The purpose of this guide is to share settings to apply within the NVIDIA control panel to optimize your graphics card for gaming. You should optimize your graphics card settings if you would like to increase your performance or the visualization of your gaming experience. By following this guide, you will override some in-game settings. If that is not something you want to do, then this guide is not for you.
Opening NVIDIA Control Panel and Initial Settings
Open your NVIDIA Control Panel. You can do this by pressing the Windows key and typing in the search box ‘NVIDIA Control Panel’.
Your first screen should look like this. Here, we are making the decision to move from ‘Let the 3D application decide’ to ‘Use the advanced 3D image settings’. This will allow the changes we make in the next section to apply.
You could also choose ‘Use my preference emphasizing: Quality/performance’. By sliding from Quality to performance, you are letting NVIDIA control the 3D image settings. This is a quick way to automatically apply 3D image settings and either gain a boost in FPS (frames per second) or higher quality graphics. For games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Halo: Infinite, you would typically want to select performance. This would allow you to maximize your FPS while trading off graphics. For games like Elden Ring, Starfield, and Diablo 4, you would want to slide to Quality as these games rely more on rich graphics to provide value for gamers.
Manage 3D Settings – NVIDIA Control Panel
We will look at the first part of managing your 3D settings, which is managing global settings and application specific settings. Global settings will change settings for all applications while with program settings you can apply your settings specifically to one application. By creating application specific settings, you will override your global settings.
Image scaling will upscale your GPU processing. Upscaling is a conversion process of lower resolution images to higher resolution images. It fills in pixels automatically through an application of an algorithm or artificial intelligence (which is the case with NVIDIA Turing and Ampere graphic card architectures). A fun exercise from NVIDIA will show you the difference between basic image scaling and AI scaling. The Sharpen scale is something you will need to fine tune as you go along. The overlay indicator will show a small logo when image scaling is being applied in the upper left-hand corner of your screen when the box is checked.
In general you should leave this off, especially if you’re concerned about performance. Modern game titles handle Ambient Occlusion with in-game settings. Ambient Occlusion produces shadow effects to enhance depth perception and realism.
Anisotropic filtering adds crispness to images. Again, a lot of modern gaming titles will want to handle this with in-game settings so it is likely best to set this to application-controlled. Changing anisotropic filtering global settings can have an adverse impact on performance of other games.
Antialiasing – FXAA
Antialiasing FXAA is a technique to make jagged lines smooth. NVIDIA provides the following sample to show what this looks like: FXAA Sample (nvidia.com). There is a slight performance cost to this option. You should let this be handled by in-game settings, but you can test the differences with your game to see which option is best for you. Normally, this should just be left off to let your game engine do the antialiasing for your graphics card.
Antialiasing – Gamma Correction
This does not apply to a lot of gaming titles as it applies to multi-sampling antialiasing (MSAA). Antialiasing today happens post process or is handled by temporal antialiasing, not MSAA. Far Cry 6 is an example of a newer gaming title that still uses MSAA. You should do your research on the games you play and decide if this is worth it to leave on. That being said, it doesn’t hurt your performance if you do leave it on because it only will apply itself if the game engine uses MSAA.
Antialiasing – Mode
You should set antialiasing – mode to application-controlled. Modern gaming engines like Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) should be able to handle antialiasing on their own. You do not need to tell it how to handle antialiasing.
Antialiasing – Transparency
You can leave Antialiasing – Transparency off in global settings but it could be turned on for specific applications under Program Settings if it uses MSAA. Antialiasing – Transparency could impact the performance of other games and applications if left on in global settings, so this should be off by default.
Background Application Max Frame Rate
You can turn this option on and set a maximum frame rate for a game running in the background. This is really only useful if you for some reason move between games and leave them on in the background. You will find this beneficial if you do this.
CUDA – GPUs
You should likely leave this set to All. It is basically asking you if you have a graphics card that you don’t want to use for CUDA processing.
DSR – Factors
DSR is a form of super sampling that came out with NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture (10xx series graphics cards). It essentially increases the frame size of an image and then shrinks it back down again to the resolution size of your monitor and applies a filter overlay to give you the appearance of high quality graphics. This will lower your frame rate performance (FPS) because it is an extremely taxing form of antialiasing. It is great for older games if your GPU can spare the performance, but less efficient than modern super sampling techniques like FXAA. If you’re not playing older games, leave this off. You can read more about DSR on NVIDIA’s website.
Low Latency Mode
Low latency mode puts frames that have been processed by the processor in a queue to be processed by the graphics card. The reason for this is due to the fact that processors are taxed differently at different times. The idea is to have a good buffer between the processor and GPU so the GPU processing is consistent. This can work to reduce stuttering issues and will actually improve FPS because you can limit queued frames to 1. Setting this to Ultra will minimize VSYNC latency when both VSYN and G – SYNC are enabled.
Max Frame Rate
This is as simple as it sounds. You are capping your FPS and as the description for this says, the only use case is really if you are trying to conserve power. Most likely this is not the case for anyone, so leaving this off probably will make the most sense for you.
Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA)
Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA) was introduced with the Maxwell architecture (GeForce 10xx series) and is designed to make graphics prettier with a less cost to performance than other antialiasing solutions. That being said, most recommend turning this off. In-game settings should be able to make the decision on antialiasing. MFAA does come at a performance cost. You could test between your game and using this to see what is best for you.
OpenGL Rendering GPU
This does not really apply to gamers especially if you’re only running one graphics card. You can leave this alone on its default setting auto-select. It’s basically used for deciding between which two GPUs to use for rendering. It could be useful if you have a rendering job on a video and want to game at the same time and you have two graphics cards to do it.
Power Management Mode
Setting your power management mode to adaptive is probably the best choice for gamers. You can let your graphics card determine when to increase/decrease power to the GPU. Setting this on maximum performance can potentially help with reducing stuttering and meet GPU spikes but it will also increase the temperature and wear and tear on your graphics card.
Shader Cache Size
If you have a lot of storage space available, then increasing your Shader Cache size can improve your performance. You can think of shader cache as storing data for your game so it is ready to be used when it is needed, reducing the need for any additional processing from your GPU. If storage is not an issue and you play a lot of games, set this to anywhere from 10GB to 100GB or even unlimited.
Texture Filtering – Anisotropic Sample Optimization
Anisotropic Sample Optimization does not effect modern graphics cards, like the NVIDIA 3000 series. It is designed to optimize the anisotropic filtering so you get more performance. So unless you have a lower end graphics card and would like minimal performance increase without sacrificing too much graphics, you can leave this off.
Texture Filtering – Negative LOD Bias
This setting sharpens stationary images but allows antialiasing when a scene is in motion. You would set this to allow for higher performance and clamp when games use anisotropic filtering for better image quality. Most set this setting to allow.
Texture Filtering – Quality
You would change this setting depending on what your preference is for the particular game(s) you play. For first person shooters, like Fortnite, COD MW2 2022 and Warzone, you would set this to High Performance. For graphics rich games like Elden Ring, Diablo 4, and Starfield, you would set this to high quality.
Texture Filtering Trilinear Optimization
The tradeoff between on and off is image quality vs performance. You would set this on for games like Fortnite, COD MW2 2022, and Warzone. You would leave it off to have a more rich immersive experience for games like Elden Ring, Starfield, and Diablo 4.
You can leave this set to auto. Modern games will utilize threaded CPUs; where older (and I mean much older) games will not use threaded CPUs.
The purpose of triple buffering is to add another layer of buffering to avoid screen tearing. If you have issues with screen tearing, then you will want this on. That being said, you need to use NVIDIA’s Fast Sync with Triple Buffering for games that use DirectX. Most should just leave this setting off.
Vertical Sync (VSYNC)
Turn on VSYNC if you experience screen tearing. Turn it off if you don’t have this problem.
Virtual Reality Pre-Rendered Frames
This setting is for games that use a VR headset. If you don’t have that, then this is not relevant. If you do, the settings are pretty clear. Increasing the value from 1 to 2, 3, or 4 will increase performance but will also cost you latency. It may be best to just let your game decide for you, which is also an option.