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.
AMD graphics control panel
For an AMD ATI card, you bring up the AMD graphics control panel, known as the Catalyst Control Center, by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Catalyst Control Center from the context menu.
Fire up CCC for the first time, and you'll be prompted to choose between a 'basic' and 'advanced' control panel.
The basic control panel is really too simple for your needs, so select the advanced one.
Next you'll see a fairly pedestrian-looking screen that appears to be mostly an ad. Welcome to the, er, welcome screen.
This is a fairly useless screen, so uncheck 'Show this page on startup'. Once that's done, you'll always return to the last page you viewed when you run CCC.
Catalyst Control Center offers a fairly rich array of controls, though not quite as many as nVidia's control panels do.
It has no concept of individual game profiles, for example.
Instead, AMD offers Catalyst AI, which attempts to auto-optimise settings for known game titles.
In fact, AMD does have game profiles embedded in its drivers, and will try to auto-optimise performance for individual games, though it won't override in-game settings.
Since you need to focus on 3D image quality and performance, select the Graphics drop-down on the upper left and click on 3D.
You'll encounter a series of tabs that include mini-previews, both animated and still, of your settings changes.
Catalyst AI is most useful if you have a dual-GPU CrossFire setup, but it sometimes works poorly with newer games.
For example, in Gearbox's game Borderlands, you'd see missing textures (gray or white boxes) with Catalyst AI enabled in the Catalyst 9.11 drivers.
In general, the safest thing to do is turn off Catalyst AI.
If you want to make some manual changes, first check the 'Use custom settings' box.
Then you can move to the other tabs to make changes to anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, and so on, all with slightly different and mildly useful animated previews.
The anti-aliasing screen even allows you to pick a filter type - actually a sample pattern and depth - which will improve anti-aliasing quality at the expense of performance.
Generally, you can leave it on the default 'Box' filter, but feel free to experiment. Even if you leave the anti-aliasing level on 'Application Settings', you can still change the filter type.
The AAMode tab is AMD's way of letting you alter anti-aliasing with transparent textures.
The 'Performance' setting has little effect, while the maximum-quality 'Supersampling' setting produces the biggest performance hit.
If you don't care about the mini-previews, the simplest screen to navigate is the 'All' tab, which lists every setting in a single, scrollable window.
Remember, it's generally better to use in-game settings to make the most of your image quality; use the graphics board maker's control panels only for settings that games don't have available within their options screens.
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