It’s easy to get excited about whether your system can play a game at maximum graphics settings, or watch benchmarking videos about how your system fares at those settings.
However, ultra graphics settings may not be worth the compute tax or frame rate drop. Here’s why you should consider using lower graphics settings instead.
What are Ultra Graphics settings in video games?
“Ultra” graphics settings is the colloquial term that many modern gamers use to refer to the maximum graphics settings that can be set in any game. This may mean clicking the highest preset or manually adjusting those graphics settings to make sure everything is as good as it can be.
Maximum graphics settings are often very demanding on your system and can result in high temperatures (and more power consumption) on both your processor and graphics card. This setting will usually also mean that your gaming experience will be very easy on the eyes, but it can be sluggish if your system can’t handle a decent frame rate on those high graphics settings.
If your system is struggling, you might want to find out how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming to give you a better experience and even boost your frame rates even just a little bit.
Why are there Ultra Graphics settings?
Ultra graphics settings have always been around to give the gamer the least compromised visual experience. Textures, foliage, shadows, and various other details are just as the game designers envisioned them.
Benchmarks in Ultra Graphics settings
Max graphics settings are highly touted these days, often looking with pride if one’s system is capable of handling that setting and still getting 60 or more frames per second.
If you search for any combination of CPU and graphics card right next to the word “benchmark” on YouTube, you’ll see plenty of videos comparing those parts to maximum settings. For mid-range or low-end PC parts, you’ll often see low frame rates and buyers interested in feedback expressing their feelings of defeat.
Benchmarks can be a curse on your buying decision, as you may feel that you won’t have as good an experience playing games on lower graphics settings. However, benchmarks only test to see the performance of a system. You don’t really need to follow the baseline setup to have a good time.
Is the frame rate drop worth it with Ultra Graphics settings?
Whether or not the frame rate drop is worth it is not something we can answer, but we can help you answer it yourself by considering these things.
What is a playable frame rate for you?
A playable frame rate is entirely subjective. Console and laptop gamers often play at 30-60 frames per second and are completely happy with that, while many PC gamers aim for 100+ frames per second to get the most out of their high refresh rate monitors.
If you’re a gamer who doesn’t play a lot of competitive games, you’d probably be fine with 60 frames per second. Ideally, you should lower your graphics settings and aim for an ideal, stable frame rate. Most of the time, you won’t even notice the difference, and we’ll show you examples in the next section. However, if you’re still having trouble getting more frames, you might want to check out how to fix low FPS in Windows.
You might want to try matching your monitor’s refresh rate if you like to play competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Apex Legends, or Overwatch 2. Most gamers tend to use the absolute lowest setting to get as many frames per second as possible. they can, as responsiveness is more important than pretty grass (which can even obstruct your vision).
Can you tell the difference between medium and ultra graphics settings?
In many modern AAA games that are well designed, the lower settings are almost indistinguishable from the higher settings. Sure, the shadows won’t be as sharp or there won’t be as much grass. However, when you’re in the heat of an intense scene or busy getting from point A to point B, you won’t even have time to notice those things.
When it comes to slow scenes, many AAA games (even smaller games) use dynamic rendering technologies. These technologies reduce rendering resolution or texture quality when you move and gradually increase detail when you look at them for a few seconds. That way, when you want to enjoy the beauty of the game, it will increase the texture quality and let you enjoy the scenery while still delivering high frame rates for fast-paced situations.
Examples of medium vs. maximum graphics settings
For most people, a smoother, more responsive experience is better than a slow but visually impactful one. What if we told you that you can have both?
We’ve taken five games and split them in half. The highest graphics settings are on the left, while the medium settings are on the right. In most of these games, you won’t even be able to tell where the split occurs. This is true even for older games where graphics technologies and rendering techniques were less advanced.
So ask yourself: how much is that visual improvement really worth?
Graphics settings are in your hands
It is not up to us to decide what graphics settings you should use to play the game. However, it might give you a better experience if you set those graphics settings to a more reasonable setting instead of the maximum setting.
You won’t be able to notice most of those settings anyway and it will give you a smoother experience. A more responsive and smooth gaming experience can be so much better than maximum graphics settings that you won’t even notice, especially in action-packed games.