Monitor basics: running 75 Hz over HDMI

Getting right to it:

  • Modern HDMI gaming monitors do support 75 Hz
  • Starting with HDMI 1.3 (2006) displays using the standard could output 1080p at 120 Hz
  • HDMI 2.0 (2013) introduced support for 1080p at 240 Hz

Despite the push for high refresh rate displays, 75 Hz monitors are still a great option for low latency gaming. They’re much lower priced than 144 Hz monitors, often have low input lag, and are usually 1080p (great for all PC build types). When it comes to hooking your monitor up to your GPU you’ve got two options: HDMI and DisplayPort.

The ASUS TUF VG246H, like other 75 Hz monitors, only supports HDMI (source: Best Buy)

Thankfully, both of these modern inputs support 75 Hz. You won’t need to use DisplayPort with your GPU as long as your monitor supports HDMI 1.3 and above, and any monitor sold today is going to support this standard (originally released in June of 2006).

DisplayPort, in many cases, offers a higher refresh rate than the included HDMI input of a gaming monitor, but that’s not going to apply to 75 Hz displays. The move to HDMI 1.3 in 2006 meant that HDMI displays were equipped to run 1080p at up to 120 Hz. xda-developers offers an extensive breakdown of the history of HDMI’s incremental improvement. The spec of today (HDMI 2.1b) means that displays can output 4K resolution at 120 Hz. HDMI 2.1b also supports gaming features like Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency mode in TVs.

Due to the limitations of HDMI, a 1440p gaming monitor like the one above (LG UltraGear) will only ever push above 144 Hz when DisplayPort is used (source: Best Buy)

So why stay with a 75 Hz gaming monitor over faster premium models?

It does feel damn smooth to play genres like shooters at 120 FPS or more, but much like 60 Hz displays, 75 Hz monitors are still very relevant. They are semi-regularly on sale for under $100 and can benefit from reduced latency if you can push higher frame rates (which should be easier at 1080p). A frame rate of 60 FPS will have a latency of roughly 16.6 milliseconds while pushing 120 FPS should theoretically cut that time in half to 8.3 milliseconds.

As time goes on 120 Hz and 144 Hz displays should trickle down to more budget models, but for now 75 Hz monitors offer a fantastic entry point for many people (especially those just getting into PC gaming).

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