Does Graphics Card Affect FPS?

If you have been experiencing lags and stutters in your visuals, particularly with your games, then you are suffering from a bad FPS (frames per second). The only remedy for this issue is to get a more powerful graphics card.

Hence the answer to the question, “does graphics card affect FPS”? is a resounding yes! The choice of graphics card has a direct impact on the FPS on graphically intensive tasks like gaming and also with using video editing software.

You could tell by the name itself that a graphics card has a high relationship with visuals which includes FPS as well as the quality of the graphics.

In fact, the choice of the graphics card impacts anything that has to do with 2D and 3D graphics processing.

Often people assume that a graphics card is a gaming-centric component. That is hardly the case as it is also a critical component for professional tasks such as video editing and graphic designing. 

In the following article, I will talk in detail about whether a graphics card affects FPS and to what extent. I will also touch base on what tasks benefit from GPU and what relationship it shares with the CPU.

So Does Graphics Card Affect FPS?

Let us first address the big question: does a GPU affect FPS and to what extent?

If you are a gamer, then the component that should be the closest to your heart is the graphics card.

Therefore, when given a certain budget for your PC, you should try to maximize the portion for the GPU because it is going to directly impact the graphics quality setting as well as the FPS.

The table below should explain how a low end, mid range and a high end graphics card impact the FPS. I have selected the following GPUs:

  • (Low-End) AMD Vega 8: This is an integrated graphics card that is found in AMD 5000 series CPUs i.e AMD Ryzen 5700G. This is among the BEST iGPUs at the moment.
  • (Mid Range) NVIDIA GTX 1060Ti: A dedicated GPU; fairly average and well priced GPU found on decent gaming PCs.
  • (High End) NVIDIA RTX 3080: One of the flagship and expensive dedicated GPUs from NVIDIA.

NOTE: The table shows FPS at HIGH graphics settings and 1080p resolution.

 AMD Vega 8 5000 Series
(Best iGPU)
NVIDIA GTX 1060Ti
(Midrange Dedicated GPU)
NVIDIA GTX 3080
(High End Dedicated GPU)
GTA V40.6 FPS94 FPS162 FPS
Far Cry 531 FPS67 FPS121 FPS
Far Cry 6Unplayable52 FPS81 FPS
Forza Horizon 535 FPS65 FPS128 FPS
Metro Exodus17.837.9 FPS98 FPS

You can see that the better the graphics card, the more FPS you get.

What is a Good FPS For Gaming to Aim For?

While different gamers have different opinions. Here is what I think.

 FPS Remarks
60 FPS or Higher This absolutely what you must aim for. You will have a beautiful and a seamless experience with this FPS.
50-60 FPS
This isn’t bad either. You should have fairly smooth visual experience with this FPS.
40-50 FPS
You are still in the green. The visuals will be fairly tolerable.
30-40 FPS
The bear minimum you should aim for to avoid lags and stutters.
30 and Low You will experience lags; the frame will skip and the overall experience will feel sluggish.

Of course, there are enthusiasts who like to maintain 120 FPS and higher. But in order to get 120 FPS at high graphics quality settings for AAA games, you not only need a powerful graphics card but also a monitor that has a refresh rate of 120Hz or higher. (More on this below).

The following video shows the difference in visuals between a 30 FPS and 60 FPS gameplay. 

A Note on How Graphics Quality and Resolution Impact FPS

It is worth pointing out here that the FPS and the graphics quality settings of the game are highly related. 

If you set the graphics quality to low and have the resolution set to low as well, the frame per second will improve.

Conversely, if you set the graphics quality to high with high resolution then your GPU will have to work harder and this would result in lower frames per second. 

If you have a weak graphics card, then often times you have to juggle between the graphics settings and the resolution to come at a frame rate that is playable.

The following table explains this:

 1440)
(WQHD)
1080P
(FHD)
720P
(HD)
GTA V49.5 FPS61.8 FPS73 FPS
Fortnite86.6 FPS101 FPS123 FPS
World of Tanks69.5 FPS105 FPS109 FPS
  • The graphics card used in the table above is the NVIDIA GTX 1060 6 GB
  • All FPS are taken at MAX graphics settings
  • Scores taken from userbenchmark.com

It is quite conclusive from the table above that resolution has a direct impact on the FPS.

Also Read: Can Motherboard Bottleneck a GPU?

FPS and the Monitor Refresh Rate are Related!

In order to experience more than 60 FPS, you need to have a monitor that has a higher than 60Hz refresh rate as well!

Most of the contemporary monitors have a refresh rate of 60 Hz. This means that they CANNOT display a frame rate higher than 60 FPS EVEN IF your graphics card is capable of generating higher than 60 FPS.

Take for instance the GTX 1060 6GB dedicated graphics card that can maintain an average frame rate of 105 FPS on World of Tanks at 1080P (high settings).

However, if I only have a 60Hz monitor, the max frame rate my eyes will experience is 60 FPS. I will not see the difference the extra 45 frames make.

In order to see the difference higher than 60 FPS make, I will need to get a monitor that has refresh rate higher than 60Hz like the AOC G2490VX you see below:

AOC G2490VX 144hz monitor
AOC G2490VX 144Hz monitor. This monitor can show upto 144 frame per second.

The monitor above has a refresh rate of 144Hz and as such can display a frame rate of upto 144 frame per second.

By the way, the inverse is also true here. Meaning, in order to experience the full 144 frames per second potential of the monitor, you also need to have a graphics card that can pushout such a high frame rate on your game at your desired graphics settings.

What Affects FPS More CPU or GPU for Gaming?

GPU, hands down, has a much higher impact on the frame per second as compared to a CPU.

In fact, FPS comparison on a budget Intel Core i3 vs an expensive Intel Core i7 would be minimum if the graphics card is left to be the same.

On the other hand, FPS comparison on a low end AMD Vega 8 integrated graphics card vs a high end dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3080 is PHENOMENAL to say the least as we already saw above.

Does Graphics Card Affect FPS
NVIDIA RTX 3080 a dedicated GPU that is many factors more powerful than weak iGPUs. It can drastically improve the FPS but is also very expensive.

There MUST Be a Parity Between the GPU and CPU

While a CPU has a much greater impact on FPS. There must be parity between the choice of a CPU and the GPU.

In other words, it is very unwise to get an entry level Intel Celeron CPU with a meager 2 cores and couple that with a high end NVIIA RTX 3080 graphics card.

A weak CPU will cause SERIOES PERFORMANCE BOTTLENECKs for the powerful graphics card.

The video explains this below

You will notice in the video that the performance drop is more pronounced when the core count of a CPU is below 6 cores. Whereas, the performance gains from 6 cores and above aren’t phenomenal.

So here is the gist of it. In order to avoid graphics card performance bottlenecks:

  • When getting a mid range graphics card, try to get at least a 4 cores CPU from the newer generations i.e Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3
  • When getting a high end graphics card, try to get at least a 6 core CPU from the newer generations i.e Intel Core i5 / Ryzen 5

Also Read: How Many CPU Cores Do Games Need?

What Other Tasks / Application Experience Higher FPS from a Better Graphics Card?

There are plenty of other tasks that are impacted by the graphics card. The biggest difference in FPS, other than gaming, is noticed in video editing

In video editing a good graphics card affects the FPS of the preview generation and timeline scrubbing.

A good graphics card can drastically improve how quickly the frames are rendered in the live preview of your timelines. This includes scrubbing the timeline.

If you have a weak graphics card, then the live preview generation of your footage and scrubbing the timeline will experience serious lags and stutters as the graphics card is unable to process the frames quick enough.

If you have a high end graphics card, on the other hand, then preview generation and scrubbing will be seamless. 

Read in detail: Do You Need a Graphics Card for Video Editing?

Graphics Card will NOT Impact the FPS for Everyday and Office Tasks

In case if you are wondering if having a good graphics card will affect FPS on everyday and office tasks then the answer is NO, there will be NO impact on the FPS. 

You will not see any FPS difference when surfing on the web, writing a report on MS Word, working on Excel sheet, email correspondence, watching movies etc.

I explain this in the article: Does Your PC Need a Graphics Card If its Not for Gaming?

Also Read: Does Motherboard Matter for Gaming?

FAQ

Does Higher FPS Mean Better Graphics?

No, graphics quality and FPS, although related, are two different characteristic of your overall visual experience.

A higher FPS does not mean that the visuals will be more vibrant, rich in detail and gorgeous. A higher FPS only means that the motion will be smooth and lag free.

Higher quality of graphics means that the visuals have higher graphical assets, this can include high res texture, more particle, more foliage, higher character details, realistic lighting details, higher shadow details etc.

Low vs High graphics quality on Battlefield 4. Source: YouTube

The higher the graphics quality the lower the FPS since the graphics card has to work much harder to render more graphical assets in a single frame.

Also Read: How to Check Which Graphics Card is Being Used?

Do Higher End Graphics Cards Give You More Detail or More FPS? 

This is an incorrect way of looking at this.

A higher end graphics card can give you a more FPS WHILE allowing you to maintain more quality.

Think of it this way. Low end graphics card have FEWER RESOUCES to handle high FPS while maintaining high graphics quality settings.

And therefore, on low end graphics card you often have to dial down the quality of the graphics in order to get playable FPS.

High End graphics cards, on the other hand, have MORE RESOUCES. They can handle playable FPS while at the same time maintaining high graphics quality settings. 

Also Read: Do Laptops Have Graphics Card?

Final Words

So does graphics card affect FPS? It surely does. The choice of your graphics card can drastically impact the FPS on gaming.

Of course, getting a high end graphics card isn’t cheap. A high end graphics card can cost as much as an entire PC itself.

If you are a gamer on a tight budget, my suggestion would be to at least go for a nice low-mid range dedicated graphics card. They will still be drastically better than the integrated graphics cards on the CPU.

Also Read: Is Integrated Graphics Card Good for Gaming?

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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