The quality of game graphics has improved exponentially over the past 10 years, providing users with a new level of realism that is difficult to distinguish from life itself. While this is ideal for users of high-end gaming PCs, it is not as attractive for individuals with budget-oriented alternatives. In the latter, breathtaking game graphics are shown through trembling screens, torn images, and smooth gameplay – which makes the whole experience extremely frustrating, to say the least.
For the less fortunate gamers, we’ve decided to put together this comprehensive guide, which for the most part explains which game graphics your hardware needs the most. This guide will help you determine exactly which graphics settings will affect your performance the most, which will hopefully result in a smoother and better gaming experience. Aside from game graphics, we’ll also briefly look at the components that affect game performance the most, and how you can best spend your money trying to increase FPS.
With this in mind, we should not waste any more time and go straight into it!
Game settings that affect performance the most
For many players, game graphics can be extremely confusing. Most modern games have a variety of settings that can be adjusted to change individual aspects of the game’s graphics. Annoyingly, it is very difficult to spot these differences by trying them out.
Don’t be afraid, though this article doesn’t cover all of the available graphics settings (some are simply not worth discussing – for example, brightness), it will explain some of the more technical settings and how they increase your system hardware requirements .
Resolution is one of the most detrimental settings there is. Simply changing from 720p to 900p can have a significant impact on your FPS output.
The resolution of a game refers to how many physical pixels are displayed on the monitor at the same time. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080, 1920 pixels are displayed horizontally and vertically 1080 pixels. So if you move on to the next resolution on the ladder, give the GPU and CPU more pixels to process – which has a huge impact on your FPS.
For best results, you want to match the game’s resolution to the native resolution of your monitor. Depending on the overall requirement of the game compared to the performance levels of your PC, it is not always possible to adjust the resolutions.
Overall, the resolution is one of the most powerful settings there is. Lowering the resolution of your game will have a positive effect on your FPS. Remember that this also negatively affects the image quality.
Next we have anti-aliasing. While most games offer this in their graphics settings, not many players actually know what it is doing or how effective it can be on their system.
Anti-aliasing is a graphics filter that smoothes rough / jagged edges in your game’s graphics. When you start anti-aliasing in the game, it looks much smoother. However, you pay the price when it comes to performance.
As with any graphics setting, there are different levels of anti-aliasing that differ in terms of performance degradation. The most popular (and how effective they can be) are listed below:
- FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing): This is the least harmful to the level of performance. This has a slight impact on the performance of your GPU, but is not overly noticeable.
- MSAA (multisampling anti-aliasing): This version of AA is smarter and less system intensive than other versions. Instead of applying to the entire frame, MSAA only executes the jagged part of the frame. This AA level puts a reasonable load on your GPU.
- PhysX: This is Nvidia’s physics rendering setting, which can be applied to a small part of the game frame. It adds a level of detail and realism that cannot be found with the other AA alternatives. However, if you don’t have an Nvidia GPU, it can be extremely tiring on your PC. This can also have a dramatic impact on your CPU. Deactivating can be an easy way to get additional frames.
Sometimes seen in the anti-aliasing bracket, supersampling can be a separate setting in some games. Supersampling is a way to render the game to a resolution that is above your monitor’s native resolution. For example, you can oversample 4K resolution on a 1080p monitor.
While this is a great feature for some people, it can put extreme strain on your system’s hardware – especially the GPU. This would be one of the settings that I would turn off if I tried to get FPS.
Volume lighting / fog
Volumetric light – also known as god rays – is a technique used in games to add lighting effects to a rendered scene. Ultimately, light rays can be rendered through a three-dimensional medium such as steam, fog, dust, or smoke to get a much more realistic end product. Another example of volumetric lighting is the radiation of light rays through a window – also known as crepuscular rays.
While this feature looks fantastic when used correctly, it can seriously compromise the performance of your PC. If you turn it off, the FPS increases a lot. However, for immersion and realism reasons, I would try to keep it.
Shadows can be one of the most system-intensive rendering effects you can apply to a game. For the most part, they pretty much do what they say on the can and render shadows created by the light within a scene. Much of the modern title has shadow details in its settings. And while turning it on makes a scene look much more realistic, it can have a fairly steep nudge effect in performance.
In-game lighting can have a huge impact on the performance level of your game. Illumination consists of a number of different factors, ranging from luminescence provided by the moon to decay in scenes with candlelight.
By changing the light settings through the various options, certain elements of the game graphics are added and removed. When the ultra settings are set, the game may show light emitted by the moon. In the middle, however, this render function is completely removed.
Illumination also includes global lighting, a function that affects how exactly the light is reflected in the virtual world. While this further enhances the realism of your gaming experience, users can experience huge drops in FPS when turned all the way up.
While dealing with light and shadow, we can also touch the environmental occlusion. This is a form of shading and rendering that calculates how individual surfaces are affected by the ambient light in the scene. So when the sun shines through the window of a room, ambient light may fall from the walls onto other surfaces. The end product is an omnidirectional shading effect that dims a scene without casting clear shadows.
Although this effect is inherently quite subtle, it can have a huge impact on your system’s performance. We recommend choosing this option if you have problems with FPS.
The drawing distance affects the graphics of your game as well as the level of detail, only on distant objects. Increasing the range of your game increases the complexity and fidelity of distant objects, giving them much more accuracy and realism. Although the immersive value of this setting cannot be denied, it puts a considerable strain on your system, especially when it is brought to the maximum level.
I would prioritize drawing distance based on resolution and anisotropic filtering (AF) settings to ensure that you find a good balance between immersion and FPS performance.
The best upgrade for better performance
So let’s say you’ve adjusted all of the above settings and are still struggling to get 100 FPS in your favorite game title. What is the next step to better gaming performance?
If optimizing the settings doesn’t work, the next logical step (apart from overclocking your c
omponents) is to update your system’s hardware. That being said, not every component gives you the in-game performance enhancements you need. What is the best upgrade to get better performance?
Graphics card upgrade
The best upgrade you can get (for most games) is a new GPU. The graphics card processes all important graphics renderings that can be seen in a game. Upgrading to a more powerful card is a sure-fire way to increase the number of frames – unless your CPU has a bottleneck.
Below we have listed some of the best GPU upgrades for different price ranges.
A $ 200 GPU that should raise the 1080p FPS to around 60 to 100 in the most popular game titles.
GPU in the middle of the street for price and performance. It offers decent 100+ FPS in most games and takes you to an area with a resolution of 1440p.
While this isn’t the most powerful GPU on the market (2080Ti), it still does a fantastic job and at 1440 does well over 100 fps in most titles and some 4k games that other cards can’t offer.
So there you are, folks, our comprehensive overview of some of the most sophisticated graphics settings and how they affect your game. Although only a few graphical settings have been selected, these are the most demanding in terms of the performance of your system. Many of the other settings in numerous games do not put half the pressure on your components. For this reason, we have left these settings to you.
However, we hope that this article answered some of the questions about game settings. If you have any questions about this particular topic, feel free to send us a comment in the section below or go to our Community Hub instead!