- Tweak Your Drivers’ Control Panels to Maximize PC Performance During Gameplay
- Boost Your PC’s Gaming Performance with the Best Drivers
- 3 Ways AVG PC TuneUp Can Help Improve Gaming PC Performance
- 3 Ways to Get Your Games to Run Twice as Quickly on Your PC
Last week, I discussed the importance of making sure that you have the best drivers in order to maximize PC performance during gameplay. Did you know that you can also tweak the NVIDIA and AMD/ATI drivers’ settings to further boost your gaming experience?
These drivers typically come with their own control panels, so you can make the necessary adjustments to balance performance and visual quality. Bear in mind though that you can set many of the following options in-game, and some settings are not available or directly controlled by the driver.
For NVIDIA users:
Right-click on your desktop, select “NVIDIA Control Panel”, and head over to the “Manage 3D Settings” category on the left. These are the most important settings to tweak:
• Ambient Occlusion: This setting can enhance realism in some games by improving lighting and shadows. However, by enabling it, the FPS will drop significantly. Try it out to see if the visual improvement is worth the drop in performance.
• Anisotropic Filtering: This filter makes textures in games appear crisper and cleaner, especially when you are looking at objects that are far away. But, the higher you set it, the less FPS you will get out of your game. If you set it to the standard, “Application-controlled” option, games can choose between the levels of filtering. If you choose another option, games’ settings will be overwritten.
• Anti-Aliasing – Gamma Correction: This setting will allow for improved color quality in games, and its effect on performance is minimal. That’s why I suggest you make sure it’s set to “On”.
• Anti-Aliasing – Mode: This is one of the most important options for games. The higher it is set, the smoother all images will appear. However, if you use 8x or above, you will notice a performance hit. Again, you should probably test the setting.
• Anti-Aliasing – Transparency: The transparent Anti-Aliasing mode adds more realism to curves in games. Try the “Multisampling” option since it won’t noticeably affect the performance, yet it will increase the visual quality.
• Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames: This controls the number of frames that the processor prepares before transferring them to the graphics card. Increasing this value results in smoother game play, but you may notice a lag when using the mouse and keyboard. To eliminate the lag, try the “0″ setting.
• Multi-Display/Mixed-GPU Acceleration: If you have only one display, you should select “Single display performance mode”. If you have two or more displays, select “Multiple display performance mode”. If you notice glitches or strange textures on a multi-display setup, go for the “Compatibility display performance mode”.
• Power Management Mode: This adapts GPU performance to the needs of the game. If you play older games, stick to the “Adaptive” setting. Otherwise, go with the “Prefer maximum performance setting”.
• Triple Buffering: It increases performance when “Vertical Synchronization” (VSync) is enabled. It may, however, cause lags on graphic cards with lower RAM.
• Texture Filtering – Anisotropic Sample Optimization: This setting should be “On” to improve your performance. Keep in mind that, in some games, you may notice a slight decrease in the visual quality of textures.
• Texture Filtering – Negative LOD-Bias: LOD stands for “Level of Detail”. If you set this to “Allow”, some games get a sharper look in still scenes, while introducing some form of aliasing (jagged looks) or shimmering in fast-moving scenes. Set this to “Clamp”, and enable both Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering to get a better picture quality.
• Texture Filtering – Quality: This function specifies how all textures will appear in a game. On lower-end hardware, you might want to try the “Performance” or even the “High Performance” settings to get more FPS.
• Threaded Optimization: This option should always be “On”, as it allows the support of multi-threaded optimization for modern multi-core processors.
• VSync: It synchronizes the frames that your graphics card renders with the refresh rate of your monitor. If you disable it, you might find that games run more smoothly; however, you will notice that some parts of the screen might not be rendered correctly and appear to lag. Disable it only if your monitor has a higher frame rate than your gameplay.
For AMD/ATI users:
Right-click on your desktop, select “Catalyst Control Center”, and head over to the “3D Application Settings” on the left. These are the most important settings to tweak:
- SMOOTHVISION HD: Anti-Aliasing: Anti-Aliasing will get rid of jagged lines in games. Check “Use application settings” and allow the game settings to determine the level of smoothness. Keep in mind though that the GPU has to render more pixels in order to smooth out edges, and thus, it will decrease performance. This will certainly be the case if you select higher Anti-Aliasing settings, such as 8x or 16x, and it also depends on what your graphics card supports. Stick to 2x or 4x Anti-Aliasing in games, which will allow for smoother images, with only a minimal reduction in performance. If you own a weaker AMD card, disable Anti-Aliasing to get more FPS.
- SMOOTHVISION HD: Anisotropic Filtering: The higher this setting is set, the sharper distant textures will appear. However, this will also increase the processing load on your graphics card. If your GPU is powerful enough, enable it and see if there is a noticeable visual difference.
- Catalyst A.I.: This setting tweaks quality of graphics in a way that it’s not obvious in order to optimize performance. By default, it’s set to “Quality”. If you set it to “Performance”, you may experience a slight decrease in visual quality but a boost in speed. Test out the “Advanced” setting. I have found that, in many blockbuster games, it doesn’t make a huge difference, but according to user reports, it sometimes helped triple the frame rate.
- Mipmap Detail Level: It determines texture quality. You can choose between “High Quality”, which equals the original texture quality, and “High Performance”, which omits many details and produces a higher frame rate. I found that having “High Performance” makes games look blurrier. If your GPU is powerful enough, make sure to set it to “High Quality”.
- Wait for Vertical Refresh: VSync synchronizes the frames that your graphics card renders with the refresh rate of your monitor. If you disable VSync, you might find that games run more smoothly, however, in most cases, you will notice that some parts of the screen might not be rendered correctly and appear to lag. Disable VSync only if your monitor has a higher frame rate (for example, 60 Hz) than your gameplay (for example, 40 FPS).
You can achieve the right balance of performance and visual quality with nearly all of the settings described above. There is no right way to configure your drivers’ control panels—it depends on what games you play and the power of your graphics card. If you have a relatively new graphics card but play games that are a couple of years old, we recommend adjusting all of the options to the maximum settings (except Mipmap for you, AMD/ATI users).
What did you think of these recommended tweaks? Were you able to squeeze out more performance and increase the visual quality of your games?