Alright, I'm not really a tech person so this stuff is all pretty new to me. It's not that I didn't know what it was, it was just that I never really bothered messing with it to get all the details. This post is going to lay out some details before I even mention the Refresh Rate, so turn away now if you aren't interested in hearing my life story (read: basically the past hour of my day) This is more of a rant with a little question at the end, so if you aren't interested, again, click the back button on your web browser.
So anyway. I've been playing a lot of Oblivion recently. A game that requires quite a bit of power from a PC. Recently, I've been trying to increase my gameplay by modding my PC a bit. I just reinstalled my old (but much superior to the On-board card this computer had) GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. Though it's slightly below the recommended specs for Oblivion, again, the onboard wasn't even compatible with the game. I also increase my RAM from 512mb to 1.5Gb. I think that should be plenty, but so far it still seems as though some more could help. My CPU is a 3.0Ghz Pentium 4. I think that should also suffice for the game.
Beyond that, I've overclocked my GeForce a bit, did alot of INI tweaking, and after all that, with the settings I used I managed only around 10FPS outdoor and 16FPS indoor. My settings are not that great, though I've increased them significantly since the RAM upgrade. Still, I noticed quite a bit of studdering in the game, even without audio (my sound card being the weakest on my PC) and my FPS dropping down to about 4-5FPS giving obvious spikes. Specifically, I use 640x480 ingame resolution, I maxed out my view distance, render distance buildings and land (not trees), use 4x Antialiasing, bloomlighting off, all water settings are as low as they can be, as is blood decals. Pretty weak settings, though antialiasing fixes the picture quite a bit and doesn't really hurt my Frame Rate.
I should also note that with these settings I have no problem maxing out the visuals on every other game on this computer.
Running out of ideas on how to fix it, beyond lowing the view distance (which I refuse to do as it's key to Oblvions beauty and gameplay) and I no other ideas. So looking at my settings, I noticed that my Refresh Rate on my monitor was only 60hz. (No wonder my eyes always bleed), so I increased it to 75hz (the max on my monitor) to reduce the strain on my eyes. Then it got me wondering if it would increase my FPS on the games. So I opened Oblvion to check. Immediately, I looked that the Frame Rate and to my dismay it was still the same. Not only that, the increase in Refresh Rate seemed to blur everying a little more. Though running around a bit, I couldn't help but notice that everything seemed to run significantly smoother. I still got the drops in FPS, but the spikes didn't seem as significant. Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say the increase in the refresh rate helped.
The question now is, why? I don't know how refresh rates play into how smooth a game runs but I could see how it's of no direct relation to frame rate. So why does it run smoother. Also why does everything now seem blurrier. Is it just my eyes adjusting to the new setting or is it a side effect of the increase in hertz?