Battlefield 3 Tweak Guide

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Published: November 9, 2011. Updated: December 6th, 2011. Game Version Used: R3.Battlefield 3 (BF3) takes massive online warfare to a whole new level of immersion. Those of you familiar with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will notice the similarities,



General Optimization

Battlefield 3 Tweak Guide by Koroush Ghazi

 however BF3 turns the formula back towards the wider mix of infantry and vehicle warfare that was in Battlefield 2. Fighter aircraft take to the skies again, there are over 20 driveable vehicles, and a whole new range of vehicle and weapons modifications provide something for every style of gameplay. With 9 huge multiplayer maps and 5 game modes (Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch, Rush, Squad Rush and Conquest), playing BF3 is as close as many of us will get to the feeling of being in the thick of a large-scale battle. It's no exaggeration to say that Battlefield 3 really pours on the adrenaline-charged action in precisely the way that many BF2 fans have been eagerly awaiting

The aim of this guide is to allow you to better understand and best utilize all of the configuration options available in Battlefield 3.

Before proceeding further, make sure you meet the game's minimum requirements as provided below, with the recommended requirements in brackets:

  • Processor: 2 GHz dual core CPU (Quad Core CPU)
  • Memory: 2GB (4GB) RAM
  • Hard Drive: At least 20GB of free space
  • Video Card: DirectX 10 compatible (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT minimum, GTX 560 or above recommended)
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible
  • OS: Windows Vista or Windows 7

Importantly: Battlefield 3 does not run under Windows XP. It requires DirectX 10 support at a minimum, which only Windows Vista and Windows 7 can provide.

What follows are full descriptions for all of the settings available in BF3's various options menus. Screenshot comparisons are provided where relevant to highlight the impact on image quality of changing these settings. Performance information is also provided for every setting, although bear in mind that the precise impact on your particular system depends on your specific hardware combination and your other game and system-wide settings. The aim here is to give you enough information so that you can make an informed choice as to the settings you enable or disable to obtain a balance of visual quality and performance acceptable to you.

General System Optimization

Almost as important as any in-game setting is the way your Windows installation is configured. A great many problems and performance issues, especially stuttering, crashes and slowdowns, can be traced directly to sub-optimal settings in Windows and out-of-date or badly configured drivers. Take a look at our Stable Gaming Guide for tips on how to get your PC in the best shape. At the very least make sure to update your graphics drivers to the latest available version, as the latest drivers are specifically optimized for Battlefield 3.

Performance Measurement

To successfully conduct any tweaking, you will need some way of objectively measuring your performance in Frames Per Second (FPS). The quickest and easiest way to measure your FPS in BF3 is to open the in-game console by pressing the ~ key (above the TAB key). Then type render.drawfps 1 and press Enter to display a small FPS counter at the top right of the screen. You can disable this FPS counter by opening the console again and typing render.drawfps 0 and pressing Enter. More details are in the Advanced Tweaking section of the guide.

Pay attention to your FPS during the game, particularly during graphically intense scenes, such as in heavy combat or in highly detailed outdoor areas. If your FPS dips into the low double or single digits for example, this is a good indication that you need to adjust various settings until your minimum FPS is consistently above 20-25 FPS during normal gameplay, such as when walking around, and higher still (30-35 FPS) during combat to maintain appropriate responsiveness in a fast-paced game like BF3.

Video Settings

The full range of video settings can be found under the Video tab of the Options screen. In the following sections, we'll go through each of the video settings and see how they affect performance and image quality.




In the performance graphs shown, for each setting we start with a "baseline" where all options are set to the High video preset, as well as setting Fullscreen to On and VSync to Off. From this baseline, we vary individual settings to measure their effect on performance and image quality. To see how various combinations of settings work for other NVIDIA GPUs, check out the Optimal Playable Settings section of the site.

Full System Configuration

  • GeForce GTX 560 1GB
  • Intel Core i7 940
  • 3GB RAM
  • Win7 64-bit
  • Nvidia 285.62 WHQL Drivers

eneral Video Settings

The general video settings can be found on the left side of the Video tab, and are covered below.

Fullscreen Monitor: If you have multiple monitors, this setting allows you to select which one to use as your primary display monitor for BF3.

Fullscreen Resolution: This determines the Resolution of the game image, measured by the number of pixels horizontally and vertically (e.g. 1920 pixels x 1080 pixels). It also lets you select the Refresh Rate at your chosen resolution shown in Hz. The number of resolutions and refresh rates available here is limited by the capabilities of both your graphics card and monitor. The higher the resolution you choose, the more detailed the image will be. However higher resolutions also generate an increased load on your system, particularly your graphics card, and hence can reduce your overall performance. The performance impact can sometimes be substantial, so if adjusting the other settings fails to sufficiently improve your performance, reduce your resolution. For the sharpest image on an LCD monitor, either select the maximum available resolution here, which is also referred to as your Native Resolution, or if choosing a resolution below your maximum, set the Fullscreen option to Off - see further below.

An indication of the performance impact of changing this setting is shown below:

Resolution Chart

The graph shows that progressively higher resolutions will reduce your FPS significantly. Resolution is one of the major determinants of overall performance in BF3.

Fullscreen: If you want to run BF3 in a window on your Desktop, as opposed to taking up the entire screen, then select Off here. Running BF3 in windowed is best done if you want to reduce the game's screen resolution to improve performance, but still maintain a crisp image.

Brightness: This slider controls the level of brightness for the in-game image. It has no impact on performance, so set to suit your taste.

Vertical Sync: Vertical Synchronization (VSync) is the synchronization of your graphics card and monitor's abilities to redraw an image on the screen a number of times each second, measured in Hz. This is not the same as FPS, but when VSync is On your maximum FPS will also be capped to your monitor's Refresh Rate - see your Refresh Rate value in the Fullscreen Resolution setting. For most people the refresh rate is around 59-60Hz, which means your framerate will be also capped to around 60 FPS if VSync is On. When VSync is Off, you may experience a phenomenon known as 'tearing': portions of the image temporarily appear to be out of alignment. This does no harm to your system, but it can be annoying. Enabling VSync removes tearing but aside from capping the framerate, it can also reduce your FPS by up to 50% or more, and importantly, introduce some mouse lag. To benefit from VSync without taking the performance hit, you can enable Triple Buffering, which should already be enabled by default in BF3. Otherwise the easiest way to guarantee the highest framerates, and to prevent any mouse lag, is to simply set Vertical Sync to Off. You can also disable Triple Buffering as covered in the Advanced Tweaking section.

Field of View: This setting determines your Field of View (FOV), which is how much of the game world you can see at once on the screen. The default is 70 degrees, and here you can select any value between 60 and 90 degrees. Raising FOV requires a level restart to apply any changes, and it can also reduce performance if raised due to more of the game world being visible. See the Advanced Tweaking section if you want to set a custom FOV value.

Motion Blur Amount: This setting determines the amount of Motion Blur used. Since it's dependent on the Motion Blur setting, its impact is covered in the description for that setting later in this guide.

Open Screen Adjust: When you click 'Open Screen Adjust', a new screen will open. Within it is a dark gray window with arrows on its edges, indicating the maximum extent to which the Heads Up Display (HUD) elements, such as your compass and ammo counter, can be displayed on your screen. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to resize this window. For example, expand the gray window all the way to the edges of the screen, and in turn your HUD elements will be displayed at the far edges of the screen as well, making them less obstructive.

Stereoscopic 3D: Battlefield 3 now supports stereoscopic 3D. NVIDIA users who have a 3D Vision-capable system can turn this option On to provide a more immersive gameplay experience. More information on how to enable and use this functionality is on this page.

Colorblind Support: If set to On, the game will alter some of the colors used for various game elements to ensure that they are easier to distinguish for players who are color blind.

Once you've adjusted the settings on this screen, you will be prompted to apply and save your settings.

Please check out the rest of this guide here:


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