How to Change a Monitor's Refresh Rate Setting in Windows

Adjust the refresh rate setting to fix screen flicker and other monitor problems

Display resolution applet on Windows 10 desktop

Ever notice screen flicker when you're using your computer? Do you get headaches or have unusual eye strain when you're using your computer?

If so, you may need to change the refresh rate setting. Changing the monitor's refresh rate to a higher value should reduce screen flicker. It could also fix other unstable display issues.

Adjusting the refresh rate setting is usually only helpful with older CRT type monitors, not newer LCD "flat screen" style displays.

The refresh rate setting in Windows is called the screen refresh rate setting and is located in the "Advanced" area of your video card and monitor properties. While this fact hasn't changed from one version of Windows to the next, the way you get here has. Follow any specific advice for your version of Windows as you follow along below.

Time Required: Checking and changing the refresh rate setting in Windows should take less than 5 minutes and is really easy.

How to Change a Monitor's Refresh Rate Setting in Windows

  1. In Windows 10 and Windows 8, this is most easily accomplished via the Power User Menu. In Windows 7Windows Vista, and Windows XP, you'll find the link in the Start menu.

  2. Select Display from the list of applets in the Control Panel window. 

    Display applet in Control Panel

    In Windows Vista, open Personalization instead.

    Depending on how you have Control Panel set up, you might not see Display or Personalization. If so, change the view to Small icons or Classic View, depending on your version of Windows, and then look for it again.

  3. Select Adjust resolution in the left margin of the Display window.

    Adjust resolution link in Display applet

    In Windows Vista, choose the Display Settings link at the bottom of the Personalization window.

    In Windows XP and prior, select the Settings tab.

  4. Choose the monitor you want to change the refresh rate for (assuming you have more than one monitor).

  5. Select Advanced settings. This is a button in Windows Vista.

    Advanced settings link in Screen Resolution applet

    In Windows XP, choose the Advanced button.

    In older versions of Windows, select Adapter to get to the refresh rate settings.

  6. Choose the Monitor tab in the smaller window that appears.

    Monitor tab in Windows
  7. Locate the Screen refresh rate drop-down box in the middle of the window. In most cases, the best choice is the highest rate possible, especially if you're seeing a flickering screen or think a low refresh rate might be causing headaches or other problems.

    In other cases, especially if you recently increased the refresh rate and now your computer is having problems, lowering it is your best course of action.

    It's best to keep the Hide modes that this monitor cannot display checkbox checked, assuming it's even an option. Choosing refresh rates outside this range could damage your video card or monitor.

  8. Select OK to confirm the changes. Other open windows can be closed, too.

  9. Follow any additional instructions if they appear on the screen. With most computer setups, in most versions of Windows, changing the refresh rate won't require any further steps, but other times you may need to restart your computer.