What is frametime and what does it have to do with FPS?

Best measurement to diagnose jerks or stuttering when gaming.

You have probably heard of frametime when analyzing the performance of a game. This concept is closely related to frames per second or FPS, but they are not exactly the same. We are going to analyze their usefulness, and how they differ.

Index of contents

  • What exactly is frametime
  • Frametime vs FPS: What best explains game performance issues?
    • High and stable FPS but poor performance: yes, it can happen
    • How to monitor it and how to interpret the results?
    • What are the causes of these jerks and how can I fix them?
  • Final words and conclusion about frametime

What exactly is frametime

The frametime is defined as the time between a frame and the next is rendered. Rather, we could talk about how long a frame is on the screen.

Thus, if we talk about a frametime at a given moment of 16 ms, it means that the last frame has been on the screen during that time.

Let’s think about it: with this definition, everything points to frametime and FPS being almost the same. So that about 60 FPS is 60 frames displayed in one second, which doing the inverse count would take us to 16.67 ms for each frame, or 16.67 ms of frametime.

However, this is not the case at all. You cannot establish an equivalence between FPS and frametime, and this is what makes both measures very important, and that we do not depend on just one of them. We explain it to you.

Frametime vs FPS: What best explains game performance issues?

The fact of the matter is that the frametime is giving us an image of how long each frame lasts, while the FPS indicates all those that are shown for a whole second.

For example, displaying 60 FPS is tremendously beneficial, but it has nothing to do with the frametime of each individual frame. Let’s look at two extreme examples:

  • A frame remains “stopped” for half a second, and in the other half a second another 59 are shown. We will have 60 FPS, but we will have suffered a significant tug in the game.
  • During that second, all the frames have appeared roughly every 16.67 milliseconds. We will go back to 60 FPS,but in this case the fluidity will be incredibly higher.

To make it even clearer, we are going to make a graphical representation of how 10 frames can be displayed in one second (10 FPS) but with a different time between frames.

If the second situation repeats itself constantly, and the delivery of frames is so erratic, then you will notice serious performance problems in games, with constant jerks.

High and stable FPS but poor performance: yes, it can happen

Thus, after this introduction of what FPS and frametime are, we can come to the conclusion that the situation may arise that we have high FPS, even stable, but still the performance is bad.

In fact, it is something that surely has happened to all of us, and the worst of all is that we cannot give you an explanation if we only have the FPS values ​​in front of us. Faced with this confusion, the solution is to monitor the frametime. No more no less.

When you notice that the performance of a game is bad despite having good FPS, always check the frametime.

How to monitor it and how to interpret the results?

As we say, whenever you notice jerks with a high FPS rate you should check the frametime. For this, the ideal program is MSI Afterburner. You can download it from its official website , and it works with any graphics card (it doesn’t have to be MSI).

Once you have installed the program, open it. Within its interface, you will find a program configuration icon . Enter, and access Monitoring.

There, you must choose the Frametime and Frame rate options , and click on the check (✓) to display that information in the Afterburner graphics, which you can also access from the program itself, just below the button. setting.

You can also click show information on screen. Thus, the Frametime and FPS data will be displayed while you play. Choose the text, graph option at least in the Frametime, so that a graph is displayed.

Now, how do we interpret the frametime data thrown by the program? The first thing we should look at is that they are as stable and consistent as possible. Obviously in relation to the stability of the FPS.

For example, in the image above we show you a test that we have performed with Minecraft in two different situations. In one, we moved around the map with total fluidity, a very stable frametime is seen and there are no jerks. In another, there were significant jerks that are represented on the frametime graph. In this case, the reason for the stuttering was a generation of map chunks .

In addition to this, its value should be around what would correspond to the division of 1 by the number of FPS. For example, this would be ideal for:

  • 30 FPS: about 3 milliseconds
  • 60 FPS: about 7 milliseconds
  • 100 FPS: about 10 milliseconds
  • 150 FPS: about 7 milliseconds
  • 200 FPS: about 5 milliseconds

Obviously, if we are expecting a frametime of 16ms, nothing happens because it is 14, 15, or 17. The problem would come from seeing peaks that are too high.

Note that the horizontal axis of a frametime graph does not represent seconds. Rather, each point is a specific frame, and the vertical axis indicates how long it lasted. Watch how the speed at which the graph is drawn changes with Afterburner!

What are the causes of these jerks and how can I fix them?

And why do all these jerks happen? Basically, the cause of a bad frametime is a delay in the generation of the frame, usually caused by an external factor.

For example, if we have a graphics card capable of producing up to 200 FPS in a game, but a processor with an exaggerated bottleneck , we may see a performance of (for example) 60 FPS that will hide many frames with immense lag, and a consistent peak frametime that drives performance down.

The problem can also come from other causes. For example, it may be because the RAM is too full, so a delay is introduced to free up space in secondary memory before the CPU can act. It may even be due to slow memory speeds.

In summary, the best way to solve stuttering due to too high a frametime is to try to diagnose the problem based on the use of CPU, GPU and RAM memory, in addition to checking if these components measure up to what we want to play.

Final words and conclusion about frametime

The frametime is one of the most important measurements when analyzing performance in games. When we see a measurement of frames per second (FPS), we are assuming that the duration of those frames is regular in time. That is, if we have 100 FPS, we assume that every second a frame is being launched every 10 milliseconds. In reality, this is not the case, hence we can see how we suffer from jerks or stuttering in games with high FPS.

Compared to FPS, frametime is used to see how long each frame lasts until the next one is rendered. Thus, if we represent the results in a graph and see how some frames last longer than expected, that is where we have the dreaded jerks.

We recommend reading our articles:

  • In 4K, does the CPU bottleneck? And in 1440p or 1080?
  • How many FPS does the eye see? Can we distinguish more than 30 FPS?
  • Why does my graph not go above 60 FPS if it has to give more?
  • Newbie Mistakes When Changing Graphics Card: Tips And Tricks

Monitoring frametime is a very simple process, which we can do with MSI Afterburner, for example. The information it gives us about performance is invaluable and, if we put it in comparison with other measures such as CPU, GPU or RAM usage, we can diagnose where the problem is.

Do you use frametime frequently to analyze your PC’s gaming performance? Let us know in the comments!

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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