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One of the first things we do, after installing any game on our PCs, is tweaking its settings such as sound settings, graphics settings, and control settings etc.
Sound settings and control settings are almost same in every game out there, but graphics settings is the area where things get very interesting.
It’s because here you will greeted by a plenty of computer graphics terms, you would have no idea of.
To make you comfortable, here are 10 terms PC graphics terms you must know. So that you can tweak those settings according to your taste.
Some of these aren’t really settings but concepts that you should be aware of.
So, without any further Ado, here they are:
Frames Per Second (FPS)
Frames Per second, as their name imply, are the number of frames (images) that are displayed on the screen in one second. As a video in nothing but a sequence of images/frames, more frames means better graphics quality in that game.
There are many other factors that decide how much FPS you should set on a particular game. First one is the monitor, most of the monitors around us have 60Hz (although there are some 120Hz and 144Hz Options too) and for those monitors you can’t set more than 60 FPS.
As of now, most PC gamers are fine with the FPS between 40 and 50, regardless of the games they play. Another thing worth mentioning is that FPS also affects the processing power of your PC. That’s why you have to have a balance between your desire and your PC’s capability.
For more info, check out this article about best fps settings.
V-Sync, Screen Tearing and Refresh Rate
The Refresh Rate is the number of times a monitor refreshes its screen, in one second. Monitors usually come in 60, 90, 120 and 144Hz refresh rate options.
If the refresh rate of a monitor and the rendering cycle of a game goes out of sync, and two or more frames may occupy different portions of a screen. Since frames are change vertically, it appears that the screen has been “teared” horizontally.
One solution to eliminate the screen tearing is the vertical sync. Also known as v-sync, this technique locks the game’s fps with your monitor’s refresh rate.
But all is not good, even with v-sync. It’s because v-sync has some downsides of its own, and the biggest of them is the input lag. Since v-sync constraints on frame-data, you might a slight delay if v-sync is enabled in your game.
This is the reason most professionals gamers turn v-sync off during their competitive matches.
Screen resolution is simply the number of pixels in it. More screen resolution means sharper images, but it also slows down your computer speed to perform other calculations. It’s because playing games at 4K means your PC need to do 4 times more calculation than it would do for an HD resolution.
One important thing you should note is that screen resolution doesn’t always effect on the screen clarity. 1080p resolution will look much sharper on a 18-inch monitor than what it would on a 32-inch screen.
G-sync and FreeSync
G-Sync and FreeSync are the two extensions of V-Sync technology and both of them try to resolve the screen tearing issue we discussed earlier.
Although V-Sync technology solves the screen tearing, it has some disadvantages of its own, and unless you have a high-end gaming PC, it can affect your performance.
So, in order to further solve this issue, both Nvidia and AMD have developed their own extensions (G-Sync and FreeSync respectively) for the original V-Sync technology.
Although both of these technologies give you almost same output, they have some differences.
The biggest of them is that in order to enable G-Sync, you have to buy a G-Sync enabled monitor (the one which comes with G-Sync chip pre-installed) first. On the other hand, FreeSync relies on another feature called Adaptive Sync.
It’s a built-in feature in DisplayPort standard that allows graphics cards to directly manage the refresh rate of your monitor.
If you compare both of these technologies, you’ll find out that FreeSync (Open-Source) is a bit cheaper than G-Sync (Nvidia’s proprietary).
Field of View
Field of view is the angle at which you see the in-game world. It’s measured in degrees. Higher FOV means you will see more in-game area, but it will move the central-area away from you. You can think of it as the reverse zoom feature of your camera, more FoV (less zoom) means more area but you’ll see object far away from you.
The biggest benefit of Higher FOV is shooting games, such as FPS, where you may want to see as much area as possible. There are some disadvantages of Higher FOV too. For one, it will make your CPU work hard in loading more game’s graphics.
In computer graphics, Anti-aliasing technique is used to smooth-out the jagged edges of curved objects. Under normal circumstances, jadded edges of curved object make themselves look like a staircase. There are many solutions for this problem,and anti-aliasing is one of them. Although it smooths those edges, but also requires some work on part of your PC.
That’s why if you have an enough powerful PC, make sure to enabled this feature when playing games.
Anisotropic Filtering (AF)
This technique is also known as texture filtering, because of the fact that it gives texture to the in-game surfaces, when they are viewed at an angle. Anisotropic filtering gives an overall better quality to images, and is not so heavy on your PC too. That’s what you should enable it to 8x or 16x.
We have covered this feature in a separate blog post here. So, if you want a detailed answer, go there.
For those looking for a short answer, Ambient occlusion describes how much ambient light an in-game object should have, based on its geometry. There are different types of this technology such as SSAO, HDAO, with the latest being VXAO. These are proprietary technologies by Nvidia and AMD, and will work best with their respective graphics cards.
Needless to say, you should enable this feature.
Bloom increases the intensity of light sources in a game. This results in relatively high contrast, and makes the in-game graphics more realistic. Many games, however, don’t implement this feature too well. That’s why you should test it, and only enable it if it doesn’t give you any unrealistic over-saturation.
Motion Blur is another effect taking place in new games. Like its name, Motion Blur technique blurs your surrounding environment, as your move in-game, to give you a sense of “motion”. This feature doesn’t require too much processing and some players find it visually appealing.
But there are some others who consider it unnecessary.
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