You may have heard phrases like “refresh rate” and “FPS” discussed before if you’ve just started playing PC games, so don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them before.
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It may appear that the two names are being used interchangeably, but despite their strong association with gaming, they are in fact quite distinct.
As far as refresh rates and frames per second are concerned, here’s a quick refresher: In this article, we’ll go through the differences between the two, so keep reading!
What Is FPS?
If you’re playing a first-person shooter, FPS stands for “frames-per-second,” which represents the number of frames your GPU is rendering and sending to the screen every second.
If you’ve ever seen the difference between 30, 60, and 120 FPS in person, you’ll understand why so many gamers are prioritizing performance over graphics these days. This is especially true in competitive multiplayer games where even the slightest improvement in reaction time provided by high framerates can make all the difference.
Refresh rate is an important consideration because not all monitors can display high framerates.
What Is Refresh Rate?
With regards to computer monitors and other displays, refresh rate (also known as hertz or hertz/hertz) defines how many times the displayed image can be refreshed each second (Hz).
A 60 Hz refresh rate is standard on most mainstream screens, however gaming monitors may currently achieve significantly higher refresh rates. 144 Hz and 240 Hz refresh rates are the most frequent, but you’ll also find 75 Hz, 120 Hz, 200 Hz, and more on these monitors.
When it comes to refresh rates, the higher the refresh rate, the more frames the monitor can display per second, which is why the refresh rate of 60 Hz monitors can only display 60 FPS, while 144-Hz monitors can display up to 144 FPS. However, even if your GPU is running a game at a continuous 200 FPS, you will only be able to view as many frames as the refresh rate of your monitor allows.
Frame Rate: A Definition
Defining the term “frame rate” is a good place to start. This is true for any type of moving image, including movies, television shows, games, and even the mouse pointer on a computer screen, because all of these mediums employ frames to portray movement. The concept of a flipbook animation can be applied here, despite the fact that the individual frames change constantly.
Frame rate is the rate at which new frames are shown, so this is important to keep in mind. Frames per second, or fps, is the most common unit of measurement. When the frame rate is higher, the more frames that appear per second, resulting in a more fluid and lifelike motion, as opposed to stuttering and staccato motion.
It’s critical to remember that the display does not control the frame rate. A combination of software or media, your central processing unit (CPU), and a graphics card determines the frame rate. However, this does not mean that frame rate is not important for displays, as we will see in the following sections.
Refresh Rate: A Definition
In contrast to frame rate, the refresh rate idea is directly linked to monitors or other display devices. When it comes to monitor refresh rates, hertz is the most common unit of measurement (Hz).
When it comes to a display, a greater refresh rate is always better. More fluid motion may be seen even in the smoothness of the mouse cursor as it glides across the screen, but in more demanding situations like gaming or esports, higher refresh rates really come into play.
Modern monitors must have a refresh rate of 60 Hz to function properly, but even this has been linked to issues like eye tiredness and strain, so a starting point of 75 Hz may be preferable. A refresh rate of 120 Hz or higher is standard for a serious gaming monitor, with anything higher offering a potential alternative for nearly all applications.
Frame Rate vs Refresh Rate
There is a clear correlation between refresh rate and computer monitors, but there is also a correlation between refresh rate and frame rate. If your graphics card and processor can only create a low frame rate but your display has a high refresh rate, you won’t get the full benefit, and vice versa.
A high frame rate isn’t necessary for all media. For example, movies from the 1920s to the present day are normally shot at 24 fps, whereas live sporting events are typically recorded at 30 fps. More precise and fast-moving material, such as video games, necessitates frame rates of 60 frames per second or more.
Essentially, a single screen refresh can display data from multiple frames at once when the frame rate and refresh rate are out of sync. Using a display technology like G-Sync or FreeSync can help to balance frame rate and refresh rate and prevent this.
At the same resolution and graphics quality, we commonly compare the frame rates of two gaming machines to see which one is more powerful. FPS, or frames per second, is the unit used to express frame rates. There are many misconceptions about FPS and refresh rates, so let’s dispel some of them.
How many frames per second are there in a second? It’s possible to create the appearance of motion by combining multiple static images, each subtly different, together in a quick slideshow. How many images are displayed in a second is called the frame rate. A new frame of an image is created by combining the processing power of both your CPU and graphics card to decide the AI’s behaviors, as well as its physics, locations, and textures. Using the resolution you specify, your GPU then divides this image into pixels, which it sends to the display. Your CPU and GPU may generate more frames per second the more powerful they are.
Refresh rates are a feature of your monitor or display. The number of times per second that your monitor can redraw the screen is known as the refresh rate, and it is expressed in frequency (Hz). 85 Hz signifies that your display can refresh the entire screen 85 times per second.
Does this imply that the refresh rate of your display is the limiting factor in terms of frame rate? It’s not like that; they’re two different things. Keeping in mind that the refresh rate of a display refers to how many times an image on the screen is refreshed, FPS stands for the number of frames your gaming machine can produce or draw per second. There is no connection between the refresh rate (Hz) of your monitor and the frame rate (FPS) that your GPU will be able to produce. Regardless of the fact that the refresh rate doesn’t strictly limit the frame rate, your display will be unable to show all of the frames your computer generates if your FPS is higher than it.
Although your gaming PC is capable of producing 90 FPS in your favorite game at your preferred settings, even if your monitor supports 90Hz or more refresh rate ports on your graphics card and display could limit your performance. DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and VGA are all types of connections that have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, certain gaming displays have 120Hz refresh rates, however HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.4 are required for connectivity. The 120Hz frame rate is only available through DisplayPort, and you’ll be limited to 60Hz if you use HDMI.
To gauge the performance of hardware, drivers, games, and APIs such as Vulkan and DirectX like Vulkan, frame rate is a common gaming benchmark. In this scenario, the refresh rate of the display doesn’t matter because the frame rate is only used as a metric to gauge the gaming performance of a computer system. Better is a frame rate that is higher. Even if your computer is capable of producing 120 FPS, if you have an 80hz display, your screen can only display images at a rate of 80 images per second, even though your computer is capable of producing 120 FPS.
A malfunction known as screen tearing occurs when information from two or more frames is presented in a single screen draw if the frame rate of your computer is higher or lower than the refresh rate of your monitor. Because screen tearing doesn’t harm the display or graphics card, it’s crucial to keep this in mind.
VSync, or Vertical Synchronization, is a function that can be used to prevent screen tearing. As a result of this setting, your GPU is forced to render and deliver a fresh frame to the display when the monitor is ready to redraw. Your framerate will be limited exactly to the refresh rate by this. VSync, for example, will limit your framerate to 60 FPS if your refresh rate is 60Hz. It is possible to increase the resolution, draw distance, or other graphics quality settings if your GPU is capable of delivering higher frame rates than VSync’s cap. If your graphics card can’t keep up with your display’s refresh rate, then setting VSync won’t do much. A lower frame rate, such 30 FPS, may be possible to match your monitor’s refresh rate. Display refresh rates of 120 Hz, 60 Hz, and 30 Hz are common and all divisible by 30, therefore screen tearing is not an issue. However, stuttering may occur since each frame is displayed on the screen for a few cycles.
If you have an NVIDIA G-SYNC-enabled monitor and graphics card, you’re in luck. Using this technique, the graphics card and display are connected by an unique chip in the display. NVIDIA GTX graphics card’s frame rate can be matched to monitor’s refresh rate, up to the maximum refresh rate of the screen. This eliminates screen tearing and reduces stuttering when the frame rate is higher or lower than the display’s refresh rate because the frames are presented as soon as the GPU renders them. Having a variable frame rate is a common occurrence in video games, thus this makes it ideal. G-SYNC technology is now available in gaming laptops as well!
V-Sync and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
With this in mind, you would think that FPS and refresh rates are all there is to them. It’s possible that you’ll see some unpleasant screen tearing if your GPU is pushing out more frames than your monitor can display.
Here, V-Sync and a few other technologies come to the fore.
If you want to keep your FPS and refresh rate in sync, you can use V-Sync, which stands for “vertical synchronization.” However, there are usually some drawbacks to this. The FPS cap on high-performance displays is a major concern when using V-Sync because it can sometimes lead to perceptible stuttering.
VRR (variable refresh rate) technology is used in all of these monitors because of this.
To keep the framerate in sync, VRR technologies automatically adjust the refresh rate of a monitor on demand. There’s no stuttering or FPS drop, and the synchronization/screen tearing problem is solved.
AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync is now standard on the vast majority of high-end gaming displays. To learn more about them, check out this other article on the subject, which you can access by clicking here.
If you’re on a tight budget or just don’t want to spend a lot of money on a monitor, FreeSync is the preferable option because it’s cheaper and more common. In contrast, Nvidia’s patented G-Sync technology is more expensive to install, but this means that it operates better and in a wider range, as well as providing additional conveniences.
Is 120Hz the same as 120fps?
There is a connection between the two, but they are not the same thing at all. The refresh rate of a physical monitor or television is 120 Hz. In other words, how often the screen redraws the image. For example, a video file or stream with 120fps has 120 frames per second of video.
Is it better to have higher FPS or refresh rate?
Keep in mind that FPS refers to the number of frames your gaming computer is drawing or creating, whereas refresh rate refers to the number of times your monitor refreshes the image. Your GPU’s frame rate is unaffected by the monitor’s refresh rate (Hz)…. Better is a frame rate that is higher.
Does 60hz mean 60 FPS?
With a 60Hz display, the screen is refreshed every second at the rate of 60Hz. As a result, the maximum frame rate that can be displayed on a 60hz panel is 60fps. A greater framerate than what your monitor can display can nevertheless seem smoother to play since input lag with your mouse will be reduced.
As a result, the refresh rate tells you how many frames per second your monitor will be able to display, whereas the frame rate tells you how many frames your GPU can produce per second.
Since framerate and refresh rate are tightly linked in gaming, it’s understandable that some may use the two terms interchangeably. With this in mind, however, it is clear that they are two distinct entities.
If you’re only going to use your GPU at 60 Hz, there’s no point in buying a powerful one that can easily maintain a stable triple-digit framerate. The same goes for buying a high-refresh-rate monitor if you’re not going to use it with an upgraded graphics card or games that can easily handle higher framerates.
Make sure to check out our list of the top 2022 gaming monitors if you need a new one at this time. There are many different PC configurations available from us, so you can find something to fit your needs regardless of your budget.