Mythbusting: "Human eye cannot see beyond 60 FPS"

So many people keep repeating this myth all over the Internet, that I decided it would be a good idea to bust this myth right here, once and for all. So, let’s get started.


First of all, the core statement is a nonsense. There have been many reports from different reaction tests that people can react to visual signals in less than 1 ms - this corresponds to 1000 FPS.

Now, where did this myth about “60 FPS” came from in the first place? Most LCD monitors today, let alone 10 years ago, have refresh rate of 60 Hz. On such monitor, no matter how much FPS your application, such as video game, has, you will see only 60 Hz, and additional frames will be ignored. On such monitor, even if your game has 1000 FPS, you will still essentially see 60 FPS.

Now take an old good CRT monitor. CRT monitors are good for this because their image is fully dynamic, that is every frame is drawn from scratch, while LCD monitors do not effectively draw frames that are not very different from each other, they only draw the difference. In dynamic scenes CRT and LCD monitors are similar in this regard.
Most good CRT monitors used to show 85-120 Hz. When you set your refrest rate on such monitor to 60 Hz, you can clearly see extreme flickering. When you set 85 Hz, flickering becomes bearable, but still noticeable. 120 Hz - flickering is almost gone. The difference between 120 Hz and 240 Hz is still noticeable if you place two monitors close to each other and stare at them attentively, but it is very slim.

Let’s return to LCD monitors since that’s what most people use today. I want to make a very important statement here that people arguing about FPS often do not fully understand:

How much FPS you can see depends on the scene you watch.

Imagine if the scene is just Windows desktop, without any activity on it. How much FPS do you need? Right, 0.
Now, imagine if a dot moves on your screen at speed of 1 pixel per second. Since the monitor cannot show “half pixels”, you don’t need more than 1 FPS to see this as perfectly smooth as your display resolution allows.

Imagine now an object that moves from the left edge of your screen to the right. It goes at speed of 200,000 pixels per second, while you have a resolution of 1920x1080. How much FPS do you need to notice this object? Since it shows on your screen for 1080/200,000 = 5.4 ms, you need 1000/5.4=186 FPS to consistently see it on your screen.
What does it all mean? If you use your usual 60 FPS, in about 66% cases you won’t even pick a glance at this object. If you use 240 FPS, however, you will see it cross your screen every single time. And, since your eye is theoretically able to see much more FPS than that, you WILL actually see this object.


So, here is the thing. When you say that you cannot see any difference beyond 60 FPS, first of all make sure that you are actually looking at more than 60 FPS. You cannot see more than 60 FPS on a 60Hz monitor no matter what, since the monitor itself will always show exactly 60 FPS. Then, make sure that you are actually looking at highly dynamical scenes, not just looking at your desktop moving icons around (although between 60 FPS and 120 FPS, I bet, you will see the difference even there). Finally, account for the habit: if you’ve been using 60 FPS for 10 years and then suddenly receive a 120 Hz monitor, you might not see the difference clearly right away since your eye is used to staring at the old screen. Give it some time, maybe, a day - then revert to the old refresh rate, and you will IMMEDIATELY see a HUGE difference by just moving mouse cursor around. You will see so many frames skipped, you will be shocked that you’ve never seen them before.

So, how many FPS do we need? Depends on the applications you use, of course. If you are interested only in web browsing and office work, you are unlikely to really need anything beyond even 30 FPS. If you play some slow-paced games like Hearthstone, 60 FPS is fine. If you play all kinds of games, including RPG, FPS, RTS, etc., 120 FPS will benefit you a lot. And if you are a hardcore FPS gamer, the more FPS you have, the better, 240 FPS and beyond will be just perfect.

TL;DR:

  • Human’s eye can see up to 1000 FPS and, perhaps, above.
  • 60Hz monitor will always show 60 FPS, no matter how much FPS your game is able to provide.
  • High refresh rates are noticeable only in dynamic scenes; in slow or static scenes you rarely will see any difference beyond 30 FPS.

Also, notice that it is my personal understanding of the problem. I may be wrong somewhere - if so, please feel free to correct me. Just remember: before saying stuff like “I cannot see anything beyond 60 FPS”, make sure that you’ve actually tried it on scenes that are able to deliver a real difference - I guarantee that you will see a difference up to 200 Hz, at least, with the right way of testing.

author : May90

36 Likes

its about how fast can the game update in a sec.

only people who believe it are console players

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I’ve played games up to 100 FPS and never noticed a difference. If you’re paying to upgrade specifically to get that 120 fps everyone jabbers on about, you’re wasting money. There is no major difference.

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There’s a difference between the ability to see more (the mechanistic explanation behind it) and whether the brain actually experiences it as such (the evolutionary explanation behind it).

In practice it doesn’t matter what our eyes can actually register because we only experience what our brains do with that information. We constantly get overwhelmed with an overdose of sensory information all the time. If our brains would process all of it equally attentively, we’d be exhausted within an hour of being awake without doing anything special. Therefore our brains constantly ignore information it deems unnecessary or redundant.

When it comes to our view that means that at a certain point when increasing the FPS of a screen, the difference in fluidity becomes so small (the difference between 30 and 60 fps is much larger than between 120 and 240 fps, that’s just how decimals work), that it becomes negligible and the brain will automatically ignore the additional information it receives.

About this actually being translated in FPS, there’s no real consesnus (nor lot of research being done for that matter). But if you have to give something, the latest conclusion I’ve read from an expert is the following: the average person will see notable differences in fluidity up to 100-120 FPS, a trained eye will see notable differences in fluidity up to 200-250 FPS. Beyond that, seeing notable differences is highly unlikely and probably more due to placebo effects. Then again, what is considered ‘notable’ is a very stretchy concept. This is also in relation to getting purely visual cues. Whilst playing video games, you’re also getting a whole lot of auditory and sometimes tactile cues, which only complicates regarding what we actually experience.

Furthermore it also doesn’t help that the matter is a lot more complex than just ‘how many FPS can the eye see?’. For example, motion sensitivity seems to be higher in the periphery of our vision than in the center (again, an evolutionary cause: vigilance for predators) and contrasts also play a role (we’ll easier see differences in fluidity if the contrasts between objects are higher).

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Lol I can easily tell between 30fps, 50fps, 60fps, and 120fps.

Sounds like a troll statement to me.

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Sit in a dark room. 1ms flash of light. You now see 1000 FPS.

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ahahahahahahha

troll post ?

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ahahahahahaha

No.

Even though I play this game on console, I have a high-end PC for other games. The difference between 60 and 120 is minuscule that it might as well not be there.

first off, you wanna mostly aim for 144 hz, dunno how you got to the conclusion that anyone praises 120 hz. Aswell as the difference between 144 hz and 60 hz in a fast pased game like overwatch is insanely high once you’re used to it. Sure not in every game but in Overwatch for sure you will notice it unless you’re blind.

If you’re just talking about FPS since you only mentioned FPS and your gaming “pc” idk what to tell you and might aswell just stop here .

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a friend of mine who only plays in 60hz and 60fps played once on my 165hz screen on 165fps, and he said my 60hz second screen was broken. bc he just realized how 165fps feels compared to 60fps

Starting on 60hz you won’t feel anything, moving over to 144 or higher, you see a upgrade, going now back to 60 and you just can’t deal with it anymore.
Thats my opinion. and experience with it.

I have 0 issues working on a 60hz display in my company but as soon as my mouse movement changes the whole screen, 60fps is unplayable imho.

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Humans can see upwards of 220 fps, you just have to be trained to do it. The US Air Force trains their pilots to do this, by flashing progressively faster and faster images on the screen and having them describe what it is.

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The difference is literally 100%. If you cant see a difference, you may want to see an eye doctor

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If you don’t know what to tell me, then you probably never should’ve started talking lmao.

I’ve never played Overwatch or any game requiring snap reactions on PC, so I don’t know. But in-general, I don’t notice a difference.

The difference between 60 and 75fps is noticeable my dude. I play at 240hz and have played at this framerate for most of OW’s life (was at 144 before)

When you lower the fps to 60 it feels like powerpoint in comparison

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The difference between 60 and even 100 FPS is significant. The difference between 60 and 120 or 144 is massive. I would recommend anyone who can’t distinguish between these framerates to get an eye test. I mean that seriously and not in a rude way.

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Im no expert but dont know you need to take in the fact of the time it takes from your eyes seeing it, for your brain to then process it, for then that information relayed to reactions?

Linus Tech Tips did a video on YouTube with the Slowmo guys about this topic. I reccomend that.

Seriously, I went from 60 hz to 165 hz and now my flicks with Hanzo/McCree/Widow/Ana sleep/etc are far far far better than they were on 60 hz.

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This wasn’t meant to me being unable to understand the technical difficulties behind it but rather me not being able to explain you the fundamentals of this topic.

Why are people just talking out of their

meanwhile they haven’t even tested it themself, yet so sure that their opinion is correct ? Jesus, no, this is the reason why i wanted to stop typing to you xD

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That changes absolutely nothing I said. The 100% difference isn’t noticeable.

Maybe you should try reading, because the topic is about fps in-general, not Overwatch specifically. The OP mentions all kinds of games.