Why Does 30 FPS Look Better on Consoles? (+ Vital Facts)

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This is why 30 FPS looks better on consoles.

Run the same game on your PC at 30 FPS and it looks choppy.

You can run at 30 FPS and make it look good. It just takes a few tweaks.

Let’s jump right in!

Why 30 FPS Looks Better on Consoles

Traditionally, the end of the year signals the release of the next generation of consoles.

2020 was no different.

We now have the PS5, the Xbox Series X, and soon the Nintendo Switch 2.

The new games, however, don’t seem to have upgraded to a higher FPS—the majority are still at 30 FPS. 

This has a lot of gamers wondering, why?

If the new consoles are meant to be an improvement, why stick to the same old framerate?

Turns out, there are significant reasons to keep the 30 FPS in place.

You’ll find the answer to that question in a little bit. 

The big question here is why does 30 FPS look better on consoles?

Run the same game on your PC at 30 FPS and it looks choppy.

You’d think the two would be exactly the same.

The good news is that you can run at 30 FPS and have it look good. It just takes a few tweaks.

Why Are Console Games Locked at 30 FPS?

First of all, they’re not. The majority of console games are at 30 FPS because that’s what works best for consumers.

A lot of older games ran at much lower rates and some are produced with 60 FPS. There are a few games that even let you switch FPS modes.

The problem is all about power. It takes an incredible amount of power to render graphics at 30 FPS. Yes, you can do it at 60 FPS, but there will be sacrifices.

Performance is one of those sacrifices.

So you have to ask yourself, do I want a better playing game or a better-looking game?

There’s also the question of how fast our brains can process information that comes in through our eyes. As frame rates increase, the load on your brain does too.

Frequencies higher than 100 can actually give you a headache. 

Your brain automatically adds in motion blur because you can’t track movement fast enough with your eyes.

A lot of games incorporate artificial motion blur so you won’t get those headaches. Greg Salazar and Michael Stevens explain your visual FPS expertly in this video:

Console 30 FPS vs. PC 30 FPS

30 FPS will always be 30 FPS, no matter what platform you play on. So then why does 30 FPS gaming look so different on a PC? There are several reasons why this could be true. 

A console is designed just to run the game. Your computer is probably doing all kinds of other things at the same time. There’s typically a lot more going on in the background of your PC than Assassin’s Creed. So, resources are allocated differently.

Consoles are all the same. When Sony puts out a PS5, it’s the same machine as the PS5 before it and the PS5 after it on the assembly line. When Microsoft pumps out another Xbox Series X, it’s the same as the last hundred Xbox Series X consoles they made. Game devs for consoles don’t have to account for variation.

If you’re not seeing the game smoothly at 30 FPS, you could have a problem with your GPU’s frame pacing.

Consider a 60 FPS game on your PC. You expect 60 frames in a second, naturally. But, if your frame pacing is irregular, you get one frame in one millisecond. Then, a few milliseconds go by before you get another few frames. 

That delay between frames will look like a skip or a jitter. If you have even frame pacing, you get the same amount of time between one frame and the next. In both cases, you’re getting 60 frames in one second, but one looks much smoother than the other.

Now, let’s take a look at what you’re plugging your system into.

Monitors and televisions have refresh rates. That’s how many times per second the display can show an image.

Refresh rates are different from frame rates but they matter when there’s a mismatch.

Televisions, for the most part, use a lot of tech tricks to make watching a smoother experience. Backlight blinking and frame interpolation are two of these tricks. You don’t get these post-processing techniques with a monitor. 

How to Make 30 FPS Look Smooth on PC

Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of how to make a 30 FPS game look as good as a 30 FPS console game.

The way to get rid of jitters, tearing, and lags on your PC games is to synchronize your graphics card with your monitor. 

More than likely, your monitor has a constant refresh rate. You can change this rate by going into your settings by clicking Monitors (Windows) or Displays (Mac). When you change it, your monitor will keep that consistent rate. LCD screens usually have a fixed rate that you can’t change.

The lower your screen resolution, the higher refresh rate you’ll probably get out of it. That’s because it doesn’t have as much visual information to refresh. If you set your refresh rate to lower than 60 Hz, things start looking choppy. 

Your GPU, by contrast, is wildly inconsistent. Some scenes render frames quickly and others take a bit longer to produce.

The trick is to get the monitor and GPU to match up or sync. If your monitor is too fast, you get a stutter. When it’s your monitor that’s slow, you get tearing.

How To Make 30 FPS Smooth on PC

1. Address your frame pacing: You want the time between frames to be consistent. To do this, download Rivatuner Statistics Server (RTSS). It’s free and you’ll see it recommended in gaming forums all over the place with scanline sync.

2. Sync your GPU to your monitor: Here, you have a few options. You can change your hardware or your software or both.

V-Sync or vertical synchronization is when your refresh rate and your FPS are lined up. It effectively hits pause on sending the next frame until the monitor is ready.

You can enable it for all games by turning it on in the driver for your GPU. If you only want it for individual games, go to the game’s graphics setting menu.

The only place this is a problem is when your GPU is slower than your monitor. So, when V-Sync asks for the next image to display, the GPU doesn’t have it ready. That’ll give your game a stutter.

Half Refresh V-sync synchronizes your GPU and monitor so that the GPU produces images in twice the time it takes for your screen to refresh. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it is. It only really works in lower-performing systems where the graphics card can’t quite get up to 60 FPS. It also saves battery power.

Adaptive Sync is decidedly better all around. It essentially tells your monitor to only refresh when the GPU is ready for it. Your GPU can slow down and speed up at will and your monitor will change with it. Trouble is, you need a monitor that supports adaptive sync.

There are two ways to get adaptive sync. You have to choose to go with either G-Sync from Nvidia or FreeSync from AMD. You can’t, unfortunately, get a monitor that does both. G-Sync only works if you have a Nvidia graphics card. FreeSync only works with an AMD card.

Do consoles use V-sync?

Yes. The PS4 and Xbox One use adaptive sync.

30 FPS Gaming

If you want to know how to lock PC games at 30 FPS, it’s pretty simple. Just go to your graphic card’s settings. Global settings will change the FPS of every game on your PC. Program settings will let you choose an individual game to play at 30 FPS.

When you open your global settings menu and scroll down, you should see a “max frame rate” option. Click that, turn it on, and then select the frame rate you want. Then, hit “apply.” Remember that this overrides in-game settings.

Does 30 FPS bother you? It’s not going away soon. So, you might as well get used to it. How do you get used to it? Glad you asked.

How to Get Used to 30 FPS

If you use the suggestions in this article, you should find that playing at 30 FPS can be quite smooth.

Some games will negate the difference between 30 and 60 so that you don’t notice it at all. If you’re playing chess, for example, you won’t notice as much as if you’re playing Forza Motorsport 7.

You can always switch to a console for certain games if you’re not married to your PC. Most consoles can run streaming services and play disc media in addition to gameplaying, so it could pay off to have one of these in your living room.

As long as your gameplay isn’t jerky or stuttered, you might not notice if you’re engrossed in a game. Rarely do you look at the entire screen when playing a game anyway. Most of your eye is spent focused on the center of the screen. 

It’s more noticeable in open-world games too. If you’re playing The Witcher 3, your focus will still be in the center, on Geralt. However, you’ll be searching the backdrop for items and paths while you play. More linear games don’t require as much range of vision.

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