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Optimization Guide for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by Arthmost. [1]
Seeing how many fellow TW3 players out there are constantly dealing with low performance, crashing and stuttering I've decided to write this little guide in an attempt to enhance their gaming experience. For a bit of background, I'm a hardcore gamer and a long-time PC/overclocking enthusiast, currently running the game without any crashes or stuttering.
I hope that you will be able to fix your issues and boost your performance after reading this guide and trying various tweaks I am proposing. I am ephasizing the settings I applied to reach optimal performance (60-80 FPS minimum) on my hardware.
My specs for reference:
  • i5-3570k 4800 MHz 1.37V (air cooling)
  • Gigabyte GTX 770 4Gb 1293/7500
  • 8Gb DDR3-1866 CL11
  • SanDisk ExtremePro 480Gb
  • Corsair TX650W

NVIDIA CONTROL PANEL SETTINGS

I am sorry, dear AMD users, but I just haven't used AMD products and I have no idea how to optimize them. I'm sure somebody will be able to provide similar AMD control panel settings after going through my NVCP list.
Tweaking your Nvidia Control Panel 3d settings plays a significant role in boosting in-game performance. Let's have a look at the general optimal settings.
Basically, you want almost everything boosting the performance to be put to work and any hardware-forced graphic effects turned off. When you have the same 3d effects turned both in the control panel and in-game they are being applied twice, eating twice as much of your FPS (if not more). Official source here. Do not use NVCP settings over in-game settings unless you are certain they work better - in most cases, game engine is optimized for its own settings.
These are my GTX 770 settings. If you have a newer/older GPU yours might be slightly different. Go with common sense.
  • AO - off
  • AF - app-controlled
  • AA gamma correction - on
  • AA mode - app-controlled
  • AA transparency - off
  • CUDA - all
  • DSR - off
  • Max pre-rendered frames - 1 (one of the best settings for experimenting, when set to 1 known for fixing multiple performance issues including stuttering)
  • Multi-display acceleration - single display performance mode (unless you explicitly use multiple displays for playing TW3)
  • Power management - prefer maximum performance
  • TF anisotropic sample optimization - off (open for experimenting)
  • TF negative lod bias - allow
  • TF quality - quality (open for experimenting)
  • TF trilinear optimization - on
  • Threaded optimization - on
  • Triple buffering - on (turning this on sometimes helps with image lagging / visual stuttering - try it, but make sure the next setting in the list is applied, otherwise it won't work)
  • Vsync - adaptive (turn in-game vsync off!)

IN-GAME SETTINGS

Things you should do first:
  • Vsync - off (we're using adaptive vsync, remember?)
  • Framerate cap - unlimited (no need to limit anything with the game engine when our hardware does it for us)
  • Hardware cursor - on (fixes mouse acceleration issues and gameplay smoothness)
  • This is subjective, but a lot of users (myself included) found the controls to smooth out if you toggle walking instead of running (CTRL)
Now, for everything else you can basically go crazy, but not too crazy. Here's an awesome guide by Nvidia that explains how each and every setting works and how it influences your FPS. You can decide what kind of picture you can settle with and optimize it for your machine.
My settings:
  • Resolution - 1920x1080
  • Hairworks - off
  • AO - HBAO+
  • AA - on
  • Bloom - on
  • Blur - off
  • Motion blur - off
  • Chromatic Aberration - on
  • Depth of Field - on
  • Detail level - high
  • Foliage - high
  • Grass - medium
  • Light Shafts - on
  • Number of Background Characters - high
  • Shadow Quality - high
  • Sharpen - on
  • Terrain Quality - high
  • Texture Quality - high
  • Vignette - on
  • Water Quality - high

TYPICAL ISSUES

A lot of people are reporting crashing and stuttering issues.
The bad news is - fixing micro-stuttering is extremely hard as it can be caused by a lot of different reasons. You just have to experiment with basically everything in your machine to find and troubleshoot this issue. It may not even be machine-related, but rather game engine-related.
In any case, you would probably want to try these steps (given that you have already tried applying the nvidia/in-game settings above):
  • Trying the general fixes at the end of this guide
  • Lowering all the settings to minimum / disabling what we can. Like, absolute minimum. Let's pretend for a second we're playing a game out of 1990s. The trick here is to see whether stuttering is caused by the in-game load on the GPU. If you notice that the stuttering is gone, good news is - you found the root if your issue, bad news is - your game cannot run at the settings you had before troubleshooting. Now you have to slowly and orderly tune up each setting one by one to determine which one caused stuttering and which can be safely turned to reliably play the game.
  • Monitoring GPU/CPU/RAM/VRAM usage, power draw, temperatures to determine whether something is bottlenecking your machine or behaving oddly. HWInfo and MSI Afterburner are great free utilities for this purpose (use Sensors functionality). HWInfo gives you a lot of numbers to crunch while Afterburner supplies you with awesome graphs. When a stutter happens, wait some time (to not produce an instant dropdown effect by alt-tabbing), then alt-tab and check the graphs - try to locate any weird effects (i.e. some graph spiking down oddly) that happened at the time of the stutter.
Crashing usually happens when your GPU doesn't like your overclock or the card is not being supplied with enough power (or actually both, as OC usually requires more power to sustain it). This can be fixed in a variety of ways:
  • Revert to stock settings
  • Underclock GPU
  • Add GPU voltage (careful with that, meant for experienced users familiar with overclocking only!)
  • Investigate if your power supply might be the cause
Given that, of course, your OS and drivers are alright. You might try fully uninstalling the GPU drivers in safe-mode using a 3rd party utility ( Guru3d Driver Uninstaller works well) and reinstalling them.
Also numerous gamers report huge performance drops / freezes / crashes when going into the inventory (i.e. trading with a vendor, reading a book or bestiary notes, chilling in main menu). I would guess that menus are being rendered differently for some reason and thus may strain the GPUs/CPUs harder than intended. Only fix I can think of here is forcing the Vsync and experimenting. Otherwise this issue may still be considered unresolved, with no reliable fix.

OVERCLOCKING

You can get that extra performance (and FPS) by overclocking your hardware. This is only intended for advanced users as it can be potentially dangerous if done wrong. If you feel comfortable around your hardware and software and can follow instructions along with common sense, I suggest giving it a try.
Even if I could write a general overclocking guide for any CPU/GPU/RAM it would take me weeks and it would be so large nobody would read it. Thus said, the best way to proceed would be:
  • Heading to /r/overclocking and checking the sidebar guides
  • Reading more guides on overclocking your specific hardware
  • Researching what kind of overclocks other people with the same hardware managed to achieve to have realistic expectations
  • Walking the hard path of trial and error until you success - overclocking, that is
Overclocking the GPU is pretty easy and foolproof for any advanced PC user. It gives the best FPS returns (more or less linear with the overclock). You can do that relatively quickly.
Overclocking CPU boosts overall system responsiveness and working speeds (obviously, influences games as well but not as much as the GPU). This is harder and involves tweaking and studying your BIOS, installing aftermarket cooling, testing and experimenting.
Overclocking RAM reportedly has little effect on gaming performance and it's arguably enough to have 8Gb+ of 1600 MHz CL9 RAM, however even little boosts add up to the great cause if you know how to achieve them safely.

GENERAL

Some general tips & tricks that boost in-game and system performance and may fix stuttering/crashing (individual, might or might not affect your particular machine):
  • Switching to high performance plan in OS (increasing system performance and responsiveness)
  • Closing all unnecessary background application before running the game (freeing RAM/VRAM to prevent running out of memory; decreasing ambient CPU load)
  • Increasing your pagefile; general formula = min: recommended, max: twice your RAM (helps with virtual memory issues, crashing, stuttering)
  • Disabling Nvidia Streaming Service unless you're actually streaming; (reduces a lot of unnecessary CPU load)
  • Having a minimum of 10-15% free space on your SSD (recommended free storage by all the hardware developers to keep SSD performance high)
  • Creating a custom fan curve in MSI Afterburner (makes your GPU cooling work harder thus keeping it cooler and preventing thermal throttling - this kind of goes well along with GPU overclocking)
  • Unparking CPU cores (more consistent and higher FPS)
  • Disabling HPET in BIOS (lower DPC latency, snappier responsiveness)
  • Reinstalling the OS
  • Reinstalling the game
  • Installing the game on an SSD (might or might not speed texture loading depending on the engine; usually a really good measure for online games, not so good for singleplayer games; won't hurt if you can afford it)
  • Switching PhysX processor to CPU in NVCP (for older cards mostly)
Thank you for your time and have fun playing The Witcher 3!
Any questions or additions are welcome, I will edit the guide as I collect more useful data.
  1. ^ Originally posted in Reddit



    • Anonymous

      03 Feb 2017 00:25  

      Triple Buffer is not needed when Adaptive V-Sync is forced on the nVIdia control panel; as for Triple Buffering, it only works for OpenGL, as far as I know and what the forums say.

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