Does Having Two Monitors Affect FPS?

By | July 24, 2023

About The Article:

  • Multi-monitor setups can impact gaming frame rates and performance.
  • The article examines how adding a second display affects FPS and GPU usage.
  • It covers factors like monitor resolution, refresh rates, game settings that influence impact.
  • Tips are provided to minimize FPS drop through GPU selection, keeping main gaming display as primary.

Written By – Manvendra Singh Manvendra Singh

For PC gamers and enthusiasts, getting the highest possible frame rates (FPS) in games is a top priority.

Many gamers utilize dual monitor setups for increased productivity and multitasking capabilities.

But does connect a second monitor lower FPS in games?

Let’s take a detailed look at whether having two monitors affects FPS.

Quick Answer:

Having two monitors can affect FPS if both screens are used for gaming or demanding tasks, but simply extending the desktop usually has minimal impact. Ensure your GPU can support multiple displays without compromising performance.

Does Having Two Monitors Affect FPS?

Quick Answer:

The short answer is YES.

Adding a second monitor can slightly reduce FPS in games.

However, the FPS drop is usually relatively minor for most modern gaming PCs and GPUs, typically around 3-5 FPS.

With high FPS rates, this little reduction is hardly noticeable during gameplay.

There are a few reasons why a second display causes a slight performance hit.

But there are also things you can do to minimize or eliminate any FPS loss when gaming on a dual monitor PC setup.

Why A Second Monitor Reduces FPS

There are three main reasons why connecting a second monitor reduces frame rates to some extent:

1. Increased GPU Workload

With a second display connected, your graphics card has to work harder, even if you’re only gaming on one monitor.

This is because the GPU is outputting video signals to run both screens, plus additional background Windows processes on the second display.

The extra workload results in a few FPS frames lost as the GPU divides resources between the two displays.

2. Extra Display Outputs Active

Most GPUs have several display connectors – HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, etc.

When you connect a second monitor, this activates another display output on the graphics card.

Having two display outputs active instead of one forces the GPU to work harder to manage and transmit video signals through both outputs simultaneously.

This also slightly lowers FPS.

3. Increased Rendering Resolution

When two monitors with different resolutions are active, Windows will scale its rendering resolution to the larger display.

This means the GPU has to render more pixels, subtly reducing game frame rates.

For example, if you have a 1080p and a 1440p monitor connected, Windows will scale to 1440p resolution for both, increasing the rendering workload.

How Much FPS Drop Can You Expect?

So clearly, there are reasonable explanations for why a second monitor causes some FPS loss.

But just how much of a performance hit are we talking about?

With a modern gaming PC equipped with a powerful discreet GPU, the FPS reduction is generally relatively small and often negligible:

  • With a high-end Nvidia 3000 or 6000 series GPU, you can expect a 3-5 FPS drop at most.
  • For mid-range GPUs like Nvidia 2000/1000 series, the FPS loss is around 5-8 FPS.
  • Older or low-end GPUs might see an 8-15 FPS reduction.

So as you can see, the FPS drop is relatively minor, even with budget GPUs.

A 3-5 FPS dip with top-tier graphics cards is practically unnoticeable during gameplay.

A 15 FPS loss on an older GPU is more significant. But if you only achieve 60-100 FPS, a 15 FPS drop still leaves very playable frame rates.

When Does Dual Monitors Not Affect FPS?

There are a couple of scenarios where having a second monitor does NOT impact FPS at all:

  • Using integrated graphics instead of a discreet GPU. Integrated graphics like Intel UHD have dedicated video outputs for multiple displays. So gaming FPS is not affected.
  • Enabling a motherboard’s integrated graphics to run the second display separately from your discreet GPU. This prevents performance from hitting your primary GPU since the integrated graphics handle the second monitor.
  • Running games in proper fullscreen mode. This dedicates your GPU entirely to the game, shutting off external processes and second monitor output.

So if you run full-screen games on a single discreet GPU, you can expect minor FPS loss.

But other setups avoid this problem entirely.

How to Minimize FPS Loss with a Dual Monitor Setup

If you do experience FPS dips from a second monitor, here are some tips to reduce or eliminate the performance impact:

  • Close background apps on your second display while gaming to free up GPU resources.
  • Try disabling the second monitor when gaming via Windows display settings.
  • Enable Vsync or an FPS cap in-game settings to prevent FPS from fluctuating due to the second monitor.
  • Lower the second monitor’s resolution to match your main display. This prevents upscaling.
  • Adjust in-game graphics settings to optimize performance and counteract any FPS loss.
  • Use a high refresh rate primary gaming monitor (144Hz or 240Hz) so small FPS dips are less noticeable.
  • Consider a more powerful GPU if FPS loss is significant. Higher-end GPUs are less affected by dual monitors.

Any FPS drops from dual monitors should be minimal if you have a decent graphics card.

And with the tips above, you can likely completely fix or avoid FPS loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about how dual monitors impact gaming performance:

Ques 1: Will having a second Discord/web browsing monitor affect FPS?

Ans: Yes, but likely only by 3-5 FPS, even if the second monitor is used for background apps.

The GPU is still pushing video to both displays.

Ques 2: If my second monitor is a different resolution, will that lower FPS more?

Ans: Possibly. Windows will upscale rendering to the larger resolution of the two monitors, increasing the GPU workload.

Matching keys avoids this issue.

Ques 3: What if I’m only gaming on one monitor, not spanning the game across both?

Ans: You will likely still see a slight FPS reduction, though not as significant as a spanned game.

The GPU is still handling both displays simultaneously.

Ques 4: Will upgrading to a 144Hz monitor negatively impact FPS if my second monitor is 60Hz?

Ans: A little, though high refresh rate monitors like 144Hz models often have technologies to minimize FPS inconsistencies between multiple monitors.

Ques 5: Should I unplug my second monitor when gaming to get max FPS?

Ans: Disconnecting your second monitor does guarantee zero FPS impact from dual displays.

But the difference is usually negligible for most modern GPUs.

Summary

In summary, connecting a second monitor results in a minor reduction in gaming FPS, typically by around 3-15 FPS, depending on your GPU.

This is due to the increased GPU workload driving two displays.

However, this slight FPS loss is hardly noticeable for most gamers during actual gameplay.

And there are many ways to minimize or prevent FPS dips completely when using dual monitors.

You can enjoy dual monitor productivity without sacrificing smooth high frame rates if you have a decent graphics card and optimize your gaming setup.

With the right tweaks, you can have the best of both worlds!

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