From: Marietta, GA
ORIGINAL: Matti Kuokkanen
freeboy, something you should know about LCD displays: they cost more than equal quality CRT, they look good only with their native resolution and their refresh rates suck. You better look at some LCD and TFT screens first before buying them. 85 Hz with sufficient resolution (1600x1200) ought to be good enough. But if you want try LCD anyway, you'd better try it before you buy it: if CRT with 85 Hz gives you headache, LCD with 60 Hz might not be any better.
I think we better dispel a few myths here.
With a CRT monitor, the cathode ray is firing photons at the screen and when they hit the phosphor screen, they make light. However, that light fades. So the monitor has to sweep back over and relight it later. That is the refresh. Refresh is critical on a CRT because the brightness of each pixel slowly fades and then gets refreshed and brightened. While the human eye cannot detect that slight increase and decrease of the monitor pixels, it does cause eye strain and headaches. At 60 Hz, the screen is refreshed 60 times a second so it only fades for 1/60th of a second before being refreshed. At 85Hz, it is 1/85th and so on. The more frequently you refresh, the less it fades between refreshes and therefore the less variability there is between full brightness and the lowest fade state and the less it bothers you.
With LCD monitors, on the other hand, once a pixel is lit, it stays lit. It never fades and therefore never needs to be refreshed. It only needs to be told when to change state. All LCD monitors have historically been set to a 60Hz refresh because.... well, because they don't need to be refreshed. So a user that gets a headache at 85Hz refresah rate on a CRT absolutely can and usually will solve that problem by moving to a 60Hz LCD.
The interesting part of all of this to me is when you include monitor response rate. If 60Hz means once every 1/60 of a second and a ms is one thousandth of a second, then 60Hz = 16.7ms. So, at a 60Hz refresh rate each pixel is being updated every 16.7 seconds. So, if the monitor will only get a signal every 16.7 ms, anyone want to guess how much benefit there is to going to a 12ms or a 6ms response rate monitor? It isn't quite that simple, but it is fair to say that there are dimishing returns to paying big money for sub-16ms response times.