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What is Frame Rate?

The question ‘what is frame rate?’ is likely to have entered your mind if you have been exploring options for computer monitors or other displays for any length of time. Crucially, understanding the answer to this question can be beneficial for helping you to make an informed decision. At the same time, it is also important to know the limitations of discussing frame rate with monitors too.

Read on for more information on frame rate and its effects.

When people discuss monitors and other displays, they will often reference frame rate, which makes the question ‘what is frame rate?’ an important one to answer. It is also useful to cover some of the common misunderstandings and clear up areas of confusion, especially with regards to how it differs from other similar concepts, like refresh rate.

In this article, we will help by providing a clear definition of frame rate, but we will also attempt to explain how and why frame rate is relevant to discussions about computer monitors too.

The Definition of Frame Rate

When dealing with moving images on a display, whether it is a film or a video game, the movement comes from the display of consecutive images, which are known as frames. With this in mind, frame rate can be described as the measure of how often a new frame appears on the display. It is usually measured in frames per second (fps).

As an article from TechSmith points out, 24 fps is usually regarded as the minimum frame rate for motion to look realistic on a monitor or on a television. It is common for certain things to be presented at the higher frame rate of 30 fps, including live sport, because the extra six frames per second can produce benefits in terms of added detail in the movement. Meanwhile, for video games, 60 fps is often considered the optimum and this is especially true for games like first-person shooters, where precision and reaction times are critical.

Frame rate may also sometimes be referred to as frame frequency and although these describe the same basic concept, frame frequency is often expressed in hertz (Hz) instead of frames per second (fps). However, it is vital to clarify that both frame rate and frame frequency are completely distinct from the concept of refresh rate.

What is Frame rate?

The Relevance of Frame Rate for Monitors

Another thing that is crucial to point out is the fact that frame rate is not actually determined by your monitor or display. Instead, frame rate is determined by your computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU). Effectively, the more powerful your GPU and CPU are, the more frames they can produce.

So how is any of this relevant to your monitor? Put simply, if you are going to get the most out of your monitor, you need to make sure your CPU and GPU are able to produce a sufficient frame rate. After all, a high refresh rate on a gaming monitor is fairly meaningless if you are experiencing a low frame rate on your games at the same time.

For peak performance, you need both frame rate and refresh rate to be broadly in line with one another.

What is frame rate?

Final Thoughts

Although monitors are not directly responsible for producing frame rate, the concept is still relevant to them. In simple terms, no matter how good the refresh rate is on your monitor or display, you will not be able to reap the full rewards unless your graphics card and processor are able to produce a sufficient frame rate.