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CS:GO – Video settings comparison and Tweaking Guide

We compared the differences between each video settings in CS:GO and prepared a bunch of interactive fullscreen comparisons for you. We want to answer the question, if you should play on high or low settings and give you recommendations how you can improve the general visibility ingame. This guide is not about performance improvements or any benchmark results. We will show and explain you how to set up your game for maximum competitive advantage.



Please visit our Ultimate Resolutions Guide to check out the differences between 4:3, 16:10 and 16:9.


Global Shadow Quality

Interactive Comparisons (Global Shadow Quality)
General: very low vs. high
very low vs. medium medium vs. high very low vs. high


As you can see in our interactive comparison, there is no big difference between “very low” and “high” shadows on short distance, beside some smoothed edges and softer looking shadows in general. However, the Global Shadow Quality affects the draw distance of shadows, which is really crucial for our recommendation. On “high” you will see shadows blending in much earlier than on “very low”. This gains you a huge advantage in some situations, therefore we highly recommend you to use the “high” setting for Global Shadow Quality.

Model / Texture Detail

Interactive Comparisons (Model / Texture Detail)
low vs. high

Setting Model/Texture Detail to “high” results in sharper und higher detailed textures, but the differences are very marginal at all. We recommend you to use “low” to minimize distracting details.

Effect Detail

There are rumors about a denser smoke animation for molotov/incendiary grenades, if you set the effect details to “low”. We tried to test this and created a video comparison to show you the results. It’s important to know, that the Shader Detail setting also affects the Effect Details of CS:GO, so you need to raise both settings at the same time to see the difference. As you can see in our video, we compared low/low with high/very high and noticed a big difference in the smoke animation. You are able to see much better through the burning molotov, if you set the Effect Detail to “high” and the Shader Detail to “high” or “very high”.

Shader Detail

Interactive Comparisons (Shader Detail)
  low vs. high  

The Shader Detail most noticeably affects light reflections on your weapon, so if you have some decent weapon skins, you will be able to see them shine/reflect in the light. However, the Shader Detail also affects some of the effect details of CS:GO (e.g. Smoke density of molotov grenades – see above). We recommend you to set this option at least to “high” or “very high”.

Multisampling Anti-Aliasing Mode

Interactive Comparisons (Multisampling Anti-Aliasing)
de_inferno #1 – off vs. 8x de_inferno #2 – off vs. 8x de_mirage – off vs. 8x

MSAA (Multisampling Anti-Aliasing) will help you to see your enemies better in same situations (e.g. through the graveyard on de_inferno). It smoothes the edges of the bars and improves the overall look of CS:GO. There is no reason why you shouldn’t use MSAA – especially when you got a modern GPU, which can easily handle Anti-Aliasing without a noticible performance impact.

Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering, or also known as Anisotropic Filtering, improves the clarity and crispness of textured objects in games. As you can see in our interactive comparisons, it most noticeably affects the ground textures in CS:GO. We recommend you to reduce Texture Filtering to “Bilinear” for less distracting details on the ground.

FXAA Anti-Aliasing

Interactive Comparisons (FXAA Anti-Aliasing)
  General: disabled vs. enabled  

FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) is a form of post-process Anti-Aliasing, which is more resource saving than MSAA. However, FXAA creates a slightly blurry look, so we can’t really recommend this setting. Turn it off for better visibility.

Lowest vs. Highest Overall Settings

These are some general comparisons on de_mirage, de_inferno and de_dust2 between the lowest and highest possible video settings in CS:GO. It’s pretty easy to see that there isn’t much difference at all. There are some specific settings like “Global Shadow Quality” or “MSAA”, which can give you an advantage in some situations, but overall CS:GO restricts very critical settings to sv_cheats 1 and allows all players a similar visual experience.

Recommended Settings

Global Shadow Quality: high
Model/Texture Detail: low
Effect Detail: high
Shader Detail: very high
Multicore Rendering: Enabled
MSAA: 8x
Texture Filtering: Bilinear
FXAA: off
Wait for Vertical Sync: Disabled
Motion Blur: Disabled

  • Tacle

    You need Effect and Shader at High to get the reduced Molotov smoke effect!
    Your Test is with Effect Detail High and Shader low, this will not work.

    Shader Very High and Effect High also work.
    Best place to Test is the Pipe on Overpass

    • Thank you very much for pointing this out! We’ve updated this guide and created a new video comparison.

      • Ivan

        Hello, I love this guide you made, would you mind telling me what crosshair settings you used in this guide please?

  • Lui

    Der Molotov ist das eine, die Smoke das andere. Gibt es irgendwelche Unterschiede bei den Grafikeinstellungen bezüglich der Smokes?

    Ich meine mich zu erinnern, dass damals in der Beta die Smoke bei einigen Grafikeinstellungen 1-3 Sekunden früher verschwand. Ist das noch aktuell?

  • Miau Frito

    Doesn’t anti-aliasing add a small amount of input lag? Definitely not the most competitive setting if you’re preferring a good-looking game over lower latency

    • No, maybe you are mixing up “Vsync” and “Anti-Aliasing”? Anti-Aliasing doesn’t add any kind of input lag.

      • Miau Frito

        A few random comments from the internet, they could all be wrong though:

        Does Anti-Aliasing cause input lag?

        “it might depend on the type of AA, but i’m pretty sure in some cases it does – AA renders the picture (depending on AA settings) twice or more times, at a bigger resolution etc. AA doesn’t just magically appear and smooth your picture. I think it does cause slight input lag. I’m pretty sure of this. Also, this might not apply to the source engine in particular – but some engines implement AA / work with frames in different ways, some of which can cause pretty noticable input lag, for example the quake3 engine.”

        “MSAA does cause input lag, it might not be alot but yes it does.”

        “In terms of ‘time-to-emission’, anything you pile on that increases frame times may have some effect on how you perceive latency. AA usually adds to frame times, but not always — in some cases AA is effectively free (and is sometimes the case with FXAA, depending on how it’s implemented).”

        “AA does produce produce input lag. On the Source engine i always have everything on low quality/no AA and bloom so don’t get hit by the enormous input lag. Played competitively and i could easily tell a difference even though i played with constant 120fps. It sort of feels like you play with 70 fps instead of 120 and your mouse aim won’t be that precise (this is the Source engine though) other games has it aswell but it’s harder to tell because most of them aren’t “micro” precision games like CS/CSS.”

        Which Graphical Settings Cause Input Lag?

        “In nvidia settings set max pre rendered frames to 1, vsync force off, triple buffer off, all forms of AA off, anisotropic is OK”

        “Vsync and AA are the two I’ve confirmed can cause input lag”

        “Vsync, MSAA”

        • Murloc

          No. That is all bullshit. Even if it did cause any lag, it would be at such a small scale that you wouldn’t percive it. Although it might cause a big hit on your graphics card. (that’s the lag they might be referring to).

          • Miau Frito

            I mean, people can notice the input lag from m_rawinput, and that is only 1-2 ms

          • karatepig

            m_rawinput does not generate any input lag. Enabling m_rawinput disables mouse acceleration (assuming it is not built into the mouse). Mouse acceleration increases the distance you travel depending on how fast you move your mouse. You may move your mouse 1″ at 1 unit of speed and go half of your screen, while you may move your mouse 1″ at 2 units of speed and go all the way across your screen.

          • Miau Frito

            CSGO’s rawinput does indeed add input lag because it’s poorly implemented, and the input lag increases with your fps. Try using rinput.exe ( for a few months and then go back to m_rawinput 1, the difference is small, but noticeable if you’re used to not having it (of course that if you play at less than 200 fps you’re not going to notice it)

  • Tom Schneemann

    What makes the command snd_pitchquality 1 and dsp_enhance_stereo 0 and snd_headphone_pan_radial_weight 2

  • Tom Schneemann

    Can u make a guide for mouse settings

  • Miau Frito

    I also recommend using this launch option: +mat_disable_fancy_blending 1
    It makes the floor textures look more uniform (aka blurry as hell) which makes it easier to spot enemies and might improve fps if you run on ancient hardware