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How to check your fps (frames per second) in games on PC

PC gaming is one of the best ways to experience the most graphically-rich and mechanically-demanding titles. Thanks to platforms like Steam, you’ll never have a shortage of games to choose from, but not all MMORPGs and first-person shooter gems are created equal. That being said, one of the best things you can do for your PC gaming experience is to make sure your fps (frames per second) settings are optimized.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • A desktop PC or laptop

  • Games for testing

It may not sound like such a big deal, and we know the last thing you’re going to want to do when it’s time to game is spend time tweaking settings. But hear us out: A simple adjustment here or there to your game’s fps dashboard may make a world of difference during your next online match.

Here’s a guide to help you optimize the performance of your favorite PC games.

Benchmark results in The Division 2.
screenshot / Digital Trends

What is fps (frames per second) in games?

Frames per second, abbreviated as fps, is the main metric used to determine how well your game is running. If a game is running at higher frame rates, it will have more information during animations and actions, so the movements look smoother. If you're playing a game competitively, you can react faster, too.

Although you don't need to know your fps if you're having a good gaming experience, it's a good number to reference. It allows you to get a grip on how your hardware is performing and compare it to other builds, and it's a critical metric to look at when buying a new gaming monitor.

Monitoring your frame rate offers a view inside your PC as well. You can check if changing settings actually improves performance, and with some tools, you can drill down on CPU or other PC bottlenecks. If nothing else, having a small fps counter in the corner of your screen is a sanity check that nothing is going wrong with your gaming PC.

Steam fps counter option.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to see the fps counter in Steam

Steam includes a built-in fps counter that you can overlay over any game in your Steam library — even if it's a non-Steam game. As the most popular marketplace for PC games, this is probably all you need for a quick fps counter in most of your games, but it's not as detailed as some tools we'll dig into later.

Step 1: Open Steam and select Steam in the top left.

Step 2: Select Settings and choose the In-Game tab.

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Step 3: Use the In-game fps counter option to choose where you want the fps counter located. Tick the High contrast color box if you have a hard time seeing the box, and when you're done, select OK.

The frame rate counter will show up in all of your Steam games going forward, but keep an eye out — it's a bit small to spot at first.

Xbox Game Bar performance overlay.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

How to see fps counter with Xbox Game Bar

Xbox Game Bar is available on all Windows 10 and 11 PCs, and it includes an fps counter that works with any game. It's a bit distracting, but it shows a lot more than just your frame rate from second to second.

Step 1: Press Windows Key + G to open the Xbox Game Bar.

Step 2: Select the Performance tab at the top.

Step 3: Select Performance options in the new window and make sure fps - frames per second is checked under the Metrics section.

You can pin the counter anywhere on your screen to see it with the Xbox Game Bar closed, and you can monitor other metrics like your CPU and GPU usage.

FPS overlay in Ubisoft Connect.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to see fps counter in Ubisoft Connect

Like Steam, Ubisoft Connect has an fps counter for any Ubisoft games you might be playing, and it's just as easy to turn on.

Step 1: Select the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top left and select Settings.

Step 2: Check the Display fps counter in game box.

Fps overlay in EA Origin.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to see fps counter in EA Origin

Origin has an fps counter like Steam and Ubisoft Connect, which you can turn on in the settings menu.

Step 1: Select Origin in the upper left corner and select Application settings.

Step 2: Select the Origin in-game tab and scroll down to During gameplay.

Step 3: Choose where you want the fps counter under the Display fps counter option. You can also choose its size and transparency here.

Nvidia graphics settings.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to see fps with Nvidia GeForce Experience

If you have an Nvidia graphics card, you can turn on an fps counter and other performance metrics through GeForce Experience. Before starting, make sure you've updated your GPU drivers so you have the most recent version of GeForce Experience.

Step 1: Open GeForce Experience with Alt + Z.

Step 2: Select the Settings button (cog icon) and select HUD layout.

Step 3: Choose Performance and select where you want the overlay. You have several options for performance metrics, but fps is what you want to select if you just need the frame counter.

FPS counter in Radeon Software.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to turn on fps overlay with AMD Radeon Software

AMD has an fps overlay just like Nvidia, and it's even easier to turn on. You'll need a recent AMD GPU (among the best graphics cards you can buy), as well as the latest version of Radeon Software to make sure everything is working as it should.

Step 1: Open Radeon Software and select the Performance tab at the top.

Step 2: Under Metrics, choose which metrics you want to include in the fps overlay.

Step 3: Click the Settings button (cog in the right corner) and go to the General tab.

Step 4: Under Preferences, tick the In-game overlay setting. You can also adjust your language and position in this menu.

Overlay settings in MSI Afterburner.
screenshot / Digital Trends

How to see fps with MSI Afterburner

If you want all of the details, you'll need to download MSI Afterburner. MSI Afterburner is probably the best GPU overclocking software you can get, but it does a lot more.

The fps counter doesn't come from MSI Afterburner itself. Instead, it comes from RivaTuner Statistics Server, which is bundled in the software and available with a few other frame capture tools (such as CapFrameX). Make sure both MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner Statistics Server are installed before moving on.

Step 1: Open MSI Afterburner and select the Settings icon (a small cog to the left).

Step 2: Select the Monitoring tab and go to the Active hardware monitoring graphs section.

Step 3: Check the boxes next to what you want to monitor and make sure Show in on-screen display is selected.

Step 4: Scroll down and assign a shortcut to turn on the on-screen display. In games, trigger the shortcut while MSI Afterburner is running, and you'll see your stats.

Four soldiers walk in a Helldivers 2 trailer.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

How to use in-game fps counters

A lot of PC games have frame-rate counters built in. It depends on the developer, of course, and including the swath of indie titles on PC, it's impossible to compile a full list of games that include one. If you're wondering if your favorite game has a frame rate counter, check the settings menu (usually under Display or something similar). Here's a short list of popular games that have a counter built-in:

Opening the console and entering “showfps” will allow you to check the counter in Sniper Elite 3 and a few other games. This command also works with many other games that run on Unreal Engine 4.

To open the console with a U.S. keyboard, use the Tilde key right above Tab, and put in “Stat fps” to see your frame rate. You can also display the frame times by entering “stat UnitGraph.” You will lose a visual of the counter unless you open the options from the game’s startup menu to add an argument.

Steam utilizes these arguments, even if not all launchers will. If you use Steam, right-click your preferred game and pick Properties. Choose Set Launch Options and then enter in "-ExecCmds=” stat UnitGraph” or "-ExecCmds=” stat fps.” You have to make sure to input this code using the exact symbols we’ve just typed out for you, including the mix of capital and lower-case letters, quotation marks, and a dash or equal symbols. If you don’t, you won’t pull it off.

We can’t guarantee that this stunt will work for every game, but you’ll never know until you try.

How do I know if my fps is good?

There is no objective "good" fps, as what one feels comfortable with differs from person to person. Also, the benefits of higher frame rates are felt much more greatly in some games than in others. However, there are some bare minimums you should be targeting to play at in order to make games fun to play, and other targets you should aim for if you want to play competitive games.

The absolute floor you should consider for even the most demanding of games is 30 fps. That will still feel a bit clunky, and busy areas of the game may dip into the 20s, which will look like a stuttery slide show, but 30 fps is a console-like experience in some games, and as long as it's relatively stable, it should be playable.

A better target is a 60 fps average. This is what most games are designed to hit, with many recommended system specifications targeting playing the game at around 60 fps at 1080p. It makes competitive games responsive enough to play competitively, and more cinematic games look and feel smooth.

If you want your games to feel that bit more fluid, with smoother animations and more responsive controls, aiming for 100 fps is a good target. This can also help you respond faster in player versus player games, helping you to get that win -- though it isn't all about the hardware.

If you're looking to take your competitive games seriously, then go as high as your frame rate will allow. There are diminishing returns, but a gamer playing at 300 fps has the potential to react faster than someone playing at 100 fps. The top professionals target playing at twice the frame rate of their monitor's refresh rate, so there's always a new frame ready to go. You don't need to go that high, and you'd need a powerful graphics card to achieve it, but it's where you want to be if you want every competitive advantage possible.

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Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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