Best Graphics Setting For Fortnite
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Released in 2017, Fortnite is the most popular battle-royale game on PC. Built on a customized Unreal Engine 4, the game provides dozen of graphical options to customize which makes the game scale well on older systems.
The developers released the December 2020 update which adds Performance as API renderer option. This makes really old graphics cards and integrated graphics more playable, but at the cost of the game looks way older.
In this article we will find out if the newly added Performance API is the way to go to get better playing experience or is there other way to enjoy Fortnite without sacrificing so much visuals.
Test System and Requirements
|Test System||Minimum Requirements|
|Processor||Intel i3-3240 3.4 GHz||Core i3-3225 3.3 GHz|
|Memory||6GB DDR-1333 (4 GB + 2 GB)||4 GB|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB GDDR5||Intel HD 4000 or Intel Iris Pro 5200 or equivalent AMD GPU|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit||Windows 7/8/10 64-bit|
Our test system closely resembles the Fortnite minimum requirements but with a better graphics card. Just be aware that even though Fortnite supports ray tracing (which requires at least a GeForce RTX 2060), we feel that adding ray tracing as part of our tests is irrelevant as we intend this article for older and slower systems and only plays casual matches, not for a competitive setting.
For our benchmarking, we played 50 seconds from a replay and used MSI Afterburner benchmarking tool at least three times to record the average and 1% low framerate. Below is the part of the game we benchmarked.
Image Comparison and Performance
The anti-aliasing method they used looks like FXAA – the edges looks smoother by blurring the edges.
The most visible improvement is from Low to Medium, then Medium to High. Setting it to Epic doesn’t make the image better.
FXAA does not necessarily make the image looks better (because of the blurring), but in return performance hit is minimal, just 5 fps from Low to Epic. Our recommended setting is Medium.
Effects controls the lighting, reflections, and ambient occlusion of the game. This includes the reflections on the water, lighting from glowing objects, and world lighting. From Low to Medium the difference is minimal, only a little of world lighting is added. High setting adds reflections and ambient occlusion,while Epic adds more lighting.
Each quality level diminishes 4-5fps, from 83fps down to 74fps from Low to High and down to 67fps on Epic level. If you have a high-end system then setting Effects to Epic will make the game more livelier with all the lighting it adds, but for medium to lower end systems, a little lighting would be enough as we do not want to further diminish our fps with higher quality. We Recommend setting this to Medium.
Post Process setting adds other effects like bloom, lens flare, or HDR. But they they don’t appear here in Fortnite. The most visible effect is when you switched from Low to Medium it adds ambient occlusion. Setting it to higher levels changes nothing.
The performance in all levels are almost the same in average and in 1% low, we recommend setting post process to Medium since it has the most visible graphical enhancement without losing performance.
3D Resolution setting renders the game according to the selected level then stretch the image to monitor’s resolution. For example, 2560x1440 at 75% will be rendered 1920x1080, 1280x720 at 60% will be rendered 768x432 while at 150% it will be rendered 1920x1080. Lower value, means lower than 100% will make the image blurry but sharper when higher than 100%. In Fortnite the allowed value is between 37% and 100%. We set 3D Resolution levels to 37%, 60%, 80% and 100%. At 37% and 60% the game looks blurry, jumping to 80% makes the game clearer and the difference against 100% is not that really visible unless you stare and look closer at the game, which you would not do in a real game.
At 37% is our baseline with average of 83fps and 1% low of 59fps. Increasing the 3D resolution to 60% the performance is basically unchanged. 80% and 100% takes away some fps, down to 74fps and 62fps. We recommend setting this at 80%.
Shadows setting adds shadows to the game and its enhancement. At medium, only shadows from nearby objects are rendered or cast. At high, it adds shadows from distant objects are rendered while at epic, shadow from terrain are now rendered and also makes the shadows sharper.
Shadows setting take away some significant fps, from 83fps when off, 78fps at medium, 67fps at high, and 58fps at epic. Also the 1% lows at high and epic are down to 46fps and 37fps, which affects the overall smoothness in performance of the game. We recommend setting this to Medium.
Textures setting controls the quality and sharpness of objects and environment. Low to High values doesn’t do anything and the game looks the same, you will only see the real change in Epic.
The performance hit caused by better texture quality is only minimal, from 83 fps average on Low down to 80 fps on High, and down to 78 fps on Epic. Since you only see the real improvements at Epic, we recommend setting textures at Epic.
View Distance controls objects to be rendered at a preset distance. At Medium, objects at distance are rendered but going up on higher values didn’t show anything beyond Medium. This is contrary to the beliefs that you should maxed out view distance to see everything.
Though the performance hit is only 5fps on average from Near to Epic, we still want to save some fps and we recommend setting View Distance at Medium.
Motion Blur setting provides realistic blurring of the environment while the character is turning or moving fast.
Whether it is turned on or off, the performance is is unchanged, but we don’t like the blurring effect so we let this turned off.
After our analysis on the images and their effects on the performance, we came up with our Custom Preset.
Fortnite developers put five presets in the game – Low, Medium, High, and Epic. But you can still go lower than Low by lowering the 3D Resolution down to 37%. We call this Lowest preset in our testing. All of these presets along with our Custom preset, were tested at 1280x720 resolution and DX11 API.
Low preset is basically the Lowest preset but with a little better resolution. Switching to Medium gives you shadows on nearby objects and High preset enhances that shadows and adds ambient occlusion. Switching to Epic further enhances that shadows but that’s the only difference compared to High preset.
Our Custom Preset is comparable to Medium Preset. They look identical with a very little difference in lighting, which you can ignore and very unnoticeable while playing.
Lowest and Low preset performed over 70fps while at Medium the performance took a big 35fps hit and at High both the average and 1% lows are both under 30 fps. Epic preset and Epic with blur turned on makes the game unplayable with 17 average fps.
While looking very similar to Medium preset, our Custom preset performed a lot better with 53 fps.
The developers provide three rendering API for Fortnite – DX11, DX12, and Performance which is a modified DX11. Performance API removes the grass, vegetation, and all sorts of effects and anti-aliasing. You can now only adjust the 3D resolution, view distance, and texture settings.
In the absence of some effects and visual enhancements for the Performance API, with 3D resolution at 100%, it performed similarly with the Low Preset at DX11 but it did not suffered as much when view distance and textures are set to epic. Meanwhile DX12 performed the worst among APIs.
Fortnite at Epic Preset won’t blow you away but will drain your fps if you are on medium or budget gaming system. The addition of Performance API takes away some key visuals to maintain playable performance, but that makes Fortnite looks way older and for us it is not worth the trade. Our Custom Preset somehow manage to give us very playable framerate while maintaining better graphics.
Hopefully this guide helped you to enjoy Fortnite even with you not so fast system. Tune in for more guides like this.