How to show your frames per second (FPS) in Zwift

How to show your frames per second (FPS) in Zwift

Crisp, smooth gameplay is an essential part of your optimal Zwift experience, especially if you are taking part in group events, and especially if those events are races. This “smoothness” is measured by frames per second (FPS), and there are two ways to find out what sort of FPS numbers your Zwift setup is delivering.

After Your Activity: Using Zwiftalizer

The first method is to use Zwiftalizer, a Zwift log file analyze created by Michael Hanney. Learn more about it here > This method is the easiest to accomplish, but since you must upload a log file after your Zwift activity, you’re not able to see live FPS stats.

During Your Activity (Real-Time): Editing Config File

The second method involves editing a config file, and results in Zwift displaying your real-time FPS in the top-left corner of the game screen:

To do this, before starting up Zwift, you need to add the line “set gShowFPS=1” to whichever profile you are using in your Zwift setup. How do you know which profile you’re using? Go to Menu>Settings in game:

On my PC I find these files under C:\Program Files (x86)\Zwift\data\configs, and since I am using the “ultra” profile I need to edit the ultra.txt file. (It’s always a good idea to create a backup of any config files you plan to modify.)

Here are the contents of my original ultra.txt file, and the contents after adding the line to display FPS:

Original File

res 1920x1080(0x)
sres 2048x2048
aniso 4
set gSSAO=1
set gFXAA=1

Modified File

res 1920x1080(0x)
sres 2048x2048
aniso 4
set gSSAO=1
set gFXAA=1
set gShowFPS=1

Note: if you have a similar setup as mine (PC running Windows) you will probably run into permissions issues when trying to edit these files. To get around this you need to right-click on the file, go to “Properties>Security” and give your specific user account Modify permissions on the file.

What is a “Good” FPS Value?

This is sort of like asking “What’s a good FTP?” Standards vary. But higher is always better!

Those accustomed to decent gaming and television setups will want 50 FPS+, while many Zwifters are perfectly happy at 30 FPS. Gamers and A/V geeks used to super-smooth gaming and 4k video will want even higher FPS (think 90+), which can require more expensive gaming monitors and TVs.

My opinion? If your system is running below 20 FPS for any significant amount of time, your Zwift experience is fairly miserable. And if you’re getting 40+ FPS, your Zwift experience isn’t being noticeably impacted by framerate.

GTX 1650 Super

Upgrading Your FPS

If you’re suffering from low framerates in Zwift, consider upgrading your system’s graphics processing unit (GPU). This should cost around $150-$300 if you are on a tower PC. (Caveat: upgrading your tower’s GPU may also require an upgraded power supply – best to do your research or ask a tech-savvy friend to do it for you!)

A couple of recommended cards (stay away from AMD GPUs, which Zwift isn’t well-optimized for):

  • GTX 1050 Ti GPUs ($140-$160 on Amazon) deliver good Zwift performance in the Ultra profile without requiring an upgraded power supply
  • GTX 1650 GPUs ($160 on Amazon) deliver better performance than the 1050, at nearly the same price. And most (like this one) don’t require the 6-pin power supply connector that often forces people to upgrade their power supply.
  • GTX 1650 Super GPUs ($170 on Amazon) deliver even better performance than the 1650 (go 4k!), and you really won’t see improved performance with any higher spec card than this. Note: you may need an upgraded power supply since this card requires a 6-pin connector.

There are much beefier (and more expensive) GPUs, but these deliver great bang for the buck in terms of Zwift performance.

More Graphics Hacks

If you’re on a PC or Mac, there are lots of tweaks you can make to these graphics config files which may improve your game experience. Read “Zwift Config File Graphics Tweaks: 2019” for ideas.

Questions or Comments?

Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Stu
Stu
9 months ago

Is there an optimal number / whats a good number for FPS?

Niels Thijssen
Niels Thijssen
9 months ago
Reply to  Stu

@Stu.bruce2: I personally accept anything above 60 FPS. And watch this ‘baseline’ mainly in areas where you are riding in a large group, for example. A bit below that 60 FPS is ok for short moments. But I don’t overspend my money on way too expensive high end GPU’s for all time high FPS figures. FYI: I’m running fine using an Nvidea Geforce 1650, i7-7900F, 16Gb DDR4 RAM. So far running on 1440 and forced 4K: no problems.

Milan
Milan
9 months ago

I can recommend GTX 1650 as GPU upgrade, too – 25-30% better than 1050 Ti (Open GL benchmarks), power supply upgrade not necessary, Ultra profile in Zwift.

Kris
Kris
9 months ago

I average 15 FPS using a very basic Windows laptop. It works for me, but I am itching to buy something better to get the Zwift graphic experience I have been hearing about.

James G
James G
9 months ago

Eric – thanks as always. Is it foolish to think we’ll get 4K output in the next generation ATV? I am about simple setups and ATV does the trick, but at a penalty of no 4K output. Obviously it depends on whether Apple wants to put in a beefy enough processor, but no 4K app support is getting to be a substantial hole in their story. Hear any rumors?

Craig H
Craig H (@lego_2001)
9 months ago

Great article. Last year, I built a computer w/ a Ryzen 5 2600 CPU and MSI RX 580 V1 GPU just for Zwift. The improved graphics (headlight, shadows, dust) create a way better experience.

Simon Whitmore
Simon Whitmore
9 months ago

Graphics card is only half the solution. Even with the best GPU and CPU you will get a frame rate drop to the 30-40 gps in big group rides at any resolution on PC. This is due Zwifts end of things.. it’s unavoidable at the moment.. credit to Dave Higgins the expert on all this!👍😍

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk)
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Whitmore

3700X + 1070 running at 4k, no noticeable frame rate drops for me :3

Simon Miller
9 months ago

How does this compare with what you would get on an iPad?

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams
9 months ago

Rather than mess around with changing file permissions, I was able to make a copy of the original file, edit the copy, then rename the original file to high-old.txt and rename the new file to the original name – high.txt in my case.

Colin Peerman
Colin Peerman
9 months ago

Eric, easiest way to edit the config files is to run Notepad.exe in admin mode.

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams
9 months ago

Disregard my earlier comment, I should have rested it before commenting, lol.

Tom
Tom
9 months ago

Can’t you just run Fraps instead of changing config files?

KingBathSalts
KingBathSalts
9 months ago

go with 1660 Super has bigger 6GB of DDR6. but i would hold off to Jan/feb for the new RTX 3060/50/40 card
https://zwiftpower.com/profile.php?z=62302 go here for code 5% off. of evga GPU.

KingBathSalts
KingBathSalts
9 months ago
Reply to  KingBathSalts

GDDR6*

Mirco
Mirco
9 months ago

I have a great PC and stay at 60fps easy in 4K.

With config file tweak is there a way to improve quality of graphic?

Mirco
Mirco
9 months ago
Reply to  Mirco

Any reply guys?

Mike
Mike
9 months ago

Any suggestions for an external card for laptop users?

KingBathSalts
KingBathSalts
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike

What Port do you have on your Laptop, if you can do that in the first place. and how highend are you think about?

JayDee
JayDee
9 months ago

Did anything change on the PC requirements front? Last winter I ran Zwift on my notebook without dedicated gpu and it was fine enough on low resolution. Will it still be ok? Thing is I have a powerful PC, but no way to run Zwift on it (it is in another part of my flat), so…

naan
naan
9 months ago

The file you need to edit is determined by the graphics profile in use (based on the capabilities of the GPU, run a log file through Zwiftalizer to find out), not the resolution. It’s a bit confusing that the same words are used as labels for both.

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk)
9 months ago

nvidia have 3000 series cards out now so maybe best to hold off on purchasing a 1000 series card if you can, budget 3000 series cards due out soon TM.
2nd hand 1000 series cards should now be very cheap as lots of people selling to make room for 3000 series cards.

KingBathSalts
KingBathSalts
9 months ago
Reply to  ShakeNBakeUK

https://www.evga.com/products/ProductList.aspx?type=0&family=GeForce+30+Series+Family yes if your spending $700+ there out, yes i have do a 3080 on order. some may say i am not right in the head.

Colin Peerman
Colin Peerman
9 months ago
Reply to  KingBathSalts

No, you’re fine. Just taken delivery of a 3090. Wont be using it for Zwift, I’ll put my 2080super in that rig

Andrei
Andrei (@aistratov)
9 months ago

Do you guys understand why there is a mismatch between “nominal” resolution and resolution shown in the config file? In Eric’s example, he is editing Ultra config file which is labelled as “Ultra (1440p)”, but resolution in his config file shown in his snapshot is 1920×1080, which is 1080p! Likewise, I have always used “1080p” in the menu because it is the resolution of the TV which I use as a monitor, but config file “High” shows, in fact, 1280×720, which is nothing but 720p. This does not make any sense!

chris benten
chris benten (@chris-benten)
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrei

I saw this while doing my editing. I just added it to all the config files so I do not know which one is really in play. My laptop does 1080 so that is what is in my Zwift Settings.

One other item I have is the Frame Rate is displayed in the metrics window in the top left of the screen and not to the side. And my window is white vs the blue shown in OP. Can be difficult to see.

Running a Lenovo Legion with 1660Ti card and 144Hz screen…Costco special.

naan
naan
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrei

The graphics profiles and display resolutions have similar names but are different things. For instance, if you have pretty much anything Nvidia as your GPU, you are always on the ultra profile regardless of resolution.

As for the conflict between resolutions, as far as I know, you can also select a higher resolution than what your display can support as long as your GPU is powerful enough, which supposedly gives subtly better graphics thanks to antialiasing.

JayDee
JayDee
9 months ago

Tested it on my notebook today. Although I use 720p resolution, I had to put the showfps command in the basic.txt config file. More importantly though, the fps should were half of what the Windows in-built game bar has shown. Specifically cca 18 vs 36 and the reality certainly wasn’t 18 fps. I’ve played many games before and know what 18 fps looks like.
Anyway I don’t find it important to have the fps shown, if you have the graphics set correctly for your machine, so I don’t mind.

puruntongTv
7 months ago

is this still working? tried editing config file and no fps showing in game

Brian G
Brian G
6 months ago

Anyone know if the newest iPad Air or iPad Pro is better for Zwift? I’ve read various reviews saying Air is fine with it’s newer A14 chip, but they also say the Pro has a faster refresh rate and maybe better graphics processing (if I understood it correctly). Appreciate the help!

Jonathan Witty
Jonathan Witty
6 months ago

Bit strange – My experience is jerky.. The FPs is about 25-29 FPS Yet my computer is an I9 2.4 GHZ processor 64 bit 32GB ram. My head often falls off while cycling in the game

Jonathan Witty
Jonathan Witty
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Witty

actually it goes dowmn to 7 FPS when riding.. My internet connection is fast at 40mbps

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