Why is My 240Hz Monitor Only Showing 144Hz?

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

When you invest in a high-refresh-rate monitor like a 240Hz display, expecting a butter-smooth visual experience, it can be frustrating to find it restricted to just 144Hz, regardless of your OS version, be it Windows 11 or Windows 10. This limitation, although common, can arise from various sources, each requiring a specific solution. Understanding these issues is important to unlocking the full potential of your monitor. In this article, we’ll explore the most common reasons behind this problem and provide practical solutions to help you achieve that coveted 240Hz refresh rate.

Also see: How to Change Desktop Screen Refresh Rate in Windows 11

Why is My 240Hz Monitor Only Showing 144Hz

Incompatibility with Output Ports

One of the first things to check when your 240Hz monitor is not performing as expected is the compatibility of your output ports. The required bandwidth for running a monitor at 1440p and 240Hz is significant – around 26.54 Gbps. This means that not all output ports are capable of handling this demand. For example, HDMI 2.0b, commonly found in many systems, might not suffice for such high bandwidth requirements.

In cases where a laptop or a desktop’s output ports do not support the necessary bandwidth, the monitor will not display at its maximum refresh rate. This limitation is not just about the ports available on your device but also concerns the monitor’s capability to receive and process the signal. For instance, if your device only offers HDMI 2.0b and your monitor requires a higher version for 240Hz, you’ll be limited to a lower refresh rate.

Similar problem: 144Hz Monitor Only Showing 60Hz in Windows 11, Why?

The Crucial Role of Cables

The type and quality of the cable connecting your monitor to your computer play a pivotal role in determining the refresh rate your monitor can achieve. Not all cables are created equal, especially when it comes to bandwidth capabilities needed for higher refresh rates like 240Hz.

For 240Hz at resolutions such as 1440p, HDMI 2.0b may not be sufficient due to its bandwidth limitation of 18 Gbps. DisplayPort 1.4, with its higher bandwidth of up to 32.4 Gbps, is more appropriate for such high refresh rates at higher resolutions. Using HDMI 2.0b for 240Hz could be feasible at lower resolutions, but for 1440p and above, DisplayPort 1.4 is the more suitable choice.

HDMI 240Hz monitor only showing 144Hz

If you’re using an older version of HDMI, like HDMI 1.4, or a lower-grade DisplayPort cable, your monitor might be limited to a lower refresh rate like 144Hz or even 60Hz. This limitation is due to the cable’s inability to transmit data fast enough to support higher refresh rates.

To achieve 1440p or more at 240Hz, you need a cable capable of handling the high bandwidth required for this level of performance. Here’s a list of cable types that can support 1440p at 240Hz:

  1. DisplayPort 1.4: This is the most commonly recommended cable for 1440p at 240Hz. It supports a bandwidth of up to 32.4 Gbps and incorporates Display Stream Compression (DSC), a feature that allows high resolution and refresh rates without loss of quality.DisplayPort 1.4 Cable for 240Hz gaming monitor
  2. DisplayPort 2.0: Although not as commonly used as DisplayPort 1.4, DisplayPort 2.0 is also capable of supporting 1440p at 240Hz. It offers a much higher bandwidth (up to 80 Gbps) and can handle even higher resolutions and refresh rates.
  3. DisplayPort 2.1: The latest advancement, DisplayPort 2.1, is a significant update over previous versions. It supports much higher bandwidths – more than three times that of DisplayPort 1.4 – thanks to new transmission modes like Ultra High Bit Rate 10 (UHBR 10), Ultra High Bit Rate 13.5 (UHBR 13.5), and Ultra High Bit Rate 20 (UHBR 20). This increase in bandwidth means DisplayPort 2.1 can easily support 1440p at 240Hz, along with even higher resolutions and refresh rates. However, as of the date of this writing, devices supporting DisplayPort 2.1 and 2.0 were still relatively new in the market.DisplayPort 2.1 vs 1.4 cable for 240Hz monitor
  4. HDMI 2.1: HDMI 2.1 is another viable option, with a bandwidth capacity of 48 Gbps, which is more than sufficient for 1440p at 240Hz. However, both the monitor and graphics card must be compatible with HDMI 2.1 to utilize this feature.HDMI 2.1 for 240Hz gaming monitor

The solution here is to upgrade your cable. Ensure that you purchase a high-quality DisplayPort 1.4, DisplayPort 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 cable. It’s essential to be cautious of generic or low-quality cables. Make sure it is from a reputable manufacturer to guarantee that it meets the claimed specifications, as lower-quality cables might not deliver the expected bandwidth and performance.

It’s also important to note that the availability of DisplayPort 2.0 and HDMI 2.1 might vary, and not all devices support these newer standards yet.

After upgrading your cable, you should check the monitor’s settings to make sure it is configured to operate at 240Hz.

Related resource: Mouse Lag on 4k Monitor or TV Screen (Fix)

Updating Graphics Drivers, Nvidia Control Panel, and Monitor Recognition

A common yet often overlooked cause for a 240Hz monitor displaying only 144Hz is outdated or incompatible graphics drivers. Graphics drivers are crucial for your system to communicate effectively with your monitor. If these drivers are outdated or not properly installed, they might not support higher refresh rates.

In some instances, users have found that their Nvidia Control Panel was incompatible with the installed drivers. This incompatibility can prevent access to settings that allow for adjusting the refresh rate. The solution here is to ensure that your graphics drivers are up to date. Nvidia frequently updates its drivers to support new technologies and fix bugs. By visiting Nvidia’s official website, you can download the latest drivers compatible with your graphics card. This update can potentially unlock the ability to set your monitor to 240Hz.

Manually download and update NVIDIA graphics driver

Additionally, installing the Nvidia Control Panel alongside your drivers allows you to customize various display settings, including the refresh rate. If you encounter issues with the Nvidia Control Panel, such as error messages stating incompatibility with the current drivers, a fresh installation of the latest drivers is recommended. This process involves uninstalling the current drivers and downloading the latest ones from Nvidia’s website.

Another important aspect to consider is how your operating system recognizes your monitor. Sometimes, a monitor might be identified as a “Generic PnP Monitor” in the Device Manager, which can limit its capabilities, including the refresh rate. To address this, you should update your monitor driver or manually select the correct monitor model in your system settings. This step can be crucial in ensuring that your operating system fully recognizes the monitor’s potential and allows it to operate at the maximum refresh rate.

Generic PnP Monitor Driver Windows 11/10

Monitor Specifications and Settings

Sometimes, the issue may not lie with your computer or the cables but with the monitor itself. It’s essential to verify that your monitor is capable of running at 240Hz. While this seems straightforward, misunderstandings regarding monitor specifications are not uncommon.

First, check your monitor’s user manual or specifications online to ensure it supports 240Hz at the resolution you are using. Some monitors might support 240Hz only at lower resolutions.

240Hz Gaming Monitor

If your monitor supports 240Hz, the next step is to look into the settings. In Windows, for instance, you can adjust the refresh rate by going to the Display Settings, then Advanced Display Settings, and finally Monitor Properties. Here, you can select the desired refresh rate if it’s available.

Change monitor refresh rate to 240Hz in Windows 11

In cases where the correct refresh rate isn’t showing up, creating a custom resolution in the Nvidia Control Panel (for Nvidia GPU users) can sometimes solve the problem. This process involves manually setting the resolution and refresh rate to match your monitor’s capabilities. However, this should be done cautiously as incorrect settings can cause display issues.

Create Custom Resolution for 240Hz monitor NVIDIA Control Panel

Lastly, certain monitors have specific requirements or limitations based on their model and design. For example, some G-Sync monitors are limited to lower refresh rates over HDMI connections. It’s crucial to understand these specific requirements, which can often be found in the user manual or the manufacturer’s website.

Pro tip: 16:10 vs 16:9 Aspect Ratio for Gaming: Which is Better?

Impact of a Dual Monitor Setup on Refresh Rates

Using a dual monitor setup can introduce unique challenges when trying to achieve a 240Hz refresh rate on one of the monitors. The issue often lies in how the graphics outputs are configured on your computer, especially in laptops.

Windows 11 multiple monitors with different refresh rates

In many laptops, the outputs capable of supporting high refresh rates are often connected to the integrated GPU on the motherboard rather than the dedicated GPU. This setup can lead to scenarios where, despite having a powerful dedicated GPU, the laptop defaults to the capabilities of the integrated GPU when an external monitor is connected. For instance, the integrated Intel GPU might only support up to 144Hz at 1440p, even if the dedicated GPU can handle more.

Linked issue: Second Monitor Keeps Flashing or Going Black Randomly

The solution in such cases can be complex and might not always be feasible. One approach is to check if there are any settings in the BIOS that allow you to change which GPU the external outputs are linked to. However, this option is not commonly available in most laptops.

Dual Monitor Setup 240Hz but only 144Hz

Another potential workaround involves using specific types of docking stations or external GPU enclosures that connect via Thunderbolt 3 or similar high-bandwidth connections. These devices can sometimes bypass the internal limitations of the laptop’s GPU outputs. However, they can be expensive and are not guaranteed to solve the problem in all cases.

Thunderbolt 3 External GPU docking station 240Hz

It’s also important to note that even if your laptop’s hardware supports 240Hz, the software or drivers might impose limitations based on the configuration of your dual monitor setup. In some cases, these limitations can be overcome with driver updates or software configurations, but this is not always the case.

In summary, achieving a 240Hz refresh rate on a monitor while using a dual monitor setup with a laptop can be challenging due to hardware and software limitations. It often requires a thorough understanding of your desktop or laptop’s GPU configuration and available workarounds.

Wrapping Up

This concludes our investigation into why a 240Hz monitor might only display at 144Hz, along with the potential solutions. By systematically checking each of these aspects – output port compatibility, graphics drivers and control panel issues, cable quality, monitor specifications and settings, and the impact of a dual monitor setup – you can identify and resolve the issue to enjoy the full capabilities of your high-refresh-rate monitor.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of WindowsDigitals.com. With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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