FPS drops can be a gamer's worse nightmare. Many factors can affect gaming performance, but what about having an extra screen? In the following guide, we will answer, does having multiple monitors affect FPS? Let's find out!
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Does Using More Than One Monitor Affect FPS?
Dual monitor setups shouldn't affect FPS in most cases. If you're using one screen to play games and the other on standby, the performance hit might be 1% at most.
After all, it's not the second screen that puts demand on your system; it's the additional resources that come from having extra applications open.
However, gamers who want to extend their FOV using a dual monitor setup are a different story altogether.
In these circumstances, the second monitor is used together with the primary monitor to create one image. This means a higher resolution within the game settings and a bigger performance hit on the graphics card.
Therefore, more monitors don't necessarily mean less FPS (or FPS dropped). If your second monitor is only plugged in, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
However, your frame rate will be affected if you’re multitasking, opening apps on your second screen, or playing multi-monitor extended FOV games.
What Is FPS? – Why It Matters To Gamers
FPS is a gaming acronym that means “frames per second.” The term has become popular within the tech industry as it is a measurement of how smooth your display image is. 
This can mean within video games or actual videos. What's important, though, is that the higher the frames, the better your overall experience, so it does matter!
All gamers love high frames; competitive esports players in particular will demand nothing less than 144 FPS.
A videogame that is running at 144 FPS means that you are seeing 144 frames per second. The more frames your computer generates, the smoother and more responsive your game will feel.
If you're playing a high-demanding graphically intensive game, even a powerful GPU might experience FPS drops. You'll often find this in single-player games covered in detail on ultra settings.
There is a workaround, though, and that is lowering the graphics settings in-game. You could also change the resolution, which will cause less strain on the GPU.
FPS certainly makes a difference in reaction time, so gamers with a good PC will have a competitive advantage in-game. FPS is also important for videos, as a 60 FPS video will be noticeably smoother than a 30 FPS video.
Luckily for most of us, almost any GPU can handle 60 FPS YouTube videos, so there's no limit on the quality of videos you can watch.
How To Test FPS Performance (Easy DIY Guide)
There are many ways to test FPS performance depending on the game and distribution service.
We have summarized the following guide to include overlays, built-in fps counters, and third-party software. Each step is an alternative method, but all do the same thing, more or less.
Step 1: Steam in-game FPS overlay
The easiest way to test your in-game performance is by using the Steam FPS counter. You can activate this overlay by clicking your Steam “Settings > In-game > In-game FPS counter.”
The next time you launch a game, you should notice a grey FPS counter at the top-right of your screen. You can further customize the color and location of the FPS counter if need be.
If you're playing a game that wasn't bought on Steam, you can add the game to your Steam library to use the FPS overlay.
Click on the "Games" tab and select "Add a non-Steam game to my library." You can then launch the game through Steam and monitor any performance impact.
Step 2: EA Origin in-game FPS overlay
The EA Origin overlay is almost identical to the Steam overlay. The only difference is that you’re using the Origin launcher instead of Steam. You’ll likely opt for this testing method if you play exclusive EA titles.
Activate the overlay by clicking the "Origin tab, Application settings, Origin in-game, and Display FPS counter." Similar to Steam, you can change the location and transparency of the FPS counter text.
Step 3: NVIDIA Graphics Card FPS counter
Those who have NVIDIA graphics cards can monitor performance using the GeForce Experience software. Once installed, click “ALT + Z, Settings, Hud Layout, and then FPS counter.” You can use the shortcut ALT + F12 to turn it on/off in the future while gaming.
Step 4: Built-in FPS counter
Some games have a built-in FPS counter preinstalled. Generally, this feature will be found in your gameplay or video settings. Built-in FPS counters can also include other benchmarking statistics such as ping, frame timings, and server latency.
Alternatively, some games may also have this feature hidden as a console command, so check online if you can’t find it within the gameplay or video settings.
The Downsides Of Dual-Screen Gameplay
The most common issue gamers face when using dual screens is being distracted. While playing games, a Discord message on your second screen can pull you away from the action.
While trying to focus on your crosshair placement, a simple pop-up notification can cause you to miss your target.
Monitors aren't necessarily cheap, especially for gamers looking for a good resolution and high refresh rates.
If you want to extend your view and play games on your second monitor, you could be looking at an additional +$100 for your dual-screen setup.
Dual monitors have become popular among social media and content creators. Once the hype has died down, you may realize you only need one monitor.
Those who don't multitask as much should ideally stick to a single monitor.
Depending on the size of your desk, a dual monitor setup can wreak havoc on your desk space.
This can affect the amount of freedom you have to move your mouse, which coincides with gameplay altogether.
Gamers with weaker GPU (graphics card) and want dual monitors side-by-side should avoid extending their resolution with multiple screens.
When two monitors are used to carry over a display and become one big screen, more GPU will be put under more load. This, in turn, will generate more pixels, affect gaming performance, and further decrease frame rate.
When Should I Use Multiple Monitors?
Good computer specifications
If you have a modern gaming PC, then you should definitely think about adding an extra monitor.
Gamers with a high-end graphics card with enough VRAM (graphics memory) will have no problem running a dual-screen setup.
Gaming performance shouldn't dip, even when extending your gameplay to dual monitors.
As mentioned above, if you have enough power, dual monitors can take your gaming experience to the next level.
Racing games or action games with a larger FOV will further increase the immersion. Add a curved monitor and a surround sound speaker system, and you’re basically in the game!
Gamers who want to stream on platforms such as Twitch should think about a second monitor for their audience.
It's difficult to speak with your viewers if you constantly have to alt + tab in-game and open your background.
Dual monitors mean you can type in chat in-between rounds and stay updated with donations and requests.
Multitasking and Productivity
Depending on the nature of your work, a single monitor can affect your productivity when you move between multiple documents and applications.
Having to minimize your browser, scan your background, and reopen folders can be time-consuming. Two monitors solve this problem by doubling your vision and display capabilities.
Social media and music enthusiasts
Multiple displays can be a great addition to your setup if you're an influencer or music enthusiast.
While you focus on creating content on your primary monitor, your second monitor can be used to update social media, check notifications, or change your music playlist to keep you motivated!
Frequently Asked Monitor & FPS Questions
Do your CPU, motherboard, and RAM affect FPS?
RAM will affect your short-term memory, so loading in-game map materials quickly might boost FPS. Finally, the motherboard isn't as important; it only determines the limits of your potential components.
Does monitor hertz affect FPS?
The simple answer is that hertz determines how many frames you can actually see. A PC that outputs 100 FPS with a 60 Hertz monitor will still be limited to 60 FPS on its screen.
More FPS displays a faster image, but you are still constrained to the refresh rate of your monitor. That said, 100 FPS on a 60 Hertz monitor will still look better than 60 FPS on a 60 Hertz monitor.
Having multiple monitors will only affect FPS if you're actively using the secondary monitor.
Playing games, opening apps, or working on your extra screens will impact your gaming performance.
With that said, if your second monitor is connected only while on standby, there shouldn't be any difference, and you won't find that your second monitor lags.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.