60Hz vs 120Hz For TVs – Is It Worth The Upgrade

by Lisa Hayden
60Hz vs 120Hz For TVs – Is It Worth The Upgrade

60Hz vs 120Hz For TVs – Is It Worth The Upgrade?.....

When it comes to buying tech, higher numbers mean always better, right? Thus, should you update your TV with 60Hz to one with 120Hz? The answer is no, don’t be fooled by marketing so easily. While it is true in theory, it might not be so in practice.

In many products, speed is an important factor to look at. This is another way TV manufacturers try to get customers to spend money on newer, “better” but also more expensive TVs. Interestingly, while most people will buy into the marketing, they do not really understand what these numbers mean and how it really affects the viewing experience.

Understanding The Refresh Rate

understanding the refersh rate

These numbers (60Hz and 120Hz) refer to the display’s refresh rate, or how many times the pictures change. The higher the number, the faster the HDTV, and the more frames get displayed every second. Again, it sounds good to have a higher number, but it does not automatically mean better.

While your TV can display so many frames per second, the TV show and movie you are watching might not actually have as many frames per second. Most source footage is not more than 60Hz, even Blu-ray (which is 1080p picture at 60Hz). This translates to 60 interlaced, as well as 30 progressive frames with a 1920-by-1080 resolution for every second of video.

On the other hand, movies that were recorded in film have actually only 24 frames per second. Through a process of 2:3 pulldown, it is converted to 30 frames by spreading the source frames. To match the 60Hz refresh rate of TVs, the 30 frames go through a process of interlacing (wherein they are combined and shuffled) to increase to 60 “frames” per second. When you have a 1080p60 TV set, the frames are reduced to 60 full frames, wherein any interlacing step is skipped.

what happens with higher refresh rate

The process of pulling down frames and interlacing has been used for a very long time because TVs have always been displaying 29.97 frames per second while functioning at 60Hz. It was also not a big deal because it does not really add anything to the picture.

The high-end standard right now is 1080p60, with most movies and shows keeping this frame rate and resolution. Interestingly, even Blu-ray movies have turned the frame rate down to 24 frames per second as it makes the footage closer to film.

What Happens When You Get A Higher Refresh Rate?

Now that you understand what the refresh rate stands for and what the film and TV industry standards are like, you know that most content has been designed for 60Hz TVs. What happens, then, if you opt for a TV with a higher refresh rate?

Simply put, the TV has to use “tricks” to produce this higher frame rate. It does so by interpolating new frames, generated from the best “middle” frames to fill in the gaps. Specifically, the existing frames are combined and processed to generate images that can be added to the original 60 (or 24 frames from the film). These frames are not real in the sense that they were actually filmed and instead, are simply generated by your HDTV set.

Is Worth It To Get A TV With a 120 Hz Refresh Rate?

worth getting a 120Hz tv?

Some TV models now boast a 120Hz refresh rate while some high-end ones have even higher (240Hz or 600Hz for plasma TVs). They all, however, add frames to supplement the original 60Hz or 24Hz. For the viewer, this can lead to a surreal effect and the so-called “soap opera effect.”

The additional frames and the unnaturally smoother animation are simply different from what you may be used to. The footage looks much faster, and in certain scenes, it can be confusing and unsettling. If you are watching films where there is a lot of dialogue and interaction, it can lead to an unpleasant viewing experience. However, if you are watching sports or playing video games, additional frames actually reduce blur and stuttering, and you can view the action more clearly.

Thus, there is some benefit to investing in a TV with a higher refresh rate. If you are a sports fan or love those fast-paced action movies, you will find the enhanced detail better.

Another benefit is the fact that these high-end TV models allow you to switch off the higher refresh rate and view at the default 60Hz or 24Hz. All you need to know is when to do it. Generally, if you are watching shows or films where the actors’ faces are shown while they are talking, then you should definitely disable this feature. Otherwise, they may appear creepy due to the soap opera effect. Comedies and dramas do not benefit from the refresh rate, so switch them when watching these kinds of films and shows.

The same should be done when watching ordinary everyday content without any action. You really tend to benefit from the feature when you are watching sports (you see more detail) or if you love to play games.

Gamers Will Love 120Hz

gamers will love 120Hz

In the past, HDTVs fell victim to motion blur, specifically when there are very fast movements. This is because of ghosting, which refers to an afterimage left after the image changes. The newest LCD TV models have successfully eliminated this.

Still, at times, tearing (an effect of some of the image hanging behind the others) or choppiness can be experienced. It becomes more obvious when playing video games or watching fast-paced sports games, including any kind of content where the camera has to quickly pan horizontally. If you have a TV with a 120Hz refresh rate or higher, then you will see a significant reduction of these effects.


Are you thinking of upgrading your existing TV and splurging on one with a higher refresh rate? If you are a sports or action fan, plus you love playing games on your HDTV, then every dollar you spend on it is worthwhile. Bear in mind, if you watching it through traditional terrestrial network you might need an outfoor HDTV antenna too. But even if you only occasionally watch fast-paced movies or shows, the investment might still make sense, so long as you master setting the appropriate refresh rate based on what you are watching. You will end up with having the best of both worlds and enjoying the best viewing experience at all times.

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