Does a Graphics Card Affect FPS or Frame Rate?

Does a Graphics Card Affect FPS or Frame Rate?

While the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU or graphics card) is responsible for displaying on monitors, you may wonder how much they actually affect FPS performance in PC gaming. Your graphics card performance may play a huge part in game FPS depending on the types of games you usually play. So, upgrading your GPU can lead to a smoother gaming experience.

But, how much do graphics cards play a role in our experienced FPS, and why have gaming GPUs become larger?

Graphics cards are solely responsible for rendering frames experienced on your gaming monitor. If having a high refresh rate system is a significant priority, investing in a graphics card will be worth it for your gaming experience.

In addition to a sound graphics card, other hardware like the CPU, RAM, and Motherboard support the GPU in its ability to attain higher refresh rates by having slightly less or equal ability components not to bottleneck components when gaming.

This article covers how graphics cards have become more critical as PC culture moves forward and what to consider when looking for higher FPS.

Does a Better Graphics Card Increase FPS?

In short, having a better graphics card does increase FPS or frame rate overall. However, some expectations are prevalent where aspects like the texture quality will be improved while the FPS stays capped at a certain amount.

Determining if any accompanying parts are causing bottlenecks before the GPU is also an effective method to keep your refresh rate up. This can come from the CPU not meeting the demands of the game or the RAM not being enabled in XMP or DOCP mode.

How Much Does a GPU Affect Frame Rate?  

The GPU is responsible for video memory (VRAM) that games use, and the accompanying resolution for said game. A graphics card's performance may vary from game-to-game depending on the monitor's refresh rate and resolution.

On CPU-bound games, the differences are less noticeable on lower resolutions like 1080p; however, displaying at 1440p or 4k will force the system to rely on the GPU for displaying pixels. 

Which Affects Frame Rate More: CPU or GPU?

For most games, the graphics card affects FPS more than the CPU or Central Processing Unit. While not known for the refresh rate, the CPU enables some game engines to “get ahead” in data processing and create a surplus of frames for the GPU to display. This effectively means your CPU and graphics card work in tandem for optimal performance.

Again, this depends on the game engine, so knowing the relationship between your GPU and CPU is essential when building a PC.

How You Can Increase FPS on Your Graphics Card

One of the most important aspects of gaming is ensuring your system and GPU are running the latest updates and tuned for the best gaming experience. Here are some options to consider when optimizing your system.

Update Drivers

Updating drivers to the most recent and correct type is essential for all gaming experiences. To those unaware, manufacturers offer two distinct driver types for retail markets; gaming and studio drivers. While drivers still work between gaming or studio applications, asking which system will do more is crucial when configuring your PC.


Using programs like Precision X1 by EVGA or MSI Afterburner is a great system to perform overclock on a system's dedicated GPU. Most, if not all, GPUs can have their power limit altered to increase gaming performance at the cost of hardware degradation over time.

To find out if your GPU or system, in general, can withstand overclocking, try looking at our other resources for GPU or CPU overclocking! 

Adjusting In-Game Settings

Games with in-depth graphics settings to control VRAM utilization are often the most optimized and liked by gamers due to the in-game performance on lower-end hardware.

An excellent example of this would be Red Dead Redemption 2. After its release in 2018, the game saw multiple optimizations for Nvidia and AMD GPUs, reaching over 100 FPS on entry-level hardware like the RX 6500 from AMD paired with a Ryzen 5 5600x, all on 1080p.

Adjusting texture quality, render distance, or anti-aliasing options are good for budgeting a system’s VRAM.

Upgrading Your Hardware

If everything above fails, then it may be time to upgrade. Most components start losing their efficiency in more recent games around 5 years after release. While they remain suitable for some time, upgrading is inevitable.

You can read more in our article about all of the hallmarks of a PC needing an upgrade!

Graphics Card & Frame Rate FAQ

Here are a couple of frequently asked questions regarding frame rate and the impact of GPUs.

Why Is My FPS So Low with a Good Graphics Card?

If you have a high-end graphics card stuttering or experiencing multiple frame rate issues than usual, your GPU could be on the way out. Other reasons may stem from power limiting the GPU, driver issues, or game performance due to lackluster support on the developer's end.

What Graphics Card Do I Need to Run at Specific Resolutions

Depending on the game, the answer could be vastly different depending on your peripherals. In recent years the RTX 30 and RX 60 series of cards have been reliable for 1080p 1440p and some 4K applications in 2023. The newer RTX 40 and RX 70 series are also available at a higher price to performance point.

Summary of Graphics Cards & FPS

Graphics cards contribute significantly to how much FPS you can get and possible refresh rate attainable with specific hardware. Without an optimized graphics card, significant issues can arise while gaming, like stuttering, low FPS, or even display issues.

At Apex Gaming PCs, we have a wide assortment of graphics cards to ensure higher refresh rates at specific resolutions. Anything from our RTX 30 & 40 series, RX 60 & 70 series, and Intel's newest A750 GPU. Whatever your FPS and refresh rate needs, we hope to be of service at Apex!

Written By Will Wilson

Photo Credits: Pavan Bhakta

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