When it comes to PC gaming, frames per second (fps) mean everything. The higher the number goes, the smoother action looks, and the faster you can respond to what you see. Frame rates not only give gamers a way to gauge their performance but also to verify that they’re getting the most out of their setup. If you have a 144Hz display, for example, you might be able to turn off a few special effects in a game’s graphical settings to get the most out of the display. Some games just feel better at higher frame rates, even if you sacrifice detail to get them. Before you can do that, though, you need to know what your in-game frame rate is.
A decent portion of popular PC games include an in-game frame rate counter, including Fortnite. If you want to see your frame rate across games, however, you’ll need an external tool. Thankfully, if you own an AMD or Nvidia GPU, you likely already have one of these tools installed. Here’s how to check your PC’s frame rate when playing video games.
How to check your PC’s frame rate when playing video games
These are the best frame rate counters on PC, and although you only need one, it’s worth trying out a few of them. The Steam overlay, for example, is great for getting frame numbers quickly right inside a tool you probably already have installed. A tool like MSI Afterburner, however, can give you more information on your frame rates, as well as the components in your system.
Given that AMD’s Radeon GPUs come already installed in many PCs, you might have a built-in frame rate tracker and not even know it. Fortunately, it’s very easy to make use of AMD Relive. It requires an AMD HD 7700 or newer and the latest drivers installed.
To find your frame rate, right-click on the desktop and select AMD Radeon Settings from the pop-up menu.
From there, follow this path: Relive > Toolbar Hotkey (toggle) > Performance > Metric Options > Show Metrics
Next, minimize Metric Options, maximize Select Metrics, and turn on FPS.
NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience
If you have a GeForce GT 600, GTX 600, or newer, getting info on your machine’s frame rate is very simple. Simply download the latest drivers and open the GeForce Experience app.
With the app open, click the Gear icon located next to your Nvidia account name. Under About, check the box next to Enable Experimental Features. This lets you access and turn on the option for In-Game Overlay. Click the associated Settings button.
A window appears on your screen. Click HUD Layout followed by FPS Counter. Under Position, select a location within the box where you want the counter to reside on your screen. Click Back to finalize your settings.
Once you’re done, the FPS counter icon will appear, resembling two sticky notes held by a paperclip.
Given Steam’s popularity as a PC gaming platform, the inclusion of a frame rate counter should come as no surprise. To make use of it, click Steam located in the top-left corner followed by Settings in the drop-down menu.
The settings window appears on your screen. Select In-Game listed on the left and then click the Down Arrow located under In-Game FPS Counter shown on the right. Select one of four locations from the drop-down menu.
It’s worth noting that you can also choose to toggle on or off a High Contrast Color setting.
Serving up frame rate counts since 1999, Fraps is a free, easy-to-use frame-counting tool that quietly sits in your task bar. The program is fairly tiny, with the download weighing in at a measly 2.2MB, smaller than most MP3 files.
Once installed, Fraps will automatically sneak into your task bar. If you want to change its settings, right-click on the Icon and select Settings on the pop-up menu — the Fraps icon resembles a monitor with a yellow 99. Otherwise, just game on!
Any game you play from here on out will have a yellow number displayed in the corner of your screen. That number represents your game’s current frame rate.
Once you exit the game, however, the Fraps counter can behave erratically. Although the issue usually doesn’t appear in Windows, at times it will pop up. If you want to close it while not playing games, right-click on the Icon and select Exit Fraps on the pop-up menu. You can start it again by locating it on the Start Menu or by typing Fraps in the task bar search field.
MSI is one of the more popular gaming brands on the market. The company manufactures motherboards, peripherals, desktops, laptops, and add-in graphics cards. MSI Afterburner is a free tool that essentially complements its graphics cards, allowing customers to overclock them for better performance. But it also includes an on-screen display that can show your minimum and maximum frame rates.
To enable the frame rate counter, click the gear icon located under Fan Speed to open the app’s settings. Next, with the MSI Afterburner properties window now on your screen, select the Monitoring tab.
From there, select up to seven related settings found under Active Hardware Monitoring Graphs. These include Framerate, Framerate Min, Framerate Avg, and more. Click to the left of each setting to enable (green check mark).
Finally, be sure to enable Show in On-Screen Display located just under Graph Columns. Click Apply followed by OK to complete.
Windows/Xbox 10 Game Bar
Since late 2019, Windows 10 users have enjoyed the addition of a frame rate counter via Xbox Game Bar and Microsoft Store. All that’s required is downloading the app from either source, going through the installation wizard, and rebooting your PC.
Boot up your game and press the Windows + G keys to open the Windows 10 counter. Go to the Performance section to see the new frame rate counter — you’ll see a small box on your display that will show your PC’s performance data.
Games with frame rate counters built in
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:
In some games, like Sniper Elite 3, you can also pull up the counter by opening the console and entering “showfps.” That’s possible on most games that are built on Unreal Engine 4. The game must support console commands, though. The universal way to open up the console is with the Tilde key (the button right above Tab on a U.S. keyboard). From there, enter “stat FPS” to display your current frame rate or “stat UnitGraph” to show a graph of frame times. If you always want to display the counter, you can add an argument to the game’s startup options.
Some launchers don’t support these arguments. Steam, thankfully, does. In Steam, right-click on the game in question and select Properties. Then, select Set Launch Options and enter: -ExecCmds=”stat UnitGraph” or -ExecCmds=”stat FPS”. Make sure to include the quotes on both of those. The developer actually needs to set a console key within Unreal Engine 4, so this method doesn’t work across all games. The best way to find out is simply to try.