AVG Signal Blog Performance Gaming The Ultimate GTA 5 Guide to Boosting Your Graphics & FPS
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Grand Theft Auto 5 is the latest in the iconic video game series from Rockstar Games. You’re here because you want your GTA 5 experience to look and run as amazingly as it possibly can. Let’s boost those graphics and FPS!

This article contains:

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

    When we talk about GTA boosting for graphics and FPS (frames per second), we’re talking about making your game look great and run smoothly. Let’s quickly define a few terms:

    • Graphics refers to how the game looks. Better graphics are cleaner and sharper. They’ll show more details, include more textures, feature more realistic lighting and shadows, and show the game at a higher resolution.

    • FPS is the number of frames per second you see as you play, also known as the “frame rate.” The ideal gameplay experience runs at a frame rate of 60 FPS. For comparison, most movies show at 24 FPS. A higher frame rate means that your game looks smoother.

    • Boosting: You can boost, or increase, the graphics and FPS in your game by tweaking the settings and using “mods” that can change various aspects of the game.

    • Mods: In gaming, a mod is an alteration to a game that can range from small graphical tweaks, to additional levels, to a completely new game built on the bones of the original. Players create mods to improve a game and increase its lifespan. In this article, we recommend some 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 all of them. We’ll show you how to improve your graphics and get the best possible FPS that your computer can deliver.

    Graphics and FPS can’t both be perfect. If you want the best possible graphics, you’ll likely have to accept a lower FPS. Conversely, optimizing your game for FPS often necessitates a few graphical sacrifices. So you’ll need to balance your gaming expectations with your PC’s capabilities.

    What PC hardware do I need to play GTA 5?

    According to Rockstar Games, the GTA 5 system requirements are: 

    • Operating system: Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1, Windows Vista 64 Bit Service Pack 2 (NVIDIA video card recommended if running Vista OS)

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

    • 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: 65 GB

    • DVD drive: Only if you have a physical version of the game

    Note that these are the minimum requirements for the game to function. You’ll get much better FPS with a Core i3 to i7 processor from the last five or six years and a similarly recent graphics card. 

    For smooth FPS at full HD, you’ll want a 3 GHz Core i5 that’s no more than four years old, and at least a GeForce 970 or 1050 Ti graphics card. You’ll also want at least 8 GB of RAM. Only the highest-end graphics cards, such as the 1080 Ti or 2080 Ti, can render the game at a 4K resolution with all the top graphical and performance settings. For the best results possible, combine two graphics cards in SLI, which lets them work together.

    You don’t need the fanciest gear, or even a desktop PC at all, to play this game. An Intel HD graphics card can handle GTA 5, just not as smoothly as a better one. But with this guide, you’ll still be able to boost your graphics and FPS.

    Optimize your PC and laptop for ultimate gaming performance

    No matter what type of hardware you have, your first step is to optimize your PC for gaming:

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

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

    3. Defrag your disks.

    Lastly, consider making a few internal changes to your computer to speed it up and improve performance. AVG TuneUp automatically streamlines your computer, removing junk data and disabling unnecessary programs that hog your CPU’s power.

    Benchmark your current graphics and FPS

    GTA 5 comes with an integrated benchmark tool that can identify the settings that will have the most significant effect on the game’s performance for your PC. Use it before changing any settings, then check it again after you’ve made your adjustments. This way, you’ll know whether or not your changes have helped.

    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 begin making some tweaks.

    Find the best graphics settings for GTA 5 on your PC

    In-game settings are your first port of call to boost your graphics and FPS. Remember, unless you’ve got an absolute beast of a gaming PC, you’ll need to find a balance between smooth graphics and frame speed.

    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 configure itself to 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 will make the graphics look cleaner and more detailed — at the expense of hogging more memory and likely dropping 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 settings

    Lowest graphics settings

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

    You can see how the textures are much crisper in the second picture, giving a more realistic feel. But if you can live without those touches, you’ll get a massive GTA 5 FPS boost with lower settings. Try adjusting the following settings to see how they affect your game:

    1. Use MSAA instead of FXAA

      MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing) usually looks a bit better than FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing). Turn FXAA off and try MSAA at either 2x or 4x to check whether it impacts your FPS.

    2. Try VSync

      Turning off the VSynch feature deactivates frame rate limitation and can often boost your FPS. However, you may notice some screen tearing — where the game displays images from multiple frames at the same time — so if you’re seeing any of that, turn VSync back on.

    3. Population density and variety

      Turning this down will reduce the amount 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.

    4. Texture quality

      Lowering your texture quality will boost your FPS, but at the cost of less-detailed graphics.

      The difference between lower texture settings and higher texture settings in Grand Theft Auto V on Windows 10

      Lower texture settings vs. higher texture settings

    5. Reflection MSAA

      This setting controls the smoothness of any reflective surfaces, such as a shiny car or a puddle of rainwater. In our own test, deactivating this netted us a 5 FPS boost without a significant loss in graphics quality.

    6. Resolution

      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 requires that you have a GeForce 1080 Ti or 2080 Ti graphics card (or even two of them) to run smoothly.

    7. High Resolution Shadows (under Advanced Graphics)

      Go to the Advanced Graphics section to find this one. We found that increasing this setting as well as 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.

    Secret GTA 5 graphics settings: commandline.txt tweaks

    GTA 5 has some additional settings that aren’t visible in the main menu. We’ve picked out a handful of them that can further boost your FPS and graphics. Here’s how to make these changes:

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

    2. If there’s a file there 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.

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

    3. Open this file with Notepad or your preferred text editor.

    With your commandline text file open, type in the following options to modify the game beyond what’s possible in the settings menu. Isn’t it exciting? We sure think so!

    1. -disableHyperthreading

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

    2. -hdr

      Rockstar Support claims 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 better than ours.

    3. -Noquattransform

      Quaternion transformation is the fastest technique for rotating objects in 3D space, but it may also introduce errors. If you see some objects floating in space, you can 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 insists on 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 makes GTA 5 use only the one graphics chip you specified with the above command. It can also 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 for you.

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

    GTA 5 graphics & gameplay mods

    If the two techniques outlined above still aren’t enough for your refined tastes, you can dip your toes (or plunge headfirst) into the world of GTA 5 mods. Recall that mods are additions to a game that can alter the way it looks or the way it works. Many mods are fan-made labors of love.

    How to install GTA 5 mods?

    In most cases, it’s pretty simple. You’ll download the mod file, then paste it into the game’s folder on your computer. More complicated mods may require you to install additional software, and they’ll usually feature detailed instructions on their respective download pages. You can also find lots of mod installation guides on YouTube.

    Mods are typically used for computer games, since you have access to all the installation files. If you want to mod GTA 5 on PS4 or Xbox One, you’ll be facing a far steeper uphill climb. In general, it’s best to keep your console games as they are, and play on 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. You now 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.com. Some will provide graphics improvements while others deliver new character models, vehicles, and weapons. Here’s a short list of some of the most popular mods for visual and gameplay upgrades:

    1. NaturalVision Remastered

      With photorealistic 4K graphics, NaturalVision Remastered is one of the most visually stunning mods out there for GTA 5. Watch this handy YouTube guide for some help with installing the mod and getting it to work properly.

      Note that the NV mod is currently undergoing maintenance work for a summer 2020 release. Stay tuned for more information.

      Grand Theft Auto V with the NaturalVision Remastered mod for Windows 10

    2. GTA 5 Redux

      Another visual overhaul, GTA 5 Redux features completely reworked weather effects in addition to its many other graphical improvements.

    3. GTA Realism

      GTA Realism interprets the idea of realism in more ways than one. Aside from improved visuals, this mod adds a number of reality-inspired gameplay enhancements, such as inventory management and more realistic damage effects.

    4. Better Deformation + More Durable Cars

      This vehicle-focused mod upgrades the way your cars take damage and fall apart for a more detailed view of automotive destruction.

    5. GTA V FoV

      If you like playing GTA 5 in first-person view, but find the field of vision too limiting, this mod will let you expand what your character can see as you play.

      The GTA V FoV mod expands what your character can see during game play.

    Are mods illegal? Will I get banned?

    Cosmetic mods such as these are usually legal to download and use, though many developers look down on modding because some players can use mods to cheat online. You’re fine to 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 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 the computer you have, GTA 5 will look and play as beautifully as you want it to.

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