Is it really worth setting ultra settings in modern games? In this material, we will try to explain to readers with illustrative examples why it is so, and not otherwise. In addition, we are protesting several demanding toys with “manual” and maximum graphic parameters.
Ultra graphics – money down the drain
Some video games have a huge difference between low and high graphics. When a developer allows shadows to be taken, textures to be too low quality, and most effects to be turned off, it’s hard not to notice. On the example of the legendary, but not new GTA V, it is impossible not to see the difference between minimal and high graphics.
The problem is that the higher we go, the less different the picture will be and it will become impossible to see the differences (without using a static picture and zooming in 200%). High and ultra settings have different effects on performance and the latter can eat up to 50% fps with minimal visual improvements.
Why do developers add such inadequate settings, especially when a new high-end computer can hardly keep a stable frame rate? Some people see this as a conspiracy of GPU manufacturers, but this is just the theory of a handful of experts. That is why we can assume that ultra settings are a waste of money for a more powerful video card, or simply an amazing loss of picture smoothness.
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Screenshot of Worlds of Tanks using Nvidia GT1030 GDDR5 2Gb
Even with the latest graphics cards, gamers often run into performance issues with new AAA titles. This applies to those cases when gamers set the maximum graphics settings, especially with ray tracing. With the advent of Nvidia RTX technology, the power requirements of graphics adapters have increased significantly. Despite the astonishing performance of the RTX30xx, there are plenty of games that will bring a flagship PC to its knees. With these settings, the RTX3080-3090Ti is barely enough for a comfortable 4K game. How should the owner of a $1,000 graphics card feel when they can’t see the smoothness of the picture?
Source: Jansn Benchmarks Youtube
Many well-known Youtube channels were interested in this topic, where the uselessness of Ultra settings was well demonstrated. We will conduct an author’s comparison from ITS, but also leave links to interesting materials from foreign channels related to this topic:
For each tested game, we leave a link to comparative high-resolution screenshots. To do this, we used the convenient imglsi service, which allows you to make a side-to-side comparison of the image quality and the performance result. In some cases, the increase in FPS was up to 50% without noticeable visual losses.
Test computer configuration:
- Processor Intel Core i7-10700K;
- Motherboard Z490 ;
- Video card Nvdia RTX 2060;
- RAM 32GB (2×16) 3200MHz;
- Monitor 144Hz 1080p.
The hype game that was called “Next-Gen Open World” looks really nice on ultra settings. But the most interesting thing is that at medium graphics settings it is very, very difficult to see the difference in dynamics. This has a significant impact on performance. The game itself asks a lot from the graphics card, so DLSS saves the day. If you have an RTX series adapter, we recommend using DLSS, not AMD Fidelity. The difference between these technologies is still too great. With almost unchanged visuals (which can only be seen in a static picture), FPS increased from 68 to 89. Comparison of screenshots with DLSS Quality. This is an absolutely “free” performance bonus, because when driving a car, the changes are not felt at all.
If you turn on ray tracing, then we get a threefold (300%) decrease in the smoothness of the picture. On a 144Hz monitor, the medium graphics setting at 90 FPS looks much better than any other configuration. The smoothness of animation is something that owners of 4K monitors with a frequency of 60Hz forget about. In most situations, frame rate gives a better user experience than detail and clarity. RTX is not a bad technology, but the performance drop by several times completely covers that minor visual improvement.
Ultra vs Medium (RT Off)
Ultra+RT vs Ultra
Historical Viking game – AC Valhalla does not support ray tracing, so we will only test in two configurations: high and ultra settings. In both cases, the textures were set to the maximum value. 6GB is enough for 1080p. Again, “freebie” in the form of 20 frames per second. Visually, you need to look closely with a scaling of several hundred% at a distance of 20 cm from the monitor to confidently say: “Ultra is worth it! (No)”.
Textures remain the most important parameter. Happy are those users who once purchased the Radeon RX480 8Gb. Although the graphics chip itself is already outdated, but the amount of 8192 MB of video memory allows you to set maximum textures in modern games. Even at low graphics settings with Ultra Textures visually the picture looks good in most toys.
Ultra High vs Medium (Ultra Texture)
Ultra High vs Medium (Ultra Texture)
A dynamic race about the fastest cars is very pleasant to play on high-frequency monitors. F1 2021 supports ray tracing, which eats up about 50% of performance. From 65 to 92 fps with no visual degradation. And it’s an ultra graphics setting. By switching to the High profile, we get about 100 frames per second. The most interesting thing is that with extremely fast gameplay it is difficult to see the difference even between the average parameters.
The Medium profile gives a 250% performance boost relative to the maximum with ray tracing. 140+ fps for a 144Hz monitor – playing under such conditions is much more pleasant than on Ultra graphics, which does not justify itself visually. Such ridiculous (a synonym for “ultra” is very appropriate) parameters are suitable only for those who, with an “eagle eye”, do not see the difference between 24 fps and 60 fps, as well as between 60 fps and 144 fps, those who are used to not playing a video game, but look at static pictures. For a quick F1 game, we definitely do not recommend Ultra Preset.
Very High vs High
Very High vs Medium
Note: the finished Preset Ultra necessarily includes ray tracing (shadows, reflection), which squanders FPS.
Very High RT On vs RT Off
Frame rate in online shooters plays a huge role. But now let’s not talk about cybersportsmen playing irrelevant games, playing with Resolution 800×600 px and sitting 20 centimeters from the monitor, waiting for the goal in the same corridor of the Dust2 map for more than 20 years. It will be about modern and demanding games to the player’s abilities. Apex Legends is an excellent representative of this genre. The game looks great and requires extraordinary skills for successful victories.
Visual loss can be seen thanks to softer shadows. The game perfectly demonstrates that with Ultra Textures the visual part can still be very beautiful. We set low parameters with the exception of textures and we get an increase of 40%. 125 and 176 FPS is a slight difference in relation to previous games, since Apex does not support ray tracing, this is probably for the better.
Ultra vs Low (Ultra Texture)
A unique representative of Next Gen AAA games is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The only game of its kind with a real scale of the entire globe. This is exactly the kind of game that will easily bring the most powerful processors or video cards to their knees. Why such insane demands? It’s all about the amazing range of processing objects. All (without exception) AAA video games have a very limited display range of objects. For example, in GTA 5, when flying by plane, Los Santos looks like a village in the fog. The game engine is not capable of processing a large number of objects, which makes it necessary to reduce the viewing range too much. In MFS 2020, we can see skyscrapers at a distance of tens of kilometers. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of buildings in metropolitan areas are also clearly rendered. Graphics settings in this game are of great importance. This example was definitely needed for this article.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a slow paced, visual based game. The absence of the lion’s share of objects in the frame immediately catches the eye of those who have played at least an hour in this simulator. Even the clarity of the windows and the detail of the facades in each house varies greatly in relation to Ultra/High settings. This is almost the only game that is definitely worth playing at maximum graphics settings. The change in frame rate is linear to the change in the visual. Ultra Settings in MFS 2020 is definitely on guard. RTX2060 is not enough for 60 fps, but it is quite possible to evaluate the quality and capabilities of the Next Gen game. Let’s commend the game for its scale and incredible attention to detail on ultra settings. This is what creates unusually realistic landscapes, inaccessible to any other video game. Of course, there are many errors with the generation of roads and bridges, but the developers fix all this manually.
Ultra vs Very High
Ultra vs Very High
Call of Duty: Warzone demonstrates the absolute uselessness of maximum graphics. The difference between Ultra/Low is the smallest among all the tested games. The performance difference is impressive: 85 frames per second versus 129. The first thing that catches your eye in a static picture is softer shadows. Render distance, texture quality, object clarity and number of objects were not affected in any way by lowering the graphics settings.
DLSS anti-aliasing in Quality mode is only good for this game. The balanced settings resulted in a 50% improvement in performance without noticeable visual degradation. Moreover, playing an active shooter with dynamic gameplay is much more pleasant on a 144Hz monitor than 60Hz (even if it is a 2160p matrix). More FPS means more chances to win the gunfight. In Call of Duty: Warzone, you should definitely not set ultra settings. Only owners of unbalanced systems (weak CPU and strong GPU) can do this to console themselves that the processor is still enough for 50-60 fps, they say: “the video card is already 100% loaded, progress has stopped!”.
Ultra vs Low ( Normal Texture & High Particle Quality ) + DLSS Quality
Only in some cases the user will be able to see the need for maximum graphics settings. In the last 5-8 years, games have been developed in such a way that the difference between Ultra / Low has been significantly reduced. At low settings, you can easily get a high-quality visual image if the graphics adapter allows you to set high-quality textures. In most situations, the images look identical, and if you add dynamics to this, it will be impossible to see the difference. There are exceptions (MFS 2020) where the ultra graphics are really worth the performance penalty. But for 99% of games, you can confidently set balanced, medium or high settings without compromising on appearance.
The owner of a mid-range graphics card can easily get the same level of performance and image quality as the user of the top RTX3080-3090Ti, if he does not follow the ideas of marketers. Ultra settings can “eat” up to 200-300% of performance with minimal visual improvements that are easily overlooked by the vast majority of players. In addition, average graphics in dynamic and active projects look much better on a 1440p monitor at 144Hz than on a 2160p 60Hz monitor.