Video Card Upgrade Install Guide
Tweaking Video Card Driver Settings
Video card settings often involve a trade-off between performance and quality. Here are the video card settings which have the greatest impact on these two areas. Those with high-powered systems can get away with using the quality value for many or all of these settings and gameplay will remain smooth and responsive, even at higher resolutions. Those with lower powered systems may still enjoy smooth and responsive gameplay by giving up some image quality and by using a lower screen resolution.
Of course, altering these setting may reduce your benchmark scores. But that's fine. In fact, the point of having a high-powered system is not to generate 120 frames-per-second at average detail when you're eye cannot distinguish more than 60 frames-per-second, and you're monitor is set to say, 85 Hz, so it's only changing the screen 85 times per second in any event. No. The point of having a high-powered system is so you can have it all - the highly detailed, highly responsive, fully immersive, computing experience.
Note that it's possible that settings changes that "improve quality" may not yield pleasing results to you in general or in every game/application.
Depending on what you have used in order to be able to tweak the video card driver settings, the setting name you see may not have exactly the name shown in italics. But it probably does and, even if it doesn't, it should be close enough to tell it's the same.
A setting with a value of "By Application" or "Application Preference" allows the setting to be configured by the application, including being disabled altogether. The application/game itself often has an options page where video card driver settings can be tweaked just for the duration of the application/game.
To gain complete acces to all of the video card driver settings, a utility is needed. For ATI based cards, the Rage 3D Tweak utility used on the video card overclocking page to gain access to the overclocking settings also adds a tab to the Control Panel called "Rage3D Tweak" to allow changes to the video card driver settings. For NVIDIA based cards, the utility of choice is Rivatuner. Download Rivatuner here.
Tweaks For Settings Common To Both Direct3D and OpenGL
# of Samples - This setting controls FSAA (Full Scene Anti-Aliasing). It can significantly improve image quality by smoothing out angled edges, but is a significant performance hit. Values can be "Application Preference", "2 Samples" and on up. The higher the number, the better the image quality and the greater the performance hit. It's worthwhile using as high a value as performance will allow, but it's an easy quality improvement to give up to gain performance.
FSAA Mode - If a value is entered for the setting # of Samples (meaning it's not left as "Application Preference") then change this setting to a corresponding value, such as "Quality" or "Always On".
Anisotropic Filtering - This improves the quality and detail of textures as they extend from the viewer, such as improving how smoothly the ground surface detail transitions as the view recedes. Values can be "By Application", "2:1 Forced" on up to "16:1 Forced". The bigger the number, the greater the improvement. But it's a big hit to performance. While the improvement in quality is perceptible, it's an easy quality improvement to give up to gain performance.
Anisotropic Mode - Used in conjuction with Anisotropic Filtering. The values are Bilinear (Performance) and Trilinear (Quality). Tilinear should be used it does make an improvement in the quality but the performance hit is small.
Mipmap Detail Level - This controls the level of detail used for textures. It can significantly improve the quality of the entire scene, but with a cost in performance. It's worthwhile setting this to High Quality if your system can bear the performance penalty
TRUFORM - Should be set to "Application Preference" to improve quality without a signficant hit to performance.
Wait for VSync - Setting this to "Application Preference" allows the application to treat this setting as enabled so it can match the rate at which scenes are being generated to the refresh rate of the monitor, improving quality. This is what most applications will do. But it also allows the application to generate the frame rates as fast as possible, even faster than the monitor refresh rate which is wasteful in the sense that the scene is rendered but never actually displayed on the monitor. Unless you're benchmarking, it's best to set this to "Always On" to improve quality and just change it to "Always Off" when you're benchmarking. A setting of "Always On" is also best for controller responsiveness since it helps keep the application from wasting computer power on needless scene processing.
Tweaks For Direct3D Only Settings
Bump Mapping - Enabling this option makes a noticeable improvement in the amount of detail to objects, such as the surface of a wall. The impact to performance is measurable, so it should be set to disabled if needed to gain performance.
Guard Band Clipping - This value should be set to enabled for optimal performance with no loss in quality - probably. If display errors are observed the set this to disabled.
Colorfill - Setting this to enabled can make the display appear more vibrant with no loss of performance. But if you don't like what it does for the display then set it to disabled.
Tweaks For OpenGL Only Settings
3DNow! - Should be enabled for systems using AMD processors to improve performance with no loss of quality.
SSE - This option should be enabled to improve performance with no loss of quality for systems with processors that support the Intel SSE instructions, such as the AMD Athlon XP, Pentium III and Intel IV. It should be disabled for other AMD processors and the Pentium II.
SSE2 - This option should be enabled to improve performance with no loss of quality for systems with processors that support the Intel SSE2 instructions, such as the Pentium IV. It should be disabled for other processors.
Texture Compression - Should be set to enabled to improve performance with minimal impact to quality.
© 2001-2011, Rob Williams, all rights reserved.