Computing

Best Settings for Maximum Performance in God of War on PC

God of War, the 2018 hit game, has made a triumphant return in 2022 with a high-end PC port. Based on the enhanced PS5 version, God of War on PC promises higher frame rates and resolutions. To achieve the most performance out of the game, you need to optimize your settings. In this guide, I will walk you through the best settings for God of War on PC and the performance you can expect.

The Optimal Settings for God of War PC

Kratos in God of War on PC
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

To find the best settings, I thoroughly tested each graphics option in God of War. Initially, I conducted the tests at 4K, focusing solely on the graphics card. However, I also referenced the presets at different resolutions to ensure scalability.

Thankfully, there are not too many options to tweak. Here are the recommended settings for God of War:

  • Texture quality: High
  • Model quality: High
  • Anisotropic filtering: High
  • Shadows: High
  • Reflections: Original
  • Atmospherics: Original
  • Ambient occlusion: Original

I heavily relied on the Original preset to assess the performance. This preset maintains excellent image quality, and combining it with higher settings will result in a higher frame rate. The most significant disparities in image quality are observed between Original and High. Ultra settings do not offer a substantial improvement over High settings, and many of the Original options still look fantastic.

Shadows provide a significant boost in performance, around 9% compared to the baseline. However, they appear washed out and blurry, which can be distracting. I recommend keeping this setting on High for the best balance of image quality and performance. However, if you encounter problems, consider lowering it to the Original setting.

Besides shadows, reducing the atmospherics quality yields the most substantial performance improvement. At the lowest setting, it increases the average frame rate by 11%. Even better, this setting does not significantly impact image quality. The Minimum setting may appear rough with individual plumes of smoke, but the Original setting remains excellent.

The comparison screenshot below illustrates the differences (or lack thereof) in image quality. While there are distinctions, they are hardly noticeable during gameplay.

Image quality comparison in God of War on PC
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Overall, implementing these recommended settings boosts performance by 33%. Running the game with Ultra settings across the board is not worthwhile. There is little disparity in image quality between reflections, model quality, and anisotropic filtering. God of War is a visually stunning game, and a combination of High and Original settings delivers an experience close to Ultra.

System Requirements for God of War PC

System requirements for God of War PC
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Following the trend of recent PC games like Back 4 Blood, God of War provides a range of system requirements based on your desired performance and image quality. Although there are five tiers available, ranging from 720p at 30 fps to 4K at 60 fps, I will focus on the top four tiers. After all, only 0.29% of the Steam player base uses a 720p monitor.

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God of War does not demand much in terms of system requirements. The GTX 1060 can handle 1080p at the game’s original frame rate. Based on my tests, the recommended specifications are much higher than what is actually needed, particularly in the graphics department. With the recommended settings, even the weaker RX 580 managed to achieve nearly 60 fps. When using the Original preset, the RX 580 comfortably maintained 65 fps.

However, CPU performance plays a significant role. Running God of War at 1080p does not necessitate a powerful graphics card, but an older CPU and limited RAM can hinder the experience. I recommend sticking to the 8GB of RAM recommended by PlayStation and utilizing processors from the last few generations.

Above the recommended specifications, the provided chart is surprisingly accurate. For 4K at 60 fps, you do not need an RTX 3080. Nonetheless, the RTX 3080 performs better, maintaining that frame rate more consistently than the RTX 3070. Similarly, the RTX 2070 is the optimal choice for 1440p, but an RTX 2060 can reach the 60 fps mark with a few tweaks to the settings.

Performance Testing for God of War PC

Kratos in God of War on PC
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

As with our other performance guides, I conducted tests for God of War on PC using three different graphics cards targeting three resolutions: the RTX 3070 for 4K, the RTX 2060 Super for 1440p, and the RX 580 for 1080p. While these cards fall below the recommended specifications, they managed to achieve around 60 fps at their respective resolutions.

To focus on GPU performance, I paired the cards with a Ryzen 9 5950X and 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory. All tests were conducted on Windows 10. Here are the results:

None of the cards reached a consistent 60 fps at their respective resolutions, although they came close. The RTX 3070 should have no issues playing at 4K with a few settings adjustments. With upscaling enabled, it becomes a powerhouse. In God of War, resolution holds more significance than frame rate. Achieving 60 fps is the goal, and the RTX 3070 attains it at 4K.

The RTX 2060 Super, at 1440p, barely falls short of the 60 fps mark with the Ultra preset. However, my optimized settings provided a robust 27% performance boost at 1440p, pushing the card well above 60 fps. Keep in mind that these results do not include upscaling, meaning you can further increase the frame rate.

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The RX 580 struggled the most, managing only 42 fps at 1080p with Ultra settings. However, upon switching to the Original preset, I easily achieved 60 fps. If you encounter difficulty reaching your target frame rate, consider using the Original preset. It offers excellent image quality while delivering significant performance gains.

DLSS and FSR Performance in God of War PC

Kratos fighting in God of War on PC
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

God of War is one of the few games that includes Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). The upscaling tool you should use depends on your graphics card, but there are notable differences in image quality.

Starting with DLSS, I observed an approximate 85% performance boost when using the most aggressive Ultra Performance mode. In this mode, DLSS renders at 720p and upscales to 4K. For all upscaling modes and graphics cards, I maintained a target of 4K Ultra settings. Although the frame rates are noteworthy, I recommend focusing more on the percentage increases listed in each table rather than the absolute values.

As is the case with other DLSS-supported games, simply enabling the upscaling feature significantly improves performance. Most users will find the Quality or Balanced settings sufficient, delivering a good balance between image quality and performance. However, DLSS is only compatible with RTX graphics cards, which are currently in high demand.

On the other hand, AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution works with any graphics card. Based on my testing, it offers performance comparable to DLSS in the respective quality mode. Unfortunately, the more aggressive Performance and Balanced modes sacrifice too much image quality to be justifiable. If you find yourself needing to use either of these modes, I recommend starting by reducing your resolution.

While FSR may not excel in peak image quality, the Ultra Quality mode provides a solid performance increase without significant image degradation. However, I would not advise going beyond the Ultra Quality mode.

DLSS and FSR Image Quality in God of War PC

While DLSS and FSR provide comparable performance in God of War on PC, they differ significantly in image quality. Following our analysis in our Super Resolution review, AMD’s upscaling technology does not match the results that have made DLSS such a sought-after feature in AAA gaming.

Upscaling comparison on God of War PC
Highest quality mode. DLSS is on the left and FSR is on the right. Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

The above image shows a side-by-side comparison of the highest quality modes. DLSS is on the left, and FSR is on the right in all these screenshots. Even at the highest quality mode, FSR falls short of DLSS. The rock on the left appears muddy with FSR, lacking fine detail in the distant tree.

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What stands out the most is the representation of specular highlights on Kratos’ head. With FSR, they look vague, while DLSS produces clear highlights. This distinction highlights the main difference between the two upscaling modes: DLSS delivers image quality close to native resolution, while FSR simply looks like running at a lower resolution.

This difference becomes even more pronounced in the more aggressive performance modes. DLSS Ultra Performance resembles FSR Ultra Quality, which is not favorable. As seen in the comparison above, FSR imparts a softer appearance to everything. This softening effect becomes too prominent to ignore in the more performance-focused modes, causing FSR to wash out details not only in the background but also in the foreground.

Upscaling comparison on God of War PC
Highest performance mode. DLSS is on the right, and FSR is on the left. Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

What surprises me most about this image quality comparison is that DLSS works with less information. FSR’s Performance mode renders the game at 1080p when upscaling to 4K, while DLSS renders at 720p. Despite the significant difference in internal resolution, DLSS still offers comparable performance and superior image quality.

DLSS also handles artifacts better. While DLSS Ultra Performance exhibits some shimmering, it does not distract from the visuals. In contrast, FSR introduces various artifacts in shadows, distant moving objects, and direct lighting, impacting the overall presentation.

Upscaling comparison on God of War PC
DLSS is on the right, and FSR is on the left. Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

In the shadow comparison above, both DLSS and FSR struggle with rendering shadows. However, DLSS performs better in smoothing them out. Take a look at the shadow just beneath the rock. FSR becomes confused, resulting in a checkered pattern that is too dark in some areas and too light in others.

DLSS, on the other hand, exhibits the same checkerboarding to a lesser extent. It perceives the shadow as lying over snow. In contrast, FSR presents a gray area of pixels that compromises the overall scene.

In conclusion, the performance and image quality benefits of DLSS outweigh those of FSR. DLSS delivers superior image quality and successfully handles artifacts. While FSR is a viable option, I recommend sticking to the highest quality mode (Ultra Quality) for optimal performance and image fidelity.

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