Load frequency control (LFC) is one of the essential process in interconnected power systems. To provide high quality, reliable and stable electrical power, designed controller should perform satisfactorily, i.e. suppress area frequency and tie-line power deviations. Within this scope, in this study, a high order differential feedback controller (HODFC) and a developed fractional high order differential feedback controller (FHODFC) are proposed for LFC problem in multi-area power systems for the first time. The gains of the HODFC and FHODFC are optimally tuned by particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm aiming to minimize integral of time weighted absolute error (ITAE) performance index. The superiority of the developed FHODFC are verified by comparing reported controller structures in the recent state-of-the-art literature and HODFC for two identical non-reheat thermal power system and two-area multi-source power system consisting of gas, thermal and hydro generation units with/without consideration of HVDC link. To test the robustness of the designed controllers, varying system parameters and loading conditions are investigated. The governor dead band (GDB) and generation rate constraint (GRC) limitations are also considered for the system under study to examine non-linearity handling success of the proposed controllers. Performance results indicate that the developed FHODFC provides better dynamic response and robustness than other published techniques under nonlinearities, random load pattern, and variations in system parameters and loading conditions.