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I have Fraps running so I can see what FPS I am getting in games. Most games I am reaching 60 FPS on Ultra settings, but I just noticed that while I am on the Windows desktop, such as now while I am writing this, the framerate goes between 7-20 FPS.

Is it low simply because my computer isn't doing anything, or am I supposed to have a high framerate while using Windows? Aero peek, snap and all of the other effects look nice and smooth. I'm a little confused as to whether FPS matters for Windows itself.

Specifications:

  • Radeon 6950 Direct CuII
  • Intel Core i5 2500k
  • Asus p86z8-v Pro
  • Mushkin 8GB 1600mhz RAM 850 W
  • Seasonic m150
  • Seagate 32MB 7200 rpm 1TB HDD
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Um, why did I get -2? Its an honest question... –  Sam Jan 26 '12 at 22:21
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I did not down vote, but; the reason people vote a question down is either because it lacks research effort, is unclear or not useful. When you use a tool, you are using it for a purpose, which would be checking how well the game runs according to its configuration and your video card. It doesn't make sense monitoring the FPS of Windows itself unless you would actually see that something is up with it There are a thousand of statistics that are low when your computer is idle, don't worry about them... ;) –  Tom Wijsman Jan 26 '12 at 22:26
    
I was simply worried because there are a couple of factors on my computer that would lead me to believe that its not working correctly. I have researched into it, I couldn't find an answer after searching google. I wouldn't have asked the question if I could find the answer elsewhere. –  Sam Jan 26 '12 at 22:30
    
For all I care, Windows can update the screen once an hour if nothing changes. –  surfasb Jan 26 '12 at 23:42
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It’s because you’re not doing anything. In the comments it is mentioned that it does this to save resources, Windows only refreshes the desktop view when absolutely necessary. To save power and extend the life of the system, these days consumer/server computers and operating systems only aim to do what is Necessary, not what is Possible.

On the desktop you don't need high framerates to have a smooth interface interaction so your card is only going to do what's necessary, not what it could do. The graphical computation necessary in 3D computer games is (dependent on the type of game) a much larger impact than that of your OS.

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To save resources, Windows refreshes the desktop view only when absolutely necessary. –  Doltknuckle Jan 26 '12 at 22:10
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To save power and extend the life of the system, components generally only do what is Necessary, not what is Possible. On the desktop you don't need high framerates to have a smooth interface interaction so your card is only going to do what's necessary, not what it could do. –  music2myear Jan 26 '12 at 22:12
    
@music2myear Useless geek trivia: „Generally” doesn’t include Windows 9x, developers of which have apparently never heard of the HLT instruction. –  kinokijuf Jan 26 '12 at 22:18
    
Thanks guys. Cleared something up for me. I would like to know why I have minus two however.. –  Sam Jan 26 '12 at 22:22
    
@kinokijuf Huh? So I could've added "modern" before components. I'm not sure how it's useless geek trivia. I thought of posting my own answer with the additional details, but decided your spare answer was sufficient and I only wanted to add details. I'm sorry it wasn't appreciated. –  music2myear Jan 26 '12 at 22:24
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FPS does not matter when using the Windows desktop. To conserve resources, Windows does not refresh windows or the desktop except when necessary, hence low framerates.

This is a good decision by the Microsoft devs, if Windows updated everything at 60 FPS, there would be no noticeable difference in the UI, and performance would slow down considerably.

There are actually some places on the desktop that are updated even less; for example; to create an animated system tray icon, extra code is necessary to force Windows to refresh the tray because it is normally only updated when it has focus.

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Just for show, you can create a sample Silverlight application and run it. Unless specified, Silverlight defaults to 60 fps. You can see the sheer CPU consumption. –  surfasb Jan 26 '12 at 23:41
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