Competitive Gaming : Frame Rate Is Life

There is nothing more frustrating than jumping into a new game or the latest in the franchise and feeling like a noob all over again.

I will be covering a series of tips on how to adjust to any first person shooter (and some other game types too)  and get the advantage.

Today we will look at frame rate and latency to get the drop on the competition

It’s easy to chortle at those guys playing with all their settings on low to try to coax a few extra frames out of their rigs even if it makes the graphics look like minecraft. But there is a method to their madness. It comes down to the transfer of information and the time it takes for you to react to that information.

So in a 3d multiplayer world when another player makes an action the following things take place during that split second:

A quick overview of latency


1. Actions are registered by your input device into the game and are sent from your PC or Console to the games server

2. That action be transmitted via the internet which is your Ping to the server

3.The server scans a number of times a second for changes, this is the Server Tick Rate

4. This information is then sent back to your computer via the internet

3.Which is then processed by your Graphics card into Frames per second

4.Then it is sent to your Display which  adds milliseconds of input delay while processing each frame, which can be in the low 4ms or as high as 15 or 30 in some models

5. Those Frames are then fed from your graphics card to your Screens Hz Refresh Rate determining the maximum frequency of frames it can display to your eyes

6. You then react to those Frames and make an action (go back to 1.)




Still with me? It sounds complicated,  it is but you don’t need to worry about all this, the game and your computer and monitor take care of all the heavy lifting here, but it’s worth understanding so you know what can give you an edge.

So what appears on screen as (mostly) fluid actions and reactions have inherent latency introduced at every step, it can get even more complex when dealing with hitboxes and hitscan but that could be an article in itself.

To simplify, more frames and a stable internet connection will help you react faster and play better (no kidding, right?) but something that does make a real difference is the number of Frames you get over and above your refresh rate, even if your monitor is capped at 60hz you can feel a difference in the responsiveness.

Another source of input delay is having VSync enabled, although VSync gets rid of that horrible tearing effect which occurs when your monitor gets more frames from the Graphics Processor than it can handle, this does introduce a large amount of input delay or sluggishness because it is delaying the frames to coincide with the monitors Refresh Rate (Hz).

So this is another trade-off of graphical fidelity with overall responsiveness many players learn to live with, GSync and FreeSync can help smooth out stuttering, *only* when the frames being delivered are *less* than the screens refresh rate, Tearing is better fixed by a high Refresh Rate monitor.

How can you, as a player, use this to your advantage?


Some brands of monitors can support refresh rates higher than 60. Rates above 75, 100, 120, 144 and even 244 are becoming more easily available to gamers at decent prices. Driving those sorts of frames doesn’t always need the latest in video cards games like Battlefield 1 and Overwatch even on modest hardware can hit those kinds of numbers when their settings are optimized.

I recently used a 144hz 1080p panel for a while, but it had a stuck pixel so I got a return on it and ultimately decided to move to a 60hz 1440p panel instead. I still kind of regret it… although clearer because of the higher resolution, the overall perceived responsiveness moving from 144hz to 60  has decreased my ability to see another player and react as quickly as when I was using a 144Hz panel.

This is why so many competitive gamers opt for high Refresh Rate monitors to get that extra edge in games that require twitch reflexes and rapid decisions to be made.

The short TL;DR version is, more frames equal more time for your eyes and brain to make a decision.

Tune in next time to see how a little sensitivity goes a long way!

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