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Does a high FPS matter?

With the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X and they’re ability to hit up to 120fps (frame per second) many people have started to ask whether a high FPS makes a big difference. 

We’ve created this guide to provide you with everything you need to know about frame rates and whether it’s worth upgrading your console or GPU to gain a better performance. 

Does a high FPS matter? 

In short, yes. A high FPS results in smoother visuals, so when you quickly aim your gun at a target or speed around a tight bend in a racer, everything in view remains in clear focus. It also helps to reduce the likes of latency and blurring effects, making it substantially easier to track a target which is obviously very important for competitive shooters. 

Nvidia has even provided research which shows that there’s a positive correlation between the power of a graphics card and the kill/death ratio of a player in battle royale games, which suggests having a high FPS does in fact improve your performance in games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty. 

Related: Best Graphics Card 2020

Credit: Nvidia

Playing devil’s advocate, you could argue this correlation is a result of skilled players having an increased likelihood of purchasing high-end hardware, but Nvidia has published evidence to suggest the correlation remains intact when factoring in the number of hours a player spends on a game per week.

However, it’s also important to remember that the jump from 30fps to 60fps will make a substantially bigger difference than say 144fps to 174fps. As the frame rate increases, it becomes gradually more difficult for the naked eye to detect a difference. For this reason, most people will likely be fine with a 60fps performance in single player action games.

Let’s take Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on the PS5 for example. When set to Fidelity mode, the game runs in 4K at 30fps, and there is a noticeable jarring effect when sharply turning the camera mid swing. Activate Performance mode, which ups the frame rate to 60fps at the expense of Ray Tracing, and the visuals suddenly look a lot smoother. 

Related: Best Gaming Monitor 2020

If we were able to push this frame rate up again to 144Hz, it’s arguable that many people wouldn’t notice a significant difference as you rarely need to track movement as precisely as you would in a shooter. The benefits of a high FPS really do depend on what kind of game you’re playing. It’s not really important in the likes of Super Mario or The Sims for example, but can make a big difference for first-person shooters, MOBAs and racing games.

It’s also important to remember that you’ll need a display with a high refresh rate to see the benefits of a high FPS. If your PS5, Xbox Series X or PC is running a game at 120fps but your display is limited to 60Hz, then you may as well be playing the game at 60fps as the screen is incapable of refreshing quick enough to keep up with the GPU. 

This is a particularly big issue for console gamers who like playing on a TV, as the majority of televisions are limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. But unless you’re desperate for a performance advantage in competitive shooters, I’d argue that 60fps is absolutely fine for the majority of gamers.