Several TV manufacturers announced televisions that support 144 Hz at CES 2022. Samsung even equips its Neo QLED televisions with this feature, while TCL will launch its first 144Hz televisions later in 2022. 144 Hz monitors have long ceased to be a novelty for PC gamers, but what good is a 144 Hz TV?
144Hz – What is that?
First of all, a brief explanation of what 144 Hz exactly means. This term refers to the refresh rate of the screen, and means that the screen can refresh the image 144 times per second. It doesn’t always have to do that, these TVs can almost certainly work at 50, 60, 100 and 120 Hz refresh rates as well. Otherwise all existing content would have to be converted, and that is not desirable. For content, we prefer to talk about the frame rate, the number of images per second, almost always referred to as FPS (frames per second). Normal TV broadcasts use 50 FPS, movies 24 FPS and with the latest generation of games/consoles this can go up to 120 FPS.
Who is it useful for?
As mentioned above, film and TV use 24, 50 and 60 FPS. But even the most recent game consoles only go up to 120 FPS, and then not in all games. Only PC gamers can achieve frame rates of 144 FPS, of course only with a powerful graphics card. So they actually benefit from it. A higher frame rate is important, especially during competitive multiplayer games where split-second reactions are crucial to victory. Games with a focus on speed will also look smoother, smoother and sharper – and therefore more realistic.
And for console gamers and regular TV viewers?
The latest game consoles offer a growing number of video games that play at 120 FPS and many popular older games are optimized to play at 120 FPS as well. But the PS5 and Xbox Series X support a maximum of 120 FPS. The 144 Hz refresh rate of the new TVs is therefore of no use. Current televisions with 120 Hz refresh rate and the necessary HDMI 2.1 connection are sufficient for this. Of course, it cannot be ruled out that consoles will receive an upgrade that enables 144 FPS output. Possibly with DSC (Display Stream Compression), or 4:2:0 chroma subsampling (especially for the PS5 that doesn’t support DSC).
As a simple TV viewer who doesn’t play games, you don’t have the 144Hz function of the latest televisions. Or anyway…
A possible small advantage is that these new panels may have a faster pixel response time. That is the time it takes for a pixel to change value. With monitors you will often find this in the specifications (GtG – Gray To Gray and MPRT – Moving Picture Repsonse Time). Because the panel must be able to refresh faster, there is a chance that the pixel response is also faster. That would mean they show slightly less faded edges on fast-moving objects. Whether that difference, if any, is visible, we cannot say.
Considerations and Limitations of 144Hz
The usefulness of those 144 Hz refresh rates therefore seems relatively limited. In addition, PC gamers who want to use this should also check whether their graphics card supports it. TVs do not have a DisplayPort connection, so check explicitly what is possible via HDMI. Your card must have at least an HDMI 2.1 output and preferably also offer DSC (Display Stream Compression).