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Asus unveils 360Hz gaming monitor -- but do you really need it?

(Image credit: Asus)

Nvidia and Asus’ new ROG Swift 360Hz gaming display, announced yesterday (Jan. 5) at CES 2020, is apt only for the most dedicated gamers trying to squeeze every nanogram of advantage to win. For the rest of us, it's probably overkill.

The 360Hz refresh rate, achieved thanks to Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, means that this puppy can show up to 360 frames per second — provided that your computer’s graphic cards can keep up.

According to the two companies, the Asus ROG Swift 360Hz offers “unparalleled smoothness, lower system latency for faster reaction times, and a 24.5-inch 1080p form factor to keep every pixel of action in your field of view.”

(Image credit: Asus)

Is 360Hz overkill? Isn’t the current crop of 240Hz displays all we need? 

For most people, perhaps. But for someone who is a pro player or who takes games seriously, any advantage is desirable. Any refresh rate up to 1000 frames per second — the fastest our eyes can see — will be noticeable by the human eye. 

Our eyeballs can see changes in our environment in less than 1 millisecond, hence the 1000fps barrier. The closer you get to that frontier, the faster you will be able to react.

Why high refresh rates matter

User MistKO at Blizzard’s Overwatch forums has a great explanation about why this is the way it happens.

“Imagine now an object that moves from the left edge of your screen to the right. It goes at speed of 200,000 pixels per second, while you have a resolution of 1920x1080," MistKo says.

 "How much FPS do you need to notice this object? Since it shows on your screen for 1080/200,000, [that’s equals] 5.4 ms, [so] you need 1000/5.4 = 186 FPS to consistently see it on your screen,” he or she added. 

MistKO continues arguing that, at 60 FPS in a 60Hz monitor, you won't see the object 66% of the time whereas, at 240 FPS, you will always see it.

But that’s just math and theory. Does the refresh rate make a difference in playability in the real world too? 

Nvidia got pro esports player n0thing — a five-time CS:GO Champion — to use the system. According to him, there is a clear difference between 240Hz and 360Hz while playing. In the video above, he claims that the higher refresh rate allowed him to react more quickly to anything on the screen, improving his kill effectiveness.  (Of course, this is a promotional video, but the math checks out.)

According to Nvidia's research, the actual improvement in latency reduction from 240Hz to 360Hz is 4%. The company says that this “is a game changer” when it comes to pro gaming. That's true — it can mean the difference between seeing a target and becoming the target.

If you are a mere mortal who only plays Solitaire, these improvements won’t really matter. It won’t matter for anyone else, either, until much later in the year, when the actual product comes out of Asus’ factory. There’s no price or launch date yet for this crazy display.

Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest news and hands-on impressions out of Las Vegas.