Ready to start kicking butt in your gaming life? All your games need is a little bit of tweaking love. Whether you're an avid Call of Duty fan or casual Counter Strike player, I'll give you guys some tips on how to make your gaming experience top notch. Let's get optimizing!
First off, some Tweaking Vocabulary 101. You'll often find these terms in your game settings, and I will go through some of the most familiar and popular ones. To avoid any confusion, I'll be simplifying everything as much as I can. This stuff can get pretty crazy!
In short, Anti-aliasing rounds out any sharp, or distorted edges. The higher the anti-aliasing, the better picture quality. Here's a few examples of what it looks like:
If you look closely, you can notice the line in the second picture looks jagged and textured, but after you enable it the line seems smoothed out, and not as “rough.”
With anti-aliasing, your shapes will look more distinct and clean cut.
Recommendation: Using Anti-aliasing can have a tendency to put more strain on your video card. For eye candy gaming, it's a great feature to enable. For competitive play, you'll want to disable it to boost your FPS (Frames Per Second.)
Anisotropic Filtering –
This determines the quality of pixels in your depth of field view. Without it, pixels in the distance will seem blurry and messy. With it, the pixels in the distance will be defined, sharp, and clear. You'll often see several options of 2x, 4x, 8x, and 16x Anisotropic Filtering. Don't get scared of the numbers, simply the larger the number, the better the quality. Here's an example:
Recommendation – Unless you're playing a game that requires you to have good depth perception (such as watching out for nearby enemies around you in World of Warcraft, etc.) then this is not needed. For games that are short-distanced such as, shooters, and RPG's – this feature can be turned off without noticing a big difference. It's just another feature that makes your video card work harder, which is not what you want in competitive gaming. For casual gamers, feel free to leave it on!
Bilinear and Trilinear Filtering -
Both Bilinear and Trilinear Filtering help to maintain pixel quality while objects transition in distance. Say for instance we moved a square that starts off close to your face all the way to the back of the room. With Bilinear, as the square moves back it would make dramatic resolution jumps that would be more noticeable. Where as, Trilinear Filtering tries to avoid any sort of dramatic adjustments with pixels. In other words, It's Bilinear Filtering, but only a little better to help “smooth things out.”
Here's a picture of the concept:
Recommendation: As for Bilinear and Trilinear Filtering, either one would work fine for both the casual and hardcore gamer. Personally, I've never experienced much of a performance difference between the two. I'd say it's safe to play on competitive settings with either one, if you're shooting for absolutely highest performance however then stick with bilinear. For those graphic lovers, I'd recommend bumping your settings up to an anisotropic filtering for increased quality.
Mutlicore Rendering -
Put simply, if you have a processor with more than one core, then you want to enable this. Multicore Rendering will utilize all your cores, not only one - making for a more reliable, and efficient gaming experience.
Refresh Rate -
The refresh rate is the number of times your display refreshes or “reprints” itself in a second. Common refresh rates include 60Hz, 75Hz, and 120Hz. The higher the refresh rate, the less of a “slide show” effect it will seem like.
Recommendation: Always set this to as high as it can possibly go. You'll want to utilize every hert of it.
All it means is to create life like images in the form of 2D or 3D models. Easy, huh?
This is the number of pixels contained in your display. Common resolutions include 800x600, 1024x768, and 1680x1050. The larger your monitor is, the more pixels it can hold. To find out approximately how many pixels your screen has, just multiply the two. For instance, 800x600 resolution would have around 480,000 pixels. The higher the resolution, the more pixels, and the more pixels, the better quality picture you'll receive.
Recommendation: In cases where you're trying to get better performance from a game, resorting to lowering your resolution can help dramatically, but may not be as easy on the eyes. In almost all cases, set it to the highest it can go.
Shader Quality -
This determines the quality of shadows or how light appears in a game; whether it be reflective shadows, environmental shadows/light, and so forth. Many games will have a low, medium, and high quality option for this feature.
Recommendation: Depending on what games you play, seeing your enemies shadow can be extremely helpful. Mainly games such as first person shooters will benefit from a high shader quality. Other games such as Real Time Strategy, and Role Playing games may not see much of a use for it though. For FPS games, I recommend a high shader setting, for everything else a low-medium.
Vsync or Vertical Synchronization -
This cuts out any sort of broken, uneven, or distorted vertical lines. In other words, without it you may see “tearing” in your graphics. It also caps your frame rate at what your computer monitor's refresh rate is. For instance, if you have a refresh rate of 75 Hz then your frame rate would be capped at 75.
Here's an example of what not using Vsync can do:
Recommendation: I've always played without it enabled and never had a problem. Besides, who wants their frame rate capped? For the casual gamer who just wants to play every once in a while, this could be useful Anything higher than a casual gamer though I'd say to leave it off. Unless you're noticing gratuitous amounts of distorted vertical lines for seconds at a time, then it's not needed in my opinion.
For Eye Candy Gamers:
Eye candy gamers are those who play games just for the looks. A few pieces of advice to get the best visually rewarding experience would be to keep all your basic settings on high (if your video card can handle it). Such as your resolution, texture quality, and anti-aliasing. If you find your graphics card is having a tough time handle maximum settings begin to turn off or lower features that aren't as impactive on your gameplay such as anisotropic filtering, shader quality, and motion blur. Of course, if your card can handle everything on high then go for it! But, with more demand may come less FPS, on the bright side things will look spectacular.
For Serious Gamers:
If you're looking for the highest FPS, and ultimate competitive settings then disable anything that isn't needed. In other words, don't sugar coat your games. Anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, and all those options are extras that aren't needed to play. The less work your video card has to do, the better performance on your end. There can also be ways to cut down lag in-game by changing registry keys, changing console commands, and by using programs. These fixes can tell your connection to “talk faster” from the server to the host basically. (One great program I found which works fantastically well for MMO's is http://www.wowinterface.com/download...atencyFix.html) If your game allows you to create your own custom start up script than by all means try it out! You can turn off bullet holes, decals, animations, blood, and just about everything else. You'll have no problem cranking up your FPS, and getting the highest performance out of your game.
When it comes down to it, the key is to play around with your settings, and find that sweet spot for your video card. Also, common sense is always good to use too. If you're running a video card from five years ago, don't try pushing it on full settings while playing Crysis. Once you adapt to your card, you'll know what it will be able to handle. Several games allow you to create your own custom auto execution file as well (autoexec.exe) which would allow you to further tweak more settings in-game.
I'll be continually adding terms to this list and helpful tips. If you have any questions feel free to let me know!