Pros:Small, versatile, easy to use; free updates.
Cons:Only records DirectX or OpenGL output; videos can be quite large.
The Bottom Line: Good program. FRAPS works well and is the standard to which other screen recording software is held.
FRAPS is a versatile screen recording application for Windows. While it's main purpose is to record video, it's also very useful for benchmarking as it will keep track of the FPS (frames per second) and frame times, as well as the minimum, maximum and average FPS. It can also be used to take screenshots with the press of a button and save them, eliminating the need to hit print screen and then paste them into a paint program and save them for games that don't have a built-in screenshot button.
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The program's interface is fairly straightforward and easy to use. When the program is open you get a box in the middle of your screen with four tabs on it: General, FPS, Movies and Screenshots. Each of these tabs has various settings that you can modify to make FRAPS do what you want. In the General tab there are check boxes to start FRAPS minimized, keep the FRAPS window always on top of other windows, start FRAPS with Windows or minimize FRAPS to the system tray only.
In the FPS tab you have settings relating to benchmarking. You can choose which folder to save benchmarks in, pick which buttons you want to use to activate benchmarking and choose whether to benchmark FPS, frame times and/or Min/Max/Average FPS. You can also select a time (in seconds) after which to automatically stop benchmarking. In this tab you can also choose which corner of the screen you wish to display the text overlay in (or hide it all together), as well as a check box to make the overlay only update once per second.
The Movies tab is the meat and potatoes of FRAPS. Here you can choose where to save your recorded movies and which button starts and stops recording. You can also choose whether to record at full-size or half-size and set how many frames per second you wish to record. This thing can record full 1080p video, but if you record too many frames per second you're going to lag out whatever game you are recording because of all the extra processing power involved in doing so much recording along side what's already required to run the game in the first place. In some graphically intense games you can literally drop your FPS from 100+ down to 30 while recording video unless you have a really good processor.
FRAPS can record video at a resolution of up to 7680x4800 and at up to 120 frames per second. Higher frame rates at a high resolution take up a lot of space though, so don't get carried way just because you have the capability. For example, I recorded a 16 second video of Dragon Age: Origins full-size at 30FPS using my default screen resolution of 1920x1080. Opening up my Movies folder I see that the size of that tiny little movie is a whopping 474MB. Since FRAPS saves all it's video as an unencoded .avi, you'll probably want to use a program like Windows Movie Maker to compress it down to a reasonable size.
You can also choose to hide the mouse cursor in your videos, lock the frame rate while recording or force lossless RGB capture (which may be slower). In addition, you can record Windows 7 sound in stereo or multichannel as well as optionally recording from an external input device such as a microphone; this is nice for narration, for things like Let's Play videos that you want to post to YouTube. One important thing to keep in mind is that FRAPS only records programs working in DirectX or OpenGL mode. While this covers the overwhelming majority of games, there are a few that it won't work with, and it also won't work to record some types of software programs.
The Screenshots tab is pretty simple. Choose where to save your screenshots, which key press to record them with and what image format you wish to save them in (FRAPS supports .bmp, .jpg, .png and .tga). You can also check a box to include the frame rate overlay on screenshots or to keep auto taking screen captures every x amount of seconds until you press the hotkey again.
FRAPS is only a 2.2MB download and requires Windows 7/Vista/XP with DirectX 9.0c. There are no system requirements listed, in fact FRAPS will run on pretty low end hardware. The only issue being the fact that your system is going to have to be just a little more powerful than is required to run whatever game you're wanting to record. If you're trying to record something like Shogun 2 or Flight Simulator X you're going to need a much more powerful system than if you're recording Diablo II or Age of Empires.
FRAPS works very well, has been around a long time and is constantly updated. This makes it the de facto standard for screen recording in video games. If you'd like to try it out before plunking down $37 for the professional version you can try out the free version of FRAPS. The free version will only record up to 30 seconds of video, will leave a FRAPS watermark at the top of your video and will only record screenshots as .bmp images; but it's sufficient to test out the program. When you purchase FRAPS you also get future updates for free, which is nice.
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