It can get very confusing for anyone looking to build or upgrade their gaming PC with the various hardware options on the market. GPUs are the most crucial and primary part when it comes to gaming.
So, of course, your GPU affects your in-game FPS, but that’s only the short answer. Another story is to understand better how FPS work and how they relate to your GPU and other PC components.
In this article, we will show you how your GPU, CPU, and other parts affect your gaming FPS, how to increase your FPS, and how to choose a suitable GPU for your gaming needs correctly.
How Does a GPU Affect FPS?
A GPU’s primary purpose is to display the image on your computer’s screen. No PC can do so without either a dedicated or a discrete GPU/APU. As such, GPUs are built differently than CPUs and are specifically engineered to quickly and efficiently process things such as lighting, shadows, textures, and image post-processing.
A GPU is made up of several key components that all have a direct impact on your FPS:
- GPU Architecture: It is arguably the most important factor. Generally, the newer ones are the better ones. Also, the faster GPU architectures come in different generations.
- GPU Memory size: Every GPU has its own built-in memory size buffer. The more GB your video card has, the more information it can process at once.
- GPU Core and memory clock speeds: This is the rate at which your GPU operates; the higher, the better.
Now that you are aware of a GPU’s major factors, you can learn how each of them affects your FPS and how to get the most performance out of your GPU. With that out of the way, we need to address something else significant as well.
What Exactly Is Frames Per Second?
This is the rate at which your graphics card updates information on your screen. It determines how smooth you perceive it to be. The more FPS you get, the better (but only past a certain point).
Every second, depending on your system’s hardware and your screen refresh rate, you will see a certain number of static images displayed in rapid succession to give the illusion of movement.
Some people can only perceive a certain amount of FPS, so be aware that there are diminishing returns past a certain threshold (some people can hardly tell between 120 and 240 Hz, for example).
How Much FPS Do You Need to Play Games?
The gold standard for balancing quality with performance is 60 frames per second. There is no set rule of how many FPS you need to play – to each person their own.
For example, you could play chess at just one frame per second perfectly fine, since in chess, the reaction time comes second to calculating the move in advance and taking your time (unless you play bullet chess, of course).
How Can I Get More FPS in Games?
There are three primary ways to get more FPS in your games directly. The first and most obvious step is upgrading your GPU to a more powerful one.
The second way is by lowering your in-game graphical settings so that your GPU can put out more frames per second. Lowering settings such as shadows or volumetric lighting can dramatically boost your FPS at a slight quality sacrifice.
Suppose you play the Witcher 3; you would have a much more excellent experience playing it at a stable 60 fps than at 45 fps, but with slightly better textures or shadows.
Overclocking your GPU is the third and most fun way to increase FPS. Overclocking is the simple step of setting your GPU to run at a higher frequency. You can change either your GPUs core or memory speed. Be careful, though, since if you overdo it, you might experience visual artifacts or sudden game crashes.
The sweet spot for your GPUs memory and core clock speeds is in the range where you won’t experience any downsides and only gain a performance increase.
How Much Does My GPU’s Memory Size Matter?
Every GPU comes with a fixed amount of built-in memory. Your GPU’s memory speed and amount have a tremendous impact on gaming. Your GPU memory size determines how much data your GPU can process.
It’s always best if your GPU’s memory size exceeds the in-game requirements, as this will allow for the most FPS and the smoothest gameplay. Suppose, if your GPU is constantly using 100% of its memory you might experience stuttering, freezing, and frame rate drops.
To find out how much of your GPUs memory is being used in the game under load, follow these steps:
- Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE and click on Task Manager
- Click on the Performance tab
- Select your GPU. If you don’t have a discrete GPU, check the CPU description instead.
Granted that GPU memory size buffer comes second to other GPU parameters such as CUDA or Core count, clock speeds, and architecture, it still plays a big part in FPS stability. In many cases, just getting the faster memory speed while using the same GPU will give a sizable FPS boost.
How to Find the Right GPU for Your Needs?
Finding the right GPU is about getting something that suits your needs. Here are two scenarios that could help you determine what sort of GPU will be best for your situation:
- Suppose you want to play the latest and greatest AAA modern title that you want to run at 4k resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, then you will need a high-end flagship GPU.
- If you plan to play the regular MOBA game here and there a few times a week, your hard-earned money can be spent on other areas by going for an entry or mid-level GPU instead.
In general, GPUs are made to cater to specific audiences. Entry-level GPUs from the newer generations will let you play and enjoy all the low-medium graphically intense games. Remember that the most used GPU according to Steam is the NVIDIA 1060. So, with that in mind, developers will always have a general idea of how graphically demanding their games can be so that the general user can fully enjoy them.
Many of the newest entries to mid-level GPUs are very capable so if you are like most gamers and all you play is MOBA games like League of legends, then getting an NVIDIA 3090-Ti would indeed be overkill.
However, don’t disregard high-end GPUs. The best part about the top-of-the-line NVIDIA or AMD GPUs is that you can expect that they will serve you not only for all current games but also for the next few years of video game releases. People who purchased the legendary 1080-Ti can still game at over 60FPS on Ultra high settings at 1080 or 1440p resolutions, no matter what game.
TIP: When it comes to money efficiency, invest in a GPU that will last for a longer time period. This concept is referred to as future-proofing and it can save you a lot of your hard-earned money in the long run since you won’t have to upgrade your GPU so often.
How Does My CPU Affect My FPS?
Your CPU is the second most crucial component for gaming. CPUs handle calculations like AI logic, complex physics, and online streaming and are responsible for also running all the vital background system operations. Many of the latest games rely heavily on the CPU, and if your CPU does not enable your GPU to run at 100% load, it will bottleneck your FPS.
- Your CPUs core count and clock speed all affect your in-game FPS.
- Don’t just buy the cheapest CPU available and spend all your budget on the GPU.
- Your CPU performance must be proportionate and comparable to your GPU.
With the upcoming AAA games being released, it’s become the norm for games to be developed around hyperthreading and multi-core support. For now, a sweet spot for your CPU core count would be six since it offers significant productivity versus price ratio.
At the same time, eight-core CPUs would be more future-proof. Don’t worry if you have just a dual or quad-core CPU; for many of the most played games on the market, you don’t need more than that.
If you want a nice FPS increase for free, read up on how to properly overclock your CPU, if your brand and motherboard allow for overclocking, as it’s free FPS performance at a slight cost of higher electricity bills.