When shopping for a liquid-crystal display (LCD), you’ll probably come across the term “refresh rate.” It’s a specification used for most LCDs, including TVs, computer monitors, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and more. But what exactly is refresh rate? And how does it affect the performance of an LCD?

Overview of Refresh Rate

Also known as scan rate, refresh rate refers to the number of times per second that a display device, such as an LCD, updates its image. If an LCD has a 60 Hz refresh rate, for example, the image displayed on the LCD will update 60 times per second. If an LCD has a 120 Hz refresh rate, on the other hand, the image will update twice as quickly. The higher the refresh rate, the more times per second the LCD will update its image.

Is a Low Refresh Rate a Problem?

If an LCD has a low refresh rate, it may create viewing problems like screen flickering. While LCDs are virtually immune to screen burn-in, they are still susceptible to screen flickering — which is a relatively common problem if an LCD has a low refresh rate.

With a low refresh rate, the LCD will take longer to update its image. If there’s a noticeable delay between these “refreshes,” the LCD’s screen will flicker. This phenomenon is generally harmless and won’t harm or damage the LCD’s hardware. Nonetheless, it creates a negative viewing experience.

Is a High Refresh Rate a Problem?

You might be surprised to learn that a high refresh rate can actually cause viewing problems with LCDs as well. If the refresh rate is too high, the LCD’s image will become distorted. This is why it’s important for manufacturers to find a balance that avoid both screen flickering as well as distortion.

What Is Dynamic Refresh Rate?

Also known variable refresh rate, dynamic refresh rate is a feature found in high-end LCDs that allows for the automatic adjustment of the device’s refresh rate. In other words, the LCD can adapt its refresh rate to achieve the ideal viewing experience. FreeSync is one such technology for dynamic refresh rate.

In Conclusion

In LCDs and other display devices, refresh rate is the number of times per second the image is updated or refreshed. A high refresh rate means the LCD will quickly update its image, allowing it to avoid screen flickering-related problems. But if the refresh rate is too high, the LCD’s image may become distorted.