Why Ultra Graphics Settings Are a Waste of Time (and Resources)

It’s easy to get hyped up about whether your system can play a game at maximum graphics settings, or watch benchmarking videos on how your system fares against those settings.

However, ultra graphics settings may not be worth the computing tax or the 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 are the colloquial term that many modern gamers use to refer to the maximum graphics settings that any game can be set to. This may mean clicking on the very highest preset, or manually adjusting those graphics settings yourself to make sure that everything is at the best it can be.

The maximum graphics settings are usually very demanding on your system and can lead to high temperatures (and more power draw) on both your processor and graphics card. These settings will usually also mean that your gaming experience will be very pleasing to the eyes, but may turn out to be a sluggish one if your system cannot handle a decent frame rate at those high graphics settings.

If your system is struggling, you may want to figure out how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming to give you a better experience and even increase your frame rates for even just a tiny bit.

Why Do Ultra Graphics Settings Exist?

Ultra graphics settings have always existed to give the player the least compromised visual experience. The textures, foliage, shadows, and various other details are as the game designers envisioned them to be.

Benchmarks in Ultra Graphics Settings

Nowadays, maximum graphics settings are very hyped up, often viewed with a sense of pride if one’s system is able to handle those settings and still be able to get 60 or more frames per second.

If you search for any CPU and graphics card combination right next to the word “benchmark” on YouTube, you will see many videos benchmarking those parts on maximum settings. For mid or low-range computer parts, you’ll often see low frame rates and interested buyers in the comments express their defeated feelings.

Benchmarks can be a curse to your buying decision as you may feel like you won’t have as good of an experience playing at lower graphics settings. However, benchmarks are only testing to see the performance of a system. You don’t really need to follow benchmark settings to have a good time.

Are Ultra Graphics Settings Worth the Frame Rate Drop?

Whether the frame rate drop is worth it or not is not something that 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 completely subjective. Console and handheld gamers often play at 30-60 frames per second and are completely happy with it, while many PC players aim for 100+ frames per second to make the most out of their high refresh-rate monitors.

If you’re a gamer that doesn’t play many competitive games, you’d probably be fine at 60 frames per second. Ideally, you should lower your graphical settings and aim for a stable and ideal 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 struggling for more frames, you may want to check out how to fix low FPS in Windows.

You may want to aim to match your monitor’s refresh rate if you like playing competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Apex Legends, or Overwatch 2. Most players often use the absolute lowest settings to get as many frames per second as they can as responsiveness is more important than pretty grass (that 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 lower settings are almost indistinguishable from the highest settings. Sure, the shadows won’t be as crisp, or there won’t be as much grass. However, when you’re in the heat of an intense scene or if you’re 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 either reduce the render resolution or texture quality when you’re moving around and gradually increase the details when you’re looking at them for a few seconds. That way, when you want to take in the beauty of the game, it will increase the texture quality and allow you to take in the scenery while still providing high frame rates for fast situations.

Examples of Medium vs. Maximum Graphics Settings

For most people, a smoother and more responsive experience is better than a sluggish but visually stunning one. What if we told you that you can have both?

We have taken five games and split them in the middle. The highest graphical settings are on the left, while 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 even true for older games where the graphics technologies and rendering techniques were less advanced.

So, ask yourself—how much is that visual upgrade really worth?

The Graphics Settings Are in Your Hands

It’s not up to us to decide what graphics settings you should use to play at. However, it might give you a better experience to set those graphics settings at a more reasonable setting instead of the maximum setting.

You won’t be able to notice most of those settings anyway and it’ll give you a smoother experience. A more responsive and smooth gaming experience may be much better than maximum graphics settings that you won’t even notice, especially in action-packed games.

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