Adjusting Your Monitor's Refresh Rate

by Eric Wyatt
(last updated February 22, 2021)

When you set up the monitor for your computer, did you do as most people do and simply plug it in and use the default settings? Or did you look at your system's settings to see if the defaults are the settings you want to use? One area that many people overlook is what's known as "refresh rate." This is the rate at which the image you see on your screen refreshes, or is "redrawn." Think of it as how fast your monitor blinks. If your computer is set to a refresh rate of, say, 60Hz, that means your screen refreshes or "blinks" 60 times in a second.

While most people think that you can't see a refresh rate, you actually can see glimpses if you know what to look for. A lower refresh rate can cause your screen to appear almost sluggish when there is any fast movement happening on your screen. If your refresh rate is low, you may see an odd, choppy motion as you move an Explorer window around. Or, if you're playing a video game on your system that which includes a lot of fast scenes, a low refresh rate may make the game seem less than ideal.

If your monitor seems to be experiencing a sluggish reaction to what you're doing and you know your machine is running fine otherwise, you may want to take a look at the refresh rate currently set-up on your computer. This is simple and easy to do.

  1. Open the System Settings dialog box by pressing Win+I.
  2. Click System to open the display section of the System Settings dialog box.
  3. On the right side of the dialog box choose Advanced Settings. This opens the Advanced Display Settings you can modify for your system.
  4. Under Refresh Rate, select the rate that you want. Bear in mind that your available options will vary based on the monitor connected to your computer.
  5. Once you change the desired refresh rate, close the dialog box and your settings will take effect immediately.

If you do not show any refresh rate options, you will need to take some extra steps to modify your settings:

  1. Click on "Display Adaptor Properties for YOURDISPLAYNAME". This opens the Properties dialog box for your system's graphics card.
  2. Click on the Monitor tab to display the monitor settings you can adjust.
  3. Change the refresh rate to the desired setting you want. Once you select a new setting the Apply button will change colors to indicate you still need to apply the change.
  4. Click Apply." Your monitor will go black for a brief moment as the setting takes effect.
  5. When your screen comes back, you will see a prompt. The prompt displays the message "Do you want to keep these display settings" along with a countdown timer starting at 14 seconds.
  6. Click either "Keep Changes" to commit the change, or "Revert" to reset back to the previous settings. If you do not click either button, the timer counts down and your system will revert on its own.
  7. Once all the settings are the way you want, close all the dialog boxes as the change has been committed; there is no need to restart.

Other than smoother motion on your screen, a possible benefit to specifying a higher refresh rate is that some users report reduced headaches and eye strain while using their computer.

 This tip (13826) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...

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