PC gaming platform Steam has added a host of features to its downloadable client over the weekend. These include reduced CPU usage when videos or animated images are playing, improved video playback on OS X and Linux, and a host of improvements to the broadcast feature that was brought to the platform last month.
But the big addition is adding a frame rate counter to the Steam overlay. What this means is you can check how well your games are running without having to depend on third party tools like FRAPS which could hamper performance by eating into system resources. It's a good indicator of how your PC performs in various games, allowing you to then customise your in-game settings for the best possible experience. Generally, the higher the frame rate, the smoother your performance. Most PC gaming purists consider sixty frames per second to be the bare minimum acceptable benchmark of performance.
To get access to this and other beta features such as Steam Broadcasting, you first need to opt in for the Steam Client Beta in Steam's Setting Panel. On downloading the requisite updates mandatory for beta participation, go to your settings and click on the section labelled "In-Game" and tick the box next to "Show in-game frames/sec (FPS)". When you do fire up a game you can see your frame rate on the top left of your screen.
It's a handy way to check out how your system is performing without having to resort to third-party tools. While this feature is still in beta, it's just a matter of time before it makes it into the general release. For a detailed rundown of all the features and tweaks to the Steam client, visit the Steam Community page.