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How to Adjust the Quality of Your PC Game Textures
November 20, 2019
Picture this: You’ve been eagerly awaiting the latest action-adventure title. You’ve just downloaded and launched it, and after a number of welcome screens and introductory land-laying, you start playing. But instead of being wowed by the graphics, your game looks and performs far below the advertised gameplay. Not only are you burdened with slow, choppy in-game action, but the sparkling, ultra-sharp graphics you expected are nowhere to be found.
With every passing year, PC games become more and more visually captivating and technologically advanced. Developers continue to release increasingly demanding games, so the call for capable hardware and optimized settings requires an immediate answer should you expect stunningly seamless gameplay. In order to achieve the highest-quality, most impressive in-game experience, you’ll need to make some important display setting tweaks.
Using this guide, we’ll walk you through how to manipulate your picture controls to obtain the highest-quality game textures and the utmost visually-inspiring gameplay.
What is texture quality and how does it affect gameplay?
Textures are the actual colors and minute details that beautify gaming landscapes and items. They are images that are used in 3D games to render 3D objects, 2D planes in 3D space, or other graphical user interface elements.
For example, in an open-world game like Red Dead Redemption 2, it’s the little things like blooming pink flowers and the trail of footprints you leave behind on your journey that make the experience more enthralling. Think of texture quality similarly to how you think of sharpening and clarifying a photograph. The higher the texture quality, the more meticulously illustrated and immersive your gameplay.
Texture quality can be modified to improve the quality of your graphics, but in most cases, you’ll have to make a number of graphic settings changes to achieve the highest grade of gaming texture. Though the process is rather intensive, the results become immediately visible the moment you reload your game. Keep in mind that a texture quality upgrade typically alters all of the in-game textures, as well.
Fortunately, most PC quality settings operate similarly. The settings required to achieve peak visual performance will vary per game, but our universal foundational guide works to augment any of your favorite titles on a rudimentary level.
How can I optimize the quality of my PC game textures?
The vast majority of modern video games feature integrated software that is designed to automatically select the best graphics settings for your system and game requirements. While this innovative autonomous tech is intelligent, it doesn’t always work. Older, outdated games may not understand the best plan of action when faced with new hardware and may end up defaulting to the lowest possible settings. On the other hand, high-demand games may default to graphical settings that are too high for your system, sending your GPU into overdrive and slowing down gameplay performance.
One of the easiest solutions you can turn to is opting for preset settings offered by the game itself. Top titles like The Sims 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim come with preloaded graphical settings that typically carry simple preset names like “Low,” “Medium,” “High,” and “Ultra.” Depending on the grit of your rig’s hardware and components, you may not be able to accommodate the demanding settings as prescribed by an “Ultra” preset. You may, however, be able to play seamlessly on “High” and make minor tweaks that get you closer to “Ultra” gameplay without your system overcompensating.
While on the hunt for your game’s preset graphical settings, check to see if there are any sliders or drop-down menus that allow you to directly modify the texture detail. Some games offer in-depth graphic augmentation options while others provide very few. If your game of choice does not include the option to change the immediate quality of your game texture, follow these next steps to optimize your PC game texture.
1. Tailor your resolution settings
Modifying the resolution of your game is one of the simplest and most critical ways to enhance the display quality of your gameplay. The resolution specifications determine how much data your monitor or screen is able to present at any given moment. Not only does altering the dimensions effectively allow you to adjust the amount you’re able to see in-game, but it also produces sharper, more defined images.
Every single LCD and LED screen has a particular ideal resolution that is defined by the number of physical pixels it’s able to display in rows and columns across the screen. This sweet spot is called the native resolution. Playing at a considerably lower resolution might promote smoother gameplay, but if you’re after high-quality visuals, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
If you’re looking to get the most impressive visual gameplay, you should opt for the highest available resolution. In most cases, especially with gaming laptops, this may simply mean matching your game’s resolution to your screen or monitor’s native resolution. For example, if you have a 2560 x 1440 monitor, you’ll want to run the game at a 2560 x 1440 resolution.
2. Modify your anti-aliasing configurations
Aliasing happens when low-resolution images produce pixelated lines and curves, creating jagged lines rather than smooth ones. Your game produces pixelated images that look unsightly as a result of non-linear mixing effects. Anti-aliasing works by inserting blocks of the same color around the lines of the fragmented image to generate a smoother real-time render.
Most modern video games allow you to choose between three anti-aliasing multipliers; 2x, 4x, and 8x. Each multiplier level increases the output demand on your computer, so the higher-grade your graphics card, the more likely your system will be able to handle higher levels.
If you’re running an older graphics card, running high-level anti-aliasing multipliers may cause unwanted slowdown. If this rings true for you, you might want to consider employing the 2x multiplier. Forcing your PC to accommodate more than it can handle could result in diminished returns and throw your performance levels off balance.
There are several different types of anti-aliasing out there, and it will require a bit of research and technological wit to determine which one is best for you. There are 5 dominant types including:
- Temporal anti-aliasing (TXAA)
- Multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA)
- Morphological anti-aliasing (MLAA)
- Supersample anti-aliasing (SSAA)
- Fast approximate anti-aliasing (FXAA)
Depending on your particular computer setup and the types of games that you play most frequently, the most suitable type of anti-aliasing will vary. (Read more in our HP Tech Takes article, “What is Anti-Aliasing” for everything you need to know.)
What hardware upgrades help improve PC game texture quality?
There are only so many internal tweaks you can make to your system before the changes you desire must come from the inside of your computer. If you’re after high-level gameplay performance, upgrading your computer’s hardware is your next best step. Different hardware components accomplish different things, so you’ll want to be choosy with your upgrades before cracking open your computer case and breaking your piggy bank.
GPU / Graphics Card
Your graphics processing unit is the single most essential piece of your PC puzzle responsible for rendering images on your screen. When it comes to enhancing your computer’s visual capacity, beginning with your GPU or graphics card is a smart place to start. By simply swapping out your current graphics card with a newer, more impressive card, you treat yourself to an automatically improved in-game experience.
Finding the perfect GPU that lives up to your performance standards can be confusing, especially when you’re unsure of what to look for. Be sure to do your fair share of performance and compatibility research before dishing out dough on a pricey graphics card. Also, bear in mind that not all GPUs work with all motherboards. Do some research to make sure you won’t face incompatibly issues with your shiny new GPU.
Though your GPU is responsible for delivering images to your screen, the CPU works hard to complete all of the other operational functions that power your PC. Often referred to as the brain of the computer, the central processing unit ultimately determines how seamlessly your PC will function when you load up your favorite gaming titles. If your CPU is constantly running at 100% during playtime, odds are good that it’s time for a CPU upgrade. By upgrading your computer’s CPU, you enhance its ability to accommodate your demanding visual expectations.
The speed and capacity of your hard drive are two key factors in creating a computer system that can live up to your gaming demands. Not only do higher capacity hard drives allow for a more expansive library of game titles, but they also improve the rates at which you’re able to play your favorite games. Every gamer has felt the agony of a load screen that simply takes too long, but few know that loading times are a direct result of your hard drive’s performance capacity.
By upgrading to a solid-state drive (SSD), you leave slow loads behind and enter a world designed for high-speed, high-demand gameplay. It is important to note that swapping out a traditional HDD for an SSD typically means sacrificing storage space.
With a better understanding of how to improve the quality of your PC game textures and visual performance, you’re just steps away from diving into your favorite game scapes. Whether you’re looking for comprehensive tutorials or the latest in digital news, HP Tech Takes has got you covered.
About the Author: Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California with a passion for the latest tech and digital media news.