Do I Need a 120Hz TV?

When TVs are advertised, they talk about a bunch of specs. Obviously, size and price are front and center. They will also list such features as HDR, screen type (LCD vs OLED vs others), refresh rates (120Hz and higher), VRR and ALLM, and more. You are confused about the 120Hz refresh rate. Do you need a 120Hz TV? What do higher refresh rates give you? Let’s discuss!

It’s All About Your Content

The marketing team for nearly any product knows one thing for sure – the bigger number is always better. If 60Hz is good, 120Hz is better. If 120Hz is good, 144Hz is better. And so on. If they can get the engineering team to admit to a larger number, they are going to slap it on the side of the box.

What you really need to know before you can decide if you “need” a 120Hz TV is what content you plan on playing. Movies, for the most part, are shot at 24 fps (frames per second). To display a movie properly, a TV must be compatible with this fresh rate. As a 120Hz TV refreshes 120 times a second (that’s what Hz means), then it can obviously refresh 24 times as well. Basically, it takes each frame and displays it five times (5×24=120). Much of your TV content is shot at 60 fps. That too works with 120Hz TVs. Games are the obvious problem.

Not only will high-end computers and the latest gaming consoles put out games at 60 fps (considered the lowest “acceptable” framerate), but they will also output 120 fps and higher. Sometimes they will vary the framerate based on the on-screen content. If you are a gamer, you not only want a 120Hz TV, but you might want one with a higher refresh rate.

But You Aren’t a Gamer

If you aren’t a gamer, maybe you don’t need a 120Hz TV. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have a choice. Like AV receivers, if you are looking for a certain level of performance or specific features, you are going to get other features you won’t use. A 120Hz refresh rate is probably one of them.

That said, 120Hz makes it very easy for your TV to play all your content. With a 60 Hz TV, you have to worry about the TV converting the 24 fps content into something it can display. As you probably realize, 24 doesn’t divide equally into 60. While most TVs can do 3:2 pulldown (the process that makes 24 fps look good on a 60Hz panel), a 120Hz panel doesn’t have to do any conversion at all. Plus, if you do decide to play a game, it will look even better on your 120Hz TV. And that’s something.

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