Wot Does Wot: Grand Theft Auto V Graphics Settings Guide

Extended Distance Scaling, Particles Quality, Tessellation, Grass Quality… if you’re trying to squeeze a few extra frames per second out of Grand Theft Auto V [official site], you might be a mite confused by some of the settings in its options. How much of a visual change do they make, how much do they affect performance, and what do some even mean?

Handily, Nvidia have put together a fancy guide explaining what they all do, showing off the visual difference they make through comparison screenshots, and investigating the performance costs.

The comparison screenshots are jolly nice, overlaying two and boshing a slider in the middle so you can swipe between them. Higher is always prettier, of course, but the difference with some settings can look negligible while still saving you a fair few frames. Oh aye, the guide’s gung-ho for Nvidia products and tech, but I trust you can read past that.

You can find this all out yourself through painstaking trial and error, of course, but this is far easier. Looking at these charts, I may be convinced to turn Grass Quality down a touch to hit a constant 60fps, even though most my brief forays into Los Santos have been to find a good swimming pond.


  1. SuicideKing says:

    I can see why you love swimming in random ponds. Now I want to, too. :D

    BTW, that video reminds me of swimming in Far Cry 3, just without the threat of a crocodile attack.

  2. dangermouse76 says:

    I can get a consistent 60fps with most detail settings on high. The advanced stuff all off, depth of field off, ambient occlusion off. Drop the view draw and traffic density but 20% and set AA to x2.

    Thats on a GTX 660 at 1080p. And it still looks great ( to my eyes ). My god the flying looks and feels good in this game.

    • SaintAn says:

      I played the game on PS3 at release and couldn’t land planes with a controller so I crashed like 15 times on one of the beginning Trevor missions trying to land and had to skip it. On PC I landed on my first try. It really is so much better.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Funny I had it on the 360 and thinking about it I landed first time on PC as well. And I hadn’t played it in many months.
        BTW have you tried this……Get in Trevors plane, go to audio settings and turn down FX sound really low and turn the background music up. The ambient music that plays as you fly is so pleasant and soothing, I could do that for hours.
        I believe it’s a Tangerine Dream track.


      • Dale Winton says:

        I landed the plane first time playing it on a PC with a xbox controller

    • gunny1993 says:

      Huh, to me the flying feels like the character has suddenly developed Parkinson, and having to constantly be moving the mouse forward to dip is terrible, keep having to run my mouse around my desk.

      • Cinek says:

        I hoped for some joystick controls, but… apparently GTA doesn’t care that I got it, so… :(

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Just do yourself a huge favour and get a 360 controller, GTA shines when played with both control schemes at once.

        It doesn’t much matter how good or bad the KB+M controls are, a gamepad will drive better, just like no matter how good the aim assistance is a mouse will do a better job.

        Flying might actually work nicely with some clever mouse implementation, i’ll give you that, but it worked fine for 2 years with controllers so the work is already done on that front. For driving cars there’s no competition, but i love the fact that many use the keyboard, since i need another 20 wins to unlock everything and they’re making it easy for me!

        This answer is not just meant for you, but for everyone reading. Just get a controller guys and remember, you don’t want to be the appointed pilot in a heist if you’re going to crash the plane.

        • D70CW6 says:

          xbox 360 controller was probably one of the best gaming purchases i made.

        • hollowroom says:

          Got to agree with this. It’s a great way to play this game: KB+M for gunfights, 360 controller for driving / flying / quietly walking around looking for hookers at the sunsets.

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          phuzz says:

          Handily, the ‘getting into a plane’ animation is easily long enough to let go of the keyboard and mouse, and to grab the 360 controller.
          I don’t think I could cope with the shooting if I couldn’t use a mouse, but there’s no way I can fly using the keyboard alone.

        • fish99 says:

          I can drive GTAV very well with both m/k and pad, but I slightly prefer m/k just to be able to look around quickly and shoot accurately. In terms of handling of the cars I don’t find there’s much advantage to using a pad. If you watch your hands using analogue sticks, you rarely push them less than full deflection in a game like GTA, so they’re not very analogue anyway, plus they have a tiny travel distance.

          As for flying, they added random sway to everything in GTAV like you’re constantly being hit by strong gusts. It’s just dumb, and it makes the helicopters unpleasant to fly.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            The analog still helps with countersteer and other fine movements, even if the stick is not that great when it comes to travel distance, and recovering the small things is what ultimately might win you the race or allow you not to fuck up the mission or something.

            You can make do with anything, but if you want to get all the gold medals in the flight school ( the online one, not the sedate career version ) you might be in for some trouble, and wind gust effect or not you’re still supposed to fly as low as a bee in your ear.

            It’s probably still possible, but then i was mostly trying to recommend a good hybrid between the two. Really, the only downside in my suggestion is the asking price for the pad, which is cheap anyway. Also, i too aim with the mouse while driving, i either switch to full keyboard control or just driving with the left hand, but i have some seriously long fingers to accomodate the need to reach for both triggers and the stick at once, so that might not work for everyone.

          • fish99 says:

            I have played GTA4 and 5 extensively on both a pad and m/k and I honestly find no advantage in the pad while driving. Counter steering is perfectly fine on the keyboard. As I said you barely ever move analogue sticks less than full deflection anyway. I bet I could post better times with m/k. Flying I grant you is a touch easier on the pad, mainly due to the sheer amount of keys involved.

    • DanMan says:

      I pity you for playing without AO. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without AO. And ponds, of course.

  3. noodlecake says:

    God. I don’t think I’ve played a relatively new game at 60FPS in years. I need to upgrade from my HD6950. :( Graphics cards are expensive when you’re a student and nobody will give you a part time job. :(

  4. Godwhacker says:

    Rockstar have still yet to fix the bug that prevents people with laptops and Intel / AMD switchable graphics from playing the game- they’ve not even commented on it’s existence, despite the now absolutely massive threads on their support forums- link to support.rockstargames.com

    There’s a way of ‘tricking’ the game into using the AMD card, but it’s very patchy, works only 1 time out of 100, and for some involves unplugging and reconnecting their laptop at just the right time. And if you change your graphics settings, you have to do it all again.

    Can someone at RPS please ask them about this? They’re ignoring everyone who submits a support ticket.

    • Jeeva says:

      Did you try the potential fix suggested by gilcardoso on that page?

      • Godwhacker says:

        Yes- didn’t work, and has been suggested elsewhere. If you browse through the thread I linked you’ll see a lot of people getting nothing from Rockstar Support except copy-pasted emails that ignore the error report sent, or just plain old silence.

    • Jeeva says:

      It also seems a bit silly to assume that Rockstar are literally ignoring this, given how responsively and quickly they’ve been patching other issues – I half imagine that there’re several people scrambling desperately to find similar hardware to test this on in headquarters. Have they been commenting on other issues, or just fixing them as quickly as they could and releasing patches?

  5. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    A word of warning when it comes to the tesselation benchmarks: take them with a pinch of salt as that’s the absolute best case scenario.

    If for example you’re using a not-so-new AMD card the impacts will be bigger.

  6. Monggerel says:

    If there’s an option to choose between performance and graphical fidelity, I ask “Does the pope play Counter-Strike Source in 1024×768?)

    • Asurmen says:

      Why not have both?

      • Monggerel says:

        *engages passive-agressive mode*
        Well, some of us can’t afford a computer that isn’t many years out of date.

        *engages active-agressive mode*
        I can’t buy new shit for fuck

        *perhaps there is also a supreme-agressive mode?*

        *I believe that last one may have been unnecessary*
        Yeah, I can’t afford a better PC, but I can convince myself that I can afford GTA V and then curse myself shortly thereafter for being a idiot.

    • iainl says:

      Doesn’t the Pope find that the difference between 120fps and 240fps is too small to make up for how I’m only half as many pixels tall on his monitor as he is on mine, when trying to hit me halfway across the map?

    • Larwood says:

      Why the hell does it matter what the pope does?

  7. tehfish says:

    Despite the obvious Nvidia focus there, that article was incredibly useful. :)

    Swapped a couple of settings there to eke the final dregs of performance i can out of my ageing ATI 6850 1GB card there (most noticeably that anisotropy has next to no impact on FPS so crank it up, use FXAA rather than AA for the lower GPU hit and that you really need the water setting on high)

    • Person of Interest says:

      Nvidia’s performance guides are usually the best you’ll find on the internet (their Far Cry 4 one is especially good). But this one was strange: their test system specs are completely outside the typical user’s configuration. SLI Titan X and 2880×1620 resolution? I’m skeptical that the relative performance graphs are accurate for normal users. Also the article’s CDN SSL certs are messed up and showed no images until I clicked a thumbnail and accepted a security warning.

      I’ll bet TacticalNuclearPenguin was pleased and/or downtrodden by the VRAM Use chart at the end…

  8. Larwood says:

    “The comparison screenshots are jolly nice, overlaying two and boshing a slider in the middle”
    Am I missing something? I don’t see a single slider on that page.

    • tehfish says:

      You need to click on the images to see the sliders, they don’t appear on the main article page. :)

  9. Eyello says:

    High FPS is nice but I rather go for visual fidelity. I run the game with 32 FPS in average and that’s just fine.
    Post-Processing on Very High is important for the (sun) lighting effect. Textures on High.
    Other settings on Normal or High. No tessellation and stuff, but DX11.
    GPU is a 5 years old GTX 460 with 2GB VRAM.

  10. SlimShanks says:

    It is painful for this game to exist and for my only memory device to be a 120gb ssd. :(

  11. Jediben says:

    I don’t understand – I just set everything to maximum and bask in 60fps with my Sli 970s

  12. April March says:

    So you’re saying you don’t mind if your grass is ass?

  13. Caerphoto says:

    That video shows some weird behaviour with it’s DoF rendering – when the view is looking at the close-by water, the background goes out of focus but the reflections stay sharp, like they’re actually painted on to the water surface (which I guess they are, from a rendering point of view). In reality you’d expect the reflections to go out of focus to the same extent as the things they’re reflections of.

  14. Toupee says:

    Cool guide. The only thing that mystifies me is the poor quality of the reflections in the rearview mirrors of cars. I know it’s kind of subtle, but when in first-person, and when in cars a lot…

    Very high reflections do not seem to affect it much!