Whether you’re putting together a new gaming PC, looking to upgrade your TV, or even planning to make your own movie, video resolution vs frames per second (FPS) will probably cross your mind.
What exactly are video resolution and frames per second? And which matters more to you? We’ve put together this quick guide to help you along the way.
What is video resolution?
At its simplest, video resolution is the size of a display in pixels. And the more pixels, the sharper the image. Video resolution affects how much detail we can see, and a higher resolution means less distortion when enlarging or reducing an image.
Divided into SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition), SD – meaning something below 1280×720 pixels – is becoming less and less common as technology evolves and improves. More common variations are 1920×1080 and 1366×768, as well as 4K, which is often referred to as UHD, or ultra-high definition. We’ve also recently seen the rise of QLED, which switches out traditional pixels for quantum dot technology – you can find out more in our QLED vs UHD breakdown.
Just about every type of image needs to consider resolution to some extent, whether you’re gaming, watching TV, taking photographs, or doing some design work. A higher resolution can also benefit people with eye problems or those who spend a lot of time looking at screens for work or study, as it makes things clearer and easier to read or watch.
What are frames per second?
Let’s break this one down, starting with frames.
Frames are essentially still images that appear in response to an input stimulus. The best example is probably in gaming, when you’ll need to hit a specific button on a keyboard or controller to complete an action – that button is the input, and the frames you get in response are the output.
The frames move as quickly as possible, piecing together a moving image for the viewer or player. And this movement is measured, you guessed it, per second, giving us frames per second or FPS.
The faster the frames move and the higher the FPS, the smoother the movement and the less lag experienced. Lag is a delay between the input and output, and it’s especially important for many gamers, who rely on quick responses to their input in order to actually play a game to the best of its (and their) ability. This, of course, varies game to game and player to player – if you’re into quick moving first-person-shooters or want to play competitively, this is definitely going to matter to you.
The most common FPS you’ll see is 60, as this is the highest most everyday TVs and monitors can comfortably handle. Interestingly, the industry standard for movies is only 24 FPS, as this has been determined to be the level that looks most natural to the human eye. So if you’re shooting a movie, 24 FPS will give that cinematic feel you’re looking for.
So how do video resolution and FPS work together?
If FPS is the combination of the input and the output, then resolution is the quality at which we see that output.
Video resolution and FPS are run by two different components, the CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) respectively. The GPU racks up the images, the CPU renders them for display, and you see the end result on your monitor or TV screen.
If you’re working one hard – say the GPU to get those big FPS numbers on a new, top of the line game – then the other often has to compensate somehow. In the example we’re using, this could mean your resolution potentially drops, and those crisp images aren’t so crisp anymore.
Put simply, you can plan and build for the fastest FPS possible, but if your CPU can’t keep up, you won’t get to see it at its best. Doing your research when buying components is an absolute must to ensure your CPU can handle what you’re throwing at it. As mentioned before, your everyday displays can usually only support a maximum of 60 FPS, and there’s no point pushing for 120 FPS if you won’t be able to experience it in all its glory! And, of course, to get the bigger numbers, expect to pay a little more for the privilege.
What else might you consider?
Somewhere between FPS and video resolution is refresh rate, which is measured in Hertz/Hz.
Refresh rate refers to how often a display refreshes an image. A monitor with a higher Hz means the potential for a higher FPS and an overall smoother, cleaner experience. The dream set-up is a 1:1 ratio, with the refresh rate matching the FPS perfectly.
Newer displays often feature a variable refresh rate, making them adaptive to specific situations. Look out for terms such as adaptive sync, VRR, or VSync when shopping.
How can you increase them?
The most obvious answer is to upgrade your hardware.
Whether picking out a new TV for your console, or building a computer from scratch, sellers will include relevant information relating to things like resolution, refresh rate and FPS. Be sure to do plenty of research to figure out what you want and how best to get it.
It’s also important to consider your storage space. If you’re making a film or a YouTube video, designing graphics, or snapping some photos, remember that higher specs will need more storage. Ensure you have enough space, whether that’s on your camera’s SD card or your hard drive. It’s no use producing stunning content but having nowhere to save it!
Don’t be afraid to shop around, seek out recommendations, or ask a supplier for advice. To start you off, we’ve put together a list of 5 things you should consider when choosing between a 4K and a 1440p monitor.
Of course, these purchases – whether upgrades or first-time buys – aren’t always cheap, and with supply issues due to COVID-19 still causing disruptions, it’ll likely stay this way for some time.
A cost-effective alternative is to play with your hardware configurations. For example, lowering resolution can boost your refresh rate, keeping performance relatively high at the cost of some visual detail.
The basic rule is this: the less work that goes into running a game, the more you can push something else. Try experimenting with different configurations on different games, or testing out the settings on your DSLR camera, and find that sweet spot for your personal system.
So, which is more important?
Ultimately when it comes down to video resolution vs FPS, it all depends on what you’re using your systems for.
Serious gamers and streamers will likely want to aim for the higher FPS, but they’ll need to make sure they get a resolution and a refresh rate to match. This is especially true for those looking to jump into newer titles or get into competitive gaming. That said, if you value performance over the finer details, resolution should be your sacrifice of choice.
A more casual player or someone just looking to watch the latest Marvel movie won’t need to worry as much, with everyday monitors and televisions more than capable of matching the FPS industry standards for gaming and film. And for people with a screen-heavy job, or working from home, a quality resolution should tick enough boxes to keep performance high and eye strain low.
No matter what your focus is, the key thing is to do your research, and have a clear idea of what will work best for you.
For more great tips and some expert advice, get in touch with AV Everything on 0418 737 021.
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- 2019, Which Is More Important: Resolution or FPS?, XOTIC PC
- Vincent Tabora, 2019, Understanding Frame Rate in Video, Medium
- Shujaa Imran, 2022, What Are Video Frame Rates?, Make Use Of
- Mike Leonard and Margaret Kurniawan, 2022, A Complete Guide to Video Resolution, Adobe
- What Is Refresh Rate and Why Is It Important?, Intel
- 2022, Refresh Rate Vs Resolution For Gaming, Gear Gaming Hub