
If you're surfing the Web, watching non-sports programs, typing documents or playing old-school games, you may prefer a 60-hertz refresh rate. That's because the higher rates can cause a surreal image quality. So, if you buy an LCD monitor with a high rate, consider one that lets you turn the motion enhancement off and watch video at a true 60 hertz.
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