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Frame Rate(FPS) vs. Refresh Rate(Hz): Do You Know Their Difference?

What is frame rate(FPS)?

To solve this problem, let us understand it from a simple example. Take pictures as an example. If we have a set of action pictures, but each picture in this group is static. If we want to make it move, we need to quickly switch these pictures.

In this set of constantly switching pictures, each picture represents a frame. The speed of switching between each picture is divided by the total time. This is the frame rate, also called the frame frequency(Abbreviation: FPS). In the concept of GPU, it represents the number of refreshes per second, usually expressed in FPS units.

From the picture above, we can see that 60FPS switches more frequently than 24FPS, so the picture effect it displays is smoother.

What is refresh rate(Hz)?

Refresh rate refers to the number of times the display draws images per second, and is usually expressed in Hertz (Hz).

The higher the refresh rate, the more stable the display effect will be. Therefore, the refresh rate of some e-sports-specific monitors has been increased to 240Hz, which can better solve problems such as smearing and frame skipping during games.

The Biggest Difference Between Frame Rate and Refresh Rate

Because both are related to the number of images per second, the two are easily confused by definition. However, after careful comparison, we can find that the frame frequency refers to the number of switching between pictures, while the refresh rate refers to the drawing time of each picture, so the two are not equal.

When the frame rate is lower than the refresh rate, the monitor may display the same picture, causing the image to freeze; when the frame rate is higher than the refresh rate, there are too many invalid frames and the screen display cannot keep up.

As a result, some images cannot be displayed. It is this unequal relationship that causes screen tearing, lagging and other phenomena.

Moreover, the number of frames output by the graphics card can be infinitely high, while the refresh rate will be limited by the display hardware.

For example, we use a 60Hz monitor to watch a 150-frame picture, but in fact, 90 frames of the picture are invalid frames, and these invalid frame numbers will cause us to feel obvious lag. Therefore, only the higher the refresh rate , the more effective frames, the smoother the displayed picture will be.

Finally, we are going to mention a V-Sync (vertical synchronization) technology, which can improve the feeling of screen tearing when the frame rate does not match the refresh rate. The current vertical synchronization technologies mainly include AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology.

Synchronous refresh technology between FPS and refresh rate

The function of V-Sync is to synchronize the frame rate and refresh rate to achieve the best effect of the monitor. This technology was originally developed by graphics card manufacturers to solve the problem of jagged or tearing screen quality.

V-Sync technology will calculate the optimal refresh rate of the monitor and computer and intervene to ensure an equal rate between them.

However, this is only a preventive technology and cannot improve the image quality. Moreover, if the refresh rate supported by the computer is very different from the refresh rate supported by the monitor, you will still see a tearing screen when playing games. .

Here we must mention NVIDIA’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technology, which effectively improves the problem of screen tearing based on V-Sync. We will conduct further analysis on these two technologies.

G-Sync

G-Sync is a technology developed by NVIDIA graphics card manufacturer to prevent screen tearing. It uses a variable refresh rate (also known as VRR or dynamic refresh rate) that synchronizes the minimum and maximum refresh rate with the frame rate of the system’s NVIDIA graphics card.

This means that when it finds that the maximum refresh rate between the monitor and the computer is not enough to support the display, it will reduce the refresh rate of both at the same time so that it can always display the picture in the best possible state.

Because it is the unique performance of NVIDIA graphics cards, it does not support early monitors using AMD chips, and only supports some specific monitors produced after 2019.

This particular monitor uses an adaptive sync technology to run G-Sync monitors, which suffers from overclocking, shifting, etc. compared to monitors that exclusively use NVIDIA.

FreeSync

FreeSync is another technology with variable refresh rate developed by AMD graphics card manufacturer. Mainly benchmarking NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology.

Compared with G-Sync technology, FreeSync technology is royalty-free, which means that you can use or hold the technology for free for a long time.

Why is variable refresh rate more effective at preventing screen tearing?

Because when rendering complex games and ultra-high-definition videos, the internal GPU load varies.
When the refresh rate of the monitor cannot reach the frame rate of the graphics card, the screen display will slow down, resulting in failure to keep up with the displayed screen, resulting in a picture quality mismatch, and a sense of tearing to the naked eye.

As we introduced earlier, the emergence of V-Sync technology is to keep the two consistent to avoid the problem of screen tearing. However, once the frame rate difference between the monitor and the computer is too large, the improvement effect of V-Sync technology will not be obvious. It wasn’t until the advent of NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology that the use of variable refresh rates improved this problem.

The variable refresh rate no longer forces the monitor and the computer’s frame rate to be synchronized with each other. Instead, the monitor passes the previous frame to the graphics card’s frame buffer before receiving a new rendering command.

When it is detected that a new frame has been received, the previously cached frame will be released from the frame buffer, thereby achieving seamless switching and making it invisible to the user. That’s the neat thing about variable refresh rates.

Later, FreeSync manufactured by AMD added adaptive refresh technology on this basis. This technology not only has a variable refresh rate, but also reduces the refresh rate of the timing controller (TCON) and the display panel, making it It is lower in power efficiency, has a simpler interface, and is even compatible with displays running G-Sync technology.

What are the key factors for enjoying the game?

Hardware Configuration

Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate of the monitor, the higher the frame rate it can achieve, and the smoother the gaming experience it will bring. This plays a vital role in some shooting and action games that are extremely challenging to operate.

In addition, the higher the resolution of the picture, the higher the requirements for the graphics card. For example, if a game is running at 2K resolution, the average frame resolution is 30.

If the same configuration is switched to 4K, the frame resolution will usually be a little higher than 2K, and the average frame resolution can reach 35 or even 40.

Therefore, if you do not pursue image quality very much, you can appropriately lower the resolution and increase the frame resolution appropriately, which will improve the gaming experience.

operating system

Mainstream computer game systems are mainly developed using Windows. Other types of products, such as TVs, mobile phones and other game systems, are mainly based on Android. Although the systems are different, the refresh rates and frame rates used are the same.

However, it should be noted that in order to obtain the smoothest experience, try to upgrade the system to the latest version. Because the latest system not only improves some system vulnerabilities, but also continuously adds new functions, we should always keep the system updated.

Determine equipment performance

Sometimes the refresh rate does not entirely depend on the monitor. For example, the monitor supports a refresh rate of 120Hz, but some notebooks can only use 60Hz. In this case, it doesn’t matter how high the monitor’s refresh rate is because it only has the ability to play 60Hz.

We need to use some hardware reading software to test the refresh rate of the computer and monitor, so as not to spend more money but not get the corresponding effect because they do not match each other.

Monitor matches graphics card

As we have introduced before, the technologies used by different graphics card manufacturers are not the same. If you buy a mismatched monitor and graphics card, it will be difficult to get the best performance from the monitor. Usually when we buy a computer or monitor, the manufacturer will mark it somewhere.

Application of frame frequency and refresh rate in LED display

On the LED display, the frame frequency usually refers to the properties of the video file when it is recorded. We don’t need to pay too much attention. As long as the video can be played normally on our computer, the frame frequency is within a reasonable range.

What we need to pay attention to is the refresh rate of the LED display. Although the difference between low refresh rate products cannot be seen with the naked eye, obvious water ripples will be seen under the camera.

Therefore, choosing a high refresh rate LED display can achieve better results. Next, let’s take a look at how the refresh rate of the LED display is calculated.

LED display refresh rate calculation method

Without considering the system-side design, we assume that the time for the current to pass through the LED lamp bead is constant, then the refresh rate will be determined by a system formula between the addressing time and the current speed flowing through the LED lamp bead, expressed as:

Horizontal synchronous scan line * frame rate = refresh frequency

Through this formula, we can calculate the refresh rate of most LED displays. It is worth noting that the refresh rate of the LED display has been set at the factory and cannot be forcibly changed. Therefore, if we need to make the LED display reach a higher refresh rate, we can only replace the LED lamp with better quality beads.

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