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The ultimate guide to tweaking your GPU's most arcane settings

Loyd Case | Feb. 6, 2013
Understand the weirdest, most complex options of your graphics control panel, and start tweaking your display like a pro.

Nvidia's control panel gives you just the basics: de-interlacing, edge enhancement, and noise reduction. If your video player doesn't have direct hardware controls, you should enable noise reduction and inverse telecine. For most video, keeping noise reduction at around 25 to 30 percent is good enough.

In general, it's a good idea to avoid edge enhancement, as that option tends to introduce other artifacts, such as bright white edges around objects in the video. If you must use it for blurry video, then keep edge enhancement to a minimum.

As with color, AMD offers a much wider range of video quality controls, all built into a single, scrolling control panel.

AMD sets defaults for each parameter, but you may want to lower both 'de-noise' and 'mosquito noise reduction' a bit, as too much noise reduction may reduce the detail in the video. We also advise caution in deciding whether to enable dynamic contrast, which can introduce odd contrast shifts into the video stream. AMD lets you choose whether to apply the settings to Web-based video.

Finally, modern AMD graphics cards can perform acceleration techniques that improve the quality of downloaded video files, or video you may have shot with your own camcorder or smartphone. For example, AMD Steady Video uses algorithms to smooth out the shaky nature of video shot with small handheld devices. AMD also offers accelerated video conversion, which makes it easier to convert videos from one format to another. The video conversion feature offers no quality settings and works only when you drag your video onto a portable media device that supports MP4 video.

3D graphics

In most cases you shouldn't fiddle with the 3D graphics setting in your GPU control panel. You'll do better to adjust 3D graphics settings inside games, than at the system level. However, at times when you may want to adjust some settings from the GPU control panel. Before going any farther, let's look at the control panels.

One thing you'll notice is the array of antialiasing (AA) settings. We'll discuss those shortly, since changing AA in the control panel is probably the most common change that users make. In general, leaving settings at their default values is the most sensible course. Scrolling down will reveal several other settings that you may find useful, including texture filtering quality and vertical sync.

AMD's control panel is pretty similar to Nvidia's.

Nvidia uses pull-down dialog boxes for most of its settings, while AMD uses sliders. But overall, the settings and jargon are similar.

Antialiasing

Antialiasing minimizes jagged edges along lines and edges in computer graphics. With games, AA can hurt performance, since games with AA enabled typically run at 30 fps or faster. Most gamers prefer frame rates of 60 fps on average.

 

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