When it comes to performance in video games and how well your computer can handle a game, one of the ways to check is through its FPS (frames per second). This basically tells you how many frames are being displayed per second while your game is running (not to be confused with a display’s refresh rate).
However, FPS is dynamic meaning that it changes depending on what’s happening in the game. For example, if you’re standing in an area that has minimum textures and objects, there’s obviously less items to render, which in turn could see an increase in FPS. This is versus when you’re fighting against other players where the action is so high that you could see a drop in FPS.
This is why having an FPS counter can be useful if you’d like a better understanding of your computer’s capabilities, and here’s how you can use them.
If you buy and play a lot of games using Valve’s Steam platform, the company has actually built an FPS counter into their application that can then be overlaid on games played through the platform.
- Launch Steam and go to Settings
- Click In-Game in the navigation bar on the left
- Click on “In-game FPS counter” and then choose where you want the FPS counter to show up in the game
- Click OK and you’re good to go
NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience
If you happen to own an NVIDIA GPU, the company’s GeForce Experience app does come with a feature that lets you enable an FPS counter overlay while you game.
- Launch the GeForce Experience app
- Click the Share button (or press ALT+Z)
- Click Settings
- Select HUD layout
- Under FPS Counter choose where you want the counter to be displayed while you game
Fraps is an app designed to help with benchmarking and video game capture, but it does come with an FPS counter. This is perfect if you play games that aren’t on Steam and/or you don’t use an NVIDIA GPU. The best part is that Fraps is also free to download and use and is also a lightweight app that shouldn’t take up too much resources.
- Launch Fraps
- Select the “99 FPS” tab
- You can change the placement of the FPS counter and the hotkey to bring it up
- Minimize Fraps and launch your game and you should be all set
What Is FPS And Does It Matter?
FPS (frames per second) quite literally means how many frames are being generated per second. The higher the FPS count, the smoother the animation on your screen should look. There are many things that can affect a game’s FPS, such as your choice of processor, your GPU, your RAM, and also your in-game settings.
However, FPS doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story or indicate how powerful a computer is. For example, if you’re running a game at max settings and you’re getting 15 FPS, this is obviously not very playable, so dropping your settings could result in your FPS going up to 30 FPS, which is better.
Unless you have a high-end gaming rig, it’s usually a toss up between having better-looking graphics or having a smoother framerate. Some games that aren’t so action-packed might still be playable at lower FPS, but you might have a detrimental experience with action-paced games like first-person shooters if you are playing at lower framerates.
So, does FPS matter? Yes and no. It can be a good indication of how well your computer’s hardware is performing. If you have a top-of-the-line setup but somehow the game you’re playing gives you a suspiciously low FPS, it could be an indication that something is wrong. Maybe you have outdated drivers, maybe the game is bugged, maybe your GPU is defective, and so on.
It can also be useful to see what the peak capabilities are of your setup. Cranking your game’s settings to the max and seeing the max FPS you can get will help you better understand your computer’s limitations and set your settings accordingly.