Video games have come a long way ever since the original and basic Pong back in the 1970s. Nowadays, they are exponentially more demanding when it comes to processing power, leading to increased sales in GPUs to boost the framerate (FPS), in turn, making the game smoother. That brings us to the question, how much FPS (frames-per-second) do you need?
The answer to that question will depend on the current stage of technology we’re all in. The answer will definitely change in five years or so. But for now, the “acceptable” baseline for how much FPS is comfortable in PC gaming, is still currently 60 FPS, preferably higher.
It’s Not That Simple
Well, 60 FPS is the simple answer if you’re just looking for a quick information fix. But we all know it’s more complicated than that. Technology advances fast, after all. There’s also the fact that some eyes are more sensitive to framerate than others and might prefer higher or smoother framerates.
Hence, we believe a more detailed breakdown might be necessary; while 60 FPS is pretty smooth and ample, it’s starting to feel slow and sluggish as per today’s standards and computer hardware capability.
The 60 FPS standard likely stemmed from the fact that monitors from the previous two decades were limited to 60Hz which is the frequency or the scientific debate that the human eye can mostly see 30 to 60 FPS. That’s how much maximum framerate these monitors can display before the excess processing power goes to waste. In layman’s terms, the monitor’s refresh rate is how much FPS or framerate it can display.
Think of the framerate like a stickman flipbook art and the frames are the individual pages you draw on. More frames mean a smoother stickman animation when you flip the pages. So naturally, you’d want a higher framerate to make the movement transitions more lifelike.
But nowadays, monitor frequencies can go as high as 480Hz, meaning they can display a framerate of 480 FPS, which is dizzyingly high.
In fact, a 60Hz monitor is often considered a poor display or screen by today’s standards. Because the decent standard for any gaming-related monitor these days would be 144Hz. This simply offers a snappier and more responsive operation both in gaming, productivity, and even simple Windows operations such as resizing tabs or selecting multiple icons.
So to digress a bit from the topic, we would advise you to stay away from 60Hz monitors; they’re a relic, a dying breed. Besides, there are plenty of budget 144Hz monitors out there.
But 480Hz or 480FPS? Who exactly needs that much? Let’s explore the use cases, shall we?
Different Games, Different Needs
Some games are simply too quick to stay on 60 FPS maximum or even at 144 FPS. Competitive titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Valorant, etc. all need higher FPS or refresh rates.
The framerate for a game like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, for example, can go as high as 300+ FPS on a mid-range gaming setup. You will also need to see that much since more frames equates to more information shown on the screen, this helps immensely in making split-second reactions or decisions.
Meanwhile, slower, story-based video games such as Cyberpunk 2077 are fine cruising on 60 FPS or a bit higher.
Even slower games such as The Sims 4 can even get by with just 30 FPS, which is great if the only thing you have is a budget laptop for gaming.
So the more detailed answer to the “how much FPS do you need?” question would depend on the game you play.
For competitive games, you would need 144+ FPS.
For RPGs, action games, and first-person shooters, 60+ FPS is enough.
For everything else, 60 FPS or slightly below that is also enough.
Of course, we also have to factor in which framerate you find comfortable (assuming you’re not playing competitive multiplayer games).
Generally, higher framerates or 60+ FPS feels smoother and thus more comfortable both to the eyes and the hands. You can even notice this in a simple Windows drag-and-drop operation.
But your mileage may vary.
Some people find that 30 FPS is enough for them while others prefer smoother viewing and gaming experiences, such as 60+ FPS. That’s why even gaming consoles such as the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are trying to achieve a stable 60 FPS in their games; though with graphically-intensive titles, they can usually achieve just 30 FPS.
Higher FPS is More Demanding and More Expensive
Then again, despite having a preference for higher framerates, there’s another major factor that might limit your viewing and comfort experience. That would be the price of gaming hardware.
Rendering, coloring, and moving dozens of 3D images in milliseconds depending on the player’s actions is a marvelous marriage of art and technology. But it comes at a cost since the GPU/graphics card is the hardware responsible for that and those tend to be the most expensive components of a gaming computer.
If you want a stable 60+ FPS at High or Ultra settings for the latest and most graphically-advanced games, your gaming computer would need to be in the mid-range category (usually around $1,000 to $1,500). The GPU for such a setup costs anywhere from $300 to $500.
You can always lower the graphical settings to achieve 60+ FPS on a weaker and less expensive gaming machine but at the cost of visuals and aesthetics.
For competitive multiplayer games, most serious players just crank down the graphical settings to their lowest anyway to achieve the highest FPS possible.
But the point for this section of the discussion is that what you need or want as a target FPS might not be as easily achievable or might be limited by how much money you have for this kind of hobby (or profession if it’s work-related).
Why is FPS so Important?
For some regular gamers who likely won’t even notice the difference from 50-60 FPS or anything above 60 FPS, why is FPS even important?
Well, technically, FPS or framerate lets you measure if you’re getting your money’s worth. Gaming devices, including the PC, are not cheap, after all.
How much FPS you’re getting is the best metric you’ll want to monitor closely to see whether your GPU or computer is performing the same as others of its tier (assuming graphical settings and other factors are identical or similar).
And of course, frames are information. If you see more information being processed and rendered at lightning speeds, you can react faster or more accordingly. In some cases, higher framerates even alleviate screen time-related headaches or eye problems.
Higher FPS or framerates also help to bring digital animations or movements closer to what you can see in real-life motions, but that depends on the sensitivity of the eyes and at what framerate the brain perceives as continuous motion or smooth motion.
With all that’s been said, just aim for 60 or 60+ FPS in most games if you worry too much about smoothness, higher is always better, of course.