***Brief FAQ*** What is this thread for? - The purpose of this thread is to serve as a general reference for people who wish to learn more about/discuss the Standard and Advanced Tweaks in ATI Tray Tools, as well as the various tweaks scattered throughout the OpenGL and Direct3D sections. I encourage anyone and everyone with any amount of experience with ATT's tweaks to share their experiences in this thread. Do the tweaks discussed here really improve performance? - They do on lower end/mid-range video cards, but not much on higher end cards. The tweaks discussed here are really more to do with ensuring maximum compatibility than performance, and their main purpose is therefore to increase stability. Granted, if you go fiddling with the wrong settings and/or don't know what you're doing, you'll probably end up doing more harm than good, defeating the purpose of tweaking. This is why it's important to read this guide with great care, and not just enable the tweaks I have enabled. But my drivers are already stable, I just want more performance! - In this case, you should try modded drivers. Omega and DNA are the most popular, but there are also others you can try, such as NGO, DHzer0Point and WarCat. These drivers generally improve performance by quite a bit, while still maintaining a good level of image quality and stability. And what's best, you can still implement the tweaks discussed here even if you have a modded driver installed. Do note however that modded drivers are not supported by ATI, and ATI is therefore not responsible for any potential damage which may occur to your system as a result of using modded drivers, and neither are the developers of the drivers. Enabling these tweaks had no impact on performance! Explain! - The performance improvements are case-sensitive. ***General Tweaks*** Anisotropic/Trilinear Filtering Optimizations: These are texture filtering optimizations which you can use to improve performance in games where Trilinear filtering and/or Anisotropic filtering is enabled. Enabling these will have the most profound effect on performance with slower graphics cards, and might result in a very slight image quality drop, though this shouldn't be noticeable in most cases. For best performance, both of these should be ticked. Sources: TweakGuides.com: ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide Guru3D Forum: Triple Buffering and Anisotropic Filtering Optimization. From my experience, these optimizations do not improve performance. This is somewhat expectable however, as my GPU does not take a very large performance hit from AF as it is. If you own an X1650-series card or lower, enabling both of these may improve performance by up to 10-15% depending on the game and the resolution you're running the game at (a higher resolution constitutes more pixels to be sampled, increasing the performance hit from AF, and thus also proportionally increasing the potential performance improvement brought about by the optimizations). Generally, the older your card is, the more benefit you will see from using these optimizations. Flip Queue Size: This setting controls how many frames the GPU should render ahead (hence the nomenclature of its nVidia counterpart: "Max Frames to Render Ahead") and temporarily store in a 'queue', ready to be displayed. The default value of this setting is "Undefined" (which equals to 3). In general, the higher this setting, the higher the potential fps gain. Note however that setting this excessively high can cause noticeable input lag, so it's generally not recommended to set it above 3. Sources: TweakGuides.com: ATI catalyst Tweak Guide Rage3D Forum: Flip Queue Size This setting is two-barreled. If you are sensitive to mouse lag, I would personally suggest trying a value of 2 first, and if it introduces intolerable input lag, try 1 or even 0 (which is my preferred setting). If you are one of the lucky individuals who rarely notices input lag, set it to 3 first, and even 4 or 5 if you still don't notice input lag. As Koroush Ghazi of TweakGuides.com wrote in his ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide, the higher this setting, the higher the framerate. Another Guru3D-member, AXS, wrote: ... Hence enforcing my suggestion of setting it to 2 initially. Force to use Triple Buffers: This option is associated with Vertical Synchronization (= Vsync). Vsync is a technique which improves the image quality of 3D graphics by removing "tearing", the misalignment of the top and bottom portions of your screen. It comes with one huge drawback however: It limits the framerate to a display's refresh rate frequency, thus decreasing performance by a very noticeable amount in some cases. Triple Buffering is a technique which should be used in conjunction with Vsync, as it essentially eliminates the performance hit caused by Vsync while still retaining the positive effect on image quality provided by it, therefore bringing you the best of both worlds. You should not keep this setting enabled if you do not use Vsync, as Triple Buffering tends to consume some video memory, and may actually decrease performance as a result. In cases where Vsync is enabled, the benefits of enabling Triple Buffering usually outweigh the disadvantage brought about by its memory consumption. Sources: TweakGuides.com: ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide [H]ardForum Forum: How VSync works, and why people loathe it Wikipedia: Triple Buffering ***Standard Tweaks*** Override Pixel/Vertex Shader Version: These options allow you to force a lower shader level than the maximum one supported by your GPU. Forcing a lower shader level may provide higher performance / greater compatibility in some older games, but will also degrade image quality, so these settings should be left alone in most cases. Optimize Pixel Shader Code: Enables internal shader optimization for highly increased performance with no image quality loss. This setting should be enabled at all times, as disabling it will severely hurt performance and will not gain you any image quality to compensate for the performance loss. Geometry Instancing: Infested Nexus, another Guru3D-member, gave a good definition for Geometry Instancing in this thread: Geometry Instancing should always be enabled for increased performance in games which take advantage of the technique (for example Far Cry). Force Mip-Map Filter: Enabling this option should theoretically improve texture quality in some games, but many users have reported a contrary scenario. This setting also introduces some strange visual anomalies in certain games, and comes with a slight performance hit, so it is recommended to keep this disabled. Z Compression Mode: Controls the level of compression applied on information held in the Z-Buffer. Enabling a higher level of compression should theoretically improve performance, but the chance of encountering visual anomalies will also be greater than with the default setting. From my experience, enabling a higher level of Z compression does nothing in the way of improving performance, and as a general piece of advice, I would recommend leaving this setting to default, as the default setting provides an optimal level of performance without any discernible image quality impact. Fast Z Clear Enable: Enabling this will cause information stored in the Z-Buffer to be cleared more quickly, resulting in increased performance without image quality loss. Disabling it will degrade performance noticeably, so it is only recommended to disable this setting for troubleshooting purposes (if you are experiencing Hyper-Z related problems). Unticking this setting cut my Counter Strike: Source Stress Test framerate in half, so I strongly recommend that this setting be left enabled. Z Mask Enable: Ticking this will enable a technique used to selectively remove unnecessary information from the Z-Buffer. Keep this setting enabled for optimal performance with no image quality loss. Z Top Disable: In effect, this setting is equivalent to 'disable Hyper-Z'. Refer to the post below this one for a more explicit description. VPU Recover: A tool with its primary aim being to prevent system hangs resulting from a graphics-related lock-up, forcing the user to restart their PC. VPU Recover being frequently triggered is a sign of system instability, and generally indicates a hardware issue/failure. It is recommended to keep this setting disabled, as VPU Recover has been reported to sometimes crash itself when enabled, and disabling it will hence improve overall system stability. Disable DMA Copy: [no description] Disable Block Write: Having block writing enabled results in the graphics driver waiting until a certain amount of graphics information is collected into the video memory before being displayed. This decreases performance if the information is being queued and not written immediately, as seems to be the case most of the time. Because of this, it is recommended that this setting be left enabled (ticked) in most cases. Note that some AGP boards may benefit from having this setting disabled (not ticked). WMV Acceleration: Ticking this setting enables hardware accelerated Windows Media Video playback, and should be enabled in most cases. ***Advanced Registry Tweaks*** Advanced Direct3D Tweaks Fog Options: According to Koroush Ghazi of TweakGuides.com, the Fog Options are diagnostics settings. I however claim that enabling them will increase compatibility with older games especially, and you should hence enable them all if you are certain that your video card supports them. Notice that enabling these will not force anything, but will merely add support for certain fog types. Only disable these if you are experiencing problems with a particular game or if your video card doesn't support them. Export W Buffer: If ticked, enables W-Buffer support. The W-Buffer is a depth rendering technique much like the Z-Buffer, but results in more evenly distributed precision of the Z-Buffer's distance values, therefore potentially providing better image quality than the Z-Buffer in games that support it. It is recommended to tick this setting, as it doesn't force anything, but merely adds support for the W-Buffer. Fast Color Clear: Ticking this setting enables a technique which clears color information more quickly from the frame buffer, resulting in increased performance without a discernible image quality drop. This should be enabled by default even if ATT doesn't detect its value. I recommend ticking it just to make sure. VoltxEnable: Adds support for Volumetric Textures when enabled. Tick this for improved performance. Color Compression: Ticking this enables a technique used to compress color information stored in the graphics memory, freeing video memory space, and thus resulting in increased performance. This should be enabled by default even if ATT doesn't detect its value. I recommend ticking it just to make sure. Export MipMap Cube Maps: From the TweakGuides ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide: This should be enabled by default even if ATT doesn't detect its value. I once again recommend ticking it just to make sure. Export Signed Vol Textures: This setting presumably adds support for a texture type called "Signed Volume Textures" (whatever those are). I have tested this setting in several games, and have found no image quality- or performance impact from having it enabled. If you want to experiment, enable this setting and try your favorite games to see if you notice any performance improvement. Line AA Enable: Ticking this will enable Line Anti-Aliasing, a technique used to smooth the edges of individual lines. Note that this setting does not add AA to any other objects besides standalone lines. This setting might result in a minor performance hit for a small improvement in image quality, so if you are after the absolute best performance, it is recommended that you disable this setting. Note: This setting appears to be limited to ATI's FireGL range of graphics cards, meaning that it has no effect on ATI's consumer graphics cards. Enable Raster Guardband: From the TweakGuides ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide: This setting should be enabled by default even if ATT doesn't detect its value. I recommend ticking it just to make sure. Allow Macro Volume Textures: This setting presumably adds support for "Macro Volume Textures" (whatever those are). I have tested this setting in several games, and have found no image quality- or performance impact from having it enabled. If you want to experiment, enable this setting and try your favorite games to see if you notice any performance improvement. Force Compressed Stencil Buffer: Enabling this setting forces information stored in the stencil buffer to be compressed. This may improve or degrade performance depending on the game. I have tested this setting in several games, and have not found it to have any noticeable impact on performance, so I recommend leaving it at default (disabled) initially. Constant Compare Enable: [No description] Support for Non power of two size textures: Enabling this option will add support for non-power of two size textures (the standard type of texture size), and should be enabled for maximum compatibility. Tiling Settings: These settings control support for several texture tiling methods. Having these settings enabled can improve performance in some games, and it is thus recommended that you enable them all. Advanced OGL Tweaks Force Vertex Cache for Iris: [No description] DitherAlpha: Enabling this setting dithers alpha textures in OpenGL-based games. This should result in smooth color-blending, as dithering creates the notion of a color missing from the color palette being displayed by combining different colors which are found in the color palette. Disabling this may improve performance, but will result in poorer color quality. Disable AGP Blit: Blitting is a technique used in 2D games, and should not be disabled. Leave this setting alone. Disable FGL AGP: Ticking this setting presumably disables ATI's FireGL card series' AGP function. Export OpenGL 2.0 Procedures: Ticking this setting adds support for OpenGL 2.0 procedures, and it should therefore be enabled. CCC Mode Switch Enable Merged 3D Mode (Emulate Control Center): Enabling this setting causes the Direct3D and OpenGL sections of ATT to be merged into one '3D' section to emulate Catalyst Control Center behavior. Whether or not this setting should be enabled is a question of preference, though there is one drawback to enabling this which ought to be considered before switching to the merged 3D mode: If you set Catalyst AI to "Off" or "High" and/or you disable VPU Recover, they will be reverted back to their default values after the next reboot of your PC. Catalyst AI will return to "Low" and VPU Recover will be enabled again, but if you normally have Catalyst AI set to "Low" and don't mind VPU Recover being enabled, you can tick this setting to somewhat simplify your ATT interface. Compatibility Tweaks Do not touch these settings unless you know precisely what you're doing and why! Display Tweaks These tweaks are mainly for troubleshooting your display settings, and should generally be left alone, unless you are experiencing a display-related problem (the most common being the non-proper detection of your display). Most of these tweaks should be pretty self-explanatory. Below is an example scenario where these tweaks may be needed: Problem: Help! I have a problem where if I enter a 3d application and use a resolution greater than 800*600, I cannot see part of the screen, as if it is leaking over the edges of my display! Solution: I once had this problem, and it was due to my display not being correctly detected, as a result of which the non-DDC monitor restrictions were put into effect by the Catalyst driver. In order to solve this problem, all of the boxes under 'Display mode restrictions' should be unticked. This will ensure that even in such a scenario where the display isn't being detected at all, the image is not being disrupted by any driver-level restrictions. Note that the display mode restrictions act as a sort of "safety lock" so that the user cannot possibly destroy his/her display by assigning a resolution and/or refresh rate beyond the display's capability. This is why the display tweaks should be left alone if you are not experiencing any display-related problems which cannot otherwise be resolved. Multi Thread Support Enable MT Support: From the TweakGuides ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide: New AA and AF Methods These settings include several experimental anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering methods, one of which is the famous "EATM" anti-aliasing, discussed in more detail in post #3 of this thread. Video Tweaks These settings control hardware acceleration support for several video playback formats. Don't touch these settings unless you know what you're doing. Vista Avivo Tweaks These settings include various Windows Vista -only Avivo tweaks you can tinker with at your own discretion. Since I don't have Vista, I don't know what it is exactly that these tweaks do, so I would be appreciative if someone would enlighten me about them. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here are the tweaks I have applied on my system: Standard: Advanced: *These tweaks should be safe to implement for anyone in possession of an ATI X1300-series card or higher. I cannot however be held responsible for anything which may occur as a result of tweaking your Windows registry (yes, these are technically registry tweaks). If you do encounter problems, the most prudent thing to do would obviously be to revert back to default settings. With Standard Tweaks you can do this by clicking the "Default" box, but the Advanced Tweaks section unfortunately doesn't have this feature, so you'll have to change the values back to default manually. The default values for the Direct3D section are as follows: Code: Support for Non power of two size textures - Check Primary Tiling - Check All others - green box (no value) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Credits: Ray Adams - For making ATI Tray Tools Koroush Ghazi - For engaging in tedious testing to find out what (almost) every tweak listed here does Links: TweakGuides: ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide DriverHeaven Forum: ATI Tray Tools Advanced Tweaks TWcenter Forum: Radeon Tweaking Guide Guru3D Forum: Advanced Direct3D Tweaks Guru3D Forum: What is Geometry Instancing??? Guru3D Forum: WTF is Geometry Instancing ? Guru3D Forum: New AA and AF Methods. Wikipedia: Z-Buffering *Note: This guide refers to the latest official ATI Catalyst driver version 10.5 and to the latest official ATI Tray Tools version 220.127.116.111.