When it comes to comparing graphics in video games, a very popular metric is the frame rate, or frames per second, that games can show.
With this in mind, how many frames are the Play Station 4, the Xbox One and the Switch capable of displaying? Let´s find out!
First, what exactly is the frame rate, and what are frames per second? Does it matter at all?
Frames per second, or FPS (not to be confused with First Person Shooter), are the number of images that are shown in quick succession in a single, you guessed, second.
By flicking through a lot of frames in an instant, our monitors can create the illusion of movement and bring the virtual world of a video game to life.
Most modern TV shows and movies run at 24 FPS, which is the standard of that industry. It is said that this is the speed in which we perceive reality, but that´s not entirely true, as these studies have shown.
Gaming, on the other hand, is faster-paced. Nowadays, it is rare to find a game that runs with less than 30 FPS. This is because we are not watching the action, but taking part in it. We require more fluid animations to react on time and not break our immersion.
The more FPS a game displays, the smoother it will run. This is very handy in hectic genres like shooters where you are constantly swerving the camera all around. Doing so with a choppy framerate can be headache-inducing.
This is why consoles tend to establish an upper limit and stabilize the frame rate in their games. So, while the PS4 might be capable of playing a game at a hundred FPS, it will cap it at sixty.
If left uncapped, the game might run butter smooth when nothing is going on, but when the actions start; the frames will plummet to a single digit in one second, making a very jarring and disconcerting experience.
Now that we know what frame rate is, what are the capabilities of each console?
How many Frames per Second can the PS4 and Xbox One display?
Every game on these consoles runs on a spectrum between 30 and 60 FPS. Even when the hardware can squeeze extra frames, they are capped at 60 to ensure consistency.
The specific frame rate of each game runs depends on its graphics and native resolution. More demanding games tend to run at a lower frame rate than simpler ones.
This is also why the few games that have the option to play on a higher display (1080p vs 720p, for example) tend to have more FPS, as there are fewer pixels displayed on the screen for the hardware to worry about.
In any event, while the PS4 is more powerful, there isn´t a noticeable frame rate difference with the Xbox One due to the aforementioned caps and that multiplatform releases are made to run at the same frame rate in both consoles.
How many Frames per Second can the Switch display?
Despite being the less powerful console of the current generation, the Switch also displays games on a range between 30 and 60 FPs. Unlike its competitors, however, most games tend to run at thirty on Nintendo´s hybrid console.
The Switch has another variable to its framerate. It can change depending on if it’s on the dock or in handheld mode. In theory.
While it is true that docked games can display higher frame rates with a 1080p resolution (compared to the handheld mode´s 720p), I have yet to find a single example of a game that takes advantage of this extra power while docked to squeeze some extra frames per second. The difference between handheld and docked mode is mostly seen in the graphic quality of the game.
How many FPS can the PC display?
The PC can display as many frames as it is monitor and hardware allows it. In theory, a powerful enough computer can display up to a thousand frames per second. In practice, the FPS is limited by the Monitor´s refresh rate.
The highest refresh rate for commercial monitors is around 144 Hz, meaning that they can display a maximum of around 144 FPS.
While computer games also cap the maximum number of frames per second and stabilize the frame rate (the so-called V-sync in the options), it is much easier to remove this limit on your PC compared to the consoles.
As such, while the most “common” FPS range between thirty and sixty, it is not unheard of for games in high-end machines to reach hundreds of FPS. This is why its advocates argue that PC gaming has the best and smoother graphics.
While technically true, only the most eagle-eyed or hardcore gamers will notice that much of a difference if their games are running at 80 FPS compared to 60.
The one platform where having constant and high FPS does make a difference is in VR games. As previously discussed, when wearing a VR headset, choppy graphics can make you nauseous.
There you have it. On the current generation of consoles most games run between 30 and 60 FPS. Even when they can reach a higher frame rate, all the consoles cap it at 60. The only exception being computers, which can run as high as their processors allow them.
Of course, FPS is also dependent on your monitor’s refresh rate. If their refresh rate is below 60 hertz, then it can only display up to 60 FPS. That´s why it´s important to also buy a gaming monitor like this one. Or the ones we have at our selection here.