How to configure Counter-Strike: GO for the maximum competitive advantage

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Article by Jonny "Waffles" Fuller

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s surge in popularity over the past few months makes now a great time to join one of the most competitive multiplayer shooters on PC. This visual guide will teach you how to set up your game for the maximum competitive advantage. There’s no singular best practice, as a lot of configuration is personal preference, but there are tweaks you can make to graphics and network settings, keybindings, and more to help outplay the competition.

Understand your graphics settings

There’s no consensus among the competitive community about which screen resolution is the best. Lots of players look towards the “pros” using ancient 4:3 resolutions such as 800x600 for guidance. However, there is no singular advantage provided by using 4:3 resolutions. Some hardcore players use these resolutions because they were optimal in the 1.6 era and allowed legacy CRTs to hit higher refresh rates, and pros are generally change-averse.

But when you’re using a 4:3 resolution, your horizontal field of view is just 74 degrees. Some players prefer this narrow view as it allows them to focus centrally on their target, and positions the radar closer to center. At 16:9 the player has a 90-degree field of view, which allows more vision towards the edges of the screen. I value this peripheral vision over narrow focus, and thus use 1920x1080 (16:9). Ideally, you want to use the native resolution of your monitor while maximizing your framerate.

The single best way to increase your FPS is to drop your resolution, so let's dig into CS:GO's graphics settings.

Improve FPS with launch options

Make all your graphical adjustments with the knowledge that CS:GO is a CPU-limited game in general. There’s no holy grail console or config command that can dramatically improve your FPS, but there are some slight tweaks we can make.

  1. Drop all your in game graphics settings to low, disable anti-aliasing, enable multi-core rendering
  2. Add these launch options to your launch parameters in Steam (see screenshot above):

-novid -console -high -threads 4

These commands disable the intro, enable the console, set the process affinity to high, and grant your cores to CS:GO, even though technically Source can only use 3 threads. Some players add the -processheap parameter thinking it will grant better fps, but because this substitutes Windows memory management for Valve’s own code it is highly recommend to remove it.

The next step involves modifying CS:GO's config file. It's a bit more complicated, but allows us to make some really useful tweaks.

Adjust graphics settings in the config file

Find your config.cfg in the cfg folder within the game directory (default C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo\cfg). If you don't already have file extensions enabled in Windows, you should enable them now to make sure that, when you edit the config file, it retains the .cfg extension. To turn on file extensions, click Organize in Windows Explorer, click Folder and search options, tab over to View, and uncheck Hide extensions for known file types. Now let's edit config.cfg. You can open it in Windows Notepad, but it'll be easier to read with a more advanced text editor, like the free Notepad++.

Now, edit these lines in the config file. For most of them, you'll simply be switching out a 0 for a 1, or something similar.

r_drawtracers_firstperson Set to "0" - Disable first-person tracers. Enemy tracers are still drawn.

mat_monitorgamma Set to "2.1" - The brighter the better so you can illuminate enemies.

mat_queue_mode "-1" - Auto-detect multi-core rendering

mat_savechanges Add this line to write video settings to the registry.

cl_forcepreload “1” - Forces the game to load all the sound and art assets on map load. This can help you if you experience stuttering when certain sounds go off, such as throwing a grenade into a bunch of props

cl_disablehtmlmotd “1” - disables those annoying ads when connecting to a server

cl_autowepswitch “0” - Disables automatically switching to a primary gun you pick up off the ground so you don’t draw an unloaded weapon

cl_disablefreezecam “1” - Disables the annoying freeze on death so you can make proper calls to your team mates

You can save your changes, but don't close the config file just yet. Next, we're going to tweak the most vital of all CS:GO settings: network settings.