Some people believe that FPS doesn’t matter. They say that the human eye can only perceive so many frames per second, and that it’s pointless to go above 60fps to something like 120fps.
Those people are wrong.
The short answer is that 60fps is more widely available and cheaper to run, but is noticeably less smooth than 120fps. Fast-paced, competitive video games will absolutely benefit from 120fps over 60fps, but the extra 60fps won’t matter much for everyday tasks like browsing the internet.
Now granted, you also won’t notice much of a difference when you double your framerate while working in Microsoft Word or Excel, and your Twitter experience probably won’t improve much by jumping from 60 to 120fps, but there are absolutely situations in which increasing your framerate can have real, tangible benefits.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about when you’d benefit 120fps, when 60fps will do just fine, and how your experiences will improve by jumping from 60 to 120fps.
P.S. – If you want to make an even bigger jump in FPS, take a look at our guide to The Pros & Cons of 144hz Monitors (which is the monitor type we recommend for most gamers).
Pros & Cons of 60fps vs 120fps
Framerates have big effects on computing, but they don’t affect every application equally. First, though, let’s look at the pros and cons of 60fps and 120fps in general.
60fps Pros & Cons
60fps has essentially been the standard for years now. Most TVs and monitors came with a 60Hz refresh rate (the max number of frames they can display per second), and PCs were no different. And even though today’s monitors and graphics cards can support much, much higher framerates, many users find 60fps to be just as viable as it ever was.
Here are the most important pros and cons of 60fps versus 120fps:
- Supported by huge range of hardware
- Most modern computers can support 60fps at 720p or 1080p
- Fast enough for many games, though not ideal
- Much lower system requirements than 120fps
- Motion isn’t as smooth as 120fps
- Action scenes look blurrier than at 120fps
- More input lag than 120fps
- Puts you at a disadvantage against gamers playing at 120fps
120fps Pros & Cons
120fps is a relatively new arrival on the scene, but it and other three-digit framerates are quickly becoming the standard for users and manufacturers alike. It takes a lot of processing power to render 120 frames per second, but many people—especially gamers—think the additional frames are well worth the investment in more powerful computers and monitors with higher refresh rates, and it isn’t hard to understand why. Fast-paced games look, feel, and play better at higher framerates (we’ll get into that more later), and higher FPS even translates to better performance in many cases.
- Motion looks smoother than at 60fps
- Reduced blur during action scenes
- Reduced input lag compared to 60fps
- Much less screen tearing and chop
- Not supported by as many computers and monitors
- Requires more powerful (and expensive) hardware
- Tradeoff between framerate and resolution
- Not necessary for most applications
60fps vs 120fps for Gaming
Gaming is where you’ll really see a difference between 60 and 120fps. Many games perform just fine at 60fps, but framerates of 120fps or higher have become all-but mandatory for first-person shooters like Halo Infinite or Battlefield 2042, racing games like Forza Horizon 5 or Dirt 5, and fighting games like Street Fighter V or Guilty Gear Strive. The effects of higher framerates on fast-paced games are so significant, in fact, that professional gamers prioritize FPS above resolution, graphical effects, and just about every other facet of their gaming experience.
This benchmark YouTuber does a great job of giving you a slow-motion example of how many extra frames 120fps adds and how much smoother the end result can be:
There are a few reasons why FPS is valued so highly among professional gamers, and they’re all worth getting into. Most pro gamers don’t play at 60 or 120fps—instead preferring 144, even 240fps—but you’ll get the same benefits from jumping from 60 to 120fps, just not to the same degree.
The benefits largely fall into three categories: Smoother animations, improved visual effects, and more responsive controls, all of which contribute to improved in-game performance.
The first benefit you’ll get from the jump from 60 to 120fps comes from the relationship between framerate and graphics. When you’re playing an FPS or other fast-paced games at lower framerates, sometimes the animations can look choppy or blurry. These distracting effects are a result of the game moving too fast for the animations to be accurately captured in just 60 frames per second.
Increasing to 120fps lets your computer slice the animations into twice as many frames, which translates directly to smoother, more lifelike animations and character models that don’t look like they’re skipping from place to place.
The next benefit of 120 over 60fps is the reduction or elimination of distracting visual effects like ghosting that can throw off your game. Ghosting—when fast-moving characters leave ghostly trails behind them—occurs when you run games on LCD displays at low framerates and can easily result in missed kills or unnecessary deaths.
Increasing your framerate can seriously improve your game for a couple more reasons. First: latency. Jumping from 60 to 120fps makes your system slice each second into twice as many pieces, which means every animation, every motion, and every input gets rendered twice as quickly. This has a bigger effect than you might think; reducing system latency makes your inputs feel snappier and more responsive and helps you react to other players more quickly, giving you a huge advantage over the lower-FPS competition.
Running games at 120fps instead of 60fps won’t just make your games look and feel better, it’ll also help you get more kills and win more games. You’ll be able to react more quickly when you can see the next frame twice as quickly, you’ll have an easier time tracking enemies and aiming precisely thanks to the smoother animations and more responsive controls, and you’ll have an easier time keeping track of the battlefield without distracting effects like ghosting, blur, and screen tearing.
Framerates have such a big impact on gaming, in fact, that NVIDIA even did a study that found a significant relationship between framerates and kill/death ratios.
So in other words: If you’re a gamer who likes to play first-person shooters, racing games, fighting games, or any other game that requires fast reflexes, you’ll really want to go for 120fps instead of 60. It’ll be more expensive computationally and financially, but it’ll be worth it.
60fps vs 120fps for Everyday Computing
Increasing your framerate from 60 to 120fps won’t make your documents look better or make your spreadsheets any less tedious, but it will make everything feel smoother and more responsive. Doubling the framerate effectively cuts your computer’s response time in half, meaning everything from scrolling down a webpage to moving your cursor to click on a link will feel significantly smoother. Animations like opening and closing windows will also look smoother, and the whole interface will feel more responsive.
Some users won’t notice much of a difference between 60 and 120fps when doing everyday stuff, but almost everyone will notice if you drop from 120 to 60fps. According to some users, the drop from 120 to 60fps makes the monitor’s refreshing more noticeable, the screen looks choppier, and moving the cursor feels less responsive and even kind of laggy.
Though running your computer at 120fps will make your cursor feel more responsive and make everything look and feel smoother, there really isn’t much point in doing everyday stuff in 120fps. Almost everyone will get by just fine with 60fps, and it definitely isn’t worth upgrading your system and monitor so you can browse the internet in 120fps.
What “Frames Per Second” Really Means
“Frames per second” is exactly what it sounds like. Projectors, monitors, and televisions don’t actually display moving pictures; they just create the illusion of motion by displaying a series of still images, or frames, many times per second—essentially the same principle behind old-school flipbooks. And much like old-school flipbooks, the illusion of motion becomes more and more convincing the faster the images fly by.
Movies, shows, and live sports are locked at set framerates due to industry standards and the bandwidth limitations of historic broadcast technologies, but those limits don’t apply to computers. Whether you’re playing a game, working on a spreadsheet, or just staring at the home screen for some reason, the framerate is only limited by your preference and your computer’s processing power.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
120fps has some big advantages over 60fps. Moving your cursor, opening windows, and scrolling down documents will feel much smoother, and just about every action and animation will look faster and more natural. Bumping up to 120fps requires a big leap in processing power, however, so it probably won’t be worth it to upgrade your system…unless you’re a gamer.
Gaming is the one arena where increasing your framerate is unambiguously worth it. More frames per second translates directly to lower system and input lag and fewer distracting visual effects, not to mention how much easier it is to track and aim at moving characters at higher framerates. You can play slower-paced or turn-based games at 60fps without hurting your performance, but nowadays you need to run faster-paced games at a minimum of 120fps if you want to be competitive.