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I know what FPS stands for and what it means, but what does it depend upon: my monitor, or my graphics card?

Also, usually all graphic cards have names like Nvidia Geforce GT 420m. What does the 420m stand for?

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Also are AMD Radon graphics cards better or nvidia ones? This is a subjective question, and is off-topic on our site. I've removed it from your question. –  Wipqozn Oct 31 '11 at 19:28
    
for what its worth: the 'm' in 420m means mobile, but most gfx numbers have little to no meaning other than just something to call the series. –  z - Oct 31 '11 at 19:56
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closed as not a real question by BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft, z -, Wipqozn, Keaanu, Bora Oct 31 '11 at 21:31

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2 Answers

Each game consist of code written in some programming language. The code is nothing more than a long list of instructions for your computer. Often times in modern AAA games, these codes are millions of lines long, which is why the computer needs a relatively long time to go through it.

All games have a "loop" of instructions of sorts through which they run again and again to simulate the game. For example, a simple loop might look like this:

loop start
get user input
simulate physics
update animation
update everything else
draw everything to the screen
repeat

FPS is nothing but the amount of times that your computer or console manages to go through this loop within one second. One iteration of this loop is usually called a "frame", hence, "frames per second".

Those different parts on the loop are differently taxing on different parts of your hardware, depending on the game. For example, most modern first person shooters try to display an incredible amount of detail and effects on your screen, which is why they're very taxing in the "draw everything to the screen" department, which is something that is done to 90% by your graphics card.

In other games, for example real time strategy games, much detail is usually not necessary since you view things only from very far away. So most of their processing power goes into things such as pathfinding for units, AI, etc. which are things that are usually done by your CPU.

So in essence, it depends on the game.

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FPS depends on computing power, so your graphics card and CPU and memory and such, not your monitor.

There are unfortunately too many different naming schemes for graphics cards to try to cover them here. And there is no "better" between AMD and NVidia, they each have a wide variety of cards with varying capabilities in various games. If you're trying to compare two specific cards in a similar price range, try looking for articles that compare those two online.

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