Welcome to the ultimate GTA V performance guide. It’s packed with tweaks and secrets to make the most out of one of the world’s most popular video game ever.

Grand Theft Auto V: the beautiful game

Ah, GTA V. If you haven’t played, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have, you already know that it’s a stunner of a game that will bring you to your knees. And your PC. Or laptop for that matter.

That’s right: GTA V recreates the city of Los Angeles down to such an eerie level of accurate detail, that it lets you scale up to 4K; supports G-Sync, Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing, PCSS (Percentage Closer Soft Shadows) and much more.

Even the newest computers can struggle to keep up with that level of eye candy — but fear not. We’re about to show you how to improve your graphics and get the best possible frame rate (FPS) for your PC, whether you have the latest PC or not.

Start here: can my PC even run GTA V?

Good question. And we have the answer. Check out the absolute minimum system requirements for GTA V according to Rockstar, below:

  • 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 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs) / AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core Processor (4 CPUs) @ 2.5GHz
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Video Card: NVIDIA 9800 GT 1GB / AMD HD 4870 1GB (DX 10, 10.1, 11)
  • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 10 compatible
  • HDD Space: 65GB
  • DVD drive

We don’t recommend running it on a Core 2 Quad — a 10-year old CPU by now. For half-decent frame rates, start with a Core i3 to i7 from the last 5-6 years, and a graphics card of the same era.

To enjoy the game smoothly in full HD, you should be running a 3 GHz Core i5 made in the last 3-4 years, and at least a GeForce 970 or a 1050 TI.  Make sure to have at least 8GB of RAM.

However, for the full high-detail 4K experience and with all the bells and whistles, you need the highest end graphics cards, such as the 1080 Ti or 2080 Ti — or even better, two of them in SLI.

Don’t worry, though: even if you don’t have the latest gaming PC and your laptop is slowly becoming a dinosaur, this guide will still help you amp up picture quality and get smoother frame rates overall.

Ready to optimize your PC and laptop for max gaming performance?

Let’s go! Just make sure that your PC is in tip-top shape for gaming, first:

  • Upgrade your graphics drivers
  • Turn off all performance-sapping background activity with AVG TuneUp
  • Defrag your disks

Then, have a look at our step-by-step guide to make sure your PC is properly optimized.

Screenshot from the game

Run the benchmark tool

Before you start tweaking all your settings, you should check out the integrated benchmark and get a sense of your current performance in GTA V.

This is a really clever tool that will start a series of tests to help you determine which settings have the most impact on your performance. You can then measure again after changing some of the settings to figure out whether they’ve impacted your FPS or not.

To run it, go to the Graphics menu and hit the TAB key on your keyboard.

Tweak your game settings

In-game settings are your first port of call to get the most out of either image quality or performance — remember, the more beautiful the game looks, the more your performance will take a hit. So you have to balance both. Here’s how:

Start by firing up the game, going to the Game settings and jumping to Graphics.GTA 5 screenshot of the settings

If you jump from the auto-detected setting to anything higher, you’ll generally get a much nicer image — but also a drop in performance. A good indicator of the performance impact you can expect is the Video Memory bar at the top:GTA 5 Video Memory Bar

Going from the lowest to the highest settings can dramatically change your picture quality. Don’t believe us? Take a look:GTA 5 game screenshot with the lowest display settingsLowest settings

GTA503Highest settings

The texture quality of the grass on the right and the street-level details is significantly higher. If you can live without these details, you’ll see a difference of up to 100% in performance, depending on your graphics card.

We recommend turning off some visual settings that don’t have too great an impact on performance:

Use MSAA instead of FXAA

Sure, if you squint hard enough you may notice that MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing) looks a bit better. To make sure it isn’t hindering your performance, we recommend turning off FXAA and trying one of the MSAA settings (2x or 4x).

Try VSync

This turns off the frame rate limitation and can improve performance in some cases, but it may also introduce some screen tearing, so watch out for that.

GTA 5 Game screenshot of the screen tearingSource: How to fix screen tearing

Population density and variety

Did you know population density and variety settings control the amount (and kinds) of people and cars there are in the world of GTA V? Try lowering the settings to zero and see what impact this has — for us, it made the game much more playable on our laptops, though we didn’t notice a big difference on our gaming machine.

Warning: lowering these settings may give the city landscape a somewhat deserted look, but it’ll also give you a noticeable frame boost, and that should be well be worth the trade-off!

Texture quality

As we said earlier, texture quality can have a big impact on performance, both in terms of frames per second (which will be higher) but also on visual fidelity.

Normal setting                                                 Higher settingGTA506-1

Reflection MSAA

This setting controls things like the smoothness of reflections visible on cars...or rainy streets and the like. We saw a 5f FPS boost when turning it off without any noticeable decrease in visual quality, so we recommend you do the same.

Resolution

If you’re playing on a big Full HD or 4K screen, you’ll want to run it at its native resolution (1920x1080 or 3840 x 2160), but a 4K requires you to have a GeForce 1080 Ti or 2080 TI (or even two of them) to run smoothly.

The guys over at Anandtech have prepared benchmarks for different graphics cards, which give you an idea of the kind of performance you can expect:

GTA 5 benchmark of graphics cards by AnandtechSource: Anandtech 2080 Ti testing

High Resolution Shadows (under Advanced Graphics)

Hmm. Be careful with this one. This and the Extended Shadows Distance setting didn’t seem to improve picture quality that much, but they both affected performance noticeably. The Vram usage rose to dangerous levels — +600-800 MB on our machine.

If you don’t care how detailed your shadows look, keep these settings at an absolute minimum. If you’ve got enough horsepower, however, feel free to crank them up to the max and enjoy shadow-level detail you’ve probably never seen.

Secret stuff: hidden commandline.txt tweaks

Yep, this is the exciting part. Are you ready? Some of GTA Vs settings aren’t visible in the games settings menu. So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to hook you up with some ‘hidden’ settings we think are worth looking at.

Where to make these tweaks

These parameters can be added in a file called "commandline.txt" in the root of the game folder. If it’s not there, you can create it by right clicking in the game install folder (such as E:\Games\steamapps\common\Grand Theft Auto V), select New and select Text Document. Rename this file to commandline.txt. (or just “commandline” if file extensions are disabled). It should look like this:

Screenshot of adding parameters in the commandline.txt in the GTA 5 root of the game folder

Open this file using Notepad or any text editor. You can now type in the following options as seen above, and modify the game beyond what’s possible in the settings menu. Isn’t it exciting? We sure think so.

-disableHyperthreading

Most modern processors have virtual cores for better multitasking. While we personally didn’t see any benefits of adding this, we’ve read that it can help people with older machines, so it may be worth a shot if that’s your case.

-hdr

Rockstar Support claims this setting “sets the whole rendering pipeline to 16-Bit”. When we enabled it we couldn’t see any HDR-esque effects, but your eyes may be better than ours.

-Noquattransform

Quaternion transformation is the fastest technique for rotating objects in 3D space. However, it may also introduce some errors. If you see some objects floating in space, you may want to try this parameter.

-adapter

If you add this setting followed by a number between 0 and 4, you can pick the graphics card that you want GTA V to use. For example, if you have an integrated chipset (adapter 0) and for some reason GTA V only uses this, you can use “-adapter 1” to make it go with your discrete graphics. Use this in combination with the next option.

-ignoreDifferentVideoCard

This makes sure GTA V only uses the one graphics chip you supplied above. It can also fix stuttering.

-FrameQueueLimit

This limits the frames that are pre-rendered. Reducing them can also reduce input lag and smooth things out a bit. Use -FrameQueueLimit 0 or -FrameQueueLimit 1 and see what works best for you.

There are more parameters, but you can also easily set those via the in-game menu.

Mod the game and make it look good

Thanks to the modding community, GTA V gets daily mods — new vehicles, character models and plenty more. One of the most interesting mods available for download is the NaturalVision Remastered mod.

GTA 5 Game screenshot, modding, realistic looking image of the helicopter above a city, NaturalVision Remastered mod

It overhauls the texture and lighting quality so dramatically that the game looks almost real — without impacting the performance all that much. The installation can be a bit tedious and involves a bit of downloading and tinkering with files, but this video will show you exactly what you need and where to put it:

 

Now go experience the underbelly of Los Santos — a more beautiful game awaits!

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