-GB For some people, it’s everything or nothing when it comes to graphics. Either you make the game look nice, or you disable everything to make it run as quickly as you can. But do you even know what sort of difference turning down these settings is making to your frame-rate and graphics quality? For all of this video I tested my settings on Mr Ulletical’s excellent benchmarking map, which you can download for yourself in the description of this video.
I hate to add lots of disclaimers to my videos, but this needs one since everybody’s PC is so different. I can only go by what my two main PCs did. And what dictated my framerate largely depended on which resolution I was playing at. If you have an equally powerful CPU and GPU, the higher your resolution, the more likely your PC is of being GPU-limited. If you have an uber fast graphics card and a slow processor, you might find very little difference between resolutions. And if you have a slow graphics card, lowering your resolution will significantly boost framerates. There’s an easy way of telling whether my settings were CPU or GPU-limited- I disabled multicore rendering and saw how much my frame-rates dropped by.
When my PC was GPU-limited, my framerate would drop by 9%. When kind of balanced, 26% and when CPU-limited, it dropped by much as 39%! I found I was always better off with this enabled, which makes sense because both of my PCs have 4 cores. Since I record videos for you, and I want my videos to be as pretty as possible, I use normally play at these settings. I tested how much of a difference it would make if I changed each of these in turn to their lowest values. When GPU-limited, turning down antialiasing and shadows improved my frame-rate the most, followed by shader detail. The rest didn’t matter that much. When CPU-limited, turning down shaders and shadows still improved framerate. Interestingly, antialiasing no longer made any difference at all. If you play on a low resolution, don’t be afraid to turn up antialiasing a bit. No, go on, don’t be shy! In moderation it won’t be bad at all for you. You won’t get addicted.
That’s good, just a bit more… further… further… ah, now you’ve rekt your framerate. Well done. Now it’s time to investigate the individual settings in more depth so that you too know exactly what’s in your CS:GO when you bite into it. BOTTOM 3 OPTIONS You may have noticed that my default graphics settings have all of these bottom options disabled. There’s a reason for this: V-sync deliberately limits frame-rate, FXAA is a post-process effect, meaning that it adds nothing to the graphics detail and only blurs what’s there, and motion blur also makes it harder to see, particularly when you need to.
And if you need extra persuasion, regardless of whether my PC was GPU or CPU limited, motion blur and FXAA both slowed my PC down by almost 10% each. You can see that they drag my framerate far below that of my normal gaming settings… shown here, just in case you’ve forgotten how many graphics options I already have enabled. TEXTURE DETAIL Perhaps my most surprising discovery was how little the texture detail mattered. Having this set to high drastically improved the quality of the graphics, yet only reduced framerates by up to 2%.
So I recommend keeping it on high settings. Anisotropic Filtering should also be left at 16X. If set to a low value, textures will look blurry when viewed side-on, even if texture detail is set to high. I suspect that your amount of GPU RAM determines how much it’s affected by texture detail. My Geforce 670 only has 2 GB of the stuff, but seems more than enough to handle Global Offensive at highest texture detail. Which leaves Shadow, antialiasing and shader quality, which I benchmarked at all settings, to see how much we could get away with. ANTIALIASING My AMD Graphics card supported 2, 4 and 8 X MSAA. My Nvidia one also supports CSAA, which they claim offers better quality at the same framerate… but my results for 8 and 16 X were exactly the same quality and frame-rate as 4X MSAA, and 16X Q was the same as 8X MSAA! In other words, you might as well be using the standard MSAA options.
At normal HD resolutions, both cards dropped off by similar amounts until it reached 8X, where I then found AMD to be more efficient. As I said earlier, you won’t see as much of a drop at lower resolutions. It also makes sense that the impact is greater at higher resolutions. I only tested 4K on my Nvidia card and found that beyond 4X antialiasing and my framerate would be severely impacted. Treat antialiasing as a luxury, but if you really can’t stand jagged edges then consider 4X MSAA to be the sweet-spot. If you’re silly like me and you’re gaming at 4K, you only need 2X or even FXAA for it to be acceptable. But I wouldn’t recommend the latter in any other situation. SHADOWS On both cards, there was no point in going for very low when low looked better and offered nearly the same performance. Medium and High both affected framerates quite a bit. If you HAD to choose between these two, I’d personally choose High, given how much better it looks. SHADERS Low and medium performed almost identically, as did High and Very High.
A bit like with shadows, I don’t see any point in using anything other than the highest or third highest setting. RESOLUTION If you have a balanced PC system, lowering the resolution will probably make the biggest change to your framerate and I suspect is the reason that people find they play better when using old-fashioned resolutions and stuff. I’ve already covered this in a previous video but even if you’re already getting perhaps 200 FPS, getting 400 FPS on a low resolution will still make the game feel smoother. Don’t argue about this! Just accept it. And this is coming from somebody who still plays at higher resolutions. What I didn’t expect to find was a difference between full-screen and full-screen windowed settings.
I prefer windowed because it’s easier to switch between the game and the desktop, but it comes at two down-sides: firstly, the game’s brightness is stuck at your desktop’s settings. And secondly, it lowers your frame-rate. I can’t make sense of the numbers. At 4K, my Nvidia card ran 8% slower when windowed. At HD, Nvidia ran 17%(!) slower and AMD only by 6% when windowed. This drop was reduced when running at low settings, hence making it more CPU-limited. And to screw everything up, my Nvidia card actually ran faster when in windowed mode with my desktop running at 1024×768.
And this wasn’t just a one-off thing. I ran the test several times and got the same results. Long story short, it makes a difference, but you’ll just have to try it for yourself to see what works best for you. In conclusion, to get the best compromise between frame-rate and quality, run the game at lowest everything, but keep multicore support enabled and textures and anisotropic filtering set to high, with as much antialiasing as your graphics card lets you get away with. Which you’ll probably want at potato resolutions..