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Forza Horizon 5: PC performance and the best settings to use

Really make it purr

Update: Forza Horizon 5’s Hot Wheels expansion – which is great fun, by the way – has launched, and I’ve been testing its PC performance to see how it compares to the base game. The answer: very closely, maybe a wee bit better in some places but indistinct enough that the settings guide and any general performance advice given below can apply to the expansion as well.

The original article, posted upon Forza Horizon 5’s launch, continues beneath the video. Cheers!

Cover image for YouTube videoForza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels - Official Announce Trailer - Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022

I’ll admit I misjudged Forza Horizon 5 – not just the extent to which I’d enjoy it, but how much its searingly shiny visuals could justify the significantly heightened PC requirements. Well, lock me in one of this game’s hundreds of boots and take me away, because it’s both tonnes of fun and genuinely, magnificently gorgeous. Here’s how Forza Horizon 5 runs on PC, and which settings to tweak if you want a performance boost without cutting too deep into that top-notch fidelity.

Developers Playground Games haven’t gone totally bananas with the technical demands, to be clear. Wielding one of the best graphics cards and best CPUs for gaming will help, but if you’re playing at the most common 1080p resolution then you can get by on much older and lower-end hardware. Perhaps not to the extent of Forza Horizon 4, but still.

In Forza Horizon 5, a car catches air while following a low-flying plane through a jungle.

Forza Horizon 5 PC requirements

Forza Horizon 5 Minimum PC requirements

  • OS – Windows 10 version 1909 or higher
  • CPU – AMD Ryzen 3 1200 / Intel Core i5-4460
  • RAM – 8GB
  • GPU - AMD Radeon RX 570 / Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
  • Storage – 110GB available (HDD or SDD)

Forza Horizon 5 Recommended PC requirements

  • OS – Windows 10 version 1909 or higher
  • CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 1500X / Intel Core i5-8400
  • RAM – 16GB
  • GPU - AMD Radeon RX 590 / Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • Storage – 110GB available (HDD or SDD)

Forza Horizon 5 Ideal PC requirements

  • OS – Windows 10 version 1909 or higher
  • CPU – AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT / Intel Core i7-10700K
  • RAM – 16GB
  • GPU - AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
  • Storage – 110GB available (SDD)

Different types of cars parked in front of a village church in rural Mexico in Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 PC performance

An AMD Radeon RX 570 is indeed a good shout as a starting point; I tested this GPU with an Intel Core i5-12900K, obviously a much better CPU than those listed among the minimum specs, but at 1080p I doubt this would have made the difference between playable and unplayable. Engaging the High graphics preset produced an average of 46fps in Forza Horizon 5’s built-in benchmark, and always steered clear of the 30fps baseline. Dropping down a level to the Medium preset also produced a smoother 57fps average, though I personally found High was fine. Despite my usual distaste for motion blur, it makes a lot more sense in a racer than, say, a competitive shooter, and at lower framerates Forza’s implementation of blur does a good job of smoothing out lower frame rates without hurting readability.

I also tried the recommended-level Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, which averaged 85fps at 1080p High, 61fps at 1080p Ultra, 70fps at 1440p High and 52fps at 1440p Ultra. More recent mid-to-high-tier cards like the RTX 2070 and RTX 3070 will naturally smash these resolution/settings combos even harder, though you should also be able to get slick 1080p performance on GPUs like the GTX 1060 as well.

A supercar approaching some hills in Forza Horizon 5.

It’s mainly 4K (or 100fps-plus at 1440p) for which you’ll need to break the bank. Like most people that have tried, I don’t possess an RTX 3080 as per the “Ideal” spec, though my RTX 2080 Ti was only single frame off the promised land, with a 59fps average using 4K and the Extreme preset. 1440p was, obviously, an easier ride, with averages of 130fps on High, 98fps at Ultra and 82fps at Extreme.

Even on ultra-premium hardware, you’d need to avoid Extreme and probably Ultra to get a solid 144fps. Having also tried Forza Horizon 5 on an RTX 3080 and an Intel Core i9-10900K, I can attest it looks particularly sumptuous when combining a higher res with a higher frame rate, though for a game about speed it doesn’t feel drastically worse in ther 45fps-60fps range.

You don’t even need a fancy GeForce RTX or AMD Radeon 6000 series GPU to enable ray tracing, albeit because it’s used in what the UK government would call a very specific and limited way. It’s basically only used to create ray-traced reflections in Forza Vista (or Forzavista, the game isn’t 100% sure on which), a tiny aside of a mode in which you ogle the cars you’ve unlocked as they’re sat parked in a gleaming white garage.

An Ariel Atom in Forza Horizon 5's Forza Vista mode, with ray traced reflections switched on.
2560x1440, Extreme quality, ray tracing on High
An Ariel Atom in Forza Horizon 5's Forza Vista mode, with ray traced reflections switched off.
2560x1440, Extreme quality, ray tracing off

Ray tracing can reveal a few extra details, but they're only noticeable on a handful of the more complex motors. Still, if you’ve got a GTX 10 series card or better, you might as well leave ray tracing on: despite it cutting down performance, the garage environment is so easygoing that you should be able to take the hit. My GTX 1070, for instance, ran around 100fps in Forza Vista with ray tracing off, and 60fps with it on. And really, do you need even that many frames when you’re merely ogling?

In terms of wider imperfections, I didn’t notice anything like stuttering or texture loading mishaps, and the lack of pop-in keeps the deserts, hills and forests of rural Mexico looking nothing short of outstanding. However, I did come a cropper of some bugs on the main menu: one prevented the settings menu from showing when summoned, and the other stopped the game from loading when hitting Continue. Hopefully both of these are fixed in short order, though I did find a slightly janky workaround of repeatedly minimising and re-opening the game, after which it decided to work.

A jeep makes a huge jump in Forza Horizon 5.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/ Xbox Game Studios

Forza Horizon 5 PC settings and what to change

The aforementioned graphics presets total six in number: Very Low, Low, Medium, High, Ultra, and Extreme. These cover an impressively exhaustive 17 individual settings, though not every one has six equivalent levels. Some max out at High or Ultra, while some jump from Low to Off without a Very Low middle ground.

Generally, there’s very little visible difference between the Extreme and Ultra presets, so don’t be shy about dropping down a step to begin with. High and Medium also look good, albeit without some of the richer lighting and shadows that Ultra has, while Low and Very Low show introduce some noticeable cuts to environmental detail while dropping anti-aliasing completely.

A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the Extreme graphics setting.
1920x1080, Extreme, 2x MSAA
A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the Ultra graphics setting.
1920x1080, Ultra, 2x MSAA
A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the High graphics setting.
1920x1080, High, 2x MSAA
A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the Medium graphics setting.
1920x1080, Medium, 2x MSAA
A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the Low graphics setting.
1920x1080, Low, 2x MSAA
A car racing down a runway in Forza Horizon 5, showing the Very Low graphics setting.
1920x1080, Very Low, 2x MSAA

I’d therefore recommend starting with Ultra settings, and turning individual settings down (avoiding Low and Very Low settings as much as possible) to bring frame rates up the your desired level. Here are all of the graphics options, and how they impact performance:

Anisotropic filtering – This gives textures more of a detailed, 3D look; ideal for paved roads and brickwork. Switching it from High to Medium only gave me a 1% frame rate boost, so leave it up.

Shadow quality – This is a much heavier hitter. Even dropping from Extreme to High produced an 8% performance boost, and the visual difference is negligible.

Night shadows – This enables shadows created by your car’s headlights, and some streetlamps, during nightime. Disabling night shadows gains 2% performance but I’d say it’s worth leaving on for the added detail.

Motion blur quality – Leave this cranked up as well. Forza Horizon 5 is one of those games where motion blur can actually enhance the aesthetic, rather than simply papering over poor performance, and turning it down from Ultra to Low only nets a 2% performance gain anyhow. Still, if you’d rather turn motion blur off entirely, you’re free to do in the separate Video settings tab.

Environment texture quality – It’s one of the more noticeable changes, but chaging environment texture quality down from Extreme to Medium can deliver 17% better performance. Try to avoid going any lower, mind.

Environment geometry quality – Cutting this from High to Low gave me a healthy 10% performance increase, and wasn’t as noticeable as lowering texture quality.

MSAA – There’s no Nvidia DLSS here, so you’ll be relying on traditional anti-aliasing in the form of MSAA and/or FXAA. I found the default 2x MSAA setting adequate enough, especially at 1440p and above, though you could raise this as high as 8x in exchange for a 2% performance loss. Weirdly, you’ll need to change this manually even after selecting a preset, as even Extreme doesn’t raise the MSAA setting beyond 2x.

FXAA – You can use this “fast” anti-aliasing instead of MSAA, though it only grants an extra 2% to performance. To my eyes MSAA looks sharper too.

SSAO – Screen space ambient occlusion creates the little shadowy area where two edges meet. Turning it off adds 4% to your frame rate, which could be the difference if you’re struggling, though it really helps with the depth and realism of both car models and environmental details.

Reflection quality – It wouldn’t be Forza if the cars weren’t polished to a mirror sheen. This setting specifically affects vehicles (and their actual mirrors), and while dropping from Ultra to Medium quality only pumps out 2% more frames, there’s also not much visual difference between the two.

World car level of detail – This affects the level of detail on both your own car and the cars driven by AI or other players. I got a 6% performance gain by dropping this from Extreme to Medium, so it’s a decent candidate for cutting.

Deformable terrain quality – From tyre walls and cacti to billboards and steel barriers, Forza Horizon 5 is teeming with destructable terrain to go sideways into. Since the driver in the benchmark tool drives like a nerd, it's not useful for measuring the performance impact, so I tried measuring the Extreme setting versus Medium out in the open world and saw less than 1% difference in average frame rate. Leave it up.

SSR quality – Screen space reflections in Forza Horizon 5 account for the reflections you see on wet tarmac and other shiny environmental elements. You might as well leave this on High, as dropping it to Low only gave me a single extra frame per second on average.

Lens effects – This determines the quality, or even the inclusion, of screen spaces lens effects like lens flare or mud splatter. Leave this on, unless the effects are distracting – switching from Ultra quality to off entirely only produces 2% better performance.

Shader quality – In the game’s words, this “adjusts visual fidelity of the materials and lighting”. Reducing shader quality can produce major gains: I got a 20% performance boost by lowering it from Extreme to Medium, though I did notice this made car models and some environments look a lot flatter.

Particle effects quality – This affects both standard particle effects and volumetric lighting effects, like how dust clouds look with sunlight passing through. Changing it from Ultra to Low gave me 4% more frames, and a lot of the time it’s hard to notice anything has changed.

Ray tracing quality – This only affects whether car models in the Forza Vista viewing mode use ray-traced reflections, or the standard cube map-based reflections you’ll see in the main game. As explained above, ray tracing can afford a minor level of extra detail, and because you don’t need sky-high frame rates for a viewing mode, it’s worth leaving this setting on High.

Since the majority of these individual settings only provide tiny FPS improvements when turned down or dialled back, there’s a lot you can leave on the higher quality levels. Otherwise, here are some of the best settings changes you can make to improve on Ultra- or Extreme-level performance:

  • Shadow quality – High or Medium
  • Environment texture quality - High or Medium
  • Environment geometry quality – Low or Medium
  • World car level of detail – Medium or High
  • Shader quality - High
  • Particle effects quality - Low or Medium

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Forza Horizon 5

Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.