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Whether you want to capture a highlight reel of your elite gaming skills, or just visual proof of your winning high score, FRAPS is the tool for you. This capable application can snap still-image screenshots or capture full-motion video from videogames (or other 3D applications) with a minimal impact on system performance--giving you the best quality output possible from a third-party program.

In addition, FRAPS can also benchmark and help you tune your graphics system performance while a 3D game is running. The program, which runs in the background while you play, keeps track of and can log the video framerate your game is displaying through the graphics board; The information can be overlaid on the game window, or if you have a Logitech G15 keyboard or some other auxiliary LCD display (see "Specialty Upgrades"), such as a Matrix Orbital LCD panel, FRAPS can display framerate data on those devices, as well.

The free demo version inserts a Fraps-logo "watermark" along the top of the video window, limits the length of time per recording to 30 seconds, and only permits you to save still-image screen captures as Windows Bitmap (BMP) files. The paid version of the program removes these limitations, and permits you to save screenshots in the JPG, PNG, or TGA file formats. Both the trial and paid versions of the program write video files as obscenely large, uncompressed AVI files; The company recommends using either Tsunami Mpeg Encoder or VirtualDub to convert the files to a more manageable, compressed format for viewing, posting online, or sharing.

According to the manufacturer, FRAPS can capture audio and video at up to 100 frames per second at screen resolutions as high as 1152x864 on systems with single-core CPUs, or up to 2560x1600 on systems with dual-core CPUs. However, the actual framerate you'll actually be able to capture may also depend on the capabilities of your graphics board, whether you've got the latest graphics board drivers installed, the speed and capacity of your hard drive(s), and the amount of physical RAM installed in your PC. Obviously, your mileage may vary. For the best-quality video, you'll need a fairly souped-up system.

--Andrew Brandt

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