Environment: View Distance
There are five options for View Distance. According to the tooltip, this setting "controls how far you can see. Larger view distances require more memory and a faster processor."
It's interesting that Blizzard shares the increased processing/memory load demanded by expanding view distance. Naturally, as PC gaming enthusiasts, we want the ability to turn everything up as high as it'll go. This is reflected in our benchmarks, but it's worth noting that the heavy hit some of our CPUs take could be a result of this setting dialed in to Ultra.
This is decidedly not the way you want to be playing Cataclysm. If you have to turn View Distance down to Low, it's time for an upgrade.
Environmental details that simply weren't visible previously now pop up on the screen. This is a lot better, but you'd still want to push the view distance out farther, ideally.
Trees, waterfalls, and the stone cliff come into focus here.
The fog lifts from additional parts of this scene's background as we dial up to High View Distance.
This is as good as it gets. You can't see the mountain in the background, but there are more trees back there than there were previously. If you can, this is the setting we'd recommend using.