To answer your question succinctly, yes, lowering your resolution will increase your FPS.
When you reduce the resolution of the game you’re playing, the graphics processor has less information to process and can process more frame data simultaneously. But you might not want to lower your resolution to increase your FPS unless you’ve got severe FPS lag in-game.
In this article, we’ll aim to cover how Resolution and FPS affect your gaming experience and give you some tips for raising your FPS without lowering your resolution.
What Is FPS? Why Is It Important?
FPS stands for “frames-per-second.” In short, your frame rate is the number of images displayed on the screen in one second that makes up an animation.
The more frames get displayed, the more information you have as a player.
Remember how enemies would suddenly appear on the screen in older games when you scrolled into the area instead of walking onto the screen? This is because of low frame rates.
With fewer frames being displayed per second, you’ll see fewer “tweens,” as we say in videography. These “tweens” or “in-betweens” are the images between significant portions of the animation.
For instance, if you display a one-second animation of a person taking a step forward, a 60 FPS image will show 60 different images, while a 15 FPS animation will show 15 images. With more tweens, there’s more information being displayed. This video shows the difference between animations in 15, 30, and 60 frames per second.
It can be hard to see at full speed, but the images display slower in the 15 FPS video. This is because fewer images are being shown and fewer tweens. So, when you might see something spawning, it appears without the animation.
If you pause the video at 2:15, you can see that the “enemy” character is placed in a different spot in each video. Additionally, in the preceding video of this “enemy” character destroying the structures the player is building, if you slow the tape down to 0.25 speed, you can see the structures animating differently and being killed at “different” rates.
This is important to gaming because the faster you can see an animation starting, the quicker you can respond to it, and in the world of gaming, a few frames can make all the difference.
This video shows three balls moving at different frame rates to illustrate it better. The 24 FPS ball appears to lag behind the other balls because the data is unavailable to the computer for the tweens that would allow the ball to “keep up.”
This second video is a little easier to see since the animation is much simpler. But you can see that the three balls move differently, and the 30FPS and 24FPS balls lag behind the 60FPS ball because the frame data for those tweens isn’t there.
What’s the Difference Between Resolution and Frame Rate?
The other data structure used in game visuals is the resolution. “Resolution” is how many pixels make up the image.
More pixels mean better-defined photos and more detail. However, adding more detail and pixel information to an image takes longer to produce more images.
If your computer can’t process the images your game produces fast enough, you can experience slowdown or frame lag. This can generally be remedied by lowering your resolution or changing the graphics settings to turn off more intensive processes like shadows and water textures.
Simply put, the frame rate is how fast your computer produces images to display animations, and resolution is how much data is contained in each image.
Will Reducing My Resolution Increase My Frame Rate?
Yes, decreasing your game’s resolution will increase your frame rate. This benchmark test done by TechPowerup shows that games do drop in frame rate as the answer is improved.
FPS was shown to decrease by 15–20 FPS when going from 1600×900 to 1920×1080, and going up to resolutions like 5760×1080, players will see a drop of over 50 FPS on average coming from 1600×900.
While newer graphics cards are more than capable of simultaneously producing both high frame rates and high resolution, people with older PCs would need to choose between a high resolution and a high frame rate.
So, if you’re in a situation where you’re running an older computer, let’s take a look at some solutions to boost your frame rate without lowering your resolution.
Settings to Change If You Have a Low Frame Rate
- Shaders & Light Quality
Perhaps the biggest threat to your graphics card’s processing is shaders. Dynamic shading is standard in new games, and these shaders require enormous processing power to use in high definition.
Turning off shadows or lowering the shaders’ quality can drastically improve performance without hurting your resolution. Some people even find games easier to see and play without shaders on since the shaders make things darker (as they’re supposed to?).
Lowering the Lighting quality can also improve performance since creating dynamic lighting is relatively processing intensive.
Anti-Aliasing in graphics refers to smoothing out the lines and reducing visual distortions. Many methods of anti-aliasing are used in game design, and some games can even utilize different forms of anti-aliasing to allow for better performance across all systems.
Try messing with your anti-aliasing settings, or turning anti-aliasing off, to see if you can get more frames without the additional stress of anti-aliasing software.
V-Sync stands for “Vertical Sync,” a software process where the game syncs your framerate to your monitor’s refresh rate. Refresh rate is the speed at which your computer can draw new images to display. The faster your monitor can draw new ideas, the more frames it can show per second.
When V-Sync is on, your computer must do extra work to sync the frame rate with your monitor’s refresh rate. This can lower your game’s performance since it will force your graphics card and CPU to do more work, and they’ll produce images slower because they’re doing more work to make the images at the same rate as your refresh rate.
- Motion Blur
This is just me, but I hate motion blur when you’re moving the camera in a game. I don’t think it adds anything but an extra load onto your graphics processor.
My honest recommendation is to turn it off whenever you can. Not only does motion blur make it harder for your computer to process your game, but it also muddies what you see when you’re moving the camera during the action portions of the game, making playing the game more complicated.
Do yourself a favor. Turn it off.
- Field of View
Field of View or FOV is also something that can lower your performance. When you have a high field of view, your graphics processor must process more images since you have a higher FOV and thus see more of the surrounding information.
This is great, even necessary for games like Counterstrike, where lowering your FOV leaves you susceptible to being killed by someone off-screen.
But you know what also leaves you susceptible to being killed by someone off-screen? Not being able to see where you’re moving and react appropriately to stimuli. If you’re experiencing a significant graphical slowdown, try narrowing your FOV to get more out of the images you see.
It can be frustrating to find out you can’t play your new game at the highest settings, but turning them down can improve your experience with your game while you wait for your new graphics card to arrive in the mail.
Try turning down other graphics settings to see which enhances your experience the most!