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AVG Signal Blog Performance Gaming The Ultimate GTA V Guide to Boosting Your Graphics & FPS
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Written by Sandro Villinger & Ivan Belcic
Published on May 5, 2023

Grand Theft Auto V (also known as Grand Theft Auto 5, GTA V, and GTA 5) is the latest in the iconic video game series from Rockstar Games.

If you’re like me, and you want your GTA 5 graphics and gameplay to look and run as fast and smoothly as possible, then let’s boost those graphics and fix low FPS. And while we’re at it, let’s check out some of the best GTA 5 mods out there.

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    How do I boost graphics and frame speed for GTA 5?

    A GTA V performance boost for graphics and FPS (frames per second) means making your game look great and run smoothly. Generally speaking, you boost one at the other’s expense, so you might be sacrificing the best possible graphics for a smooth 60 FPS.

    Luckily, the settings can be fine-tuned so precisely that you’re sure to find the right balance – provided you have good hardware.

    You really don’t want to miss out on the realistic lighting and shadows made possible by the latest tech. Nor do you want to miss out on some truly mind-blowing mods to transform your GTA V experience.

    In this article, we recommend some of the best GTA 5 mods to improve the graphics and performance of GTA 5 on your PC.

    GTA 5 supports a wide range of graphical and performance optimizations, but even the newest computers can struggle to handle them all. We’ll show you how to improve your computer’s graphics and get optimal FPS so you can have the best PC for GTA 5.

    Graphics and FPS can’t both be perfect — unless you’re willing to buy or build a very expensive gaming PC. If you want the best possible graphics, you’ll have to accept lower FPS. Conversely, optimizing your game for FPS usually means a few graphical sacrifices. So you’ll need to balance your gaming expectations with your PC’s capabilities.

    Optimizing graphics and FPS for the best GTA V performance.Balancing graphics and FPS for optimal GTA V performance.

    To unlock the best PC gaming experience for GTA 5, get AVG TuneUp — specially designed by gamers and PC performance experts. AVG TuneUp eliminates hidden processes clogging up your PC’s memory and CPU, and the built-in Sleep Mode feature lets you put background programs that are slowing you down to sleep.

    Try AVG TuneUp today and unleash the full power of your gaming rig.

    Best GTA 5 graphics settings

    Finding the best GTA 5 graphics settings for your PC requires some experimentation and tweaking, but if you’re looking for a list of settings that produce the best visuals (with some leeway for the settings that impact FPS the most), we’ve got you covered.

    Here are our recommended graphics settings to get the best environmental detail possible in GTA 5:

    • FXAA: On

    • MSAA: Off, 2x, or 4x

    • VSync: Off

    • Population Density: Low (streets may look empty)

    • Population Variety: Low

    • Distance Scaling: Low to Middle

    • Texture Quality: Very High (do Normal to boost FPS if needed)

    • Shader Quality: High (or Low for mid-range computers)

    • Reflection Quality: High (or Low for mid-range computers)

    • Reflection MSAA: x2

    • Water Quality: High (we found that this setting doesn’t compromise FPS much)

    • Particles Quality: Normal

    • Grass Quality: Normal

    • Soft Shadows: Sharp (go with Soft for more realistic-looking shadows)

    • Post FX: High

    • Anisotropic Filtering: x16

    • Ambient Occlusion: High

    • High Detail Streaming While Flying: Off

    • Extended Distance Scaling: 0%

    When it comes to things like Long Shadows, High Resolution Shadows, etc., turn them on if you’re looking for truly mind-blowing levels of realism. But only really powerful PCs will be able to handle such a heavy graphics-load without tanking your FPS.

    What PC hardware do I need to play GTA 5?

    There are a ton of options that will get you great graphics with 60 FPS across the board. Some of them may look better than others, but they’ll also cost many hundreds of dollars more than other options. That’s why we want to emphasize the mid-range first.

    Let’s talk about CPUs. You’ll get great FPS with an Intel Core i5 to i7 or AMD Ryzen quad-core processor from the last few years.

    For smooth FPS at full HD, you’ll want a 3 GHz Core i5 that’s no more than a few years old, like the Intel Core i5-12400F.

    As for GPUs, a reasonable bar to shoot for is the GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card if you want a great experience. Consider getting a GeForce RTX 3070 if it’s within your budget, or an AMD equivalent with 4 GB VRAM. You’ll also want to upgrade to at least 8 GB of RAM.

    Only the highest-end graphics cards — such as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 or AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX — can render the game at 4K resolution with all the top GTA V graphics settings and performance tweaks.

    You don’t need the fanciest gear, or even a desktop PC, to play GTA 5. An Intel HD graphics card can handle gameplay, just not as smoothly as a better one. You’ll still be able to boost your GTA 5 graphics and FPS. Many of the above settings can be turned down at small enough increments to achieve that smooth FPS without any noticeable difference.

    What are the minimum PC system requirements I need to play GTA 5?

    According to Steam, the GTA 5 system requirements are:

    • Operating system: Windows 10 64 Bit, Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1

    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs) / AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core Processor (4 CPUs) @ 2.5GHz

    • Memory: 4 GB

    • Video Card: Nvidia 9800 GT 1 GB / AMD HD 4870 1 GB (DX 10, 10.1, 11)

    • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 10 compatible

    • Hard Drive Space: 72 GB

    But you’ll get to be more picky with settings if you go with the recommended PC requirements or higher. The recommended system setup for GTA 5 is:

    • Operating system: Windows 10 64 Bit, Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1

    • Processor: Intel Core i5 3470 @ 3.2GHz (4 CPUs) / AMD X8 FX-8350 @ 4GHz (8 CPUs)

    • Memory: 8 GB RAM

    • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB / AMD HD 7870 2GB

    • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 10 compatible

    • Hard Drive Space: 72 GB

    What is the best PC hardware I can get to play GTA 5?

    So far, we’ve looked at affordable hardware that can get you a smooth framerate at pretty decent graphics. But what if you want to push every setting to the max?

    With the following hardware, you’ll be able to make the grass, water, shadows, and reflections look more real, resulting in an immersive and ultra-realistic Los Santos. What’s more, you’ll have it all happening at the highest resolution and a silky smooth framerate.

    Here are the best processor chips and graphics cards to play Grand Theft Auto:

    CPU: Intel Core i9-13900KS for the best possible experience, or AMD Ryzen R9 7950X3D.

    GPU: Nvidia RTX 4090 for the best possible experience, or AMD RX 7900 XTX for the most impressive card from Team Red.

    You can easily spend a few hundred dollars less and still get a mind-blowing experience. The “best” in this case can be a bit overkill. You may not notice or care that the trees have ultra-realistic shadow patterns; you tend to see those out of the corner of your eye anyway.

    As such, we find it useful to also point out some more mid-to-high range alternatives, like:

    CPU: Intel Core i9-13900KF or Intel Core i7-13700KF

    GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 6900XT

    The i9-13900KF and RTX 4070 Ti will still be capable enough to deliver an amazing experience. Go with these and you’ll have several hundred, maybe even a thousand bucks to use elsewhere (compared with the absolute best options) – without leaving the high-end range. Meanwhile, the i7 and RX 6900XT will deliver an excellent mid-high experience.

    Maybe you want the opportunity to push everything to the max, and you’re willing to put down the money for it. That’s fine, too! Just think hard about what you want before buying. Add it to your cart and then sleep on it.

    Optimize your PC and laptop to fix GTA V low FPS and improve performance

    No matter what type of hardware you have, your first step is to optimize your PC for gaming so you can have the best PC for GTA 5. These tips serve as both high-end and low-end PC settings tweaks alike.

    1. Upgrade your graphics drivers. You can do this manually, or let AVG Driver Updater do it for you automatically.

    2. Disable unneeded background activity with AVG TuneUp to ensure your CPU is dedicated to GTA 5.

    3. Defrag your disks.

    Lastly, make a few internal changes to speed up your computer and improve its performance.

    For ongoing GTA 5 optimization, try AVG TuneUp — our specialized PC performance booster. AVG TuneUp automatically streamlines your computer, removing junk data and disabling unnecessary programs that hog your CPU’s power.

    How to benchmark GTA 5 (and why you should)

    GTA 5 comes with an integrated benchmark tool that can identify the settings, graphics, and FPS that will have the best effect on the game’s performance for your PC.

    You can perform a GTA 5 benchmark test by heading to the graphics menu and pressing the TAB key. Once you’ve benchmarked your game, you can open up the GTA 5 settings menu and make some tweaks.

    Depending on your GPU, your GTA V benchmarks will look different than other people’s. An RTX 2080 or better will run GTA 5 at 60 FPS at 4K resolution and all lower resolution settings.

    An RTX 2070 will give you smooth graphics at 1440p. If you’re playing at 1080p, you can go with a Radeon RX 570 for an excellent budget option.

    Why you should benchmark GTA 5 for current graphics and FPS

    The GTA5 benchmark tool will show you which settings should improve your graphics, performance, and FPS the most. Use it before changing any settings, then check it again after you’ve made your changes to see if performance and graphics have improved.

    Find the best GTA 5 graphics settings for your PC

    In-game GTA V graphics settings are your first port of call to fix low FPS. Unless you’ve got a beast of a gaming PC, you’ll need to balance smooth graphics and frame speed. The GTA 5 low-end PC settings shown here will let you run the game on a typical computer not optimized for gaming.

    With GTA 5 running, open the settings and select Graphics.

    The Graphics settings in the menu for Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10

    GTA 5 will automatically balance graphics and FPS based on your hardware. The Video Memory bar at the top shows you how demanding the game will be on your graphics card.

    Higher settings make the graphics look cleaner and more detailed — at the expense of hogging more memory and lowering your FPS.

    Here’s a quick comparison between the lowest and highest graphics settings:

    Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10 with the lowest graphics settingsLowest graphics settings

    Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10 with the highest graphics settingsHighest graphics settings

    Notice how the textures are much crisper, giving a more realistic feel. If you can live without these touches, you’ll get a massive GTA 5 FPS boost with lower settings.

    Here are the best GTA 5 settings to adjust if you’re not getting the FPS you want.

    1. Use MSAA instead of FXAA

    MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing) usually looks a bit better than FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing). Turn off FXAA and try turning on MSAA at either 2x or 4x to improve low FPS.

    2. Try VSync

    Turning off the VSynch feature deactivates frame rate limitation and can boost your FPS. But you may notice some screen tearing, which happens when a game displays images from multiple frames at the same time. If you’re seeing that, turn VSync back on.

    3. Lower the population density and variety

    Turning the population density down reduces the number of pedestrians and cars in your world. If you don’t mind your city feeling a bit empty, you might see a considerable jump in FPS, especially on a laptop or older PC, with a lower population density.

    4. Lower your texture and grass quality

    Lowering your texture quality will boost your FPS, but at the cost of less-detailed graphics. You can also find individual GTA V graphics settings for grass and water, but only a lowered grass quality will give you a big FPS boost. Lowering water quality didn’t result in significant FPS gains in our tests, so you can leave it on High and enjoy those sparkling waves and ripples.

    Check out this GTA V graphics comparison between low and high textures to see the difference.

    The difference between lower texture settings and higher texture settings in Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10Lower texture settings (left) compared to higher texture settings (right)

    5. Drop your shader quality

    While you’re adjusting individual GTA 5 graphics settings, try reducing the shader quality as well. In addition to lighting — what shaders usually control — the shader quality setting determines how much detail is preserved on parts of objects that are farther away.

    Lowering your shader quality will cause you to lose some detail, but it’s not that noticeable at a glance, and you’ll get a big FPS boost.

    6. Deactivate reflection MSAA and lower reflection quality

    Reflection MSAA controls the smoothness of reflective surfaces, such as a shiny car or a puddle of rainwater. In our test, deactivating reflection MSAA netted us a 5 FPS boost without a significant loss in graphics quality. So you can safely turn off reflection MSAA to get a small FPS boost without sacrificing visuals.

    Reflection quality determines the crispness and detail in the reflections you see around Los Santos. Lowering the reflection quality to Normal means you’ll lose all reflections on vehicles, and on wet roads in the rain. Try setting your reflection quality to High for a decent FPS gain without sacrificing all graphical effects.

    7. Lower your resolution from 4K to Full HD or 720p

    If you’re playing on a big Full HD or 4K screen, you’ll want to run GTA 5 at its native resolution (1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160). But 4K means you should have a top-of-the-line graphics card (or two) to run smoothly.

    What about frame scaling?

    GTA 5’s frame scaling system can adjust the game’s resolution without changing the actual resolution setting. People with wall projectors or oversized TVs can use frame scaling to upscale the game so it still looks good on massive displays. But without a powerful computer, frame scaling will result in a big performance hit. Try dropping the frame scaling under 1x to see if your FPS increases.

    8. Reduce distance scaling

    Distance scaling in GTA 5’s graphics settings determines the level of detail you see in objects that are far away from your character.

    High distance scaling populates your screen with buildings, terrain objects, cars, and pedestrians, and outfits them with full textures even at long distances, but doing so takes lots of juice from your GPU. The Extended Distance Scaling setting is the most demanding, but most visually rewarding, version of this GTA 5 graphics setting.

    Turning extended distance scaling off will increase pop-in — when buildings and other objects suddenly appear as you get closer to them — but it will also increase FPS. You can adjust it while playing depending on where in the game’s world you are. Some environments are busier than others, with many more objects to render at once, and lowering distance scaling in those areas can give you a quick GTA V FPS boost.

    9. Turn off advanced shadow settings (under Advanced Graphics)

    Go to the Advanced Graphics section to find your advanced shadow settings. In our tests, increasing the High Resolution Shadows and the Extended Shadows Distance incurred serious FPS costs while raising our video memory use by up to 800 MB. For top performance, keep these settings at a minimum.

    High Resolution Shadows and Extended Shadow Distance

    Turning off High Resolution Shadows will leave your object shadows with less definition — the objects will look soft. Deactivating Extended Shadow Distance will save your computer the trouble of rendering shadows for objects that are farther away from your character. But you’ll trade this fidelity for much higher FPS.

    Soft shadows and long shadows

    Choose sharp shadows over soft shadows to boost FPS even more. The shadows won’t look as lifelike, but your game’s performance may improve. You can also get rid of long shadows — shadows that stretch as the sun drops closer to the horizon — for additional FPS gains.

    10. Anisotropic filtering, tessellation, particle quality, and other GTA V graphics settings

    The GTA 5 performance tweaks listed above aren’t the only settings you can dial back to boost FPS, but they’re the ones that’ll give you the best results — making them GTA 5’s best settings to boost FPS on a low-end PC.

    Other settings aren’t as impactful on FPS, and you can leave them as high as you’d like to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

    • Anisotropic filtering in GTA V sharpens textures in the environment. Turning it off won’t have a noticeable difference in FPS.

    • Tessellation is a technique that adds more detail to trees and other objects. Leave this on, too.

    • Particle quality determines the level of detail in particle effects like smoke and sparks. You can leave this on Normal.

    Secret GTA 5 graphics settings and launch options: commandline.txt tweaks

    GTA 5 has some additional settings and launch options that aren’t visible in the main menu. These launch options define how the game looks and functions when you open it, so you won’t have to adjust anything in the GTA 5 graphics settings menu.

    We’ve picked out a handful of graphics settings and launch options that can further boost your FPS and graphics. Note that for these changes, you’ll need to make commandline.txt tweaks.

    Here are additional GTA 5 graphics settings and launch options to adjust to get the best PC for GTA 5:

    Step 1: Navigate to your game folder: for example, E:\Games\steamapps\common\Grand Theft Auto V.

    Step 2: If you see a file called commandline.txt, open it. If not, create one yourself:

    1. Right-click in the folder and select New.

    2. Select Text Document.

    3. Rename the new document commandline.txt, or commandline if file extensions are disabled.

    Step 3: Open this commandline with Notepad or your preferred text editor.

    The commandline text document in Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10

    Now, with your commandline text file open, type in the following options to modify the game beyond what’s possible in the settings menu.

    1. -disableHyperthreading
      Most modern processors have virtual cores for better multitasking. Adding this can boost performance on older machines, so it may be worth trying if that’s your situation.

    2. -hdr
      Rockstar Support says this setting “sets the whole rendering pipeline to 16-Bit.” We didn’t notice any significant changes when adding this, but your eyes may be sharper.

    3. -Noquattransform
      Quaternion transformation is the fastest technique for rotating objects in 3D space, but it may introduce errors. If you see objects floating in space, use this command to disable quaternion transformation.

    4. -adapter
      Add this setting followed by a number between 0 and 4 to instruct GTA 5 to use your chosen graphics card. For example, if the game is using your integrated chipset (adapter 0), you can enter “-adapter 1” to make GTA 5 choose your discrete graphics card. Use this in combination with the next option.

    5. -ignoreDifferentVideoCard
      This setting makes GTA 5 use only the one graphics chip you specified with the above command — and it can fix stuttering.

    6. -FrameQueueLimit
      This limits frames pre-rendering. Reducing this can also fix GTA 5 lag and smooth things out a bit. Use -FrameQueueLimit 0 or -FrameQueueLimit 1 and see what works best.

    There are more parameters available here, but many of them refer to settings in the game’s menu.

    GTA 5 graphics & gameplay mods

    Now you’re ready to try the world of GTA 5 mods. Recall that mods are enhancements that alter the way the game looks or plays, from aesthetic changes to whole new gameplay modes. Once you install one, it can transform the way you play the game.

    How to install GTA 5 mods?

    Download the GTA 5 mod file and paste it into the game’s folder on your computer. More complicated mods may ask you to install additional software. Check the download page for the mod thoroughly or look up a GTA V mod installation guide on YouTube.

    Mods are typically used for computer games, since you have access to all the installation files. It’s more difficult to mod GTA 5 on PS4 or Xbox One. In general, it’s best to keep your console games as they are, and play on a PC if you’re interested in modding.

    Once you’ve decided to mod, all you need to do is install your mods of choice. And that’s it: now you know how to mod GTA 5.

    What are the best GTA 5 mods?

    There are a ton of mods available for GTA 5 on PC, many of which can be found at GTA5-Mods. Some provide graphics improvements while others deliver new character models, vehicles, and weapons.

    Here’s a short list of some of the most popular GTA 5 mods for visual and gameplay upgrades:

    1. Script Hook V for GTA 5
      Script Hook V isn’t a mod, but it’s the tool that many GTA V mods use to work with the game. After downloading and unzipping the .ZIP file, copy the ScriptHookV.dll file into the same folder that holds the GTA5.exe game file. Some mods will auto-install this file for you, but not all of them do — so do it yourself up-front.

    2. VisualV
      VisualV is one of the most visually stunning mods out there for GTA 5. This mod has rewritten the programming for atmospheric effects from the ground up – from the clouds, to the fog, to rain, to storms, and even where the moon sets and rises. If you’re looking for a one-and-done mod that upgrades the game to cutting-edge standards, this is for you.

    3. Complex Control
      If you’re into battle royale games like Fortnite or Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, Complex Control is the mod for you. Transforming GTA 5 into a single-player survival game, the mod equips your character with new abilities (like teleportation!) and gear to help you survive the slaughter.

    4. GTA V FoV
      If you like playing GTA 5 in first-person view, but find the field of vision limiting, this GTA 5 mod will let you expand what your character can see. GTA V FoV is a must-have for fans of first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Overwatch.

      The GTA V FoV mod expands what your character can see during game play.
    5. LSPD First Response
      Want to see what the world of GTA 5 is like on the other side of the law? LSPD First Response lets you try your hand as a badge-bearing, gun-toting member of the Los Santos Police Department. Choose to arrest suspects (not shoot them) and call for backup in your quest to make Los Santos a more law-abiding place.

    6. Open All Interiors
      Los Santos is a massive city filled with tons of buildings that you can’t enter — unless you install the Open All Interiors GTA 5 mod. With it, many of the previously locked doors will be open, with complete interiors to explore. Duck inside a building to ward off the cops, or wander into a shop that catches your eye.

    Are mods illegal? Will I get banned?

    Cosmetic mods like those described above are usually legal to download and use, though many developers disapprove of modding because some players use mods to cheat online. You can use as many mods as you like in single-player GTA 5, but Rockstar may ban you if you go online with mods. To be completely safe, disable all mods before playing GTA 5 online.

    Tune up your computer for optimal gaming

    The greatest graphical mods and performance tweaks won’t be much use if your PC isn’t set up to deliver a premium gaming experience. AVG TuneUp ensures that 100% of your computer’s resources are dedicated to fueling the ultimate gaming session.

    Eliminate CPU-hogging bloatware, put background programs to sleep, and deep-clean your drive so that no matter what computer you have, GTA 5 will look and play as buttery smooth as you want it to.

    Check out our other gaming guides to Ark: Survival Evolved and Dark Souls 3. Then, learn how to overclock your CPU quickly and easily and boost your GPU for better PC performance.

    FAQs

    What is the best GTA V graphics mod?

    One of the best GTA V graphics mods is VisualV, which provides photorealistic graphics and is completely free. But without hardware upgrades — such as increased RAM or switching from an i5 to i7 processor — you’ll likely experience a noticeable FPS drop after installing this mod. Installing GTA 5 and other open-world titles on a solid state drive will give you smoother gameplay.

    What is MSAA in GTA V settings?

    MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing) is a type of anti-aliasing (smoothing out pixels in digital images) that can be enabled in GTA V settings. Selecting MSAA instead of FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) can boost FPS, improving the performance of your gaming rig.

    Why is my GTA V so laggy?

    If your gameplay is suffering from lag, check your RAM memory and other computer specs. Lagging gameplay in GTA V may also be due to hardware issues like a maxed out CPU causing an unusually loud computer fan. If your computer sounds like a plane taking off, that’s something you’re going to want to check out.

    Once you’ve updated your hardware and made sure there’s no malware eating a hole through your computer, use the best driver update software, such as AVG Driver Updater, to ensure all the latest drivers are installed on your machine and your graphics drivers stay updated. It’ll make a big difference.

    How do I get 60 FPS in GTA V?

    If you value slick gameplay above all else, try lowering texture resolution and tweaking your graphics settings to achieve a higher frame rate. But you may be able to boost performance without sacrificing quality by installing GTA V on an SSD instead of an HDD, overclocking your CPU, or taking other steps to speed up and clean up your PC. Try these before looking up new chips or video cards.

    Doing maintenance on your PC can take awhile, but it’s necessary. Once you’ve done a deep-clean yourself, consider getting an app that does it automatically in shorter bursts. Use AVG Tune Up or a bloatware removal tool to free up space by getting rid of unnecessary apps.

    What graphics card can play GTA V?

    Although GTA V can run on 1GB cards such as the AMD HD 4870, more powerful 2GB graphics hardware like the Nvidia GTX 660 is recommended for more stable performance. But how powerful a computer you really need depends on your specific requirements.

    Before you upgrade your graphics card, check your computer specs for compatibility and try overclocking your GPU. That might help you get the performance you’re looking for. You can also use a PC cleaner tool to make sure you’re getting the most out of your existing hardware.

    GTA 5 has stopped working — what to do?

    If you’re experiencing launch problems, try clearing the GTA V game cache. First, hit the WINDOWS and R keys at the same time and type %appdata% into the dialogue box. Then, click on AppData at the top of the Windows Explorer navigation bar and go to Local. Delete the entire Rockstar Games folder. Don’t worry: these are just temporary files, not the installation itself.

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    Sandro Villinger & Ivan Belcic
    5-05-2023