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What is Frame Rate

Frame rate is typically something that you hear about when referring to the performance of video games and other 3D applications. Frame rate is the most important element of video gaming performance. Frame rate is the number of times the image on your screen is changed. A low frame rate translates into choppy performance, often colloquially referred to, in extreme cases, as a slideshow. A high frame rate, by contrast, means that the image flows smoothly, just like in a movie or TV broadcast. The higher the frame rate, the more playable a game will be. Frame rate is measured in the number of frames per second (fps).

Once the frame rate of a scene in a video game drops below about 25 fps, you'll probably start to notice. If it regularly drops below about 15 fps, you'll probably find the game unplayable. For the smoothest gaming experience, the frame rate should always stay above around 50 fps, although 30 is perfectly adequate for most people. Higher frame rates than this will not make much difference to the average user, since the human eye can only perceive a limited number of frames per second anyway. With good hardware, frame rates can be especially high in certain games and applications, even running into the hundreds of frames per second.

Once data actually reaches your monitor, the frame rate that is actually displayed is limited by the refresh rate of your monitor. Monitor refresh rates are measured in hertz and refer to the number of times that a monitor changes ('refreshes') the image. Most of today's monitors have a refresh rate of 60 hertz, so even if your computer can churn out 150 fps in a particular scene, only 60 fps will be displayed on the actual screen. Fortunately, this is not really an issue, since few people can tell 30 fps apart from 60 fps, let alone higher frame rates than that.

There are many ways to improve the frame rate in video games. The easiest way is to turn down the graphical settings. Turning off high quality shadows, anti-aliasing and other hardware-intensive settings can make a considerable difference. In some cases, however, upgrading your hardware is the only way to make some of the newer games playable. The graphics card component of your computer is what mostly governs the performance of 3D games and applications, but the processor and memory also have a considerable influence on the frame rate.


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