Black Ops Cold War: Playing On A Terrible Set-Up Made Me Better At Call of Duty
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Black Ops Cold War: Playing On A Terrible Set-Up Made Me Better At Call of Duty

Talal Musa
22 November 2020

New COD, New Me

As I sit here, looking at my K/D of 0.40, it’s hard to remember the days when I actually used to be decent at Call of Duty.

Some of this could be down to my ‘advancing years’. I’m now 33 and, from what I’ve Googled, my reaction time may have taken a hit.

But, given just how steep my decline was, it got me thinking. Perhaps something else was at play.

A ‘poor workman blames his tools’ but perhaps there were certain things with my set up that were putting me at a disadvantage – despite the fact that the PC I’m playing on (currently a i9-9990k paired with a 2080Ti (3080 is arriving next week!) is pretty punchy.

Results

So, I decided to investigate – and the results shocked me.

Who knew, but plugging my PC into the TV (60Hz) is regarded by 99% of gamers as a complete ‘noob’ move. The reason why is that whilst 4K 60Hz gives you a sharp image, the trade-off – traditionally anyway, was that the refresh rate is so low and the TV processing unless turned off, adds to input lag.

In other words, you’re reacting to what you see and the game needs to ‘catch up’ – taking away valuable milliseconds.

Just how much can jumping from 60Hz to 120Hz make?

I contacted Dell’s PR agency, who kindly lent me a 27ins, 1440p, 120Hz gaming monitor called the S2721DGF.

For those new to 120Hz – and for some next-gen console owners this applies to you, it means the display refreshes twice as fast as a 60Hz display.

From the first game of Black Ops, everything felt more responsive. I dominated. And, sure, SBMM hadn’t kicked in yet, but a few days in and I’m still ‘slaying’ – consistently making top 3 and, every now and then, getting a Play of The Game. I felt as though I was finally back on an even footing – and I was dying not because of any lag, but simply because of my ability.

But here’s where it gets interesting. As I’ve spent years playing on a ‘terrible’ 60Hz set up for competitive multiplayer, I’ve had to adapt my game to give myself the best possible chance. I would study maps, understand the flow of the combat, and ‘typical’ for behaviour.

Taking this knowledge and supercharging it with a proper 120Hz set up was the equivalent of running with weights tied to my ankles and then unshackling myself.

My K/D is now hovering around a respectable 1.40 – and climbing (I had a couple of shockers that dragged me down).

But why would you play in 1440p when you’ve got the firepower to run 4K 60?

Well, there’s now a new wave of 120Hz 4K tech that’s actually affordable now. OLED TVs from LG – especially the BX model – comes in at around £1100 ($1300) in some retailers. Here you’ll get HDMI 2.1 (both next-gen consoles will support 4K 120Hz) and a massive screen.

If you’re after something smaller or want to save budget for more games, opt for a 1440p monitor with 120Hz refresh rate, which will set you back around £300-600 ($500).

Here are some key learnings that’ll help you massively.

  1. If you’re still using a 60Hz TV make sure it’s on Game Mode. This will switch off any picture processing. You’ll still be at a disadvantage, but it’ll help with input lag
  2. Pick up a 1140p monitor and make sure it’s 120Hz. So long as the screen is smaller than 32ins then you won’t notice the drop in resolution and games will look amazing
  3. HDMI 2.1 is a game-changer – allowing both amazing picture AND performance. So make sure that if you’re upgrading your TV it has at least one HDMI 2.1 slot.
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