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120Hz vs. 240Hz Motion Rate: What’s the Difference in Performance?

Hi there! If you‘re looking into buying a new TV or monitor, you may be wondering – what‘s the difference between 120Hz and 240Hz motion rates? And which one is better for your needs? I‘ve done the research so you can make an informed decision.

In this guide, I‘ll explain exactly what these numbers mean, when you‘d want 240Hz over 120Hz, and how the underlying technology works. Let‘s dive in!

Refresh Rate vs. Motion Rate

First things first – it‘s crucial to understand the difference between a display‘s refresh rate and its motion rate.

The refresh rate is the number of times per second the display updates the image. For instance, a standard 60Hz TV refreshes the screen 60 times per second.

Motion rate is a proprietary measurement used by companies like Samsung to showcase how smoothly their displays handle motion. It combines the native refresh with advanced processing to insert extra frames between the originals.

For example, a TV with a native 60Hz panel could have a 120Hz or 240Hz motion rate thanks to motion interpolation techniques. This results in much smoother, fluid motion in action scenes.

Key Differences Between 120Hz and 240Hz

While a higher motion rate means better motion handling in theory, what does stepping up from 120Hz to 240Hz get you in real terms? Here are some key differences:

Native Refresh Rate

  • 120Hz indicates an underlying 60Hz native panel
  • 240Hz points to a true 120Hz native refresh rate

Motion Interpolation Frames

  • 120Hz TVs quadruple the frame rate from 60fps to 240fps by generating 3 new frames for each original.
  • 240Hz tech can octuple the frame rate from 60fps to 480fps by creating 7 new frames per original frame.

Motion Clarity

  • 120Hz provides a noticeable clarity increase over 60Hz, but fast motion can still look slightly blurry.
  • 240Hz enables pristine sharpness even in intense action scenes with rapid camera movements.

Input Lag

  • 120Hz keeps input lag reasonably low for responsive gameplay at around 10-20ms.
  • 240Hz minimizes input lag for instant on-screen response times under 10ms, meeting the demands of high-level competitive gaming.


  • Samsung 120Hz TVs range from $500 for 43" models up to $1,500 for 85" screens.
  • Samsung 240Hz TVs currently sit at the luxury end, from $1,500 for 43" models up to $4,500+ for 85".

When to Choose 120Hz or 240Hz

Based on the key differences, here are some guidelines on deciding between 120Hz and 240Hz:

120Hz is a great choice for:

  • Casual TV viewing and movies
  • Moderate console or PC gaming
  • Budget-friendly options under $1,000
  • Basic office work and productivity

240Hz really shines for:

  • Serious competitive esports gaming
  • Sports and fast-action movies
  • Graphics/video work requiring frame-perfect precision
  • Financial trading where every millisecond matters

For gaming, 240Hz provides the absolute smoothest clarity and speed. But for everyday usage, 120Hz strikes a compelling balance between motion quality and affordable pricing.

Of course, a high refresh rate monitor is just one part of the equation – you‘ll want a strong graphics card and optimized settings to maintain high FPS to take full advantage.

How Motion Rate Technology Works

To really understand why higher motion rates equal smoother visuals, let‘s look at what‘s going on behind the scenes.

On a standard 60Hz display, each frame is shown for 1/60th of a second. With fast motion, this can cause a stuttering effect.

Motion interpolation aims to fix this by generating and inserting new frames between the originals to smoothly transition between them. Here are some techniques used:

Frame Repeat

Doubles existing frames to increase the frame rate. A 60Hz TV could emulate 120Hz by repeating each frame once. Visually this makes motion more consistent, but not smoother.

Black Frame Insertion

Calculates and inserts solid black frames between the source frames. This briefly shows artificial black images instead of motion blur.

[Diagram showing black frame insertion]

Motion Estimation and Compensation

Also called motion vectoring, this advanced method tracks movement across frames to recreate what should appear in the artificial ones. It results in remarkably smooth motion.

[Diagram showing motion estimation/compensation]

Backlight Scanning

Flashes the backlight in sync with the native refresh to reduce perceived motion blur in each frame. Often combined with interpolation.

By intelligently mixing these techniques, today‘s best 120Hz and 240Hz displays can insert new frames with precise motion-matched detail – creating insanely smooth results.

Real-World Motion Clarity Comparison

The numbers and jargon are one thing, but how do 120Hz and 240Hz stack up in actual image quality? Here‘s a side-by-side at the differences:

[Picture examples illustrating superior clarity on 240Hz]

In slower scenes, it‘s hard to tell a difference. But with rapid action, 240Hz delivers remarkably sharper clarity while 120Hz exhibits some trailing and blurring. The extra inserted frames make all the difference.

Diminishing Returns of Extreme Motion Rates

You may see TVs advertised with seemingly amazing specs like "480Hz", "960Hz", and even "Motion Rate 1440".

But truthfully, 240Hz is around the maximum where increased interpolation provides tangible improvements. Beyond that is seriously diminished returns.

In fact, these astronomical motion rates aren‘t possible given today‘s maximum native refresh rates. They‘re achieved through combinations of black frames and subfields – which don‘t actually enhance real motion smoothness.

Until display panels make major leaps to far higher native refresh rates, 240Hz remains the pinnacle of buttery-smooth motion processing.

Finding the Right Balance for You

At the end of the day, choosing between 120Hz and 240Hz comes down to your budget and needs:

  • For most TV watching and casual gaming, a 120Hz TV provides excellent clarity at an affordable price point.

  • To fully enjoy fast action and hyper-responsive gameplay, 240Hz delivers an unmatched experience.

On the monitor side, a 120Hz model hits a great mid-range gaming sweet spot of speed and higher 1440p/4K resolution.

Meanwhile, 240Hz monitors offer esports-level motion realism but max out at 1080p.

For many, 120Hz hits the best balance between performance, visuals and value. But competitive gamers hungry for every last bit of speed will still benefit from the incredible fluidity of 240Hz displays.

Either way, enabling variable refresh rate/FreeSync/G-Sync ensures perfectly smooth playback to take full advantage of the high refresh rates. With the right setup, you‘ll enjoy silky motion and ultra-responsive controls to immerse yourself in movies, sports and games.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m happy to help explain the differences between 120Hz and 240Hz motion rates to help you find your perfect display.