[HowTo] get the best performance for the least amount of money out of your games (Difference between FPS and Hz)

Difficulty: ★☆☆☆☆

This very simple tutorial ¹ will explain:

  • the basic physical metrics (FPS and Hz) that are the heaviest influencers of gaming performance
  • how to measure these metrics correctly and unambiguously.
  • where to invest if you want to improve your gaming performance.

If you’re reading this in response to a question, this is just an excerpt of the full text of the tutorial. Please click the link above this text to bring you to the full and unabridged text of the tutorial itself.

If you can read this line, you’re already where you’re supposed to be and don’t need to do anything any more

:warning:
The following is only 100% true for native Linux games and the more compatibility layers you add on top of native performance the less true this tutorial becomes.

Basics:

  • iGPU = integrated Graphics Processing Unit
    This GPU is built into your CPU and cannot be removed without upgrading the CPU as well.
  • dGPU = dedicated Graphics Processing Unit
    This GPU is separate from the CPU, and soldered onto the MoBo in laptops or resides in a PCI slot on a desktop
  • eGPU = external Graphics Processing Unit
    This GPU is hooked into a high-speed USB port / docking station / … and is mostly used to improve laptop GPU performance after it was bought.
  • FPS = Frames Per Second.
    • This metric is the raw speed of your game and gives the amount of frames that the external hardware will be able to display
    • 1 frame = 1 still image
    • This metric is mostly dependant on the hardware of your GPU and can only be increased by lowering the resolution without investing in a new GPU.
    • This metric is mostly dependent on the game as well. E.G. The original Tetris game was 3 FPS (Three!) and even on today’s modern hardware the original will not become a 25 FPS game regardless of what you do! :grin:
  • Hz = Herz, is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI) and is defined as one cycle per second.
    • 1 cycle = 1 still image
    • This metric is purely dependant on the hardware of your monitor and cannot be changed
  • Some examples:
    • 25 FPS/Hz = typical TV show experience
    • 30 FPS/Hz = typical cinema experience
    • 60 FPS/Hz = typical IMAX :tm: experience and about the maximum most humans can discern.
    • 144 FPS/Hz = High-end gaming experience and frankly a waste of money IMNSHO
    • Higher than 144: Your friend has definitely more money than sense as no human eyes can discern movement beyond 144Hz and your friend probably owns an iPhone as well further proving more money than sense… :man_shrugging:

Measurement

  • FPS:
    In a terminal, execute:

    glxgears
    

    let the program run for a minute and it will give you your system FPS.

    :warning: The best measurement for a specific game is to turn on FPS display from within the game itself if the game has that feature

  • Hz
    In a terminal, execute:

    xrandr
    

    and then you will see all the possible modes of all your monitors including the resolution and Hz.
    Please note that some resolutions will have a higher Hz and you should choose the Hz that is slightly higher but still close to OR equal to your FPS.

Scenarios

  • FPS = Hz: (within 10% of one another)
    • You have the ideal settings for your hardware already
    • if you want higher gaming performance than you already have, you need to invest in both a new GPU (eGPU for laptops, dGPU for desktops) and a new monitor.
  • FPS < Hz: (More than 10% difference)
    • You spent too much money on your monitor (or you bought your monitor future-proof for your next computer)
    • If you want higher gaming performance, you need to invest in another GPU that can use all of your monitor’s capabilities
  • FPS > Hz: (More than 10% difference)
    • You spent too much money on your GPU OR you did not spend enough money on your monitor.
    • What happens is that the GPU is sending more frames to the monitor than the monitor can display so it just discards the frames that it cannot physically display. ²
    • This is similar to drinking water out of a hose: some of the water is just going to splatter all over your body instead of making you less thirsty :grin:

Note 1: This is a ★☆☆☆☆ tutorial. If you’re a professional gamer, look for a ★★★★★ one! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Note 2: as per @Beerfoo 's private discussion: *It’s still better to have a GPU FPS > monitor FPS compared to equal or lower than the Hz, as the game will feel more responsive:bowing_man:

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