Are you an ATI gamer looking for better performance? Confused by weird settings called “Anisotropic filtering” or “4xFSAA”? In the final part of our gaming and optimization series, we’ll explain the most important performance settings in ATI’s Control Center, what these options mean, and how you should go about adjusting them. Don’t forget to check out Parts One, Two and Three.
Installing the latest Catalyst driver
This guide is based on the latest Catalyst 11.1, which was published on January 26th, 2011. To download the latest driver, go to http://support.amd.com , and select the driver that’s most applicable to your system. For example:
Click on “View Results”, then download and install the full package (Option 1), which features the Display Driver, the ATI WDM Integrated Driver and the Catalyst Control Center.
Tweaking for the best performance in the ATI Control Center
To open up the ATI Control Center, right-click on your desktop, and select “ATI Control Center”. In the “Welcome” screen, click on “Graphics”, and select “3D”. To make the right choices in each section, carefully read the following:
Description: AA reduces the pixelation of edges and objects in games thereby creating a smoother looking environment. The higher the setting is set to, the less jagged all objects in games will appear. However, the graphics card has to calculate many more pixels, which can lead to a massive drop in performance. This will certainly be the case if you select higher AA settings, such as 8x or 16x; this also depends on what your graphics card supports.
Our Advice: Stick to 2x or 4x AA, which will allow for smoother images, with only a minimal reduction in performance. However, if you own a weaker ATI card, disable AA to get more frames per second (FPS).
Adaptive Anti-aliasing (AAA)
Description: This setting improves AA for transparent textures.
Our Advice: We recommend enabling this feature. In our tests, with a Radeon HD 3650 and a Radeon 4850, games only dropped about 1–2 FPS.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Description: The higher this setting is set to, the sharper distant textures will appear. For example, when you use the maximum AF setting in a racing game, the textures of the street in the distance will appear sharper. However, this increases the processing load on your graphics card.
Our Advice: Anisotropic filtering does not reduce performance noticeably when it’s set to 2x or 4x. For a faster game play, stick to these lower settings—especially in modern games with more detailed textures.
Catalyst A.I. (A.I.)
Description: This setting intelligently and automatically reduces image sharpness and the level of detail thereby noticeably improving performance. In most games, even with the “Advanced” setting, which aggressively reduces image quality, we did not notice any visual differences.
Our Advice: The setting will boost performance, so make sure it is enabled. Keep in mind that A.I. can interfere with 3D benchmarks, such as 3DMark Vantage. To get an actual benchmark result, turn off A.I. before running the tests.
Description: This slider controls the visual quality of all textures in games. This article describes in detail how mipmaps work.
Our Advice: We recommend leaving this slider on the standard (performance) position. Reducing or increasing the visual quality may result in glitches on some graphics cards.
You can achieve the right balance of performance and visual quality with nearly all of the settings described in this post. There is no right way to configure your ATI Control Center—it depends on what games you play and the power of your ATI 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 more modern games, such as Crysis 2 or Call of Duty Black Ops, moving to the maximum settings can result in a noticeable performance hit, since only the most advanced ATI cards (such as the new HD 6000 series) are able to handle these settings.