When technology becomes obsolete, one of the things the industry does to try to get customers excited about new products is to offer bigger and better specs. In 2021, a lot of attention was paid to improving the speed specifications, measured in hertz, of PC peripherals (a hertz or Hz is a unit of frequency that represents one cycle per second). We saw vendors increase the polling and refresh rates of everyday devices, turning them into advanced devices to capture the interest of enthusiasts.
Here’s how it all went.
First the monitors
2021 was the year of the hertz, but to get there we have to go back to 2020 when the world was introduced to 360 Hz monitors.
Monitors are arguably the most sensible place to see elevated hertz numbers, assuming you’re the right audience. For hardcore gamers with the right gear, higher hertz specs mean smoother movements with less jerkiness. And if you had a computer that could produce 360 frames per second in certain games, you could finally get a screen that could keep up with that. The best example I can recall of a 360 Hz monitor showing additional advantage over slower gaming monitors was when I saw fast scrolling text on a monitor. The words were much more readable on the 360 Hz monitor than on a 144 Hz panel, where the characters were fainter.
For a while, 144 Hz was the gold standard for PC gamers who wanted to be taken more seriously. Then we started seeing 240 Hz monitors. At the end of 2020, monitors with 360 Hz refresh rates, such as the Asus ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN and Acer Predator X25, became available. Today, there are five 360 Hz monitors available. The Alienware AW2521H, MSI Oculux NXG253R and another Asus SKU with additional accessories and software round out the list.
This trend continued into 2021. Not only because we saw the addition of MSI’s 360 Hz monitor, but also because these gaming monitors raised the bar for extreme PC gamers. If you have a powerful PC and a fast monitor, your other gaming gear should keep up, right? The availability of 360 Hz monitors fueled that story and paved the way for other tech equipment with insanely high Hz figures.
8,000 Hz mice
2021 saw an unprecedented peripheral when Razer released the Viper 8K Hz.
From the outside it looked like an ordinary mouse. It even resembled a Razer Viper, a popular gaming mouse from the company. But the difference was inside. The mouse can use a polling rate of 8,000 Hz, which is at least eight times faster than almost any other mouse available.
What exactly does that mean? Mice generally have a polling rate of 1000 Hz. We had seen 2000 Hz mice before. Thanks to a 1000 Hz polling rate, the mouse can send a location report to the PC up to 1000 times per second. Razer’s Viper 8K Hz was the first to do this at 8,000 times per second.
A mouse with a 1000 Hz polling rate will have an expected delay of 1 ms for the mouse to send each report. One second divided by 1,000 reports is 0.001 second or 1 ms per report. With an 8,000 Hz mouse, the delay time is 0.125 ms (1 second divided by 8,000 reports or 0.000125 second).
For most people, 8,000 Hz mice are not necessary at all. But enthusiastic publications, such as the display site Blur Busters, have pointed to increased micro-stuttering in 1,000 Hz mice, as refresh rates reach 120 Hz and above.
Razer’s mouse came with some requirements, including minimum CPU and GPU specs. It also required a monitor with Adaptive-Sync disabled (which also affects the strength of a graphics card you’ll need) and a refresh rate of at least 144Hz.
With the right equipment, gamers can now enjoy 360 fps alongside a mouse that updates the PC eight times as often as the vast majority of mice. I tested the Viper 8K Hz with a 300 Hz display, 10th Gen Intel Core i7 and Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q. Those parts aren’t the latest and greatest, so it’s possible I could have seen more impressive results with a more powerful build, but the Viper 8K Hz didn’t make me a better gamer. However, it seemed to cause my screen to update the location of my cursor more often. Traces of arrows formed as I swiped, and circles made hands seem closer together than I’m used to.