Here at PC Gamer, we love cranking game settings up to 11. But not all graphical settings are created equally. Even with top-end hardware, there's some graphic settings that offer little visual difference but can have a large impact on your framerate. And if you're running on older hardware, these are the settings you should focus on turning down in order to boost your framerate without making everything look terrible.
Graphics options and their respective impact can also vary greatly from game to game, so for the best performance, it's a good idea to check out a game-specific optimization guide. Having said that, these are the settings that generally provide the least "bang for your buck" in terms of detail versus performance.
Shadow effects are surprisingly performance-intensive, but making the edges of a shadow look a bit more realistic doesn't really do much to your overall image quality. Don't turn them off—but if your frame rates are struggling, they're definitely best left on low or medium.
Motion blur has occasionally been used to good effect, such as in racing games (opens in new tab), but for the most part, it's a setting that costs you performance in exchange for something most people actually dislike. Especially in fast-paced games like first-person shooters, motion blur is one to avoid.
Depth of Field
In games, depth of field generally refers to the effect of blurring things in the background. Like motion blur, it pretends our 'eyes' in the game are cameras, and creates a film-like quality—something that doesn't always look great in the first place. It can also affect performance significantly depending on how it's implemented. Definitely one to tweak depending on personal preference and what game you're playing.
This is one that depends a lot on the game you're playing, and what matters to you in terms of image quality. Dynamic reflections is the setting that causes players and other moving objects to be reflected in pools of water and other shiny surfaces. It's also incredibly performance-intensive. In games like Overwatch, it's hard to notice the reflections in the first place, and turning them off boosted our fps by 30 to 50 percent.
With supersampling enabled, the game renders frames at a higher resolution than the display resolution, then squeezes them back down to the size of your screen. It can make games look better, but unless your rig is something of a monster (like our beloved LPC) supersampling will destroy your performance. Most of the time, it's not worth the upgrade, especially when there are many other more efficient anti-aliasing alternatives.