You bought a new game. Unfortunately, at 1600x1200 2xAA and all other details = absolute maximum settings... you're only getting 26 fps. You decide to start turning down some details. In order of preference, which features do you normally sacrifice first?
Scale back DirectX version (ie DX10 to DX9)
Turn off 2x AA altogether
Disable High Quality Shadows
Disable multiple light sources
Shorten draw distance
Scale down Resolution (ie 1600x1200 to 1280x960)
Scale down Texture Quality
Scale down Model Quality
What would be your target for minimum acceptable fps?
Looks like you got murdered by Vista. Get your XP Pro SP2 back then try it again. Full potential of DX10 won't be ultilized for another year or 2. YES! Crysis doesn't utilize DX10 much... Stranglehold is the perfect example that facial expression can be done just as good on DX9 as DX10 so far. In a year or 2 it DX10 will really look amazing. Srry for getting off topic. What's your build? Maybe your computer is not good enough to run it at it's best anyways? My PREFERED fps is at least 45, my minimum acceptable is 30. Anything lower it's either not optimized properly (Gothic 3 or Crysis Beta). Something is wrong with hardware or software (Drivers for Bioshock). There is another thing I wanna say but I forget. Ill edited it in later when I remember it again.
I would actually lower the resolution a little bit.
Yeah, yeah the graphics will not look as good as at native resolution, but the me the drop in graphics quality is minimal especially on a good quality monitor.
If your monitor supports 1:1 bitmapping, then you can lower the solution and still maintain the best graphics quality your monitor can give you. For example 1400 x 900 on a 22" LCD monitor (resolution of 1620 x 1050... close enough) exactly 1400 x 900 pixels will be used and you will have black borders around the viewing area which is centered on the monitor.
Looks like you got murdered by Vista. Get your XP Pro SP2 back then try it again.
The Vista vs XP debate always confuses me. A lot of the games run horribly because of DX10, not because of Vista. You can easily deactivate DX10 effects on Vista, and the performance level of most games will equal that of DX9 on XP. The OS has very little to do with it at all. Check out:
I turn off HDR. I don't like it in the first place, looks like everyone and everything has it's own miniature sun floating inches away. I think it's a terrible in Oblivion, and don't like it in Team Fortress 2 either. If that's not enough, I ease up on AA. If that's not enough, I ease up on AF. Only then do I lower my res. Resolution is the most important factor.
I always keep resolution and 4x AA, above anything else I cant stand jaggies.
Generally high/ultra settings are HARDLY any better then medium, especially shadows and shader settings. Only go for 8x AF seriously you will not notice the visual difference between 8x and 16x unless you are at a really high resolution.
Turning shadows off can sometimes DOUBLE your framerate.
1. Disable High Quality Shadows - shadows are nice but in most games you won't notice the difference when playing it for more than just siteseeing.
2. Scale down Resolution (ie 1600x1200 to 1280x960) - just because I have a CRT monitor and don't need to consider a native resolution
3. Shorten draw distance - probably a little, but not too much
4. Minimize AA a little, but never below 2x. On a big monitor, without AA looks really 'computerized'.
5. Scale down Texture Quality and Scale down Model Quality - these things won't change that much so if I have to go this far, I would lower both one step and see if it works out.
6. If all the above is still giving bad results I may try to disable small things if possible, like light coronas, engine glows, lower the time that gore such stuff stays in a map, all depending if the game allowes such tweaks.
And if it's still unplayable I would stop playing the game and wait till next year's computer.
As for minimum fps: for shooters it should be around 30 or 40fps as long as it is STEADY.
Other games like strategy or rpg's, 20fps is enough, again the minimum fps is more important than the average.
the main things i turn down are first AA (turning it off if needed), then the same for shadows, also resolution below native if needed. i seldom turn much else down at all usually if at all, as that will reduce visuals too much to me, because as long as im getting at least 20fps in most games, its playable to me, and thus acceptable. im not a hardcore gamer really either (as far as fps' primarily), as the only games that can keep my attention for long at all are rpg based, and they usually arent too demanding as far as needing top fps and reflexes/accuracy either, so somewhat lower fps is usually more acceptable.
lower AA but never less than 2x
I agree that high quality shadows are not needed yet.
On a lot of games I have trouble distinguishing between medium and high textures unless I really look closely; I still leave high textures on if the fps are acceptable.
Draw distance is important to me. I like it when you can see things that are really far away.