RealOpinions: PlayStation 5's high frame rates is a game-changer for the racing genre

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The next generation of consoles are tantalisingly close to being released and there's still plenty of details that are yet to be revealed.

Sony and Microsoft will resume their console war with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in the Autumn.

Who will come out on top is purely speculation at this point but one of the deciding factors could be which system can run the higher frame rate while playing games.

Here's the rumour which has been doing the rounds on the net with an explanation of what it would mean if it were true.

Explaining frame rate

Action shot of Need For Speed Heat
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EYE CANDY: Higher FPS' make a huge difference to the animations in a game

What we see on a TV or monitor may appear to be seamless motion, just like what we observe around us, but it's actually a collection of still images that are shown one after the other to give the illusion of them moving. Frame rate, or frames per second (fps) is the number of images that are shown on screen every second to make up a video.

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For example, most TVs these days are capable of showing 50 or 60 fps and the PS4 runs most games at 60.

It'd be a huge jump up in terms of processing power for the PS5 to be able to play games at 120 fps but some have suggested that the console will be able to run games at 240.

240 fps would be four times the frame rate of PS4, a technological leap we haven't seen between generations of consoles before.

Why does frame rate matter more than resolution?

Call of Duty Modern Warfare squad
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IMPROVEMENTS ACROSS THE BOARD: Racing games won't be the only ones to see benefits

We recently brought you the news that the PS5 will allegedly be able to play its games in 8K resolution. That's a picture quality four times that of 4K and 16 times more than standard 1080p.

Frankly, this sounds a lot more impressive than a higher frame rate but what actually makes the most difference?

The minimum frame rate required for us to not detect "shudder" is 46 fps.

Surely more frames per second can only help the situation?

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This is a notion that Kazunori Yamauchi (Gran Turismo's developer) agrees with and the benefits aren't exclusive to racing games:

"Having a higher frame rate has definitive, measurable benefits: smoother animations, improved target tracking, smaller ghosts and tears help reduce distracting effects, and lower System Latency helps you see targets sooner with a more responsive feel" 

If you want a visual representation of the difference that higher frame rates make, the below video does a great job of showing this:

Will 240 make a perceivable difference?

GT7 race
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SMOOTH RACING: The racing genre is arguably where the most benefits could be seen

Without seeing it, it's hard to conclusively say.

In theory, we shouldn't be able to tell the difference, the human eye can usually only detect differences up until 150 fps. However, it isn't that simple, especially when it comes to racing games.

In motor racing, every thousandth of a second counts and reaction times are key to success. Cat-like reflexes can make the difference between crashing in the first corner and arresting the slide before going on to win the race.

This doubling of the potential frame rate will likely make a big difference to the esports community. The players with fast reaction times and best decision making will benefit the most.

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Is it all just a numbers game though? Does this make a noticeable difference to the average player?

If, for example, the Xbox Series X was released with a maximum 120 fps and the PS5 with 240, would anybody buy the PlayStation over the Xbox for this reason alone? I personally don't think they would, the wider impact of the faster frame rate would be a more decisive factor.

Then again, I remember when HD first became accessible and we couldn't tell the difference immediately. Now though, it's obvious, thanks in part to the larger displays that are commonly available. Critics have been wrong before and they could be wrong about this as well.

We'll have to wait and see; this is something you can't form a full opinion of until you've seen it for yourself. If anything is going to change the way we play racing games though, it's this feature.

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