Ultra vs. High Settings in PC Games or: Why Ultra Quality Settings are Dumb

Biostud

Posts: 66   +23
Running a G9 odyssey with a gtx 1070, I have to turn down settings to get playable framerates. I always try to find which settings I can turn down without sacrificing too much quality.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 486   +532
Running a G9 odyssey with a gtx 1070, I have to turn down settings to get playable framerates. I always try to find which settings I can turn down without sacrificing too much quality.

To gain significant performance without sacrificing too much quality, often the first thing I tune down is shadows. In most games going from ultra shadows to very high, high or even medium (depending on the game / engine), often gives a big boost to fps with very little to no perceivable impact in visual quality.

Disabling SSR (screen space reflections) also gives a big performance boost in most games, especially on Maxwell / Polaris and older (but Pascal and Turing can also benefit). The downside is that disabling SSR can detract from the eyecandy in some games but the performance gains are often worth it.

There's also Subsurface Scattering. It often has barely any impact in visual quality (usually only affects detail in characters' faces), and I noticed that in some games / engines it can have a big impact on fps (in others it does not impact fps at all, I guess it depends on how it's implemented).

Not even going to mention raytracing because it's too obvious.
 

Biostud

Posts: 66   +23
To gain significant performance without sacrificing too much quality, often the first thing I tune down is shadows. In most games going from ultra shadows to very high, high or even medium (depending on the game / engine), often gives a big boost to fps with very little to no perceivable impact in visual quality.

Disabling SSR (screen space reflections) also gives a big performance boost in most games, especially on Maxwell / Polaris and older (but Pascal and Turing can also benefit). The downside is that disabling SSR can detract from the eyecandy in some games but the performance gains are often worth it.

There's also Subsurface Scattering. It often has barely any impact in visual quality (usually only affects detail in characters' faces), and I noticed that in some games / engines it can have a big impact on fps (in others it does not impact fps at all, I guess it depends on how it's implemented).

Not even going to mention raytracing because it's too obvious.
Raytracing is not even an option on a GTX 1070. But besides shadows, and the other effects you mentioned, draw distance is also something to consider.
 

geogan

Posts: 21   +14
I couldn't use Ultra settings on new Battlefield 2042 Beta using my RTX Aorus 3070 - had to change first two options to High in custom settings. Otherwise I was getting stuttering 1 FPS slideshow when level started. Possibly bug or else not enough memory (8GB) to do Ultra textures. With first two on High and all the rest on Ultra I was getting about 80-100FPS (using 27" monitor and 2560x1440 resolution)
 

GamerNerves

Posts: 118   +60
@arrowflash @Biostud
Not the best advices in my opinion, since shadows do depending on the game improve visual fidelity significantly, especially in close up shots. Not a bad idea to tone down shadows in some RTS games I guess, but a wise man has to research game specifically which settings to turn down to reach the absolute quality-performance sweet spot.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 486   +532
Raytracing is not even an option on a GTX 1070. But besides shadows, and the other effects you mentioned, draw distance is also something to consider.

Yeah it was sort of general advice. Ray tracing is often too expensive on RTX 2060 and 2070 cards.

I usually don't like turning down draw distance because the visual impact is too noticeable for me. So I prefer dialing down other things first. But going down a notch often pays off.

@arrowflash @Biostud
Not the best advices in my opinion, since shadows do depending on the game improve visual fidelity significantly, especially in close up shots. Not a bad idea to tone down shadows in some RTS games I guess, but a wise man has to research game specifically which settings to turn down to reach the absolute quality-performance sweet spot.

Funnily enough, I don't play RTS. Mostly first person shooters, RPGs, racing games and simulators. I notice that in much older games (especially from 2015 and older) turning down shadows often did impact visuals significantly, but in more recent games going from ultra to very high or high shadows often barely makes any graphical difference (especially during actual gameplay and not paying attention, you won't notice it). For some games, even going to medium shadows still gives little noticeable difference. CP2077 is the most recent game that I've played, where I noticed very little visual difference turning down shadows with a big performance boost going from ultra to high.

But as with everything else, of course in the end it depends on the game.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,863   +2,217
TechSpot Elite
@arrowflash @Biostud
Not the best advices in my opinion, since shadows do depending on the game improve visual fidelity significantly, especially in close up shots. Not a bad idea to tone down shadows in some RTS games I guess, but a wise man has to research game specifically which settings to turn down to reach the absolute quality-performance sweet spot.
Well, since I NEVER notice shadows in-game, I also NEVER notice when I turn them down. The best advice is to turn down whatever is least important to the individual player. Experienced gamers know that there's no one right answer to this.
 

Nintenboy01

Posts: 87   +69
I wish Forza Horizon 4 was included - some of the settings you can't really see the difference between high, ultra and extreme but performance can change a lot, although for car detail the dashboards are noticeably simplified on high. Hopefully a feature can be done on FH5 soon
 
Ironic that chromatic aberration is a 'feature' of Ultra settings in Cyberpunk, but disabled on High settings. Chromatic aberration in the real world is a *negative* side effect of lens optics that is negated by higher quality lens elements and coatings. Chromatic aberration refers to a 'halo' of colors visible around the edges of an object - for instance around the edges of a bird or tree limbs against a bright sky background. This effect is more noticeable in lower quality optics, or at higher magnification in even high end optics. Manufacturers try to negate this effect to allow for a more true-to-life or realistic image when looking through the lens. For instance if you are trying to identify a bird from 100 yards away and accurate color rendition is necessary, chromatic aberration is bad because it produces essentially unreal colors. So... it is weird that it is a desired optical effect in video games these days........