To get the best out of your video card: • HWzone Full Graphics Setup Guide
Computersgraphic cardsMainGuidesFeatured articles

Get the best out of the graphics card: the complete graphics setup guide

Many video games now offer photorealistic graphics, but one that has many confusing parameters: What is Vsync or MSAA? What settings should you turn on or off and what exactly do they give? You will find all the answers here

Video game graphics have always been steadily rising - we are now far from the days when first-class games, and even less-sold games, have offered graphics that have "square" or pixelated textures. We are currently in an era where video games show magnificent graphics that sometimes blur the boundaries between it and reality.

Crysis 3 - one of the first titles to offer photorealistic graphics
Crysis 3 - one of the first titles to offer photorealistic graphics

If there is something that has changed quite a bit with graphics in recent years in video games, is their demand for hardware is stronger, and some will say too strong. In the PC market From the first level, many have become the subject of high demands, and we are even forced to double the amount of memory. For games only.

From NVIDIA's A New Dawn
From NVIDIA's A New Dawn

Also in the market major gaming consoles were conducted in accordance with The next generation, which despite their lack of comparison at the level of graphics offered by most PC with the same games, find it difficult to run these games on the frame rate of 60 and can not maintain a steady pace of 30.

Skyrim - little modification to blur the boundaries between game and reality
- A little modification to blur the boundaries between acting and reality

Today, there are quite a few users with a graphics card that is capable of running extremely rich graphics, but they do not utilize this ability due to lack of familiarity with the graphics settings, or they "choke" their graphics card for free for exactly the same reason.

Unlike the consoles, you can run a richer graphics on your PC, provided you choose to run it manually. Always search for the game graphics settings screen. In this tutorial, we'll learn about the graphics settings, and what it means to turn each one on or off. The best way to know first is how graphics work in video games.

Define yourself. Graphics Settings screen from Battlefield 4.
Define yourself. Graphics Settings screen from 4

Graphics - How Does It Work?

Unlike a static image, or a simple video clip, the graphics we see on the computer screen are rendered in real-time by the graphics card, and consist of many textures that are spread over a certain number of pixels (ie - the selected game resolution). These are the tens of thousands of calculations per second that the video card does in the background.

The more the video card has to compute a greater amount of information and render an image that is considered heavier, its actual performance decreases - and vice versa. Therefore any addition or cancellation of a particular setting affects the performance of the video card and the way the game runs. Card performance is expressed in the number of slides (frames) per second - which changes at any moment according to the amount of frames that the graphics card has for Render in this scene.

More frames per second - more smooth movement. Source: Reddit
More frames per second - more smooth movement. Source: Reddit

Animation, any animation, consists of several frames per second (FPS), and the more there is, the more seamless the animation will be. In games the optimal number of frames is determined by the screen refresh rate (Hz) that on most screens is 60 (in the gaming screens even on 120 and 144 Hz). However, many are satisfied with the frame rate of 30 to enjoy a smooth enough move.

30 frames per second are enough for you? Each player experiences it differently (you must run 1080p60 \ 720p60 to see the difference)

V-sync - Bey for image tearing

60 prime per second rate? Video cards are now capable of delivering much more than that in simpler, older or low-graphics games. So what's going on above 60's pace? As mentioned, it depends on the refresh rate of the screen, and because the vast majority of screens are 60 and no longer, the "common" optimal rate is identified as 60.

60 refresh rate means the screen can display up to 60 slides per second. What happens when the video card renders more than 60 frames per second on such a screen? You will not notice any improvement in the speed of movement at all. In fact, the displacement will become much less smooth, and this is due to a phenomenon called "screen tearing".

NVIDIA GeForce "width =" 650 "height =" 367 "srcset =" 650w, https: // hwzone. com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/AdaptiveVSync-1-650-600x339.png 600w, -1x650.png 300w "sizes =" (max-width: 169px) 300vw, 650px "/> When will we experience tearing a picture? GeForce

Screen splitting is also below 60 frames per second, but it is not usually noticeable. But when the frame rate goes through the refresh rate of the screen, this phenomenon becomes completely felt and for some players unbearable, especially in fast scenes (such as racing games).

Image ruptures - they appear to be moving. From the NVIDIA GeForce home page
Image tearing - this is how it looks. From the homepage of GeForce

How to deal with such a problem? After all, our video card can't be stopped from an extra frame, right? not exactly. For this phenomenon, there is a V-sync (Vertical synchronization) setting. Enabling this setting in games "locks" the frame rate on the maximum screen refresh frequency so that no additional frames are displayed. In many games, the setting comes by default. If necessary.

However, it is important to know that V-Sync also has negative effects. The first is that in certain games, when the video card renders suddenly less than 60 (or your screen refresh rate), the frame rate will drop to about half of that, Commonly used. The second is easy input Lag, which most players do not feel, but those who do feel it, for example, in intensive FPS games, most often choose to cancel it.

NVIDIA GeForce "width =" 640 "height =" 360 "srcset =" 1024w, il / wp-content / uploads / 2015 / 12 / vsync-600x338.jpg 600w, 300w, https: // 1152w "sizes =" (max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px "/> Drop FPS with V-sync. GeForce

The way to deal with the FPS drop problem is to turn on a setting called Triple Buffering. This setting is now built into many games, some of which need to be run alone and in certain games, this option will not work. There are other ways to deal with negative effects with external settings such as Adaptive V-sync , And we will discuss them extensively later in the guide.

Anti-Aliasing - No jagged edges

Equally troublesome for many video games that have always been prevalent (and became intolerable as they turn into 3D) are aliasing, which has sharp, pixelated graphics. The phenomenon exists not only in games, but in every graphic object.

Jagged edges in text
Jagged edges in text

The phenomenon becomes more turbulent in video games than anything else, where jagged edges damage the image quality, which is particularly noticeable when moving. Yes, even for this problem there is a solution, and its name is Anti-Aliasing (or commonly abbreviated, AA). Using different methods and levels, AA creates smoother edges for these objects, helping to improve image quality.

Graphics without AA (left side) with AA effect (right side)
Graphics without AA (left side) with AA effect (right side)

There are many AA methods, which are strongly recommended to read in detail In the previous tutorial Ours, but common to almost all of them: They come in multiples (X2, X4, X8), as is common among the methods, MSAA (Multi-Sampling Anti Aliasing) which you will find in most games, a method where the scene is processed at higher internal resolution and shrinks back For the standard resolution dimensions, the multiplication symbolizes the amount of processing being performed: The multiplication of X4 processes an internal resolution of jagged edges 4.


There is only one problem: MSAA, like all other AA methods, is most detrimental to performance, and can reduce the frame rate to about half in high multiples. Therefore, it is customary to regard AA as a luxury and, if possible, maintain a normal product (X4 instead of X8) which in most games is quite sufficient.

Today the situation is less black or white, with many games coming with internal filters that alleviate the lack of AA. In addition, today games allow you to run an alternative that does not compromise performance called FXAA - artificially smoothing edges after rendering the image. This method certainly presents Are identical to MSAA, but some players find the method problematic, as in some situations it slides more objects.

FXAA - A great alternative that almost doesn't hurt performance

The graphics card drivers are capable of running FXAA (or These are similar) For games that do not offer this option, and other methods discussed below. Either way, when MSAA is heavy for you, activate FXAA. In some games you can even play both, provided your video card is strong enough.

Resolution - another factor for image quality

Do not underestimate your screen resolution. When the screen resolution (and the game) is high, the video card can render more detailed graphics thanks to the space for more pixels. Also, note that when the pixel density is low (when your resolution is higher than the size of a small physical screen) the dependence on AA decreases and the edges are less jagged.

But the real mistake comes from a different direction: acting at a lower resolution than the screen can provide. For example, if your screen has 1920 × 1080 resolution and you are playing 1366 × 768 resolution within the game, you are doing it wrong. Have you ever tried to enlarge an image from its original size? The result you get will be a blurry and fuzzy image. That is exactly what the outcome will be in games, and if you play at a different scale, you will get a picture that is too wide or too narrow.

Playing on a lower resolution than the screen - that's how it looks
Not too sharp: a game on the screen's lower resolution - it seems

The above mistake is made mostly because many games do not match their internal resolution to that of the screen, and many users do not bother to change it in game settings. Always change the resolution to the highest, unless your video card is unable to run the game properly Higher, so it is very important to adjust the power of the video card to a resolution, and to find out before buying screens with huge resolution such as .

Physx - Advanced Physics

In some games (more and more in recent years) you will find a definition called Physx, most often with a logo With her, for obvious reasons - Physx is supported by cards GeForce only. Video cards of type Enabling this option will always result in a drastic decrease in performance, so always leave it turned off.

This exclusive technology of cards Allows game developers to view more dynamic and realistic physics that are very difficult to process, expressed in complex scenes, for example when blasting a structure - where a huge number of particles look like reality, or in scenes where something is on fire and looks real. With this setting, many effects occur on the screen.


The reason that only cards Physx is able to run because of their Unified Processors (CUDA), they are able to take on the processing work from the central processor. Pay attention - even if you have a ticket , And even if it is fairly strong, Physx is a very demanding performance setting, so run it at controlled levels, if at all. Some players go so far as to dedicate another card Dedicated only for processing.

Image quality settings

These were the "leading and common definitions". However, it's important to remember that image quality has additional factors and they come in levels (usually from Low to Ultra). Some of the settings are clear enough for oil - Water Quality (or "Water" only), for example, signifies the level of quality that water and other liquid elements in graphics will look like.

Please note that in many cases some of these settings take a good portion of the performance as their level increases, but the differences in image quality are quite small and noticeable. Take the Fallout 4 game for example: Lowering the "God Rays" to Low will improve performance quite a bit, but there is hardly any difference in the graphics level.

God Ray effect is low and maximal: see a big difference?
God Ray effect is low and maximal: see a big difference?

Therefore, you should play with these sample settings and actually see the difference in image quality versus the amount of frames per second you lose, until you find the "Sweet Spot" that balances enough good image quality with enough erosion and dignity for you.

From these settings, there are common and demanding settings that should also be put on the eye. Let's start with type definitions Texture. These settings will be characterized by the level of detail in the game graphics. It's usually about loading higher-resolution textures - which takes up a lot of video card memory, and it's not advisable if you have little of it. And, as mentioned, always notice the actual differences.

Between Medium and High: Is it worth it?
Between Medium and High: Is it worth it?

Another definition that I would go so far as to say is one of the most demanding is the definition of shadows in the game - definitions Shadows. The higher this setting, the more shading effects will be seen and behave more realistically. This requires additional processing of lots of pixels that reduce quite a bit of game performance.

In the higher levels of shading settings, the emphasis is more on how a shadow will behave in reality compared with the light of the day and the environment, and less on its shape. Usually the difference seems rather negligible, and in continuous play it is also meaningless. Lowering this setting to Medium from Ultra, for example, can add up to 30% improvement in performance when image quality is almost intact.

Shadows - take a lot, give a little
Shadows - take lots, give little

In recent years, and especially in the newest and most famous games,HDAO, SSAO And other definitions that end with AO, Rabbi Ambient Occlusion. This definition applies to everything we've talked about so far: shading, light rays and yes, it consumes many resources while playing.

This setting creates a lens effect of strong illumination (such as sun rays and internal light) that passes between different objects and affects the shadows in the scene as well as the general lighting of the game. Like the rest, is not always necessary, and in this case even actors do not like the effect it creates.

AO - Need artificial effects?
AO - Are artificial effects needed?

Drivers - Advanced Graphics

We can not always enable V-sync, we can not always apply FXAA or AA at all, and sometimes there are things that should just and should be done through the graphics card drivers.

in , Go to "NVIDIA Control Panel" (usually installed in Hebrew), then "Manage 3D Settings" (Manage 3D Settings). At AMD, enter "AMD Radeon Settings", down to "Gaming". In both, you can set Global Settings or Profile for a specific game ("Application Settings" tab in , And "Add" on the right side of AMD).


To enable AA Through the drivers, we first select the "driver" of the game driver: add to the existing game, or override it (recommended is the second). For both, the setting is "Antialiasing - Mode", and then in the field that opens for us, we choose the AA multiplier we want, which by default is MSAA.


We can choose another type of AA called Super Sampling. This is an old, but actually the most effective method for smoothing down memorization. The absolute disadvantage of this method is drastic performance, even with powerful video cards, so it is recommended to use it only for weak or old games, where MSAA is not enough or not supported (very rare). in We select this type through "Antialiasing - Transparency" and we can choose a level (multiplication) in This is selected in the Anti-Aliasing Method.

And, as noted above, we can allow FXAA, and even we can do so along with MSAA without a problem. in It will appear up in his name, indeed at This is a different method called MLAA that works exactly the same, and to enable it, click on the control panel About Morphological Filtering.


The option to run V-sync (or disable) In the drivers is even less simple. in , Go the most down and list and check "Enable" on "Vertical Sync" (V-sync, of course). In AMD, look for "Wait for Vertical Refresh" in the middle and select "Always on." The option to run Triple Buffering Will appear in both of them clearly (at , In Hebrew, "triple buffering") in the middle.

in , You can run a useful method called Adaptive V-sync. This method permanently eliminates the need for V-sync over refresh rate and screen, and at the same time eliminates the negative effects of dropping the frame rate by about half - by switching on the V-sync method only when the number of frames is higher than the refresh rate Screen, and turns it off immediately when the number is less than that.

As noted, unfortunately, the method is exclusive for cards Only, and for years, AMD has no worthwhile alternative to such a necessary and useful method for many - in my personal opinion. The way to turn this setting on Is "Adaptive" in "Vertical Sync".


Throughout the tutorial we talked about graphics settings that give a bit of a picture, but take quite a bit . We will end the guide with a kind definition that does exactly the opposite: Anisotropic Filtering. This setting, which takes very little resources from the graphics card, is present in the new and popular games, but in many of them it does not exist and it is worth considering to operate it.

A path disappears - no more

The above definition takes continuous textures, such as floors and ground and "continues" to elaborate them on the horizon similar to reality, where games usually begin to blur the image. , Run it through "anisotropic filtering" (its original English name) towards the end, and First choose to intervene in the game in the Anisotropic Filtering Mode and then put the product next to the product.


What if we do not want to get into trouble?

Not everyone has a computer with a processor or video card powerful enough to choose the graphic settings and indecision, and the vast majority of which is not usually composed of heavy gamers or at all, holds an average laptop computer with Intel's graphics chip or one of the most basic of the company .

These users, who occasionally want to play games on a regular basis, will encounter problems With almost all of the settings listed here, although the guide will help them understand where the dog is buried when it comes to low performance in their game. For the computers with the weakest graphics chips, I would have no choice but to lower any graphic setting to the minimum possible against the frame rate.

But there is another option that is equally effective. Cards And AMD comes with software that automatically detects the power of your computer and sets the graphic settings you want, and all you have to do is just select those games. I will demonstrate this with the help of GeForce Experience Which comes along with the driver, which automatically loads games with a click and selects the best settings.

Graphics settings: Let the software do it for you
Graphics settings: Let the software do it for you

But how would we know?

Of course, once you set the desired graphics settings against the convenient movement, the work will end. But what if you want to know in real time what your frame rate is, to get a little better control over things? As stated, the rate varies in real time. For this you can use third party software. The first one understands, again, GeForce Experience Only, and additional software such as AfterBurner.

But the most common software to monitor frame rate per second is Fraps. When the program is running in the background, a yellow number will appear at one end of the screen, indicating the number of frames when it is updated at a fraction of a second. At the touch of a button, you can choose which corner will appear or hide it.

Real-time performance monitoring
Monitoring in real time

Still confused? It is completely natural, there will always be different and different graphics concepts - some the same lady with a change of overcoat and some something different and completely new. The above guide contains the absolute majority you should know, but if you have any further questions, you are always welcome to contact To our forums For her.

Back to top button