Computing

Baldur’s Gate 3 PC Performance Tips: Optimize Your Settings for the Best Experience

Introduction

After three years in early access, Baldur’s Gate 3 has finally been released for PC. This visually stunning and immersive RPG is packed with intricate details. To enhance your gameplay and optimize performance, it’s crucial to use the best settings. In this guide, we’ll explore all the settings and provide recommendations for achieving the highest performance.

A Baldur's Gate 3 character lights the way.
Image: Larian Studios

Best Settings for Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3 offers an extensive graphics menu with a variety of settings. However, some of these settings can be confusing and unique to the game. To help you navigate through them, we’ll provide descriptions and suggest the best settings based on our experience.

  • V-Sync — We recommend turning V-Sync off and using Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) if your monitor supports it. If not, opt for Triple Buffering for V-Sync. Although this may increase input lag, it won’t significantly impact your gameplay experience.

  • Model Quality — Set Model Quality to Medium. This setting affects the level of detail and geometry, both up close and at a distance. Even at the highest settings, models may appear as you approach them. If your system allows for it, you can increase this setting to High for better visual quality.

  • Detail Distance — Lower the Detail Distance to Low. This setting impacts the level of detail for elements such as shadows and reflections as they move away from the camera. Large shadows and reflections will still be prominent, so reducing this setting won’t greatly affect the overall scene.

  • Instance Distance — Increase the Instance Distance to High. This setting determines the level of detail for smaller objects like rocks and shrubs. While you can lower this setting to Medium, we didn’t notice a significant impact on performance.

  • Texture Quality — Set Texture Quality to High. This setting has the most significant impact on image quality. The difference between High and Ultra settings is less noticeable than the difference between lower settings.

  • Texture Filtering — Use Anisotropic x16 for Texture Filtering. This setting has minimal effect on performance.

  • Slow HDD Mode — Disable Slow HDD Mode unless you’re using a spinning hard drive. This feature can help improve performance on slower storage devices. We’ll discuss it in more detail later.

  • Dynamic Crowds — Enable Dynamic Crowds unless you have an older or slower CPU. This setting affects the behavior of busy crowds in the game.

  • Shadow Quality — Set to Medium.

  • Cloud Quality — Set to Medium.

  • Fog Quality — Set to Low.

  • Nvidia DLSS — If you have an Nvidia RTX GPU, use DLSS and select the Balanced preset. You can adjust this setting based on your performance target.

  • AMD FSR 1.0 — Disable AMD FSR 1.0, as it may result in inferior image quality.

  • FidelityFX Sharpening — Enable FidelityFX Sharpening for enhanced image sharpness.

  • Anti-Aliasing — Use TAA (Temporal Anti-Aliasing) for the best anti-aliasing effect in Baldur’s Gate 3. If you have an RTX graphics card, you can also consider Nvidia’s DLAA (Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing).

  • Depth of Field — Disable Depth of Field.

  • God Rays — Disable God Rays.

  • Bloom — Disable Bloom.

  • Subsurface Scattering — Disable Subsurface Scattering.

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Optimized quality settings in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

These are just the recommended settings, and there is room for further customization based on your preferences. Baldur’s Gate 3 also includes an auto-detect feature that can provide some guidance. While not perfect, it can help you get started on finding the right settings for your hardware.

By using the optimized settings we suggest, you can achieve a nearly 16% increase in performance compared to the Ultra preset. As demonstrated in the image above, there’s only a slight impact on visual quality.

Graphics presets in Baldur's Gate 3 on PC.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s important to note that the Medium and Low presets significantly reduce the quality of Baldur’s Gate 3. While most modern PCs should handle the game without issues, older systems might require these presets. However, if possible, we recommend avoiding them.

Baldur’s Gate 3 System Requirements

Similar to the developer’s previous games, Baldur’s Gate 3 is highly scalable. You can run it on a machine that’s nearly a decade old with the minimum system requirements. However, to enjoy better visual quality, a newer PC is recommended.

There are a couple of noteworthy points in the system requirements. Unlike some recent games, Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t excessively consume VRAM. Even at the Ultra preset, it won’t exceed 8GB of VRAM usage. With optimized settings, VRAM usage can drop to around 5GB.

While the game can still run on a spinning hard drive, it’s preferable to install it on an SSD. The game streams assets dynamically during gameplay, and a spinning hard drive may cause hitching, stutters, and lower image quality. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.

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DirectX 11 vs. Vulkan in Baldur’s Gate 3

Game launcher for Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Baldur’s Gate 3 offers two options in the launcher: DirectX 11 and Vulkan. On Windows, DirectX 11 is the default setting, while Vulkan is used on other platforms. Typically, Vulkan outperforms DirectX in terms of performance. However, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an exception to this rule.

Based on our testing, DirectX 11 was around 2% faster than Vulkan. The difference is minimal, and both options offer similar performance. However, Vulkan provides a slightly better 1% low frame rate, indicating more consistency. Therefore, we recommend using the Vulkan version of the game.

DLSS vs. FSR in Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3 supports Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR, but there’s a clear winner when it comes to image quality. If you have an Nvidia RTX GPU, DLSS is the recommended choice. AMD’s FSR, designed to enhance performance on non-RTX cards, doesn’t deliver satisfactory results in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Upscaling Quality presets in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

As shown in the image above, even at the Quality preset, FSR falls behind native resolution and DLSS in terms of image quality. FSR produces a softer appearance, resembling lower resolution, and anti-aliasing can introduce shimmering artifacts. While FSR can be an option at the Quality or Ultra Quality presets, DLSS still provides superior image quality.

Upscaling Performance mode in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Avoid using FSR’s Performance mode at all costs. As seen in the image above, it significantly reduces image sharpness compared to DLSS and native resolution. It particularly struggles with fine details, resulting in blocky artifacts. Keep in mind that DLSS and FSR are only available on specific GPUs.

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DLAA quality in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If you prefer to explore other options, Baldur’s Gate 3 also offers Nvidia’s DLAA (Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing). Similar to DLSS, DLAA is exclusive to RTX graphics cards and provides slightly more detail in the image. However, TAA (Temporal Anti-Aliasing) remains the recommended choice for most players.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Slow HDD Mode Explained

Astrion holds his chin in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image: Larian Studios

Baldur’s Gate 3 specifies that an SSD is required according to the system requirements. This makes the Slow HDD Mode in the settings menu a somewhat peculiar option. If you’re running the game on a spinning hard drive, enabling this feature might help. However, it can result in lower performance, more pop-in, and reduced image quality. Whenever possible, install the game on an SSD.

The reason behind this recommendation is that Baldur’s Gate 3 dynamically streams assets while you play. Even at the highest quality preset, you may notice geometry and textures loading as you move through the game world. This is less noticeable on an SSD but can cause significant issues with hitching and stutters when using a spinning hard drive.

The Slow HDD Mode attempts to address this by offloading the data loading to your system RAM and graphics card’s VRAM. While these components don’t normally bear such a heavy load, enabling the Slow HDD Mode can strain them, resulting in pop-in and stutters. If possible, it’s best to avoid this mode and instead install the game on an SSD.

Conclusion

By following these tips and using the recommended settings, you can optimize your Baldur’s Gate 3 PC experience. Experiment with the settings to find the perfect balance between performance and visual quality. Remember that your hardware and personal preferences may influence the ideal settings for you.

For more gaming and tech-related articles, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc. Dive into the captivating world of Baldur’s Gate 3, and may your adventures be filled with epic quests and breathtaking landscapes!

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