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What is frame rate?

Blink and you'll miss it...

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If you play loads of video games or watch a lot of telly, you’ll have heard all about frame rate. But what actually is it? And how does it impact your entertainment? Let’s dig into the nitty gritty…

What does fps mean?

Fps stands for ‘frames per second’. In frame rate, it’s the number of separate frames or images that are packed into a second of video or animation. The higher the fps, the smoother whatever you’re playing or watching should be. Whether that’s the latest big blockbuster title on your PC, or an epic experience on your VR headset. And this helps to make everything much more immersive and responsive.

What is the difference between 24fps, 30fps, 60fps, and 120fps?

Different frame rates are used across all different types of media. Here’s where and why…

24fps

  • Used in: Traditional filmmaking.

  • Why: It adds a cinematic look and it’s the standard movie frame rate. It’ll sometimes use a bit of motion blur too for arty reasons.

30fps

  • Used in: TV, online videos, and older console games.

  • Why: There’s a smoother motion than 24fps. It’s usually used for content where smoothness and realism are important, but not critical.

60fps

  • Used in: Most new console games and some TV shows.

  • Why: Way smoother than 30fps (and you’ll definitely see the difference). Gamers prefer it, as it reduces motion blur and makes visuals clearer. Especially during those high-speed moments!

120fps

  • Used in: High-end PC gaming, VR, and some video content.

  • Why: The smoothest, most responsive frame rate out there. It’s super useful in virtual reality, as it helps to reduce motion sickness. And because it’s more realistic it increases your immersion too.

Refresh rate vs. frame rate

When you’re looking into all things frame rate, you’ll probably come across refresh rate too. That’s because they’re sort of related.

Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz) and it’s the number of times a second that your display refreshes or redraws the image on the screen. Higher refresh rates reduce any motion blur, which keeps any fast-paced action nice and smooth.

Both of them actually work together. And for the best possible experience, you’ll want a telly, monitor or VR headset with a high frame rate and a high refresh rate. If one or the other is on the low side, your picture isn’t going to be as smooth as it could be.

How to boost frame rate

Fed up with a stuttering screen when you’re watching the telly or gaming? Here’s how to increase frame rate…

  1. Lower in-game settings: Most games nowadays are massive and have incredibly lifelike graphics. And both can put a lot of strain on your hardware. But lowering your graphics settings can reduce the workload big time on your graphics card.

  2. Update graphics drivers: Make sure that any graphics drivers are up to date. New versions usually come with performance improvements, so they’re worth downloading. Even if they sometimes do take a while.

  3. Adjust resolution: Dropping your screen resolution right down can bump up your TV or monitor for some extra frames.

  4. Close background programmes: Shut any apps you’re not using that might be running in the background. That way, you’ll free up any spare power in your system for your game or the show you’re streaming.

  5. Upgrade your hardware: You could replace your old console with a shiny PS5 or Xbox Series X. Or, if you’re on playing on PC, get a new graphics card, add more RAM or install a beefier CPU. All of this will help to boost your performance.

  6. Tweak in-game settings: Play around with the settings in your options menu. Experiment with sliders and try to find a balance between performance and visual quality.

  7. Overclocking: This involves running your components (like a CPU or graphics card) at a higher speed to increase performance. Only do this if you know what you’re doing, and your hardware supports it though.

Tech tip: Remember – the impact of these tips really depends on your hardware and the games or apps you’re using. Keep in mind what your tech is actually capable of.

FAQs

How long is 1 frame in 60fps?

This sounds like it could get pretty maths heavy - and if you’re like us, that’s not a lot of fun. But it’s actually quite straightforward. We just need to get our fps calculator out…

So, let’s say an animation or video is running at 60 frames per second. Every individual frame will be displayed on your screen for around 0.0167 seconds. Which isn’t long at all. And that keeps everything you’re looking at silky smooth.

How do you actually work that out? Well, for a quick fps calculation, you just take that 1 frame and divide it by 60. Which becomes 16.67 milliseconds. That’s blink and you’ll miss it stuff!

Can the eye see more than 60fps?

Absolutely. The human eye can see more than 60 frames per second. And lots of us can pick up on any smoother motion at much higher frame rates. We’re talking ones up to 120 and even 144fps. These higher frame rates are next level, especially when it comes to gaming. Where more responsive visuals can be the difference between finishing top or rock bottom of the multiplayer leader board.

Some people say that the improvement you’ll notice becomes less and less the higher you go though. It really all depends on how good your eyes are.

Does higher fps mean higher quality?

Not necessarily. A high frame rate does create way more fluid, smoother visuals. But it doesn’t actually have any impact on how good your image looks. That stuff comes down to things like resolution, contrast, detail, and the colour accuracy.

What is a good frame rate?

This really depends on what you’re doing. Like we’ve mentioned up above, certain frame rates suit different kinds of media. So, there’s not just one answer for this!

Confused about another techy term? Then make sense of TV tech with our jargon buster. And if it’s not there, you could always have a chat with one of our in-store experts and find out via ShopLive. They’ll be able to answer all your burning questions - no matter what they’re about. Nice.

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60fps gaming!