Frame Rate (FPS) Vs. Refresh Rate (Hz): Key Differences to Know For a Smooth Display

If you are searching for a video game, monitor, or gaming LED display, you must have encountered the FPS vs. Hz debate. It is not strange to consider “frame rate” and “refresh rate” to be similar, considering the close principles of their functionalities. However, it’s important to note that they are not the same, and this article highlights their major differences. Let’s begin!

What Is Frame Rate?

When playing fast-paced video games, watching movies, or displaying a high-speed ad, the viewing experience is as important as the display content, so smooth movement is crucial. Frame rate is one factor that influences the look and feel of your visuals. Its unit of measurement is in frames per second (FPS) and this signifies the pace at which your display is consistently recorded. 

So, the number of fps you use in capturing and playing back the video is the number of images it’ll display every second. Let’s say you capture a video and play it back at 60FPS, this means it will show 60 high-quality still images. The higher the FPS, the smoother and better the display and give verse. 

For example, the 24 and 30FPS are similar to how humans view the world, so filmmakers mostly use them, especially the 24FPS to create a more immersive experience for viewers. On the flip side, live videos or fast-paced displays, often have higher frame rates of 60FPS+ because there’s a lot of movement occurring simultaneously. 

What Is Refresh Rate?

The refresh rate measured in hertz refers to the number of times your display technology can draw unique images in a second. A smaller refresh rate means that your device is only limited to creating images that do not exceed that particular number per second. 

For instance, If your LED screen or video player has 144Hz, it means that it refreshes the image 144 times per second. A higher Hz also reduces motion blur, resulting in a more responsive display.

It is important to know that FPS and Hz work hand in hand to improve the overall viewing experience. Since they work together, a higher refresh rate means your visualization device can showcase more frames per second and vice-versa. Televisions come in different Hz ranging from 60Hz to 120Hz, 144Hz, and up to 240Hz.

What Is Refresh Rate

The 144Hz+ screens are most beneficial for gaming. In fact, gamining monitor FPS vs Hz debates are more pronounced because gamers are looking for the best motion graphics quality and experience. 

So 144Hz+ screens are more responsive when handling fast-paced motion and have a smoother display. The specification of 144Hz and above enables casual and professional gamers to engage in console gaming using high-refresh-rate modes to sync with the high-speed of the display.

Key Differences Between Refresh Rate and Frame Rate (Hz Vs FPS)

To help you better understand how their concept and how they work, here are some of the major Hz vs. FPS differences;

1. Unit of Measurement

As indicated earlier, the frame rate’s unit of measurement is frames per second (FPS). It indicates how many individual frames, or images, are displayed every second in a video or animation. In contrast, the refresh rate’s measurement unit is Hertz (Hz). It represents how often your display technology updates the content in one second.

2. FPS Vs. Hz: Functionality

Another notable FPS vs Hz difference is in their unique functionalities. Hz influences the smoothness of the display experience, including animations, scrolling, and transitions between video frames. While FPS focuses on eliminating flickers and improving the realism of motion within individual frames.  

3. Impact on Display Quality

The frame rate directly affects the quality of motion in videos and animations, making scenes appear smoother and reducing motion blur. On the other hand, the latter impacts the display technology’s perceived quality. Higher refresh rates contribute to reduced moire effect, flickering, and a more fluid visual experience.

4. Noticeability

When it comes to their content dependency, frame rate is more noticeable in content with rapid motion, such as action-packed movies or video games. Meanwhile, the refresh rate is relevant across all types of content. As discussed previously, it ensures smoother transitions between frames, benefiting even slower-paced content.

5. Application

While other applications solely depend on a higher frame rate to have a smoother display, others can do with lower FPS. Gamers, especially professionals, need high frame rates for smoother and more responsive gameplay. However, refresh rate is important for all content consumption and everyday display usage.

6. Hardware Impact and Upgrade

Higher frame rates often require more processing power from the device playing the content. On the flip side, Hz requires support from the display and the device driving it. For upgrading the FPS, you will have to change your graphics processing unit (GPU) to a higher one, but to upgrade the Hz; you will have to change your monitor or the display technology you are using.

Tabular Representation of FPS Vs. Hz Difference

The table below summarizes the key differences between an FPS vs. Hz TV, monitors, or other types of LED displays, shedding light on their roles in a display system.

Parameter Frame Rate (FPS) Refresh Rate (Hz)
Measurement Frames per second (FPS) Hertz
Dependency It depends on GPU, RAM, and CPU It depends on the screen, monitor, or video player
Best Practice It should be equal to or below the refresh rate It should be equal to or above the frame rate
Functionality   The ability of the CPU or GPU to draw frames on display each second (playback speed) The ability of the display technology to refresh content every second 
Benefit Enhances realism in fast-paced scenes Reduces flickering and enhances visual comfort
Compatibility  Constrained by content’s original frame rate and display capabilities Limited by the display’s native refresh rate

Hz Vs. FPS: What Matters for a Smooth Gaming Experience?

Hz Vs. FPS What Matters for a Smooth Gaming Experience

As mentioned earlier, the gaming monitor Hz vs FPS questions rages on because gamers can’t afford to experience lagging displays during game time. The good news is that both Hz and FPS are crucial for the best experience. 

However, it is advisable that the game’s frame rate matches or is slightly below the monitor or LED screen’s refresh rate. For instance, if the game supports a 144FPS game mode, it is advisable to have a monitor or screen with a 144Hz refresh rate or higher. But lower modes and higher frequencies, like 60FPS+ and  120Hz+, are also good on certain consoles and gaming computers.

What Is the Best for Your Display?

The FPS vs Hz debate will continue to push the LED display screen industry toward more innovations. If you’re into competitive video gaming, especially ones that involve quick reflexes and precise aiming (like 120FPS and above), a high refresh rate monitor (120Hz or higher) can give you an advantage by providing smoother animations and reducing motion blur. 

Whichever you choose, ensure that the Hz is equal to or higher than the FPS. For better understanding, check out this NSE LED guide on five things you need to know about LED screen display refresh rate.

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