Ah, framerate; it’s that thing that furiously discussed and fought over in the comments sections of gaming websites, that’s always being chased and optimised by serious and professional gamers, and mostly never given a second thought by most people when they pop down on the couch for a quick game after work or school.
Games that render at 30 frames per second (fps) still tend to be the norm on console, and while 60fps delivers an undoubtedly smoother and more fluid appearance, 30fps is more than adequate in most situations.
The reason I’m talking about framerates? The launch this week of the BenQ brand ZOWIE’s XL2540 monitor, a 24.5-inch display with a 240Hz refresh rate (your ordinary PC monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate).
As those of a more technical bent are fond of reminding others, framerate and refresh rate are not the same thing; the fps number tells you how many frames the game is delivering to the monitor every second, while the refresh rate is the rate at which the actual image on the screen is replaced.
Gamers during the launch of the XL2540 at the MovenPick Hotel in Oud Metha. Image credit: Arshad Ali / Gulf News
A game that renders above 60fps will still feel a bit smoother on a normal 60Hz monitor, but to get the full benefit of higher framerates you need a monitor with a faster refresh rate.
For the last few years 120Hz and 144Hz monitors have become a bit more common, but they’re still somewhat niche propositions. What then of a monitor that does 240Hz?
Nobody is more obsessed with the competitive benefits that may be gained from a combination of high fps and refresh rate than players of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), so it’s no surprise that ZOWIE has targeted its marketing at exactly these players.
CS:GO is a game where milliseconds can mean the difference between killing someone on the enemy team, or being the victim of a well-placed headshot instead.
Yes, the XL2540 is certainly a niche proposition, but BenQ seems well aware of this, and even seems to be relishing, this fact.
It certainly shows a commitment to the professional gaming community, a commitment emphasised by BenQ Middle East and Turkey managing director Manish Bakshi during a launch event for the XL2540 in Dubai on Wednesday.
Those who attended the event got a chance to experience the XL2540, and contrast it with the “slower” 144hz propositions.
I wasn’t actually expecting to be blown away by a 240Hz monitor; it seemed like overkill, like an attempt to win a numbers war that would provide no visible difference to what 144Hz brings to the table. But my expectations couldn’t have been more wrong; CS:GO simply looked and felt better on the 240Hz display, and even people simply watching a side-by-side comparison as others played commented on this fact.
It’s a beautiful piece of kit, especially with the anti-distraction shields deployed, and comes with all the other gamer-focused features ZOWIE’s XL line is famous for.
There’s no doubt many a player will salivate over this piece of hardware; I certainly would love to own one, even though I’m completely useless at CS:GO. But then you don’t need the skills of Lewis Hamilton to desire and appreciate the power and allure of a Ferrari either…