Stands for "Frames Per Second." FPS is used to measure frame rate – the number of consecutive full-screen images that are displayed each second. It is a common specification used in video capture and playback and is also used to measure video game performance.
On average, the human eye can process 12 separate images per second. This means a frame rate of 12 FPS can display motion, but will appear choppy. Once the frame rate exceeds 12 FPS, the frames appear less discrete and start to blur together. A frame rate of 24 FPS is commonly used for film since it creates a smooth appearance. Many video cameras record in 30 or 60 FPS, which provides even smoother motion.
The 60i (60 FPS, interlaced) format was used for NTSC broadcasts and was replaced by the 60p (60 FPS, progressive scan) with HDTV. This means HDTV not only provides a higher resolution than NTSC, but also yields smoother playback. In order to take advantage of higher frame rates, the display on which the video is output must support a refresh rate that is at least as high as the frame rate. That is why most televisions and monitors support refresh rates of at least 60 hertz.
FPS is also used to measure the frame rate of video games. The maximum frame rate is generally determined by a combination of the graphics settings and the GPU. For example, if you are running a new game on an old computer, you may have to reduce the quality of the graphics to maintain a high frame rate. If you have a new computer with a powerful video card, you may be able to increase the graphics settings without reducing the FPS.
While some games limit the maximum frame rate, it is not uncommon for a powerful GPU to generate over 100 FPS. For a game to be playable without any lag, it helps to make sure the game maintains over 60 FPS even when a lot is happening on the screen. Therefore, it is wise to configure your graphics settings conservatively to avoid choppy gameplay.
NOTE: FPS is also a common abbreviation for "First Person Shooter," a type of 3D video game that gives you the perspective of the main character.
Updated: February 3, 2015