Generally, 30 FPS is roughly the lowest framerate at which a game is still playable. However, most gamers agree that 60 FPS is probably the ideal target since it offers extra fluidity. Meanwhile, higher triple-digit framerates are only truly relevant for competitive gamers, though some may like having the extra responsiveness even in their single-player games.
If there is anything that PC gamers love to argue about, it’s either graphics or framerates, and it’s the latter that we’ll be discussing in this article. Namely, what is the best FPS for gaming – and is there even such a thing?
Of course, FPS will vary based on a number of factors: the capabilities of the hardware, the optimization of the game, the resolution, the graphics settings, etc. Furthermore, individual opinions also vary in regards to what FPS can be considered as “playable” and just how much use there is in a high framerate.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
What is FPS?
FPS is an acronym that stands for frames-per-second. Essentially, it represents how many images the GPU is able to render each second and how many are being displayed on your monitor each second.
For example, if a game was running at 1 frame per second, you would only be seeing one image every second. This is more akin to a slideshow than a real-time experience and a game would, obviously, be unplayable at 1 FPS.
So, basically, the more frames are rendered and displayed each second, the smoother the experience will be.
The human eye is a highly advanced organ, but it can hardly tell the difference between a couple of frames. Because of that and because of hardware-imposed standards, FPS is usually rounded up to the following framerates:
- 30 FPS – The performance targeted by consoles and weaker PCs. Keep in mind, though, that stuttering is only noticeable at under 20 FPS, so anything above 20 FPS can be considered playable.
- 60 FPS – This is the target goal for most gaming PCs. On consoles, only the less demanding or better-optimized games can manage a stable 60 FPS.
- 120 FPS – A framerate that is only possible on monitors with 120-165 Hz refresh rates and is what only the more powerful high-end gaming PCs can achieve in demanding games without any settings drops. It is not achievable by consoles (yet).
- 240 FPS – Manageable only by the fastest 240 Hz monitors, 240 FPS is as high as modern-day displays can go.
Keep in mind that the higher the framerate, the harder it is for the human eye to see a difference. For example, anyone would be able to see just how much smoother 60 FPS is compared to 30 FPS but a difference between 120 FPS and 240 FPS is often difficult to see in real time even when compared side by side.
What is the Best FPS for Gaming?
Here, we come to the titular question. However, it is one that is impossible to answer.
Well, simply because there is no single best framerate that is ideal for everyone and for every type of game. Personal preferences aside, it can be summarized as:
- 30 FPS – Good enough for single-player and for a more cinematic experience.
- 60 FPS – The ideal framerate for most people, as the extra fluidity makes games more responsive and can provide an edge in multiplayer. Also good for games where reacting to animations is important.
- 120 FPS – Much more fluid and responsive than 60 FPS, it can provide a valuable edge to competitive gamers, though some appreciate the extra responsiveness in single-player games, even if it comes at the cost of graphics.
- 240 FPS – Just like 120 FPS, 240 FPS will usually only be deemed worthwhile by a competitive gamer willing to invest in a 240 Hz monitor. Obviously, it offers twice as many frames per second, but the difference between 120 FPS and 240 FPS is more difficult to notice than the difference between 30 and 60 or between 60 and 120 FPS.
Furthermore, when it comes to framerates, it is also worth noting the following factors:
- The type of monitor – As mentioned above, only certain monitors with high refresh rates can actually display framerates beyond the standard 60 Hz. As such, getting one such monitor may mean passing on some other features. For example, 144 Hz and 240 Hz monitors mostly use TN panels, which have poor color accuracy and viewing angles compared to IPS or VA panels. Check out this article if you want to know more about these types of panels. Plus, the resolution is something to consider as well.
- The hardware – If you’re getting a monitor with a high refresh rate, then you’ll also need a GPU that can actually run games at those high framerates, which may be a considerable investment if you want to maintain both a high framerate and high graphics settings in AAA games.
- The games you play – Running the latest AAA games in 120 FPS is not easy, but the same can’t be said for eSports games such as CS: GO, Overwatch, Dota 2, etc. If you mainly play eSports games or otherwise well-optimized games that don’t need overly beefy hardware to run at triple-digit framerates, then you don’t have to worry about getting a $500+ GPU to go with your 144 Hz/240 Hz monitor.
So, in the end, the framerate that you should target should be based on the capabilities of your PC, the games that you generally play, and whether you prefer performance over visuals or vice versa.
Even 30 FPS is quite playable and can actually make for a more cinematic experience (especially if a game has not-so-stellar animations) but most people will agree that 60 FPS is the ideal middle ground between responsiveness and cost-effectiveness.
Meanwhile, triple-digit framerates are great for competitive multiplayer or just for people who prefer having extra responsiveness in their single-player games, even if it means dropping some graphics settings. However, keep in mind that a 144 Hz monitor or a 240 Hz monitor is a special investment that, while it is not necessarily expensive, will mean that you will have to pass on some other features that a 60 Hz monitor in the same price range would have, which is usually better visuals.
And as a final word, if you’re currently shopping for a new monitor, we would advise checking out our thorough guide on the best gaming monitors of 2019!
Samuel is GamingScan’s editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a hardcore gamer & programmer and he enjoys getting more people into gaming and answering people’s questions. He closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep you all up-to-date with the latest news.