Tweaking Game Settings
Games try to automatically select the best graphics settings for you, but this doesn’t always work properly. Older games may not know what to do when they see new hardware and may default to the lowest settings, while some games may use too high a graphical setting and may slow down.
You could use the preset settings – many games offer presets like “Low,” “Medium,” “High,” and “Ultra” – but you can generally tweak individual settings. For example, your hardware may not be good enough to play on Ultra, but may be easily able to handle High. In this case, you can select High and then increase individual graphics settings.
If you tweak enough games, you’ll eventually start noticing similar types of settings in all of them – although some games will often have unusually named options that you’ll have to Google. If you can’t run a game on maximum graphical settings, you’ll often have to choose settings to decrease, and it helps to know what the settings actually do. We’ll cover some of the most common options here so you’ll know just what settings do and which you would want to tweak.
Different games have different settings and different game engines perform differently, so some settings may be more demanding in some games. Some settings are obvious, like “texture detail” and “shadow type.” Enabling more detailed textures will use more of the memory on your graphics card, while selecting more realistic shadows will increase the work done by your graphics hardware. “Draw distance” will increase how far you can see in the game – a longer distance means more objects will need to be rendered, increasing the work done by your graphics hardware and, perhaps, CPU.
Feel free to play with these settings and see how they affect your game performance. Some settings may have little impact on your performance, while others will have great impact.
While many settings are obvious, you’ll also notice a few oddly named settings in most games:
- Anti-aliasing: Anti-aliasing helps eliminate jagged edges, smoothing things out and making them look more realistic. Different levels of anti-aliasing are often available – for example, there may be a slider you can adjust from 1x to 16x. The more anti-aliasing , the smoother the visuals will be – but this will take more GPU power, which may slow things down. You may also see references to different modes of anti-aliasing , such as FXAA (fast approximate anti-aliasing) and MSAA (multi-sample anti-aliasing ).
- Anisotropic, Bilinear, and Trilinear Filtering: These filtering methods are all techniques of improving perceived texture quality in games.
- Supersampling: Supersampling is an anti-aliasing technique that renders the game at a higher resolution than your screen before scaling it down to your screen’s resolution. This reduces jagged edges, but it’s the single most demanding graphics option in many games.