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Do 165Hz Gaming Monitors Make a Difference Compared to 144Hz?


There’s a lot of buzz about 165Hz gaming monitors lately. These are slightly faster than 144Hz panels, since manufacturers like BenQ found that raising the refresh rate is possible without running into any timing, frequency, or reliability issues. And thus, 165Hz monitors have become a reality, usually without costing more than 144Hz.

a guy playing PC game on a gaming monitor with 165hz

Why is 165Hz Becoming Popular?

Gaming monitor manufacturers always look for ways to increase refresh rates to support ever-faster games and more powerful graphics cards. Incremental steps have the advantage of offering refresh rates that many GPUs can benefit from. A graphics card that can run games at 1080p 144Hz or 1440p 144Hz will easily do the same at 165Hz but may struggle with a major step-up like 240Hz. In effect, 165Hz is gaining popularity as a possible replacement for 144Hz. The move from 144Hz to 165Hz doesn’t even require entirely new panel technology. Many manufacturers find that a lot of 144Hz panels can easily be tuned to offer native 165Hz without risky or unstable overclocking. So this is a win-win scenario. For manufacturers, this provides the chance to offer faster panels without costly development. For gamers, that’s extra frames per second for effectively the same price as 144Hz monitors, so why not? A similar situation existed in the past with 90Hz and 100Hz panels that improved on 60Hz monitors. Sure, the difference in frame rates wasn’t night and day, but again – why not? If you can get more refresh for the same money, you should go for it.

Benefits of 165Hz

We just mentioned the most obvious benefit above. A little bit more frames without breaking the bank. Will you be able to tell the difference between 144 and 165 frames per second? Most likely not, to be honest. But any game running at 165Hz will be smoother than 144Hz, even if you don’t overtly perceive the difference. In competitive gaming, even a 13% increase in frame rate is something.

Every Frame Matters

In the true spirit of “why not?”, 165Hz gaming monitors offer extra headroom for higher frame rates. Because there’s no such thing as too many frames per second, an extra 21 frames compared to 144Hz can only be a good thing. And who knows, maybe for your gaming habits it could make some difference.  Having an added 13% refresh could help with general responsiveness and accuracy. It certainly won’t hurt.

Frequently asked questions about 165Hz monitors

Are 165Hz Gaming Monitors Good?

The answer to this quandary depends on your situation. If you already have a good 144Hz gaming monitor the increase in max framerate might not be worth an upgrade. But if you’re in the market for a high refresh rate gaming monitor and want to choose between a 144Hz and a 165Hz model, then we say go with the latter. That’s because 165Hz is becoming the new 144Hz, the middle ground between 60Hz and really high frame rates like 240Hz and 360Hz. Being a newer standard means with 165Hz monitors you’re more likely to get improved panels, better color accuracy, better HDR, and faster response. Given the choice, go with 165Hz.

Will running a 165Hz monitor at 144Hz make it look worse?

True, 165Hz can display 144Hz just fine, but there’s no need to. The difference between the two refresh rates is small, so a GPU that handles 144Hz will do 165Hz with little difficulty. This applies in particular to 1080p. As a rule, while 144Hz is fine on 165Hz, it’s still better to set everything as close to the native specs of the monitor as possible. But 165Hz doesn’t have neat multipliers as do native 60Hz and 120Hz panels, being essentially a “custom” refresh setting. That allows for more flexibility and greater support for 144Hz and other refresh rates.

Can HDMI 2.0 run 165Hz?

In 1080p, that’s a definite yes. For 1440p, it varies by the quality of the cable and graphics card drivers. Generally, HDMI 2.0 can do 4K 120Hz with reduced color depth and lower quality chroma subsampling. So 1440p at 165Hz is doable if you lower color depth to 8-bit and also set chroma subsampling to 4:2:2 or 4:2:0. But the thing with 165Hz monitors is that they’re newer and therefore may have HDMI 2.1 included. If they don’t have HDMI 2.1, you can still enjoy 1080p 165Hz. And because this refresh rate is primarily aimed at multiplayer and competitive gaming, 1080p should be more than enough for the experience you want. If you’re into single-player games and prioritize resolution and graphics settings, we recommend a good 4K 60Hz monitor.

Do 165Hz gaming monitors make a difference compared to 144Hz?

The simple answer to that is no, not a big difference. Since 165fps is just 21 frames per second more than 144. That’s just a 13% increase. Most people aren’t likely to notice those extra frames, but the clincher is that if you’re getting a new monitor for gaming, you should know that 165Hz is basically the new 144Hz. So might as well go with that!

However, if you already have a good 144Hz gaming monitor that meets your needs and allows your games the room they need to fully breathe, then there’s no need to upgrade to 165Hz.

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