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I am currently on the lookout for an affordable computer monitor with a high refresh rate, starting at 120Hz, but preferably higher. The reason why I need a high refresh rate is that I need to control the duration of images that are displayed in psychological experiments with high temporal fidelity. For example, with 60Hz the smallest possible step change is 16.6 ms. Instead, I am in the search of a time resolution that is closer to 1 ms. (A standard display size is sufficient, as most stimuli are presented within 0-7 degrees of the visual angle with most stimuli around 2 degrees.)

Most LCDs are not suitable for this type of high temporal precision. The goal is to adjust the amount of contrast change as well as the duration of the stimulus.

The ideal price range is 200-300 euros and in this range I have found some 144 Hz monitors. Given three options, we will choose the cheapest one. Concerning connector type, we are not very well informed what factors limit us or to what extent we could use adapters while maintaining a high refresh rate. Our current setup are roughly 8 year old computers running Windows 7 in a dual screen setup. Any standard resolution and screen size suffices, which would enable us to replicate standard experiments. (Our brand preference is Dell, but after communicating with a Dell sales rep it seems that they do not have a screen for our purposes, so any brand with a decent build applies.)

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    Would a second-hand CRT monitor work for your purposes? CRTs generally support higher refresh rates than LCDs. – Mark Feb 18 '16 at 10:49
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    Hi Mark, We used CRTs in the past. However, our electrophysiological equipment is very sensitive to the noise from these older monitors and we are looking for modern replacements. Portability is also desireable. – noumenal Feb 18 '16 at 12:09
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    When the image is updated it will take time to fade from one image to the other. This duration is not necessarily the same as the refresh rate. Also even if the image isn't changing at all, the LCD will be flashing a little bit (but not nearly as much as a CRT). Do those factors influence your experiments? If you want to display an image for say 2½ refresh periods, would your experiment still work if it was instead displayed for 2 periods at full intensity and 1 period at half intensity instead? – kasperd Feb 18 '16 at 14:37
  • If you want the entire screen to go black between the stimulations, you might be able to use a separate filter in front of the screen. I imagine something similar to the shutter used in some active 3D glasses. – kasperd Feb 19 '16 at 11:01
  • @kasperd This solution is too complex, because the shutter needs to be synced with the stimuli events. An alternative is to use a special kind of projector with a built-in shutter, but I don't think this is a very affordable solution. – noumenal Feb 19 '16 at 20:12
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Assuming I understand what you're looking for, as LCD monitors don't really refresh per-se, you may just need a monitor with higher response times. Try searching for monitors <3ms response time. This will be a more cost friendly solution if it meets your needs. There is very helpful information at this link to help you understand the differences. See: http://www.tweakguides.com/Graphics_7.html (Be sure to click the next at the bottom left to read more.)

If you truly need a higher refresh rate then first you're going to need a high end graphic interface such as a HDMI or Display-Port with a graphics card that supports the higher refresh rates. (Refer to that link I posted for details supporting this.) Also, depending on how you're images are rendered, VSync may help if you're experiencing tearing.

That said, NewEgg is a website I really like to shop on because of it's search engine. You can search by the features you need and require and narrow it down from there including refresh rate and response times. There is a Dell on their site that meets all your criteria except it's 27" and £412.99 plus shipping. You can always buy your monitor elsewhere but this site can help you narrow your search. See: My NewEgg Search

Personally, I find that Dell monitors, while good quality, are somewhat over priced and I, therefore, prefer other brands. As for other brands, ASUS is not a bad brand neither is LG, Samsung or View Sonic. LG and Samsung along with a few others manufacture their own LCD's as I understand, others buy their screens from others and re-brand them, but even LG and Samsung have been known to re-brand to meet price/demand.

As you’re probably aware, most TV’s do not truly preform at 120hz + as they claim. Also, TV’s will suffer from input lag. But they do have interpolation software in the television that adds more frames in between frames from your input (which is 60Hz. I’m afraid to get the 1ms you’re after, it just isn’t possible yet with LCD’s and current technology. 120hz at 8.333-, 144hz at 6.944, 165hz at 6.6060-, and 200hz at 5ms is the highest monitors currently available. The 240hz+ ones that I’ve seen use a TruMotion like technology, so the input is actually 120hz or even 60hz. Again these will require a high end graphics card.

If you don't currently have a high end graphics card with HDMI or DisplayPort, you'll need to see if you have a PCI-x16 slot otherwise you may have to upgrade your PC.

Here is a list of current monitors that I've found with higher refresh rates. They're all targeted for gamers, but they should suit your purpose. You may have to tweak the settings in the AMD/nVidia control panel to output the frequency you're after.

Another consideration is the method that you're delivering the media in question to the display. For example, if you're using a compressed video, the frequency of your display refresh rate will not factor in if the video encoded at 60fps. In this you'll need to use uncompressed video or video compressed at 200fps and your PC/GPU will need to be able to handle this. This is because if you have a 200hz monitor, it is writing to the screen every 5ms witch correlates to 200 frames per second. This is way beyond the capabilities of most games and videos which are typically no more than 120 fps. Though the monitor may preform at 200hz, you won't realize the full benefit unless the video is equal or higher that the monitor. For these reasons, simply a higher response time and things like TruMotion technology will probably suit your purpose.

  • Yes, we are currently considering 144 Hz screens, but they seem fairly new on the market and target gamers. The ViewSonic XG2401 was not on our list yet. The Dell looks interesting. The response time is different from refresh rate though: See pcmonitors.info/articles/… – noumenal Feb 24 '16 at 6:52
  • I wouldn’t let the target market be a deterrent to your decision. Gamers, specifically PC gamers, are some of the most hardware performance critical people & this market is responsible for some of the latest innovations in mainstream CPU, GPU, & monitor technology. If you’re looking to get good performance out of your video you’ll have to resort to buying a graphics card that is targeted mostly for gamers, though arguably applicable to video editing, design, medical & engineering applications. You'll likely have to purchase a gaming monitor to get the kind of performance you're looking for. – JaredW82 Feb 24 '16 at 16:01
  • The point is rather that gamers care about what they see, for example, a reduction of motion blur. In contrast, we are interested in vision near the treshold of perception. I think researchers are quite grateful that the gaming community keeps pushing boundaries for hardware. – noumenal Feb 24 '16 at 16:23

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