PC Graphics Settings: What Does It All Mean?

Robert Wiesehan 03-06-2014

If you’re switching from console gaming to PC gaming Switching From Console to PC Gaming: 8 Big Differences Explained Thinking about switching from console to PC? Here are some of the biggest differences between gaming on PC and console. Read More , the graphics settings menu in many games can seem like it’s full of baffling jargon. Anisotropic filtering? Shaders? FXAA? LOD? What do they all mean? How do you strike the balance between having your games look like a murky mess that plays smoothly, and a visual feast that looks like a stop-motion animated movie?


Be baffled no more! In this video, we’ll walk through the most common graphics settings you’ll find in today’s PC games 3 Free PC Games That Took Off In 2013 That You Should Play There were many games that reached the surface last year, but these are three that really shined over the rest. These games are free, very popular, and extremely addicting. 2013 was a breakout year for... Read More . By the end, you’ll understand what they mean in plain language, and you’ll know the relationship between graphics quality, frame rate, and controller input lag that will help you choose the right options for whichever games you play.

Still have questions about PC graphics settings? Ask away in the comments!

Need some great free games to test your new found graphics tweaking knowledge? Here’s how to find them How to Get Free PC Games: 4 Sites to Download Premium Games Want great games, but don't want to pay? Here are the best sites to download premium games for free. Read More !

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  1. Marc
    July 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Unless things have changed in gaming in the last 10 years, I believe "LOD" is actually an acronymn for "Level of Detail" and not "Load on demand" as said in the video. The description of the setting is accurate enough for newbies to understand, but I think the term should be understood correctly as well.

  2. Raj5151.111
    June 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Nice article and great information. Basically racing games are need correct graphics settings. Because naturally racing games are changing scenes very quick. Play top 10 racing games for pc then easily understand the importance of graphics.

  3. James M
    June 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I agree that an alternative to the video might have been nice. In particular, since the video contained a lot of "here's a setting off, , here it is on", static screen shots might have made for better comparison since there wouldn't be delays between seeing the two alternatives. Side-by-side images are usually better for comparing than sequences in time.

    I think the explanations of different settings were useful for explaining what they do, but there wasn't much information given on balancing settings apart from watch your frame rate. Maybe that is ultimately the goal, keeping a good frame rate while making things look the way you like, but some suggestions on which settings are better to have higher/lower might be nice. Which settings have the most important effects in games and should be set higher? Granted there are personal preferences, but there ought to be some general things people usually agree on. If certain effects are generally best set high in certain genres of games, knowing that would be good.

    P.S. -- I think your pronunciation of "anisotropic" is off. It's more an-iso-tropic than a-nis-o-tropic. See for example.

  4. Walter D. Wormack
    June 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

    All of the ''confusion'' about understanding what's going on is just simple case of keeping newcomers in the dark while maintaining technical superiority.

  5. Alan
    June 4, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Set all to maximum and all options on for quality.
    If frame rate suffers or other problems occur.
    Upgrade computer.
    Try again.

  6. Robert W
    June 4, 2014 at 3:05 am

    The inability to absorb video info quickly is a fair criticism, and I'll consider it when determining which future topics are best delivered as video content. Thanks for taking the time to make your opinion heard. It helps us make content that will better serve you in the future.

    • Always Learning
      June 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      I like it when both options are presented. Sometimes written details or instructions can be made clearer when I can "see" the action involved. This way I get to choose.

      But, I do appreciate when an "expert" takes the time to create either one, as I can usually learn something. Some sound like my ex, if something's not ideal then it's... "I'm NOT watching, reading, playing, leaving my nose alone to spite my face."

  7. Brian N
    June 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    You should have used a more graphic intense game, can't really tell much of difference with borderlands. Tomb Raider 2013 shows alot of difference when the settings are changed though.

  8. Howard B
    June 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Need to start adding transcripts of these...I can read an article with a few illustrations in under 3 minutes, so why should I have to sit through an 11+ minute video?

    • Smelly Gnome
      June 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Because of people like me who prefer videos :-D.

    • Me
      June 4, 2014 at 2:24 am

      I can speed read, but I sure can't speed-watch. We have mandatory annoying speeches talking-head training and such at work -- I always bring up the prepared PDF document and read it instead. I *hate* 3 minutes of info in 11 minutes or more. Thanks -- I *WON'T* be watching.

    • L Pope
      June 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Love the transcripts too. I would much rather read about something than watch a video about it.

    • robert
      June 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Another vote for the transcripts. I honestly would rather read three articles or transcripts than to sit through one video. I can read faster or slower or skim an article if need be. I can't do that with a video. Please don't become one of THOSE websites MakeUseOf. Please, please don't.

    • Mark Hansen
      June 5, 2014 at 12:51 am

      I completely agree. In text the reader can get much more info much faster. And if you need to repeat something, you don't have to wait for the video to load again or find the correct amount of seconds into the vid etc.

    • Mark
      June 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Another agreement on transcripts. Some of us just don't have time to sit through an 11 minute video, we read articles in our free time fast ;)