March 26, 2014

How to Improve Frame Rate Through Video Settings

By Martin Mittring

I’d like to share a few tips that will help you improve performance when playing with the editor.

Many UE4 developers are content creators who are building assets and games using fairly powerful machines with multicore CPUs, fast graphics cards and high-spec memory configurations but if you’re using a slightly lower spec machine, or if you want to make the editor even more responsive, you can scale down a few video settings to reach the desired result. Keep in mind that the more you scale your settings, the more it will change the look of your work, and some rendering features may even be disabled in lower spec settings.

You can find the scalability settings in the quick settings menu:


These settings are saved each time you exit the editor, so you may try restoring the settings to see the final look on a high-spec machine. Over time we will continue to refine the system (for details see BaseScalability.ini) – and we also expect games to customize this further.

We have many features that we can adjust for performance or quality. Most of them are only visual because this is where most performance is required, and those settings usually don’t have a strong gameplay impact.

All of those settings are grouped (e.g., Texture Quality or Shadow Quality) so the player has to manually adjust fewer settings. Each group can be in one of four states, usually low/med/high/epic.

Which settings are the best for you depends on your configuration (CPU performance and memory, GPU performance and memory), your personal preference (pretty or fast) and the content (many objects or complex materials). The auto button gives you good settings for starters.

Note that lower settings do not always result in faster rendering. This can happen because many specialized hardware units run in parallel. Scaling down a specific rendering feature might not affect the critical path and in that case it would have not resulted in better performance. The engine is optimized for a typical game workload (realistic materials, many lights, partly dynamic, many objects, and many effects) and a wide range of target platforms. That means we’d rather have a lower base fps but have less impact when we add more details.

Some hardware might just be too slow to run the editor but a modern desktop (not laptop) multicore CPU with a decent DirectX11 graphics card should give you a very good experience.

The game settings are stored separate from the editor settings. Changing the game settings is a bit more involved but I can cover that in a separate post if you’re interested.

Join us over in the forums or on Twitter at @UnrealEngine for more questions or comments about improving performance in the editor. We’re happy to help!