Fake 120Hz refresh rates: What you need to know (2023)

Think you're getting a 120Hz TV? Hold up just a second. You might not be.

Many TVstoday are 60Hz, despite having "motion rates" and "effective refresh rates" claiming much higher numbers, including 120, 240 and more. TV companies are deliberately hiding the actual refresh rate from you, and it's been going on for years.

In some cases some 60Hz TVs have performance thatmight be slightly better than a basic 60Hz TV, but lacking the hardware of a true 120Hz TV, they can't offer nearly the same motion performance.

A true 120Hz refresh rate can improve the picture quality a bit by reducing motion blur. It's not a massive factor for most viewers, however, which is why 60Hz TVs like the TCL 6 series and Vizio M seriescan still rate excellent image quality in CNET reviews.

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On the other hand, true 120Hz makes a TV more expensive to manufacture, so it's rarely found in budget or even midrange TVs. And even higher-end TVs, likeSamsung's QLEDs andVizio's P series, use numbers higher than 120Hz to seem even better with motion.

The weird part is, the way manufacturers are coming up with these fake numbers isn't always total bantha guano. Allow me to explain.

In the US, our electricity is 60Hz, and our TV system is based around that rate. In other areas, it's 50Hz. If you live in Australia or the UK, just read "100Hz" and "50Hz" when you read 120 or 60.

(Video) iPhone 13 Pro Motion fake 120Hz ? Is Apple lying to us about high refresh rate?

What the hzeck is a Hz?

TV is a series of still images shown fast enough that your brain thinks there's motion. How fast those image are shown -- their frequency -- is measured in hertz (Hz). Matching the 60Hz of our electricity, TVs historically had a 60Hz refresh rate. For this discussion, you can think of 60Hz as 60 frames of video per second.

Nearly all current TV content is 60 frames per second, or far less. Some TV shows are 60 half-frames per second, or essentially 30 frames per second, while nearly all movies are 24 frames per second. Getting different framerates to fit into 60 is a whole other topic, which you can conveniently read about here: 1080i and 1080p are the same resolution.

For now the important part to take away is that the stuff you watch matches, or is less than, the 60Hz of a normal TV. Unless you have a computer or anXbox One, nothing you have will put out more than 60Hz. There are no 120fps movies or TV shows available.Yet.

So if 60 is enough for nearly all modern content, where does 120Hz come from? A 120Hz model creates it, converting the incoming signal to that 120Hz. The main reason is to reduce motion blur. You can read more about the what and why in What is refresh rate?. The short version is that by increasing the number of frames (or another method we'll talk about below), there's a reduction in the apparent blurring of moving objects. You might not have noticed this issue, but many do. It's inherent in all LCD TVs, and LG's version of OLED TVs.

Fake 120Hz refresh rates: What you need to know (4)

Companies use terms like TruMotion (LG), MotionFlow (Sony), Motion Rate (Samsung), Clear Action (Vizio) and Clear Motion Index (TCL) to hint at this aspect of the TVs' performance, but they don't always tell you the actual refresh rate. And that's the problem.

Black frame insertion

One of the most common ways for a manufacturer to bump the refresh rate is using a feature called black frame insertion (BFI). This rapidly turns off an LCD TV's backlight. Or in the case of OLED, turns off the pixels. This means your eye/brain sees an image, then nothing, then an image, then nothing, and so on.

(Video) 120hz Refresh Rate is fake ? | 60hz vs 120hz

In theory, this is done fast enough that you can't see it. More advanced versions might "scan" the backlight so only a portion of the screen is dark at a time, though functionally this is the same.

BFI can be quite useful. It's a way to decrease motion blur without resorting to processing tricks like the despised/beloved Soap Opera Effect. If you've ever been to a movie theater that projects film (a rare breed these days), they used this exact technique. A shutter placed between the film and the projection lens, synced to the 24 frames per second of the film, would blank the image on screen while the next film frame slid into position.

Fake 120Hz refresh rates: What you need to know (5)

However, BFI is not without its negatives. As you can imagine, "adding" black means the whole image is darker. That in itself isn't a huge deal in today's age of super-bright TVs. Of more concern is the potential for flicker. The TV is now flashing on and off very rapidly, and even if that kind of thing doesn't literally give you seizures, it can be noticeable at best and annoying or fatiguing at worst. It largely depends how a TV implements the BFI, and the TV technology itself. You'll probably be more likely to notice it on a 60Hz TV than on a true 120. That said, at what rate someone sees flicker depends hugely on their brain and the overall light of the room and TV.

In CNET's TV reviews, for example, reviewer David Katzmaier notices flicker when engaging the BFI modes on many TVs, and he often turns it off -- in effect sacrificing motion resolution to get less flicker and a brighter image.

And while true 120Hz TV using BFI would perhaps have less flicker, but would probably be called "240Hz" by the company. It isn't, anymore than a 60Hz with BFI is 120. It could be less fatiguing to watch since its flashing would be far beyond most people's flicker fusion threshold.

You can read more about BFI in Black frame insertion: Busting blur from Oculus to LCD TVs.

(Video) Acivate 120Hz screen refresh rate on Galaxy Note 10 plus Real or Fake

Processing tricks

Another way to bump up the "motion rate," or whatever a manufacturer is calling their inflated refresh rate number, is by including whatever processing is also going on at the same time. Instead of BFI, a TV can look at two video frames and create an entirely new frame to go in between. This artificial frame has the effect of smoothing out the motion, causing the aforementioned Soap Opera Effect.

So a company with a 120Hz TV might use BFI and claim the TV has a 240Hz "motion rate." On another TV of theirs that is also 120Hz and uses BFI, and also has the fancy Soap Opera Effect motion smoothing, they might claim the TV has a motion rate of 480 or 960? Sound ridiculous? It is. These numbers are largely meaningless.

Sony's MotionFlow XR 1440, for example, has a 120Hz refresh rate. I call them out because the number is huge, but it's worth noting that on their TV's tech spec page, they do list the actual refresh rate. So does LG on its Super UHD TVs. Not all manufactures do.

Since this processing requires a 120Hz TV to begin with (to insert the new frames between the real ones), this is really just an issue about the marketing, not the TV itself. You can nearly always turn off the Soap Opera Effect, if you hate it, or at least dial it down to something you don't mind as much.

Careful shopping

As with any TV spec, it's buyer beware. When a high-end TV has a popular feature, every company would like their budget TVs to seem like they have the same feature, by any means necessary. If refresh rate is something important to you, and if you hate motion blur, don't take a company's numbers at face value.

Annoyingly, one company's "240" could be a 120Hz TV, while another company's "240" could be a 60Hz TV. Some companies will loudly promote their artificial TruMotion/MotionFlow/MotionBlahBlah number, but in the spec chart will list the actual refresh rate. Others will only list their "fake" number, requiring you to read TV reviews to determine what's going on.

(Video) Fake Refresh Rate Explained, Simulated, TruMotion, Motion Rate, MotionFlow, Clear Action, AquoMotion

CNET's TV reviews always list the actual refresh rate, and call out the manufacturer's inflated number as well.

In sum:

  • There are only 60Hz and 120Hz TVs.
  • There are no 240Hz TVs anymore.
  • Anything higher than 120 is a fake number.
  • Since it takes more expensive hardware to increase a TV's true refresh rate, it's rare a budget TV will actually be 120Hz.

Got a question for Geoff? First, check outall the other articles he's writtenon topics likewhy all HDMI cables are the same,TV resolutions explained,LED LCD vs. OLEDand more. Still have a question? Tweet at him@TechWriterGeoff, then check out histravel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should check out his best-sellingsci-fi noveland itssequel.


Is 120Hz refresh noticeable? ›

120Hz displays look silky smooth and feel more responsive at the cost of some battery life. Unfortunately, high refresh rates reduce battery life.

Is 120Hz noticeable over 60Hz? ›

In theory, a higher refresh rate should equal a better quality picture because it cuts down on blurriness. A 120Hz display decreases the appearance of "film judder" or blurring that might be noticeable to some on a 60Hz screen. Improvements beyond a 120Hz refresh rate are unnoticeable.

Is 120 motion rate the same as 120Hz? ›

So Motion Rate 240 indicates a native refresh of 120Hz while Motion Rate 120 means a 60Hz refresh.

What is true 120Hz? ›

A true 120Hz refresh rate can improve the picture quality a bit by reducing motion blur. It's not a massive factor for most viewers, however, which is why 60Hz TVs like the TCL 6 series and Vizio M series can still rate excellent image quality in CNET reviews.

Is 60Hz or 120Hz better? ›

Most TVs have this feature; a 60Hz TV can interpolate 30 fps content, while a 120Hz TV can interpolate 30 and 60 fps content. This is why a 120Hz TV is an advantage over 60Hz since it can interpolate more types of content.

Does 120Hz display drain battery? ›

Shifting from 60Hz to 120Hz or from 90Hz to 120Hz will significantly increase battery drain, but shifting from full HD@120Hz to QHD@120Hz or from full HD@90Hz to QHD@90Hz will not have much impact on battery mileage.

Is 120Hz or 240Hz better? ›

A 120Hz TV would need to create three frames between each pair of frames from the 30 fps video, and a 240Hz refresh rate would need to create seven frames between each pair of frames in 30 fps video. This technique works very well for fast moving subjects, allowing the LCD to perform better.

Do all 4K TVs have 120Hz? ›

Not all 4K TVs have a refresh rate of 120Hz. Most of the older models 4K TV have a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Is 60Hz or 120Hz better for gaming? ›

120Hz TVs are better for playing video games and watching native 24FPS content. Most new TVs support 120Hz though, so you should focus on other important TV specifications as well, such as the panel type, response time speed, input lag, etc.

What is 4K 120Hz? ›

4K@120Hz enables ultra-fast motion UHD images to be crisp and razor sharp; and sports, action movies, high-performance gaming and VR benefit significantly. In addition to 4K and 8K, a range of other resolutions are supported including 5K and 10K for commercial AV, industrial and specialty usages.

What is a 480 motion rate? ›

When combined with the company's 240 Hz technology, the display can refresh 480 images per second. In addition, LG Display's “Trumotion 480Hz” display boasts an lower motion picture response time (MPRT)of 4ms, eliminating motion blurring for fast moving images and enabling a realistic, crystal clear picture.

What is 240 motion rate? ›

Samsung: Clear Motion Rate

Therefore, a motion rate of 120Hz means the TV has a native refresh rate of 60Hz, while a motion rate of 240 means the native refresh rate is 120Hz. The cheapest TVs have a Motion Rate of 60 and indicate that the native refresh rate is 60Hz.

Is 4K 120Hz good for gaming? ›

Both offer different gaming enhancements, with a 4K display giving players a higher quality display, while 120Hz gives smoother visuals. However, if you're stuck between picking up a 4K TV for your PS5 and a 1440p gaming monitor with 120Hz, for example, you may need to decide which to prioritise.

Does Netflix have 120Hz? ›

Netflix plays videos at FPS of up to 120fps.

Is 120Hz worth it on a phone? ›

Do you need a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate? Absolutely not — much in the same way you don't “need” a camera, flashlight, or pinball game on your smartphone. But anyone who has used a device with a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate will tell you the massive difference it makes to the way your device feels.

How many FPS can our eyes see? ›

Some experts will tell you that the human eye can see between 30 and 60 frames per second. Some maintain that it's not really possible for the human eye to perceive more than 60 frames per second.

Can HDMI do 4K 120hz? ›

An HDMI 2.1 connection essentially allows for 120fps at 4K, or 8K at 60fps, while an HDMI 2.0 connection can allow for 120fps, but at either 1080p or 1440p. HDMI 2.0 connections also allow for 4K at 60hz, which has been enjoyed for some time thanks to consoles like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

How many Hz do I need for 120 FPS? ›

A refresh rate of 120 Hz allows a new frame to be displayed up to 120 times every second. A 60-Hz display can only refresh the screen 60 times per second. And you can guess how many times a 90-Hz screen can refresh.

Does dark mode save battery? ›

Surprisingly enough, findings from the study reveal that dark mode is unlikely to impact the battery life of a smartphone significantly. Though it does use less battery than a regular light-coloured theme, the difference is unlikely to be noticeable “with the way that most people use their phones on a daily basis.

Does higher refresh rate use more GPU? ›

no it wont effect performance, it just lets you see a difference between 60 fps and anything higher. basically 60hz monitors can only show 60fps, even if you are getting, say 200fps.

How do you measure 120Hz? ›

5 Best Sites to Test Your Monitor Refresh Rate
  1. TestUFO. This is one of the easiest tests to run, and also one of the most accurate. ...
  2. DisplayHZ. Simple and minimalistic, this test does what it says: display the refresh rate of your monitor in Hertz (Hz). ...
  3. Display Test. ...
  4. Eizo Monitor Test. ...
  5. Frames-Per-Second.
30 Sept 2021

Can the human eye see 144Hz? ›

The human eye can not see beyond 60Hz.

After this information, you may be wondering why there are 120/140 Hz monitors and why these monitors are considered the best.

Does Hz affect FPS? ›

Hz does not directly affect FPS. FPS depends entirely on components like your GPU, CPU, PC temperature, and game optimization. On the other hand, the refresh rate (Hz) depends on your monitor. There's a common misconception that your monitor refresh rate (measured in Hz) affects the FPS of your GPU.

What is the best Hz for gaming? ›

Refresh rate is especially important for gamers, so you'll want to shoot for a monitor with at least 75 Hz (most gaming monitors offer at least 144 Hz), combined with the lowest response time you can find.

What is the highest refresh rate on a TV? ›

Refresh Rates for Modern Flat Screen TVs

You can see quoted refresh rates of 120 Hz, 240 Hz, 480 Hz and more. To begin with, you should understand that the maximum native refresh rate of a modern flat-screen TV today is 120 Hz.

Do you need HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz? ›

Read on for details, but short answer is HDMI 2.1 is becoming increasingly relevant if you're pushing 4K @120Hz or 2K faster than 165Hz. For lower refresh rates at lower resolutions, you can still get by just fine with HDMI 2.0 connections.

What TV refresh rate is best? ›

TVs with a 120Hz refresh rate can help deliver a great gaming experience, and most of them are ideal for console gaming because they have HDMI 2.1 bandwidth for high-frame-rate games.

Is 360Hz good for gaming? ›

Answer: If your PC system can sustain over 240 frames per second, then a 360Hz gaming monitor is worth considering. Keep in mind that the difference between 240Hz and 360Hz is subtle, but if you're a professional or aspiring competitive gamer, it's worth the investment as every millisecond counts.

Does 144Hz mean 144fps? ›

A 144Hz monitor can display up to 144 FPS, more than double that of a standard 60Hz panel, which is capped at displaying 60 FPS. To put it another way, a low refresh rate monitor bottlenecks the frame rate you see, but monitors with higher refresh rates enhance your gaming experience.

Is 144 to 240 worth it? ›

Answer: The higher the refresh rate, the better. However, if you cannot get past 144 FPS (Frames Per Second) in games, there's no need for a 240Hz monitor unless you want to future-proof your system.

Is there a 8K 120Hz? ›

Thankfully, most 8K TVs support refresh rates of up to 120Hz for 4K graphics. 8K is only supported at 60Hz even with the highest tier video connections (i.e. DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1).

Can PS5 run 8K? ›

whereas the PS5 is compatible with the best 8K TVs and best 8K HDMI 2.1 monitors, the answer to can PS5 run 8K is a little complicated. Does PS5 run 8k? Actually, the simplest answer to this question is yes, the PS5 does support 8K resolution.

Are there 16K TVs? ›

As for actual 16K screens, though, prototypes have been shown off. For example, Innolux showed a 100-inch 16K display at Touch Taiwan Display 2018, while Sony showed off a humongous 783-inch unit at NAB 2019. There's nothing commercial yet, though.

Is TCL really 120Hz? ›

TCL Roku TV's use a combination of advanced signal processing and back light scanning to enhance the native refresh rate of the LCD panel (60Hz or 60 frames per second) and present an effective refresh rate (what your eye sees) of 120Hz, or 120 frames per second.

What is perfect motion rate? ›

Perfect Motion Rate – this total figure, which takes into account our unique video processing, the number of frames per second refresh rate of each frame, dimming backlight technology and quality.

What does 120Hz CMI mean? ›

Re: Clear Motion Index 120Hz CMI

It's simply some marketing term for an enhanced refresh rate for the display, likely done in software and not the native screen refresh rate. Soap Opera Effect generally comes from frame smoothing and judder controls. Each TV brand likely labels it differently.

Is 50Hz good for 4K? ›

The ideal resolution to watch movies and series with 100Hz, is 4K. It allows you to fully enjoy the best image quality and gives you the smoothest viewing experience. A 100Hz refresh rate isn't supported with an8K resolution yet. If you want to watch 8K content, you have to watch it with a 50Hz refresh rate.

What is true motion? ›

TrueMotion software creates a “synthetic shutter” that gives filmmakers creative control of the look and feel of motion at any frame rate. TrueMotion adjusts sharpness, judder and motion blur allowing the ability to manipulate motion with unprecedented depth and detail.

Is 60Hz good for 4K gaming? ›

They argue that a higher refresh rate results in a smoother and more realistic gaming experience. However, most experts believe that 60Hz is sufficient for 4K gaming, and that a higher refresh rate is not necessary.

Is 120Hz noticeable on iPhone? ›

Only The iPhone 13 Pro Models Have 120Hz

Whenever someone's scrolling or interacting with an iPhone 13 Pro, the display ramps up to 120Hz to make it feel noticeably faster. The processor in the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro is exactly the same, but having a display that's twice as responsive is a big deal.

Can you tell the difference between 120Hz and 144Hz? ›

The only real difference between 120 and 144 Hz is quantitative, and you'll only notice the difference for yourself if you are actively looking for any. Frametime, frame rate and refresh rate all contribute to the experience you get on 120 Hz or 144 Hz, so it also depends on your computer's other hardware.

Can you tell difference between 60Hz and 120Hz gaming? ›

A lot of console games are limited to 30FPS or 60FPS, so the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz won't be noticeable when it comes to motion clarity. However, you do get a lower input lag at high refresh rates, which is great for competitive gaming.

Does 120Hz make a difference phone? ›

For most people, smartphones with higher refresh rate displays will feel smoother and faster to use, and the difference is most obvious if you compare a 60Hz smartphone to a 120Hz device. The latter will feel slicker, especially when scrolling through websites and social media feeds.

How do I force my iPhone to 120Hz? ›


Does higher refresh rate drain battery? ›

It doesn't matter which way you look, it's a clear fact that high refresh rate consumers a lot of battery juice. 10 hours of endurance rating difference is not a small amount, it can easily equate to an extra 1.5 to 2 hours of SOT.

Does 60Hz and 120Hz make a difference in iPhone? ›

A 60Hz TV can refresh the screen 60 times per second, while a 120Hz on the iPhone 13 Pro can refresh the screen 120 times per second. The higher the refresh rate, the more times per second the screen is refreshing its pixels.

Can the human eye see 240Hz? ›

Whether 144Hz or 240Hz, the average human eye will hardly notice the difference. But in rare cases, some human eyes see the difference. If a 240Hz monitor looks better to you, you should get it.

Is 240Hz better than 120Hz? ›

120Hz monitors have a higher resolution, though the difference becomes negligible at this point. 240Hz monitors give better response times on fast-paced games. 240Hz has a reduced input lag, making it perfect for gamers and fast-paced activities.

Is 120Hz enough for gaming? ›

120Hz or 144Hz displays deliver smoother, tear-free gaming with less input lag. This improved performance is especially beneficial in games where fast inputs are vital to winning and in games with competitive fighters or shooters, including Fortnite, Overwatch, Mortal Kombat, and others in these genres.

How many FPS can our eyes see? ›

Some experts will tell you that the human eye can see between 30 and 60 frames per second. Some maintain that it's not really possible for the human eye to perceive more than 60 frames per second.

Do all 4K TVs have 120Hz? ›

Not all 4K TVs have a refresh rate of 120Hz. Most of the older models 4K TV have a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Does Hz affect FPS? ›

Hz does not directly affect FPS. FPS depends entirely on components like your GPU, CPU, PC temperature, and game optimization. On the other hand, the refresh rate (Hz) depends on your monitor. There's a common misconception that your monitor refresh rate (measured in Hz) affects the FPS of your GPU.

Is high refresh rate better for eyes? ›

A higher refresh rate means a smoother-looking screen that's easier on the eyes. So, if you're trying to ease your eyestrain, a refresh rate of 120 Hz is optimal. There's no need to pursue those high-end 144 Hz or 240 Hz monitors from Amazon or Best Buy.

What is FPS mobile? ›

This measurement is the video resolution measured in time. 24-30 fps is the normal level for good picture quality. A video with lower framerates appear as “choppy” on screen and fail to capture fast moving objects properly.

How noticeable is 60Hz vs 120Hz phone? ›

The higher the number, the smoother the screen will appear to the human eye. This means that a 120Hz display – which updates itself 120 times a second – will look noticeable slicker and more natural than your average 60Hz screen which only updates itself 60 times a second.


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