Tweaking the graphics settings on your graphics card can do a lot to improve play during gaming. We've put together some guidelines for obtaining good image quality, as well as for finding the right blend of quality and performance, when tweaking the settings.
nVidia control panels
Now let's take a look at the nVidia and AMD control panels.
If you have an nVidia graphics board, open the nVidia graphics control panel by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting nVidia Control Panel from the context menu.
You should use the Windows control panel only if the game doesn't offer the appropriate built-in settings - which happens often with anti-aliasing.
nVidia's control panel has two different anti-aliasing settings, one for standard multi-sampling anti-aliasing and the other for transparency anti-aliasing.
Though you can enable them separately, there's really no point to turning on transparency anti-aliasing if you don't have standard anti-aliasing enabled.
One interesting option in anti-aliasing mode is the 'Enhance the application setting' mode.
What this does is turn on CSAA for games that support multisampling anti-aliasing but don't have explicit settings for CSAA. If that seems a little confusing, it is.
CSAA essentially allows you to add an anti-aliasing level (say, 8x) over the in-game level, and to obtain that level of image quality without the performance hit of full 8x multisampling anti-aliasing (MSAA).
It's fairly unknown, but it's worth experimenting with if you have the time and inclination.
Transparency anti-aliasing reduces jaggies for transparent textures. Frequently, when you turn on standard anti-aliasing, textures that include transparent elements - a chain-link fence, for example - may reduce those jagged effects for distant objects, but the fence will still have jagged edges.
nVidia also allows you to set game profiles explicitly.
Click the Program Settings tab, and you'll be greeted with a drop-down menu that permits you to set parameters for specific titles.
What you can do here is leave the global settings for stuff like anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing to Application controlled, and then set overrides for specific game titles.
It's like having an in-game control panel, only you set it in the nVidia panel.
This approach is especially useful if you want to set aggressive image-quality settings for older titles that are very fast on your system while allowing newer titles to be managed by their in-game settings.
This screen is a little confusing at first - everything seems to read 'Use global setting' or 'Not supported for this application'.
However, each setting that is supported is actually a drop-down box that allows you to change the setting.
When you run the game, nVidia's driver enables that setting for that game only.
NEXT PAGE: AMD graphics control panel