When looking to get the best performance out of your computer, the two most common things to compare performance are the monitor’s refresh rate (Hz) and your computer’s FPS output.
These two things can help increase performance and provide a smoother gaming experience overall.
So? What even is the difference between refresh rate and FPS? Which one is better?
The refresh rate of the monitor shows how many times the monitor can refresh its screen every second Whereas, FPS measures how many frames your computer can display every second. The GPU is most important to FPS output but other parts such as the CPU help FPS as well. FPS and refresh rate directly affects the smoothness and performance of your computer.
To understand the difference between refresh rate and FPS you first need to understand how both work and what they mean individually.
This will be explained throughout this article.
What is FPS?
FPS stands for frames per second. Whether it is in video or in a game every movement consists of a sequence of frames to show the movement.
FPS is just a series of pictures being shown on your screen very fast to make it look like the object in front of you is moving.
The more frames produced on your screen the smoother your screen will look The reason for this is because there will be more pictures shown on your screen in that same amount of time allowing for the picture to be drawn out a lot smoother.
With fewer frames, you will be able to see the pictures jump from one frame to another creating a very choppy gaming experience.
Here is an article I wrote on The Difference Between 30 FPS and 60 FPS When Gaming. This article will give you a more in-depth answer on how FPS really works.
What is Refresh Rate?
The refresh rate is measured in Hz. Hz (Hertz) is the number of times your monitor refreshes your screen every second.
You can see how this closely relates to FPS, however, they are not the same thing.
When you have a low refresh rate you can experience screen tearing because your monitor can’t keep up with your FPS. This will cause it to refresh its screen in the middle of two different frames causing your screen to tear.
Here is an article about 60Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz Gaming Monitors. This article will give you a more in-depth understanding of how the refresh rate of monitors works.
Can You Have High FPS and a Low Refresh Rate?
Yes, you can have a high fps and a low refresh rate nothing is stopping you. However, if you do this you won’t get as good of an experience when gaming because your low refresh rate monitor will feel like it is bottlenecking your computer’s FPS.
When your FPS is a lot higher than your refresh rate, you will start to experience screen tearing.
Screen tearing is when your monitor refreshes between two frames, and a broken image will be registered on your screen.
You can tell your screen is tearing when the movement of images is slightly off from each other. This is because your monitor is refreshing the next frame and the previous frame at the same time combining the two images on the screen.
In my opinion, I think it is still better to have more FPS no matter what because you are still getting those frames which can still give you an advantage. However, you put screen tearing up as a risk.
Can You Have a High Refresh Rate and Low FPS?
Yes, you can have a high monitor refresh rate and a low FPS. The problem with this is that you might experience something called screen stuttering.
Screen stuttering is when your monitor refreshes the same frame twice. This can cause your screen to look like it is stuttering, and/or lagging.
Although this problem can happen due to new improvements in technology manufacturers have tried their best to reduce screen stuttering from happening.
One thing to take away from this is whether you are building a pc or buying one, to figure out the average FPS you will be getting from most games, and purchase a monitor that has a refresh rate closest to the average FPS you get.
Is Refresh Rate or FPS More Important For Gaming?
If you want to get the smoothest gameplay from your PC, having both a high refresh rate monitor and high FPS from your computer will grant you the best performance and the smoothest visual gameplay experience.
However, if you had to pick just one then you will benefit the most from having a higher FPS.
FPS is the most important factor when it comes to the performance of a game. You can see that many PC enthusiasts are able to play games that reach over 500 FPS, as this is better than only having 60 FPS
Right now the top-end monitors can only reach up to 240 Hz refresh rate which is not even close to 500 FPS.
With a gaming rig like this, you will be able to get the best performance out of your PC, especially if you are playing a competitive game.
However, if you are looking to get the smoothest and best-looking gameplay bringing your FPS down to match your monitor’s refresh rate will actually help you in doing so.
So, depending on whether you want performance and visuals will depend on whether you value refresh rate or FPS more.