Got a CRT? Use Refreshlock!
What is monitor Refresh Rate?
Monitor refresh rate is exactly what it sounds, it refers to the rate at which your screen refreshes. So if your refresh rate is set to 60hz, your monitor is redrawing the image on your screen at 60 times per second.
But i heard refresh rates don’t effect LCD’s?
WRONGG! This is the biggest misconception floating around the internet today. It boggles my mind how many flame-wars are going on about this topic when it is very easy to prove. Yes a LCD screen will not suffer any flickering effects from having a low refresh rate. Instead, it will suffer through a limited frame-rate. Because of the way video cards render images to the screen, LCD’s are still completely effected by refresh rates. It is extremely noticeable if you compare a CRT and LCD monitor side by side. The biggest problem with LCD’s is that they will not allow you to go past 60hz or 75hz in any resolution, so at best, you will only see 75 frames per second in game. Crt’s have the ability to go as high as 150hz in lower resolutions, making them better for gaming. Those of you who don’t believe me can simply enable v-sync (vertical sync) in game. Once enabled, v-sync will render exactly what your monitor is capable of displaying, and depending on the make of your LCD, your frame-rate will be roughly 75, at best :(.
But the human eye can only see…?
Many people will make the argument that the human body can only see 30 frames per second. Do not listen to these people, they have no idea what they’re talking about. I can see and feel the difference from 100 to 120 frames per second, and anyone who has played Counter-Strike or any other first person shooter can feel the difference. It is simply not true, in fact this article mentions that the human eye may need as many as 4000 fps for true perfect vision, as flickering images is not natural for the human eye to see.
What the masses don’t know
Believe it or not a whopping 64.92% of all gamers on Valve’s Steam network have their monitor’s set to 60hz. This means that the vast majority of gamers are only getting 60 frames per second in their games! In fact, CRT users that fall under this category may even be damaging their eyes due to visible screen flickering. If you’re a CRT user, make sure your monitor is set to at least 75hz to reduce eye strain and improve your fps in games. The stats below were taken directly from Valve’s statistics page.
Interestingly enough only 1% of gamers are getting more than 100fps or 100hz(refresh rate). I’m in that 1%, are you?
If you’re on a CRT..
If you’re still a CRT user (and for competitive gaming you should be), it is important to have your refresh rates locked to a high value. I personally play with 120hz in 800×600 resolution. Higher resolutions will only cause your refresh rates to go lower.. in fact, many CRT monitor’s cannot go above 100hz in 1024×768. If you’re serious about being in in the minority of gamers who play with high refresh rates, you’ll need to sacrifice some visuals and play in 800×600.
Optimal Refresh Rates
The best way to optimize your refresh rate in Counter-Strike or any other first person shooter is to match your refresh rate to your frames per second (FPS). For example, if your monitor limits you to 120hz in 800×600, you should use a console command to cap your frame-rate in game to 120 fps. In Counter-Strike Source the command is fps_max 121 (use 121 to get 120).
What is Refresh-Lock?
Refresh-lock is a neat little background program that prevents windows from setting your refresh rate to a lower value when switching in and out of resolutions. Windows has an annoying feature(bug?, safety issue?) that will commonly switch your refresh rates anytime you change resolutions. That’s where refresh-lock comes in handy; it automates the process of setting your refresh-rates at any given resolution. As you can see in the example below, i lock my refresh rates to 120hz in 800×600. The reason i don’t go to 150 (even tho it claims to be supported), is because my computer will not get a steady 150 fps in game anyway. It’s best to have your refresh-rate synchronized with your frame-rate at all times.
Another reason you want to use Refresh-Lock instead of windows to set your refresh rate is due to convenience. Most people don’t like to browse around windows on their desktop in 800×600 all the time, so that would mean to set your 120hz refresh rate, you would need to do this every time prior to playing your favorite first person shooter. What a pain that would be. Refresh lock allows you to set it so when your monitor switches to 800×600 it automatically knows, 120hz!
A few points
- Make sure you don’t go exceed your monitor’s maximum refresh rates. If you are using refresh-lock and are unsure what your maximum values are: refer to the picture above and check the box marked “Always use the fastest safe frequency for mode”.
- Make sure to test your settings in game through conjunction with the V-sync and frame-rate commands (like fps_max), to make sure you’re truly getting whatever hertz you set it to.
- If on an LCD do no exceed 75hz, check your manufacturer’s manual first.
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