Information About Frame Rate

A comparison of 50, 25, and 12.5 FPS.

What is Frame Rate?

Frames per second (FPS) measures the number of images your computer can produce every second. Higher frame rates mean that your screen will show more images per second, which means that you will see a smoother animation. Lower frame rates cause a game to appear to stutter, which is generally not enjoyable for the player.

The more graphical power your PC is capable of producing, the higher your frame rate will be. This generally results in a more ideal gaming experience.

Framerate is a very visual topic, so it is quite difficult to explain it purely through text. Please take a moment to view the following visual sources for FPS:

The following image, reproduced from Creating Smooth Animation, roughly shows what FPS would look like over 1 second, if each frame was represented by a black bar.

You can see that at 60 FPS, the average time between frames is short, making gaming appear smooth. The lower your frame rate, the longer you have to wait for the next frame, which is what causes the “stuttering,” "laggy" experience.

Games generally can be of the thinking type, where gameplay is slower paced, or of the twitch reaction style, where gameplay is very fast. Strategy games, card games, roleplaying games are usually slower paced, depending more on your thinking than having extreme reaction speed.

On the other hand, shooters, racing games and beat-em-ups need lightning fast reaction speed from the player. Action/adventure or platforming titles can be either.

Slower paced games can still be tolerably playable, even at low frame rates. A game such as Civilization does not have too many things visually changing every second, so a low frame rate will not produce any jarring lag.

A game such as Counter-Strike needs to have very high frame rates, since it is entirely possible that you need to turn to face several directions very quickly. While 20 FPS in Civilization is somewhat acceptable, 20 FPS in Counter Strike is infuriating.

What's a Good Frame Rate?

We classify frame rates as follows:

  • Sub-20 FPS: Unplayable. Don't even bother.
  • 20-30 FPS: Borderline. Some people are OK with getting 20-30 FPS, though it may depend on the game. Getting less than 30 FPS in a fast-paced game may still feel unplayable to some gamers.
  • 30-45 FPS: Playable. Most people are OK playing at this frame rate, even if it's not perfect.
  • 45-60 FPS: Smooth. Most PC gamers aim to achieve frame rates in this range.
  • 60+ FPS: Very smooth.

Currently, most standard screens can only display a maximum of 60 FPS, so that is the natural limit for typical computer users.

For extreme gamers or competitive professionals, there are some screens that can display up to 144 FPS. These higher framerates are even smoother, but such screens are usually very expensive.

On our homepage, you can hover over a tier name to see the PC's star rating for a number of popular games, like so:

These star ratings give you an idea of how well the PC will run each game:

  • 0 Stars: The PC cannot adequately play the game
  • 1 Star: The PC can play the game at a tolerable frame rate and low resolution
  • 2 Stars: 60+ FPS at 900p resolution (1600x900)
  • 3 Stars: 60+ FPS at 1080p resolution (1920x1080)
  • 4 Stars: 60+ FPS at 1440p resolution (2560x1440)
  • 5 Stars: 60+ FPS at 4K resolution (3840x2160)

For more information on resolution, please check our Screen Resolution page.

At, you can view all of our PC build recommendations to improve your FPS with the best bang-for-buck. Under "Best Game Builds" in our menu, you can see optimal PC build information for specific games.