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BOE reveals 600Hz laptop display, and we’re sick of this refresh rate nonsense

BOE (Beijing Oriental Electronics) has revealed a new display with the fastest ever refresh rate seen, a mind-boggling 600Hz to be precise.

The screen in question is actually a laptop display, a 16-inch LCD that the Chinese site IT Home brought to our attention (via Tom’s Hardware).

The panel was shown off at the World Conference on Display Industry in China, but besides the size and refresh rate, no other specs were provided for the screen, although it was demonstrated at the event.

BOE showed off the display in a laptop with an AMD Ryzen CPU and Nvidia GPU – presumably, or at least those logos were on the chassis of the notebook, so it’d be very odd if the stickered components weren’t inside the portable.

The 600Hz screen seems like it’s still in the earlier stages of development, mind you, because while functioning, the display was attached to the laptop base using tape, apparently.

Analysis: Is this really a case of “stop that, it’s silly”

Does the world really need a 600Hz panel? Is there any point to this seemingly relentless drive to up refresh rates to increasingly colossal levels? At the beginning of the year, BOE was trumpeting a 500Hz gaming monitor, and already before the year is out, a 600Hz screen has trumped that effort, and by a considerable distance.

Isn’t this all getting very silly? Well, we think that’s true in the main, but that said, there is a target audience for this kind of ultra-high refresh rate panel, though it’s arguable exactly what such a display brings to the table.

That target audience would be professional gamers, playing the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where it’s possible to drive really, really high frame rates (as they aren’t demanding titles).

It’s worth noting that we can presume the 600Hz screen is 1080p resolution, given that the need to push high frame rates means it won’t be higher-res. In that case, 600 fps would never be attainable – and remember, this is a laptop too, making hitting those heights a trickier task in terms of available GPU grunt. This is another point – we’re not sure why this has been created as a laptop panel, rather than a standalone monitor like BOE’s aforementioned 500Hz effort.

As Tom’s Hardware rightly points out, one advantage of cranking the refresh rate of panels this high is that you get a better frame time – a smoother and more consistent delivery of frames – but there are very much diminishing returns on this front as you go up to dizzying refresh rates. 360Hz for example offers a frame time of 2.7ms, whereas 600Hz drops that to 1.66ms. Now, a basic 60Hz panel is 16.66ms, which is fine for casual gaming, so the drop in going from here to 360Hz and 2.7ms is a sizeable one (at least to competitive gamers). But further decreasing that to 1.66ms is pretty marginal, to say the least.

Is a person really likely to appreciate that tiny difference? Can the human eye even detect the benefits of 600Hz (or even 500Hz, or lower) panels? In truth, the answer for the vast, vast majority of folks, is probably not. But for a vanishingly small niche of the top pro gamers, they might benefit from an ultra-high refresh rate panel in terms of a smidgeon of a smoother gameplay experience that may be perceptible only in terms of a very slight difference in the feel of the game. But then, even the thinnest wisp of a potential advantage is something high-earning gaming pros could well find value in chasing.

For the rest of us non-gamer-god types, though, these screens built to reach towering refresh rates are pretty pointless. And the extreme heights to which all this has been pushed over the course of 2022 will inevitably seem silly to us mere mortals of the gaming world. Realistically, we’ll be absolutely fine and dandy with 144Hz, or 240Hz if you want to push the boat out.

On a final note, it also remains to be seen how much of this is BOE flexing its marketing muscles. Will we ever actually see this 600Hz panel in gaming laptops? Maybe, but then again, we’ve not heard a chirp from the company about the 500Hz monitor since it was shown off at the start of the year.

Supposedly there are 480Hz monitors coming for 2023 inbound from AU Optronics and LG Display, too, so whatever your feelings about superfast refresh rates, presumably we’ll see some of these models pitching up at some point next year.

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