How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not a long time ago integrated graphics card was a synonym of low performance, non-game capable video card. Fortunately, huge advancements has been made and today an integrated graphics card can satisfy all of our multimedia and gaming needs (except those of the hardcore gamers, of course). So if you are not a hardcore gamer or a professional video editor, chances are that you have a desktop computer or a laptop with an integrated video card. In this article I’m going to show you how to get the max out of the integrated graphics card in Intel processors – Intel HD Graphics. The performance improvement tips in this article will also work for other integrated graphics cards, for example the AMD integrated graphics.

    Update the graphics card driver

If you are on a laptop, it is best to visit the website of you laptop’s manufacturer and find the web page related to your laptop. Usually there’s a search box where you can enter you laptop’s exact model number. When you find your notebook’s support page, download the Intel HD Graphics driver for your operating system and install it.

If you are on a desktop, simply go to Intel’s website and search for the exact model of your CPU’s graphics card, for example Intel HD Graphics for Celeron, Intel HD Graphics 3000, Intel HD Graphics 4000, etc. Then download the driver for your operating system and install it.

These 4 tips will greatly improve your Intel HD Graphics performance thus letting you enjoy smooth gameplay even in games you thought you wouldn’t be able to play with an integrated graphics card. Most of them can be applied to other integrated graphics cards, too. Other ways to improve the performance of Intel HD Graphics also exist, but I found these ones most effective. Let me know if they work well for you, too, or if you have any other Intel HD Graphics performance improvement methods.

Get the most out of your CPU or GPU and stop dropping frames

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

There are plenty of ways to tweak your OBS settings to improve your stream, but few options are as important as choosing the right encoder.

To put it simply, the encoder you choose will decide which piece of hardware is going to render your video. If you choose NVENC or AMF, you’re telling OBS to use your graphics processing unit (GPU), or if you choose x264 you’re telling it to use your central processing unit (CPU).

Aside from having a noticeable impact on your video quality, encoder settings will also have a big impact on your system’s performance. The right one will reduce the load on your PC and give you the extra power you need to record or stream at the best possible quality.

Let’s take a look at your options:

Right now, Nvidia is doing a great job when it comes to delivering meaningful features for streamers. Even if you put aside all the amazing things you can do with their RTX GPUs, like virtual green screens and AI-powered noise canceling, their NVENC encoder ( NVidia ENCoder) was designed for content creators.

On all current GPUs (full list here) there is a dedicated chip designed solely for video encoding, which means your GPU doesn’t have to take away resources from games you’re playing when rendering video.

OBS can detect it automatically, so if you have the option to use NVENC in OBS, there’s really no reason not to at least try it. You might not want to use it is if you’re using x264 (more details below), which can deliver better quality video rendering when tuned correctly, but for most streamers who seek to strike a balance between performance and quality, NVENC is amazing and absolutely the way to go.

On a side note, video editors like Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve can also take advantage of NVENC and save you a lot of time when rendering a video project. If you plan on streaming and video editing, and you’re in the market for a new PC, you might want to look into getting an Nvidia GPU.

Advanced Media Framework (AMF) is the encoder AMD graphics card users are supposed to use, but there’s a bit of a catch. While Nvidia is actively working to attract more streamers to their hardware by officially supporting their own encoder (NVENC), AMD has kept AMF open-source and rely on their community to keep it running.

It’s better than nothing, and if you have an AMD GPU, you should try AMF to see how it works for you. That said, if you’re in the market for a new PC and want to stream, there’s no reason to not choose an Nvidia card over an AMD one right now.

This might change in the future, but numerous tests have shown NVENC simply produces better video quality than AMF. It’s actually to the point where if you have an AMD GPU and a good enough CPU (like an i9 or a Ryzen 9), you may want to skip AMF and go straight to x264.

Have you got CPU power to spare? Using a two PC stream setup? x264 might be for you! Like I mentioned before, the advantage of other encoders like NVENC is that they use a dedicated chip on the GPU to take the pressure off your CPU.

The less work your CPU has to do, the better your games will run and the less likely you are to drop frames while streaming. But there is a slight trade-off in quality, and the reality is that x264 looks better than both NVENC and AMF when given enough power to do its job.

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

When selecting a x264 you can then adjust the CPU Usage Preset from ultrafast all the way down to slow and placebo. Faster speeds mean the encoder processes the video faster and uses fewer CPU cycles, but is also lower quality. On the other hand, slower speeds mean more CPU power is spent on each frame, and therefore the quality increases. Placebo is the slowest, but also so incredibly close to veryslow that it’s not even worth using (hence the name placebo).

Very fast is the standard, and fine for 99% of streamers. It’s essentially the benchmark by which NVENC and AMF are measured. Other good options include faster, fast, and medium, which is much higher quality, with medium being a significant jump from the baseline of very fast.

So when is x264 useful? Well, as mentioned before, if you have a killer CPU (like an AMD Ryzen 9), but you also have an AMD graphics card and want to avoid using AMF encoding, you might want to consider using x264 set to faster or fast.

Also, if you’re using an older PC and don’t have access to the NVENC encoder, use x264, set the CPU Usage Preset to veryfast , and use that as your baseline to see how your CPU handles it. If it’s going ok, adjust from there or leave it on veryfast.

Just remember this: a smooth but pixelated stream is always better than a choppy one. A lot of viewers are on mobile these days, so most can deal with low-resolution video, but few can handle dropped forms and frozen images.

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

On a Windows 10 April Update, Microsoft rolled out a new feature called Graphics Performance Preferences. It allows us to choose whether using GPU or CPU for certain programs.

This means you can get a smoother experience on the select programs and even video games. Or, you can save power by choosing a mode that doesn’t use a lot of computing power.

Whatever you choose, it basically gives more freedom customization. Now, check out the following guide to enable Graphics Performance Preferences on Windows 10.

1. Open the Start Menu and click the Settings (gear icon).

2. Then select System.

3. On the Display section, click the Graphics settings.

4. Classic App means any programs that installed traditionally using wizard window while Universal App was installed from Windows Store. For my case, I’m choosing the Classic app. After that, click Browse.

5. Select an application with EXE format and then click Add.

6. Click the program that you have added.

7. Click Options.

8. Select either System default, Power saving, or High performance before you click Save.

  • System default means the GPU system is determined by the system, whether it’s the Windows 10 or the app itself.
  • Power saving is automatically choosing the best GPU system in terms of saving energy, it can be CPU (integrated) or graphics card depending on the ratio.
  • High performance is absolutely put the graphics card as the graphics processing unit which considered as the highest capability.

The Power saving mode is perfect for notebook, tablet, and laptop that not intended for a heavy workload. In the other hand, the High performance mode is good for power-intensive activities, such as video games, video editing, and rendering.

Hence, please choose the one according to your situation.

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

The in-game settings, launch options, and videoconfig.txt file of Apex Legends can be optimized to increase your FPS and unlock the cap.

On the web, you can find several configuration files to replace yours and boost the fps. Honestly, I don’t like this approach because I want to know exactly what I am changing, so I decided to review all the options in this article.

These adjustments are useful if you are struggling to reach an acceptable amount of fps as you are using a low-spec PC, but also if you have a monitor with a high refresh-rate as you bought it to gain an edge in a competitive shooter such as Apex Legends.

Note: all the settings I am going to explain are totally legit and won’t cause you any crash or ban.

Let’s start with the launch options in order to remove the fps cap.

Open the Origin launcher

Go on My Game Library

Left click on Apex Legends and then on the Settings icon

Select Game Properties

Go on Advanced Launch Options and click on the Command line arguments tab

It removes the fps cap, which is set to 144 as default. It is not required if you have a monitor with less than 144hz, or if you are playing from a laptop and you want to save as much battery as possible.

Note that unlocking the frame rate might cause overheating problems if your system isn’t cooled properly as the game will try to render as many frames as possible.

I also suggest adding -novid as it gets rid of the starting splash screens. They become tedious in the long run.

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

Launch Apex Legend and open the Video settings. I will show you how to set up each option for maximum performance.

Display Mode: Full Screen.

Full Screen is the best choice performance-wise, but you might prefer Borderless Window if you have a multi-monitor setup and you wish to move quickly on another display.

Note: you can switch from Full Screen to Borderless Window by pressing Alt+Enter on the keyboard.

Aspect Ratio: use your native one.

In the screen below, you see 21:9 because I play on an ultrawide monitor. Your display should have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Resolution: use your native one.

Using your native resolution is desirable for a better view, but if you badly need a performance boost, decreasing the resolution will greatly improve your fps. 720p is usually a solid compromise between quality and performance.

Field of View: it depends on your preferences.

I published an article about the best FoV in Apex Legends, containing the results of a survey and detailed explanations on each setting.

A higher field of view (FOV) increases your peripheral vision, but at the same time all the targets are smaller, and it can cause a fisheye effect. In any case, lower values will improve your performance.

V-Synch: disable it.

Adaptive Resolution FPS Target: 0.

Generally, using the adaptive resolution to gain fps is a poor choice because it lowers automatically your resolution but also forces anti-aliasing, which is very expensive. Overall, you will enjoy a better performance by lowering the resolution manually.

Adaptive Supersampling: it is greyed out because our adaptive resolution is 0.

Anti-aliasing: off.

Texture Streaming Budget: your graphic card VRAM.

This setting depends on the VRAM available on your graphic cards. Be aware that any value past medium might have an impact on the fps, so if you want to maximize them be sure to select 3GB even if you have more VRAM.

Texture Filtering: Anisotropic 2x.

You can lower this setting further, but I suggest to keep it at 2x for a better viewing experience.

Disable or put to Low all the remaining settings.

Apply the changes.

It is mandatory to set up your in-game settings before working on the videoconfig file.

To find your videoconfig file, press Win+R and then input the following line:

Right click on videoconfig.txt and open it with WordPad or another text editor. I use Notepad++.

There are several options, but most of them have been already set up via the in-game settings. We will only change a few of them.

This is related to ragdoll physics, put it to 0.

The depth of field effect when you aim down sight (ADS); change it to 0.

It is the model detail setting in-game. It changes the distance at which the game displays the higher quality models.

I suggest reducing it to 0.3 or 0.4. Lower values may cause gameplay problems.

Set it to 0. This setting brings a massive fps boost as it disables all shadows. Of course, you will be at a disadvantage in some situations in which you might have spotted the enemy if their shadow was visible, but it is a rare occurrence.

This is all; you can save the file.

Right click on the file, go on Properties, General, Attributes, and mark it as Read-Only. If you don’t, it will be overwritten as soon as you start the game, and you will lose all the changes.

If you need to alter your in-game settings in the future, it is necessary to uncheck read-only. Afterwards, you can change the settings, edit manually the videoconfig file, and set it as read-only again.

How to tweak your video game options for better graphics and performance

Autoexec.cfg and NVIDIA Inspector

Everything I have explained so far is totally legit and will improve your performance without causing issues, but there are more tools at our disposal.

Apex Legends is based on a heavily modified version of the Source engine. In particular, Respawn used previous generations of this engine in Titanfall 1 and 2, so the modding community has already uncovered all possible ways to customize it.

There are hundreds of lines you can add to the autoexec file to achieve a better performance or special effects, but I do not recommend this technique because it could cause problems and crashes.

If you look for more info, be very careful: do not just copy-paste thousands of lines of code without explanations!

Finally, Nvidia Inspector can be used to remove grass, terrain textures, and more. It immensely boosts the fps, but – IMHO – is barely legal as you also obtain a certain advantage removing any extra visual effect.

I do not recommend this method because it might even cause you a ban for cheating via Easy Anti Cheat used by the game (unconfirmed).

Beware to Chrome

This is not a joke. I have 16GB of ram and I still run into issues sometimes as I tend to keep the browser open the whole day, so it ends using over 5-6GB of ram with many tabs open.

Close all your extra software if you want to maximize your performance while gaming.

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