Nvidia looks like an unstoppable force in the great graphics card war, and while AMD makes a good fight with quality GPUs at both ends of the market, the smart money is on Nvidia. You can also familiarize yourself with all of these settings from the Nvidia Control Panel if you are a gamer, as there is a good chance you will use them sooner or later. Here’s our guide to help you navigate it.
To open the Nvidia Control Panel, you must have installed the Nvidia graphics card drivers for your Nvidia GPU. The Control Panel icon may then appear in your notification area (lower right corner of the Windows desktop), or you can access it by right-clicking on the desktop and then clicking on Nvidia Control Panel.
Nvidia Control Panel 3D Settings
This is where you can really tweak your GPU performance to get the most out of your game. Under “Adjust image settings with preview,” click “Use advanced 3D image settings,” then “ Take me there ‘to start tweaking your GPU settings. as you like. (The same screen can be accessed by clicking on “Manage 3D settings” in the left pane.)
You can then select “General Settings” to apply the changes to all your games or “Program Settings” to apply game by game. Here are the graphics settings and their functions:
Ambient Occlusion (AO): makes shadows in games deeper and more realistic.
Many games block Nvidia’s Ambient Occlusion because it can conflict with AO settings already in the game (which are usually higher). If you choose to use AO, make sure you’ve disabled the in-game version first.
Anisotropic filtering: makes sharp-angled textures sharper.
There is ample evidence to suggest that the NVCP version is worth using compared to the in-game versions. The performance impact is small and the visual improvement can be significant.
Anti-aliasing: softens jagged lines on the edges of objects.
“FXAA” can be used instead of or in conjunction with the game’s AA settings. However, it tends to blur images, so it’s probably best to leave it. Likewise, “gamma correction” is not very useful. AA “Transparency” effects are decent if they are small, smoothing out lines in transparent objects like grass, fences, etc. The performance impact is small, so it may be worth a try.
CUDA – GPU: uses the power of the GPU to improve software such as PhysX and other graphics enhancements. Highly recommended.
DSR: makes the game play at a higher resolution than the subsamples, giving a sharper picture on all levels.
If your PC can handle it, it’s worth a try. When you do this, you can also set “DSR Smoothing” to further improve the picture quality. The higher the smoothness, the greater the impact on performance.
Maximum number of pre-rendered images: buffers frames, preloading them onto the CPU before they reach the GPU.
This can potentially mitigate stuttering and frame skipping at the expense of latency (eg, input lag). Stick to “3D Application Settings” but apply the different options (1-4) if you are still having problems.
Monitor technology: allows you to select G-SYNC if your monitor is capable of it.
Always use G-Sync when you can. It allows your monitor to run at higher refresh rates without screen tearing or other issues.
AA sampled at multiple images: increases anti-aliasing without degrading performance.
If the game is compatible with MFAA, you basically get a free anti-aliasing bonus.
Power management mode: “Optimal Power” preserves image rendering / GPU load when the PC is idle. “Adaptive” lowers and increases the GPU timing depending on the game. “Maximum Performance” allows the GPU to run at higher power. It’s louder and more tiring on the GPU. Optimal power is recommended.
Shader cache: stores crucial gaming shader files on your hard drive, potentially improving performance and reducing load times.
It doesn’t use a lot of hard drive space and can have a positive impact on your gaming.
Texture filtering: Related to anisotropic filtering, texture filtering greatly improves the appearance of flat textures during gameplay.
If you suffer from performance impact due to anisotropic filtering, you can try to enable “Anisotropic Samples Optimization”. “Negative LOD bias” is only really useful for OpenGL games and doesn’t offer anything that anisotropic filtering doesn’t do better. Instead of using “Trilinear Optimization”, simply set “Texture Filtering – Quality” to “High Quality” or “High Performance”, depending on the power of your system.
Threaded optimization: Allows the multi-core processor to handle certain GPU tasks during gameplay.
Stick to Auto, which allows the GPU to decide, per game, whether to use it or not.
Triple buffer: Adds a third frame buffer to the GPU when playing OpenGL games, thus avoiding the occasional performance stuttering when buffering frames.
If you have OpenGL games, set it to “On” next to vertical sync.
Vertical synchronization (or VSync): adjusts game frame rate (fps) to monitor refresh rate (hz), preventing screen tearing when hz is lower than fps.
Use in-game settings, although “Fast Sync” might be useful in older games or other games with very high frame rates.
Pre-rendered virtual reality frames: such as “Maximum number of pre-rendered frames”, stores certain frames in the CPU before they reach the GPU, which can prevent frame skipping in VR.
For VR users only, test the settings to see which ones perform the best.
Play around with these settings, have fun, but watch performance carefully and be prepared to do a whole bunch of optimizations to get things right. It’s a fun process, but there is something to learn from it is that there are really only a few graphics changes that will dramatically improve performance. Or maybe you’ve found an adjustment that goes against the wisdom of this list to good effect? Let us know!
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