Is 50Hz Good for Gaming?

So you found an old TV in the basement, hooked it up, and realized it’s only 50 Hz. Is 50 Hz good for gaming? Is it noticeable?

As a reminder, Hz rate refers to the number of times a display can refresh the panel in one second. The most common standard is 60 Hz. A 50 Hz display can refresh 50 times a second, and 60 Hz can refresh 60 times a second, and so on.

It does get a little confusing because another specification uses the same term, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

You might be used to 60 Hz and you want to know if dropping 10 Hz would make much of a difference when playing games.

Here’s your answer:

Is 50 Hz Good for Gaming?

50 Hz is not good for gaming with games that run at 60 frames a second or higher because a 50 Hz screen can only show 50 of those frames at a time.

The result will be a choppy and laggy experience, especially if you’re used to playing at 60 frames a second. Dropping from 60 frames a second to 50 is quite noticeable.

Gaming on a 50 Hz display is acceptable with old-gen consoles that can only run games at a maximum of 30 frames a second.

In addition, a 50 Hz display won’t synchronize well with a 30 FPS source, and you will experience screen-tearing more often than with a 60 Hz display.

If you want to know what it’s like to game on 50 Hz, you can easily lower the Hz rate on your monitor in Windows 10.

However, most 50 Hz panels support 60 Hz too, the only way to find out is to connect an input that outputs 60 Hz.

If you have a 50 Hz display consider yourself lucky because they’re quite rare!

How to Change Your Hz Rate:

In most cases you won’t want to change your Hz rate, but if you’re planning on gaming on the highest refresh rate possible, here’s what you can do:

On PC:

  1. Right-click on your desktop and select “Display Settings”
  2. At the bottom of the page, click “Advanced Display Settings”
  3. Select “Monitor” a list of Support Hz Rates will be Shown
  4. Change the Hz Rate from the Drop-down Menu

On TV

Most TVs won’t let you change the Hz rate because they automatically adjust the panel Hz rate based on the Hz rate coming from the source. In some cases, you can activate either game or sports mode on your TV to improve the refresh rate.

Speaking of that other specification…

50 Hz Refresh Rate vs 50 Hz TV Broadcasts

You might have noticed in the UK and Europe some TVs are still marketed as either 50 Hz or 100 Hz.

But that doesn’t really make sense because 120 Hz TVs are just starting to hit the markets.

How can a TV from 20 years ago be 100 Hz? The reason for that is because the Hz used here is not the same as the Hz for refresh rate.

The reason for that is the TV broadcast system and broadcasting standards, specifically the UK and Europe standards.

In the UK, the standard for TV broadcasts is 50 Hz and it’s what all the set-top boxes output. The history, specifications, and technical details are quite complicated, and you can read more about it on Wikipedia’s PAL page.

I’ll simplify it for you below.

Europe and UK use the PAL encoding standard (Phase Alternating Line) while America uses NTSC. PAL generally uses multiples of 25 while NTSC uses multiples of 30.

With the PAL standard, Hz refers to “Fields” and there are two fields in 1 Hz or one frame. So the TVs aren’t broadcasting at 50 frames a second, it’s 50 Hz divided by two, which comes to 25 frames a second.

Overall, this issue is mainly a problem for TVs manufactured in the UK or Europe, and nowadays most modern TVs don’t use those standards.

TVs designed in other regions such as the USA, won’t mention 50 Hz or 100 Hz unless that’s the actual refresh rate.

But if it’s the actual refresh rate, it will be in multiples of 30, for example; 60, 120, 140, and so on.

Fun fact, the 60 Hz standard is actually 59.94 Hz.

Can 50 Hz TVs do 60 Hz?

The good news is most TVs that are labelled as 50 Hz are compatible with 60 Hz too.

When plugged into a source that outputs 60 Hz, a 50 Hz TV should automatically switch to a 60 Hz refresh rate or 60 Hz mode. The reason for that is the TVs panel usually supports 60 Hz.

However, if the panel is really limited to 50 Hz, the source will match it with an output of 50 Hz. For example, an old Xbox can output both 60 Hz, 50 Hz, and even 24 Hz, depending on what the display can support.

Understandably, it’s easy to confuse these terms. You might have a TV that is marketed as 50 Hz but that might not be the refresh rate, but the fact it’s compatible with 50 Hz TV channels (the same goes for TVs marked as 100 Hz).

To determine the actual refresh rate of the TV, you’ll need to look up the model number or check the manual for the panel refresh rate.

Speaking of the actual refresh rate of TVs, most TV panels are 60 Hz, even if they’re labelled as 50 Hz.

Is Hz the Same as FPS?

No. Hz is not the same as FPS. Hz represents the maximum number of times a display can refresh in a second.

FPS (Frames Per Second) is the number of frames your graphics card is rendering for your game. Hz is a fixed specification of the display, while FPS is a variable.

These terms are often confused because a 60 Hz display can show 60 frames a second, but the frame rate can either drop under 60 or go above it, depending on the hardware.

For example, you can get 100+ FPS on a 60 Hz monitor but the monitor will only show the frames that match its Hz rate.

The only time Hz is the same as FPS is when V-sync is activated, which is an in-game feature that locks the frame rate to your monitor’s refresh rate.

The Bottom Line:

To summarize, gaming on a panel that has a 50 Hz refresh rate is acceptable for some games, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The bare minimum for gaming should be a 60 Hz refresh rate.

Be careful with TVs that advertise as 100 Hz because that’s not referring to the actual refresh rate. If you want a TV that has a high refresh rate, make sure it comes in multiples of 30 – for example, 120 Hz or 140 Hz.

Have you ever tried gaming on 50 Hz? Leave a comment below

About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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