How to find the best graphics settings for your PC

How to find the best graphics settings for your PC

Use these tips to find the best graphics settings for your favorite PC games.

  • Explanation of graphics settings
  • Finding the Best Graphics Settings
  • PC optimization

PC games can be fun. Advanced technology, rich graphics options, and the ability to mod most games are just a few of the reasons why a PC game might be worth the higher barrier to entry. However, this degree of freedom has its drawbacks.

Changing graphics settings can turn into a nightmare if you’re a novice or even an experienced PC gamer, spending hours after hours running benchmarks and optimizing settings to get a few more frames per second. If these options scare you, this guide will help demonstrate which performance metrics are important, what PC graphics settings actually affect, and we’ll give you our favorite settings that work well for most modern titles.

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Visual quality or FPS?

Before you decide to tweak your graphics settings for hours on end, decide what you care more about: image quality or frames. per second (FPS). This decision will affect how you adjust the game settings and what FPS goals you want to achieve while playing. And despite what you may have read elsewhere, there is no correct answer here. Target framerate, resolution, and graphics settings are highly dependent on your PC hardware, your display support, the game in question, and personal preference.

If you are new to computer games and don’t know what to aim for, we recommend that you set a stable 60 fps and the highest resolution supported by your monitor. If you can’t consistently achieve this goal at maximum graphics settings, it’s worth either lowering your graphics settings or enabling scaling methods such as NVIDIA DLSS (explained later). Conversely, if you can comfortably reach 60fps and your target resolution, but still have headroom, feel free to improve your graphics settings or aim for more fps, as long as your display supports a higher refresh rate.

How consoles prioritize settings

In comparison, for most games, the Xbox Series S is designed for 1440p resolution at 120fps, while the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are designed for 4k resolution at 120fps. (although in most games the frame rate reaches 60 FPS).In practice, most console games have performance and quality modes designed to achieve a specified frame rate or target resolution, respectively.. Not all console games fall into both. Keep this in mind if your PC can’t reach 4k 120 FPS for new games; most new games also fall short of these goals on current generation consoles.

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Explanation of graphics settings

This section provides a short course on general graphics settings. If you are already familiar with graphics settings, skip to the next section.

Have you ever opened an options menu and got completely lost? It’s okay if you’re new to PC gaming, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Most PC games provide many more graphics settings than you’ll find on a console, allowing you to fine-tune the look and feel of your game and the performance you can expect. We will give a brief overview of the common PC graphics settings you will find in most modern games.

General settings

Description Performance Impact Permission Specifies the number of pixels in the width-by-height list. Lower resolution results in a blurrier image. Major (GPU), Minor (CPU)
v-sync Forces the game to match your monitor’s refresh rate. This prevents screen tearing at the expense of input lag. Stuttering occurs if the frame rate drops below the screen refresh rate. N/A, increased input lag.
environmental shading Simulates soft shadows created by indirect light, adding depth to most objects. Minor (GPU)
Smoothing Smoothes uneven edges. AA methods determine how to deal with this. TAA is the most common and tends to blur the image. Moderate (GPU)
Anisotropic filtering Improves the quality of surface textures at oblique viewing angles, making them more crisp. Slight to Medium (GPU and CPU)
tessellation Divides and then offsets polygons to give objects more depth. Makes objects such as brick walls more realistic. Moderate (GPU and CPU)
Level of Detail (LOD) Increases the visual quality of objects visible from a distance, such as buildings and characters. Minor to Medium (GPU)
Post-Processing Effects A generic term referring to non-rendered effects. Typical examples include volumetric fog, color correction, vignettes, lens flare, motion blur, and motion blur. The effect of this parameter depends on the game. Minor (GPU and CPU)
Field of View (FOV) Affects how much you can see, measured in degrees. A higher field of view increases peripheral vision through fisheye distortion. Effect. A wider field of view can help combat motion sickness. Minor (GPU)

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NVIDIA DLSS & AMD FSR

You may have noticed that some titles have a graphical option to enlarge or sharpen the image, commonly referred to as NVIDIA DLSS or AMD FSR. These options display your game at a lower resolution and AI upscale the image, resulting in a slight reduction in image quality with a significant increase in performance. DLSS only works on NVIDIA GPUs, while AMD FSR can be used on all GPUs.

Unlike most graphics options, image zoom can significantly improve performance when enabled. This is a great setting for those who use 1440p or 4k displays and want to increase their FPS without drastically lowering their other graphics settings. If you plan to enable ray tracing, we highly recommend enabling this setting to increase FPS. However, we not We recommend using DLSS 3.0 for competitive gaming, as this setting creates fake frames to artificially increase the frame rate. This comes at a fairly noticeable input lag cost, making it ill-suited for reflex-intensive genres like shooters.

Ray tracing

via Mojang

Ray tracing provides much more accurate lighting and reflections at the expense of performance. Almost every game uses rasterization to light their scenes by projecting objects onto a 2D plane and generating lighting data based on the distance between pixels. Ray tracing uses bounce lighting to accurately calculate soft shadows and reflections in relation to nearby objects, providing much more realistic lighting results. This is an oversimplified explanation of how both rasterization and ray tracing work: NVIDIA has a detailed blog post that goes into more detail about the differences between the two methods, if you’re interested.

For games, this means that shadows and reflections are greatly improved, but performance will suffer. Ray tracing is the most performance-demanding setting you can enable besides resolution upscaling and is only supported by ray tracing compatible graphics cards (currently NVIDIA RTX GPUs). Most games don’t use ray tracing to its full potential, so expect ray tracing results to vary greatly from game to game. If you want a good example of ray tracing in action, check out Digital Foundry’s Cyberpunk 2077 RTX comparison video.

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Finding the Best Graphics Settings

While most games automatically detect the best settings for your system, they tend to include annoying settings like motion blur, motion blur, or sub-optimal settings. which result in blurry image clarity or inconsistent performance. Auto-detection software like NVIDIA GeForce Experience doesn’t do much better, as it recommends settings that are more focused on image quality than consistent performance.

That’s why The best way to adjust graphics settings is to thoroughly test the game. It’s not a pretty solution, but it works, and there are a few tips that will make the process much faster.

  • Never use Ultra settings.
  • Use graphics presets and adjust settings manually.
  • For older games with archaic anti-aliasing settings, use DSR or similar downsampling settings instead.
  • For 4k resolution or ray tracing, enable DLSS or FSR.

Never use Ultra settings

Ultra settings in today’s games are incredibly performance intensive and barely noticeable at most resolutions. Ultra textures are typically 4k resolution, and ultra high quality shadows slow performance on almost any system. You won’t notice a significant visual boost on ultra, but you’ll definitely notice a drop in performance. Instead, use the second highest setting. If you don’t have a 4K TV or monitor, it’s best to lower these settings.

Select a preset before tuning

Quality presets exist for almost every title and make it easy to adjust graphics settings. Most games have low, medium, high, and ultra settings. We recommend choosing a preset that matches your system’s capabilities—for example, those using a PC targeting 1080p at 60 FPS should start with medium—then manually tweak the settings to your liking.

Settings everyone should use

  • Render resolution: 100%. If you don’t plan on downsizing or upscaling your game’s resolution, leave this setting alone.
  • Depth of field: Off Most games have a poor implementation of depth of field, which drastically reduces visual clarity.
  • Motion blur: turned off. Same reasoning as for depth of field.
  • Bloom: Off Most games use an aggressive bloom implementation that can just blind you.
  • Smoothing: x4. Using x8 is overkill for most games.
    • TAA is common and tends to blur the image. If this annoys you, disable TAA and use a different anti-aliasing method.
    • You can also use downsampling to achieve a similar effect to AA, although this greatly reduces performance.
  • Ambient occlusion: high. This makes a huge visual impact with negligible performance loss.
  • Tessellation: medium or high. Polygons get much more depth at average performance.
  • Textures: medium or high. Low quality textures usually look terrible and are slightly less demanding than medium quality textures.
    • This may vary by game, so test and experiment often.

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Computer optimization

A Complete Guide to PC Optimization Goes Beyond Within the scope of this guide, it is important to note that optimizing your PC itself can greatly improve gaming performance. If you continue to use your computer for months or years, you will inevitably install a whole set of niche applications and extensions that constantly consume res. Removing unused background apps can greatly improve performance.

Some general tips:

  • Update your GPU drivers: When a new set of GPU drivers comes out, wait a few days to make sure they are stable before installing them.
    • Driver updates can greatly improve the performance of new games.
    • If you install a problematic driver, you can always revert to a more stable version of the driver.
  • Virus removal. Many pre-installed applications are useless for general use and re usage. Delete anything you don’t use often.
  • Clean up your computer. Airflow is important for keeping your computer cool and for optimal performance levels. Be sure to clean your PC fans regularly.

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How to find the best graphics settings for your PC

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