Escape From Tarkov Performance Optimization Guide
TL;DR: Buy a better PC Kappa
Greetings, fellow cheek dividers and cheeki breekis! I’ve seen a lot of players struggling to maximize their framerate in this game, even with pretty beastly rigs. I’ve helped a few, but I think a guide on how to get the best performance out of your machine (especially in the current beta versions of EFT, which are not very optimized) would be appreciated by everyone. Let’s get into it.
DISCLAIMER: Use any and all of these tweaks at your own risk. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or are even a bit unsure, ask someone who does know. Don’t ruin your $1000 PC because you were too proud to admit you didn’t even know how to go into the BIOS!
Caveat: I only have AMD systems, so unfortunately for Intel and nVIDIA users, I won’t have many tips specific to your hardware – however, general tips (and there will be many) will apply to you as well.
Test System Configurations
System 1 – Average Tier:
CPU: AMD FX-8350 Black Edition (4 cores, 8 threads) @ 4.0 GHz (underclocked from 4.2 GHz and undervolted from ~1.45 V to ~1.3 V)
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition (2 GB GDDR5 VRAM, 1200 MHz VRAM clock, 1000 MHz GPU clock)
RAM: Corsair 32 GB (4×8 GB) DDR3 1333 MHz (XMP enabled: 1666 MHz) [16 GB would have near-identical performance]
PSU: 1000 W, 80+ Gold (Corsair)
Storage: 500 GB generic SSD (SATA)
Monitor: Generic 1680×1050 @ 60 Hz
System 2 – Above Average Tier:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6 cores, 12 threads) @ 4.2 GHz (stock core configuration, Infinity Fabric (memory controller) overclocked to 1600 MHz to match RAM)
GPU: AMD RX 5700 XT Sapphire Pulse (8 GB GDDR6 VRAM, 1750 MHz VRAM clock, 1815 MHz GPU clock)
RAM: G.SKILL 16 GB (2×8 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz (XMP enabled: 3200 MHz, CL 14)
PSU: 1000 W, 80+ Gold (Corsair)
Storage: 250 GB Samsung 970 EVO PRO SSD (NVME M.2)
Monitor: LG-24GL600F-B 1920×1080 @ 144 Hz
Monitoring/Performance Logging Tools
1) The “fps 1” and “fps 2” command. Use the “~” key to open the console, then type the command to enable it. Type “fps 0” to disable.
2) Radeon Performance Overlay (default shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+O) [nVidia GeForce Experience has a similar in-game overlay]
4) MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) (for GPU activity monitoring and manual fan curve adjustment)
Note: Monitoring applications that require low-level system access (i.e. need to read your hardware sensors) are sometimes identified by BattleEye as potentially dangerous applications, and will be forcefully shut down when you launch the game. This is not an application that is disallowed by BSG, and your access to the game will not be revoked (the “b” word cannot be uttered here) – it will just be closed when you launch the game, and you will have to re-launch it after you open the game. There is a workaround for this with MSI Afterburner – under Enable low-level hardware access interface, change this to “kernel mode”. Then MSI Afterburner/RTSS will work ingame no issues. (thanks, /u/Splintert !)
Pre-game settings and tips
1) Update! Make sure you’re running the latest Windows version, and ensure that your BIOS, chipset drivers, sound drivers, GPU drivers, Monitor drivers and peripheral (mouse/keyboard/headphones etc) drivers are installed.
1.1) When installing a new GPU driver, make sure to fully uninstall any older driver. This is called a “clean install“, and can sometimes be an option in the driver installation menu. If it’s not, make sure to manually uninstall the older driver. Use DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) for this – the fully manual way is also possible, but much slower (reboot in safe mode, uninstall, reboot in safe mode, install, reboot in normal mode).
2) Ensure that your PSU can handle the total power draw of your system hardware. A 350 W PSU is probably not enough. A 500 W one would be the minimum, with 750+ W being preferrable (the less power that is drawn from the PSU, the more efficient it is, unless if you draw less than half of its max rated wattage).
2.1) Ensure that your motherboard VRMs (the chips/capacitors/mosfets that handle power delivery to the CPU) are adequate for the CPU you are using. The cheaper (and older) your motherboard (in comparison to the age of the CPU), the more likely it is that your CPU is not adequately powered by the motherboard. Heavy in-game stutters (that happen at semi-regular intervals, different from the stutters the game gets because of optimization issues) are a tell-tale sign of VRM overheating that results in the CPU being underclocked heavily. I personally had this problem with System #1, which is why I underclocked and undervolted the CPU. Once I did that, the stutters I mentioned before disappeared completely. That said, do not mess with your CPU settings if you don’t know what you are doing!
3) Ensure your RAM DIMMs (if you have more than 1) are set in a dual-channel configuration (meaning that the DIMMs should be installed in alternating slots on the motherboard, if it has more than 2 slots).
3.1) Ensure that your RAM has its best rated XMP (Extreme Memory Profile, essentially RAM overclocking) enabled. It is very often that I see people having bought very fast RAM, but without the XMP enabled, it is much, much slower than advertised. This is because the default (JEDEC) profile of the RAM maxes out at 2400 MHz – so if the RAM vendor advertises a speed over that, you need to enable the XMP, or your RAM will not be utilized to its max potential. Here’s a nice guide by Corsair on how to overclock your RAM. All that said, make sure not to enable an XMP that is above what your vendor has rated the DIMMs for. That can cause all sorts of issues. If you’re unsure, either don’t mess with it, or ask someone who knows!
3.2) [Ryzen-specific] Ryzen processors like fast RAM a lot, much more than Intel processors (that’s not to say fast RAM is bad for Intel CPUs, of course – quite the contrary). To utilize the fast ram as efficiently as possible, the memory controller of the system (the chip that handles read and write operations of the RAM) must be running at a speed that’s as close as possible to the speed of the RAM. If it’s slower, some of the potential of the RAM is wasted. If it’s faster, the controller is overstressed for no reason. The memory controller was located on the motherboard on older systems, but the Ryzen processors have it integrated on the CPU – it’s known as the “Infinity Fabric” (henceforth “IF”). To make sure that your IF uses your RAM to the max, its speed (in MHz) should be equal to half of the max speed of your RAM, in MHz. So, if you have two DIMMs of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, half of that is 1600 MHz. Ensure that your IF is running at 1600 MHz, and you’re golden. You can see the IF clockspeed in Ryzen Master, in the “Fabric Clock” field. If your RAM is running at 3200 MHz max, then the IF should clock up to 1600 MHz on its own with no action required. If not, or if your RAM is faster, you’ll need to manually tweak it. You can do this in Ryzen Master. Here’s a guide by AMD.
4) Ensure that your system is properly ventilated, free of dust/obstructions, and does not thermally throttle. If your system performs well for a while after startup but then loses a lot of performance, or if it does better in the winter than in the summer, then you’re likely a victim of thermal throttling. PC components cannot handle extreme amounts of heat, but they generate a lot of it. If it is not dissipated in a timely fashion, performance degrades heavily – the system might even perform an emergency shutdown to prevent thermal damage to the sensitive electronics. Generally, if the system is clean of dust, free of obstructions (i.e. no large objects in front of air intakes), and its fans are running properly, you should have no problems. Otherwise, amend these issues. Check CPU and GPU temperatures with MSI Afterburner (link above).
5) Your hardware should be set to “Maximum Performance” mode in the Windows Power settings. Go to “Power Options”, and see which power plan is enabled. Make sure to click the “Show additional plans” option, if it’s available. Enable either the “High Performance” plan or the “AMD Ryzen High Performance” [Ryzen-specific] plan. If this setting isn’t enabled, your components will draw less power, so the system will be more power-efficient. However, it will also not be able to perform as well as it could. Note that a higher power draw results in more heat generated, so make sure point #4 is taken care of first.
6) Disable background applications that might be using the CPU and/or GPU before playing EFT. Use the Task Manager to check which apps might be “misbehaving” in this way, and either disable or uninstall them. Antivirus software are notorious hogs of the CPU, so create an exception in your antivirus for EFT, so it’s not monitored in real-time by your antivirus.
7) Make sure the game is installed on a Solid-State Drive, if you have one. If you don’t, go buy one. Seriously, this makes a big difference – not just for EFT, but for general PC usage. Buy one!
8) Clearing the game cache or verifying the integrity of the game’s files can occasionally fix some issues. You can do this from the game launcher. At the top right, under your username, there is an arrow. Click that, and you’ll get a menu. There, you can find the “Integrity Check” and “Clear Cache” options. Use them if you are experiencing an error you can’t seem to get past.
8.1) On the subject of the game launcher, if you experience a bug, make sure to submit a bug report through the launcher. The devs can’t test all system configurations, so bugs will get through quality testing all the time. Get screenshots, record videos, type out an explanation, submit the log files, do everything you can to help the devs isolate and repair the issue. Making a Reddit post might help, or it might not. Submitting a bug report will help, however.
9) Go to the installation path of Escape from Tarkov (right-click the launcher and hit “Open File Location”, then from there go to the “Battlestate Games” folder, then into the “Escape From Tarkov” folder), find the game’s executable (EscapeFromTarkov.exe), right-click and go to properties, then go to the compatibility tab. Enable the “Disable Fullscreen Optimizations” option. Then, hit the “Change high DPI settings” button, and in the new window that appears, enable the “Override high DPI scaling” option. These two settings can prevent some stuttering and other problems in EFT.
10) As a final tweak, you can try setting the game to run in “Above Normal” priority in the Task Manager. Open the Task Manager while the game is running, and go to the “Details” tab. Find “EscapeFromTarkov.exe” and right click. In the drop-down menu, go to “Set Priority” and select “Above Normal”. Confirm when prompted.
General: In EFT, switching some graphical settings to “low” (or anything other than “max”) might actually reduce performance. Here’s how that works. The engine implicitly assumes that your CPU is good enough, but that your GPU might not be. So, if you reduce a graphics setting too much, then it’s sent to the CPU rather than the GPU for processing. But because the game is not optimized, and doesn’t make use of multiple cores/threads effectively, you’re actually bottlenecking your system by switching the load to the CPU even more! To make it even more clear, your CPU is already stressed a lot (because most of the load is on one of its cores, so that core gets used to the max), and if you change graphical settings to low (because you think that’ll improve framerate), those graphical details (i.e. shadows) are then processed by the CPU rather than the GPU, because the engine thinks “oh, this guy switched shadows to low, his GPU must suck. Send the shadows to the CPU for processing!”. So, counter-intuitively, decreasing graphical fidelity worsens performance (in some cases)!
NOTE 1: A common “issue” in EFT is that scoping in causes FPS drops. Scoping in (with magnified optics) will always cause an FPS drop of around 20 FPS (your experience may vary), because the game renders the image in the optic separately from outside – so it renders everything twice. This is called “picture-in-picture” rendering. This cannot be avoided, unfortunately…
NOTE 2: Offline performance is ALWAYS worse than on-line. That is because your PC runs the server and plays on it as well. Online, you only have to worry about playing – the server is elsewhere. So don’t be discouraged! Your online performance will be better. This issue is also exacerbated if you enable AI. To test your true performance, go online!
Legend: I’ll be using a specific notation here, to indicate the estimated impact of increasing each setting on your CPU, GPU and FPS. I’ll use this notation: [CPU++ | GPU_ | FPS+], where “++” means “greatly increases”, “_” means “no change” (or extremely minor change), and “+” means “slightly increases”. Simiarly, “–” means “greatly decreases”, and “-” means slightly decreases. For CPU and GPU, we’re referring to usage, and for FPS we’re referring to Frames Per Second gained (+) or lost (-).
Let’s now tackle all in-game settings in order (in the Graphics settings menu). I’ll also offer a brief description of what each setting does, if not immediately obvious from its name:
Screen Resolution [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS-]: I recommend using the native resolution of your display (most typically: 720p, 1080p, 1440p). This setting has a high GPU impact, but is essential for spotting enemies. The lower your resolution, the more pixelated the image. So, at longer ranges, you won’t be able to spot enemies at all. And, as mentioned in the “general” section, increasing GPU load is actually beneficial for game performance (if you don’t overdo it!).
Screen Mode [???]: This isn’t a setting that “increases” or “decreases”, strictly speaking. However, prefer the “Fullscreen” option, as it uses the least system resources, and as such provides the best framerate. Note that there is a bug (haven’t experienced it personally, but I know it exists) where the Screen Mode is “Fullscreen”, but the game actually runs as “Borderless Fullscreen”. This is bad, because this mode actually uses way more resources, and as such, an FPS loss is incurred. To ensure this is not the case, ALT+TAB back to the desktop. If you see the EFT window minimizing to the tray, then you’re on true “Fullscreen”. If not, then you’re on “Borderless Fullscreen”. If the latter happens, simply re-select “Fullscreen” in the menu, and hit “SAVE”.
Aspect Ratio [???]: Nothing to tweak here, this simply determines which resolutions are available. The default should be ok, but if you can’t find the Screen Resolution you want, check the Aspect Ratio, and see if you’re on “16:9” or something else. All the resolutions I’ve listed above are under “16:9”.
Vsync [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS–]: Here’s a good one. Always disable this. What vsync does, briefly, is that it prevents screen tearing. The EFT implementation of this, however, is not very good right now. Disable this, and enable other vsync options in your graphics card options. Both AMD and nVIDIA GPU software offer vsync options, and they both also offer enhanced vsync (Freesync and GSync), although they require a compatible monitor. Note: If your computer is powerful enough, enabling vsync in the in-game options, and disabling it from your GPU settings may remove the FPS limiter for the game, allowing you to get more than 120 FPS (which is the max in the in-game settings). This appears to be an engine bug, so don’t count on it working – but it is a possiblity.
Overall Graphics Quality [CPU++ | GPU++ | FPS–]: This is a very coarse adjustment of all graphics options simultaneously. We’re going to be customizing everything by hand, so don’t bother with this.
Texture Quality [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS_ or -]: Textures are the images projected on all in-game objects, giving them their actual apperance – otherwise everthing would be one solid color. The “blue grass” bug some of you might have encountered is a failure to render (display) the grass texture (and so you see the default blue appearence). This is a setting that you should adjust to match your GPU. Here’s a rough guide:
–Potato-tier: GPU VRAM 1 GB -> Low (can you even play EFT with that GPU?)
–Low-tier: GPU VRAM 2 GB -> Medium (might also be able to use High+Texture Streaming, but don’t count on it)
–Average-tier: GPU VRAM 4 GB -> High (if problems are encountered, use High+Texture Streaming)
–Good-tier: GPU VRAM 6 GB -> High (if problems are encountered, use High+Texture Streaming)
–God-tier: GPU VRAM 8 GB -> High
“High+Texture Streaming” is the same as “High”, only a bit more efficient with using GPU VRAM. However, it can cause “pop-in” of the textures (i.e. a texture is very low-resolution one moment, then high-resolution the next). Use it if your GPU VRAM is 2 GB or more, and is completely maxed out. I’ve found EFT to never use more than 6 GB of VRAM, so if you’ve got that much or more, “High” is your clear best option. Otherwise, scale down as necessary.
Shadows Quality [CPU– | GPU++ | FPS+]: This is a very tricky setting. As I’ve stated in the “general” section, some settings switch over to being CPU-rendered rather than GPU-rendered if you tweak them to “low”. Shadows is one of these. Max this out as much as possible. Most GPUs should be able to handle “High” shadows. Check which one is the best by recording FPS changes when using each setting, then set to the one with the highest FPS gains.
Object LOD Quality [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This controls how many distant objects are rendered on your screen. If you’ve ever seen a box/crate/bucket or whatever disappear from view if you move far enough away, this is why. In general, if you max this out, objects still disappear when you’re far away, so you’ll always run the risk of shooting at an enemy (player models always render) while they’re behind an object that is invisible to you. As such, always keep this at its lowest setting, to minimize system load.
Overall Visibility [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: I believe this is equivalent to the “Draw Distance” setting of many other games (i.e. controls the maximum render distance). That said, I’ve noted minimal impact from this setting. I’d keep it at around 1000-1500.
Shadow Visibility [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This controls the radius of the lighting “sphere” around the player, inside which lights and shadows are correctly rendered. Unfortunately, even though this looks the best when maxed out, it also means that shadows reach much further away for you, allowing enemies to hide in them more effectively. As such, and considering the fact that it does have a system impact, I’d keep this at the minimum setting, or around the half-way mark (100) if you want your game to look as good as it can without giving up too much in terms of firefight advantage.
Antialiasing [CPU+ | GPU++ | FPS-]: Antialiasing, or “AA”, is a technique that attempts to reduce jagged edges in 3D rendered images. EFT supports the following AA algorithms: Fast Approximate AA (FXAA) and Temporal AA (TAA). The best performing one out of these is TAA, so enable that one. Use the normal setting (not the “TAA High”) unless if your GPU is around RTX 2060 / RX 5700 performance or more, in which case you should use “TAA High”. Do note that TAA generates visual artifacts near the edges of moving objects, so you might not like the look of it. In that case, FXAA gives good visual clarity, but with a bit more of a system impact.
Resampling [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS–]: Resampling asks your system to render an image at a different resolution than the one you’ve selected to render at. You can sub-sample (i.e. render at a lower resolution), or super-sample (i.e. render at a higher resolution). If you sub-sample, you lose visual fidelity (essentially you’ve decreased the resolution), but you gain performance. If you super-sample, you gain visual fidelity (essentially increasing resolution, also rendering AA less necessary), but greatly impact system performance. Unless if your system is in the top 1% of PCs, I’d use “1x off” (if you do have a beast PC, try “2x supersampling”). Sub-sampling (i.e. 0.75x) is to be used if you are struggling to get a good framerate, and reducing the resolution helps. Instead of reducing the resolution (and losing visual fidelity in the main menu), try keeping the resolution at max, but sub-sampling. In this way, the in-game resolution will be decreased (and so you may get more frames), but the menus will still look ok when you’re not in-raid (thanks for the correction, /u/Splintert !)
HBAO [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion essentially increases lighting realism. It doesn’t have too much of a system impact. If you’re already struggling, keep this off – it doesn’t have too much of a visual impact. If you aren’t struggling, max it out.
SSR [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Screen-Space Reflection does what it says on the box – it makes reflective surfaces reflect world entities. If you enable it and go to the Interchange puddles underneath the overpass-in-construction, for example, you’ll see the concrete pillars and sky being reflected in the water. This has a slight system impact, but adds a lot to the realism of the game. I’d enable this unless if you’re struggling with frames. Gameplay-wise, it makes no difference – so feel free to disable it if you want every last frame.
Anisotropic Filtering [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This simply dynamically changes the resolution of textures, so that they “blend” a bit better. It has a minimal system impact, so feel free to adjust it as you’d like. Even for low-end systems, I recommend keeping this at “on” or “per texture”.
Sharpness [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This increases the visual sharpness of each frame (think about how the image changes when you use painkillers – that’s an increase in image sharpness). This has no impact in system performance, so adjust to your personal preference.
Lobby FPS Limit [???]: Max this out. It’s the maximum FPS in the menu. No system impact in-game.
Game FPS Limit [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This puts a cap on the in-game framerate. It’s usually a good idea to put a cap, so that you don’t overstress the GPU. I’d recommend setting the cap to be the same as the refresh rate of your monitor, or the highest value available (if your monitor has a very high refresh rate, i.e. 144 Hz or more).
Z-Blur [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This makes anything that’s not the focal point (i.e. background) look blurry. It’s also known (afaik) as Depth of Field. This is relatively system-intensive, doesn’t really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Chromatic Aberration [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This is a post-processing effect that adds colorful visual artifacts to the scene where appropriate. This is relatively system-intensive, doesn’t really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Noise [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This is a post-processing effect that adds visual noise to a scene (think static on a TV). This is relatively system-intensive, doesn’t really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Grass Shadows [CPU++ | GPU++ | FPS———]: This allows blades of grass to cast shadows. It absolutely wrecks system performance, and although it looks very nice, is not really worth enabling. Always disable this.
Head Bobbing [???]: Set this as low as it will go. It makes the camera move around when the character is in motion. It can cause motion sickness if set too high, and also makes it harder to see distant objects (like enemies waiting to clap you, for example).
Field of View (FOV) [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Set this to at least 67. FOV in EFT is not horizontal (left-to-right), but vertical (top-to-bottom). 67 vertical FOV is equivalent to about 100 horizontal FOV. Here’s a calculator. You want at least 67 FOV because that prevents eye-relief issues with certain scopes. Eye-relief is the black circle that can appear on the inside of a scope, obstructing your view. However, do note that the higher the FOV, the more “zoomed out” everything will appear. With minimum FOV, everything appears “zoomed in”. This makes it easier to spot distant enemies and aim at them, but it shows you less of the map (essentially you have a smaller “window”). Note that increasing the FOV will increase system impact.
Automatic RAM cleaner: Enable this if you have 8 GB of system RAM or less (can you even play with less?). I’ve found EFT to use up a max of 10 GB of RAM (max at Reserve, then Interchange, and occasionally Shoreline). If you only have 8 GB, you might not even be able to play some of the more demanding maps (i.e. Reserve). Enabling the RAM cleaner allows for more efficient use of the RAM, minimizing the impact of your lack of memory.
Use only the physical cores: This is a complicated one to explain. Essentially, modern CPUs can run multiple processes simultaneously on each core. This is called “multithreading” or “hyperthreading”. As such, each available process “thread” is essentially an extra core. However, the CPU has a certain number of actual, physical cores, each of which has either 1 or 2 threads. The 2nd thread, if available, does not correspond to a physical core, but a virtual one. If EFT runs on a thread tied to a virtual core, it can underperform. Enabling this option should prevent this possibility, although the setting is finnicky at best, and sometimes does nothing at all. To ensure it is enabled on each game restart, simply go to the “Game” menu and make sure the setting is on, then hit “SAVE” (regardless of whether you changed something or not). This should force the setting on. To validate, go to the Task Manager while the game is running, find EscapeFromTarkov.exe in the “Details” tab, right click and select “Set Affinity”. If your CPU has hyperthreading/simultaneous multithreading, then you should see some CPUs deselected. If that’s not the case, the setting is not running correctly, and you have to do this manually. Unfortunately, this is way beyond the scope of this guide. If you’re tech savvy, you should be able to find info on this and fix it. If not, you shouldn’t be tweaking this stuff in the first place.
Well, that’s all folks! This should help you squeeze every last frame out of your machine. Of course, there are infinite different configurations possible with PCs, so you can get an infinite number of problems. This guide can’t guarantee you good performance, but if you’re not a victim of a fringe performance bug, you should be able to improve your FPS in EFT.
If you have any questions, or if you spot any errors in the guide, please let me know!