Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been doing nothing but growing since its release on August 21, 2012. If you’re thinking about playing, now is a great time to join one of the most competitive multiplayer shooters on the PC if you haven’t done so already.
CS:GO has a variety of settings you can optimize to your advantage. But if you’re new to the game, these can seem overwhelming. Luckily for you, I have professional experience and will teach you how to set up the game for the maximum competitive advantage.
While this guide will disable some annoying things and help out your FPS, it’s obvious that you have do your part as player to adapt to these changes and play around with them to see what works best for you. Much of this configuration is personal preference, but there are tweaks you can make to in-game graphics, Nvidia settings, key bindings, and more to help outplay the competition.
Determine Screen Resolution
I have played on every resolution setting and my personal favorite is 1680×1050. This makes the game slightly stretched to see models better and bigger without sacrificing the field of view. A majority of players play on 24in. monitors and these settings will have no problem, however, I’ve played on smaller monitors and these settings don’t work too well for that.
If you’re playing CS:GO on a 17in. laptop you will probably be better off with 4:3 / 800×600 just so you can see the models. However, there is no “one true resolution” and that is why you have to play around with them and find what works best for you.
I have noticed that many professional players are using a 4:3 / 800×600 resolution but keep in mind that a majority of them are players from the 1.6 era like myself and are used to it. This setting allows players to hit very high FPS rates but it actually cuts down your field of view down to 74 degrees while a 16:9 configuration will have 90 degrees.
I’ve played on 4:3 for a while but I began to have tunnel vision and started to see obvious models on edges which were cut out by my small field of view. This can bother some players but it’s an excellent way to increase FPS.
Optimize Launch Options
Not too many players know they can customize CS:GO launch options unless they are a hardcore gamer. If you haven’t done so already, changing these options will turn you into a CS:GO power user and by default also make you a better gamer. There are countless launch options to choose from but I’ll show you a screenshot of mine as well as provide you with a popular option:
My settings are based on a lot of trial and error but if you want to go with something easy, here are some popular settings:
-novid -high -threads 4 -nojoy +cl_forcepreload 1 -nod3d9ex
Here is what these settings do:
- “-novid” Skips Valve animation at launch
- “-high” Prioritizes CS:GO for CPU
- “-threads 4” Dictates threads used by CPU (use 2 if you use a dual-core CPU)
- “-nod3d9ex” Makes ALT+TAB faster
- “-nojoy” Removes joystick support
- “+cl_forcepreload 1” Increases FPS by preloading maps
Wow! That was a lot of things to go over and they may seem a little confusing. Don’t worry though, you only have to make these settings once and then spend your time playing CS:GO.
Lower Video Settings
I’ll make this section as brief as possible: the lower the video settings are, the more FPS CS:GO will have. I know this may seem counter-intuitive if your PC’s hardware can max everything out, but you should keep in mind that this game is all about gameplay, not graphics!
Take a look at the screenshot of how I adjust my in-game settings:
This is what these settings control:
Global Shadow Quality: There really isn’t much to this setting, however, there is a catch. Shadow quality in this game is like the second most FPS-consuming setting. If you want everything to look pretty, go high and play on low fps. You’ll also have the added perk of seeing shadows from players much further.
Model / Texture Detail: This is the amount of detail every model in the game should have. It doesn’t consume much FPS from gaming rigs, but there isn’t a big difference between high and low.
Effect Detail: This controls how beautiful the game looks. This setting won’t change much in maps like “Dust II” which has no visual effects except for a few clouds and a burning car. However, I change this quite often depending on a map. On small compact maps I have it set to low and on bigger maps I have it on high or medium. This is because this setting also detects how far from a player’s view it should start drawing models. So if you have it set to low on big maps that have distances, it will increase the chances of models appearing suddenly (popping-out).
Shader Detail: This is just useless and there is no other way of saying it. Basically, this controls the look of tiles on the floor or reflections on the glass. On maps with windows (Nuke, Office. etc), you know the struggle of looking through reflections so you should always have this setting on low.
Multicore Rendering: This allows CS:GO to utilize more than one core from the CPU. More cores means more FPS so you’ll want this on.
Multisampling Anti-Aliasing Mode: This is the setting that eats all your FPS away. CS:GO doesn’t look that bad with it being off once you get used to it. All it really does is just smooths the edges and makes textures look better and more realistic. If you have a good machine you can put it on 2X.
Texture Filtering Mode: This tells the system the difference between a texture when looking at it from far away or up close. Bilinear and trilinear has no significant difference in FPS. What it does do, however, is fix the boundaries of mipmaps (pixels) Anisotropic consumes a little more amount of FPS because it uses square mipmaps.
FXAA Anti-Aliasing: This also eats up quite a bit of FPS and should be turned off. What it does is essentially simple but it’s also a big amount of work because it has to find all the edges and smooth, every single one of them. This obviously makes game look better, but it’s also something you can play without.
Vertical Sync Players generally tell others to turn off Vertical Synchronization (VSync) to decrease the in-game lag but they are actually missing out an important feature of the game. Monitors have different refresh rates and these rates determine the number of times a screen refreshes itself in a second. What VSync does is prevent the video card to do anything to the current frame on screen until and unless the monitor completes its refresh cycle. During this small time, the video card either rapidly copies the off-screen graphics into display (Double Buffering) or simply switch between them or do both (Triple Buffering). Enabling it may cause input lag due to the time left in the refresh cycle to wind up. Disabling it may cause screen tearing in which two or more frames are drawn together at a moment.
Motion Blur Do yourself a favor and just leave this off. Trust me!
Configure Graphics Card
Last but not least on this list on how to optimize CS:GO is the graphics card. Not all graphics cards are the same so you’ll have to experiment a bit with this one. And depending on your GPU manufacturer, these settings may or may not be the same across the board.
Generally, you won’t want to change too many of these settings if you don’t know what they do. However, if you’re an experienced PC gamer, take a look at my Nvidia control panel for some ideas:
The Choice is Yours
CS:GO (and every other PC video game) is all about having fun. I encourage you to take some of my suggestions and see for yourself how you like them. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it’s up to you to determine what helps you be a better player.
I hope this brief guide will dramatically help you improve your FPS and your gameplay experience. If you would like to see more about CS:GO (config builds, mouse sensitivity & DPI, keybindings, HUD customization, crosshairs, etc.), just let me know in the comments below. If you have any questions about CS:GO, you can also contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or Twitch and I will gladly answer.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, my CS:GO rank is “Global Elite” and I have over 10,000+ hours playing the Counter Strike franchise starting way back during the Half-Life mod!