How to View and Improve Your Game’s Frames Per Second (FPS)

Game performance is measured in “frames per second,” or FPS. High FPS gives you smooth gameplay, while low FPS looks more like a slideshow. Here’s how to see any PC game’s FPS—and increase your FPS in your favorite games.

In general, you’ll want at least 30 FPS for smooth gameplay. But more is definitely better—you’ll notice games look at lot smoother at 60 FPS.

How to View a Game’s FPS

Many games have integrated FPS counters, but they’re almost always disabled by default. To view FPS using an in-game option, you’ll either need to poke around the game’s graphics settings menu or its advanced options menu. If you can’t find it, perform a web search for the name of the game and “view FPS” to see more information about a specific game.

For example, to see your FPS in Fortnite, head to Menu > Settings > Video, and then turn on the “Show FPS” option at the bottom of the screen. To view your FPS in Overwatch, click Options > Video, and then turn on the “Display Performance Stats” option. To show FPS in DOTA 2, navigate to Dashboard > Gear > Options > To Advanced Options, and then enable the “Display Network Information” option.

You’ll see a small FPS meter somewhere on your screen. Each game shows it in a different position.

Steam features its own FPS overlay that you can use in any game in your library. If you’re playing a game in Steam, click Steam > Settings > In Game, click the box under “In-game FPS Counter,” and choose a position for the FPS counter on your screen. You’ll see an FPS overlay for all games you play on Steam.

 

You’ll also find options for viewing any game’s FPS in other tools like NVIDIA GeForce Experience and FRAPS.

RELATED: 4 Quick Ways to See a PC Game’s FPS (Frames Per Second)

Increase Your FPS by Updating Your Drivers

It’s important to have the latest graphics drivers for your computer’s graphics hardware, or GPU. Graphics processor manufacturers like NVIDIA, AMD, and even Intel regularly release new versions of graphics drivers that are optimized to make new games play better. You should keep your graphics drivers updated for maximum gaming performance, especially if you play newer games.

Get the latest drivers from NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel, depending on what graphics hardware your PC has inside. These driver installers include tools that automatically check for updates to help keep your drivers updated in the future.

RELATED: How to Update Your Graphics Drivers for Maximum Gaming Performance

If you’re not sure what GPU your computer has, Windows 10 makes it easy to check. To view the name of your computer’s GPU, open the Task Manager by right-clicking your taskbar and selecting “Task Manager.” Click the “More Details” option if you see a small window. Click the “Performance” tab and look for “GPU” in the left pane to see the type of GPU your system has.

If you see an Intel GPU alongside an NVIDIA or AMD GPU here, your computer has both a powerful NVIDIA or AMD GPU for gaming and a power-efficient Intel GPU for other tasks. You must update your NVIDIA or AMD drivers for maximum gaming performance, although you should also update your Intel graphics drivers.

On Windows 7, you can find the name of your system’s GPU in the dxdiag tool. To open it, press Windows+R, type “dxdiag” in the run box, and then press Enter. Click the “Display” tab and look to the right of the “Name” entry in the “Device” section.

Intel graphics is often called “integrated graphics” because it’s integrated directly into the computer’s CPU. While integrated graphics uses less power, it won’t provide anywhere near the performance of a modern NVIDIA or AMD GPU while gaming. Intel graphics may still perform okay, especially if you have one of the latest Intel GPUs and you’re playing an older game or a newer game on lower settings.

If the latest Intel graphics drivers refuse to install on your PC and you see a message like “the driver being installed is not validated for this computer,” there’s a way to bypass this error and install the latest drivers straight from Intel.

RELATED: How to Fix “The Driver Being Installed Is Not Validated For This Computer” on Intel Computers

Boost Your FPS by Tweaking Graphics Settings

The higher your graphics settings—in other words, the more graphical detail you see in a game—the lower your FPS. If you need more FPS in a game, the easiest way to get it is by decreasing your graphical fidelity. The game won’t look as pretty, but it will run faster and more smoothly.

Each game has its own graphics options. To find them, open the game’s Options menu and look for a category like “Graphics” or “Video.”  You can tweak individual settings or just use presets. For example, you could lower a game’s graphics settings from High to Medium or Low to improve your FPS.

You can also lower the game’s display resolution, which will make the picture look less crisp, but boost FPS. This option may be located in a “Video” options menu separate from the “Graphics” settings menu in some games.

Many older games perform a bit better when they’re set to exclusive “Full screen” mode instead of “Windowed”, “Full screen (windowed)”, or “Borderless windowed” mode, so you can also try enabling full-screen mode to see if that improves the game’s FPS.

Some tools can automatically set your PC games’ graphical settings, giving you an optimal combination of graphics and performance without any fiddling.

If you have NVIDIA hardware, we recommend using NVIDIA GeForce Experience, which is included with your graphics drivers. Just launch the GeForce Experience application from your Start menu and you’ll see a list of game you have installed. Select a game and click the “Optimize” button to automatically use NVIDIA’s recommended settings for that game based on your system’s hardware.

Even if you want to tweak your settings manually, GeForce Experience optimization is a good starting point. You can still go into the game’s settings and tweak them after using an optimization tool like this one.

RELATED: How to Set Your PC Games’ Graphics Settings with No Effort

Make Sure the Game Is Running on Your Powerful GPU

If you do have both an integrated Intel GPU and NVIDIA or AMD GPU, you should ensure your demanding games are running on the NVIDIA or AMD hardware and not the slower Intel hardware.

Most games should automatically launch on the more powerful GPU. However, some games may use the slower GPU by default, resulting in mysteriously low FPS.

You choose which GPU a game uses on latest version of Windows 10 by heading to System > Settings > Display > Graphics settings. The Task Manager also shows you which GPU an application is using.

RELATED: How to Choose Which GPU a Game Uses on Windows 10

For PCs with Windows 7 or an older version of Windows 10, you can adjust which GPU a game uses in your graphics driver’s control panel. For example, NVIDIA users can assign applications to different GPUs in the NVIDIA Control Panel.

More Tips For Boosting FPS

Here are some other tips for boosting your FPS in PC games:

Close Background Apps: There are only so many CPU, GPU, and disk resources to go around. If background apps are using resources, less resources are available for the game you’re playing, which means lower FPS. Close background applications—especially applications that are using a lot of resources—while playing a game. You can check which applications are using a noticeable amount of system resources from the Task Manager, if you like.

Plug In Your Laptop: Plug your laptop in while playing games. Windows typically “throttles” your hardware and makes it perform slower on battery power to save energy, so plugging in can dramatically improve your FPS.

Avoid Recording Gameplay: If your PC is set to automatically record gameplay with a feature like Windows 10’s Game DVR or NVIDIA ShadowPlay, this will reduce your FPS. Disable any gameplay-recording features and you’ll see higher FPS.

Try Game Mode: Windows 10 has a “Game Mode” that automatically de-prioritizes background tasks and assigns more resources to games while you’re playing them. To enable Game Mode for an individual game, press Windows+G to open the Game Bar while in a game, and click the “Game Mode” icon at the right side of the game bar that appears. We haven’t seen huge improvements with this feature, but it’s worth a shot. Based on our testing, we don’t recommend using most third-party “game booster” tools.

Overclock Your Hardware: If you want to make your existing hardware run faster, you can overclock it. You can overclock your GPU and CPU, although overclocking the GPU will be more important for FPS in most games. Note that overclocking makes your computer use more power and run hotter, so it could damage your hardware or just make your system unstable while it’s overclocked.

RELATED: How to Overclock Your Graphics Card for Better Gaming Performance

Restart Your PC: If your PC is performing unusually slowly and your FPS is lower than normal for no particular reason, try restarting your PC. Restarting your computer can fix all sorts of problems.

Upgrade Your Hardware: If you’re not happy with a game’s FPS even after following all these other tips, you can always improve it by purchasing and installing a faster graphics processor—or just getting a new PC with more powerful hardware. Depending on the game and your PC’s hardware, a faster CPU or more RAM may also help.

RELATED: How To Upgrade and Install a New Graphics Card in Your PC

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.