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.
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”.
|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.
|Interactive Comparisons (Texture Filtering)
|de_dust2 #1 – Bilinear vs. 16x
|de_dust2 #2 – Bilinear vs. 16x
|de_nuke #1 – Bilinear vs. 16x
|de_nuke #2 – Bilinear vs. 16x
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.
|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.
Global Shadow Quality: high
Model/Texture Detail: low
Effect Detail: high
Shader Detail: very high
Multicore Rendering: Enabled
Texture Filtering: Bilinear
Wait for Vertical Sync: Disabled
Motion Blur: Disabled