Guides

Fallout 4 PC Optimized Settings & Performance Guide

The best graphics settings for Fallout 4, optimized for your PC!

Fallout 4 is among the best open-world post-apocalyptic RPGs of our time. Launched in November 2015 as Bethesda’s most anticipated title, the game has seen renewed action following the Fallout TV show. It is among the most played games on Steam with over 90K concurrent players this week. We returned to the wasteland to see how Fallout 4 holds up on modern GPUs (and CPUs) and recommend the best graphics settings for low-end, midrange, and high-end PCs.

Our Test Bench

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-13900K.
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero.
  • Cooler: Lian Li Galahad 360.
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090.
  • Memory: 16GB x2 DDR5-6000 CL30.
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM1000e.

The game was tested in and the around wilderness surrounding Concorde.

Be sure to disable “Weapon debris” or you’ll be greeted by never-ending crashes.

Resolution Scaling and Graphics Presets

Fallout 4 scales incredibly well on high-end hardware. The game averaged 146 FPS at 4K, 296 FPS at 1440p, and 310 FPS at 1080p using the “Ultra” quality preset. A CPU bottleneck is likely limiting higher framerates at 1080p.

We see even wider deficits between the four graphics quality presets at 4K. While “Low” yields 362 FPS, “High” averages 224 FPS, while “Ultra” fails to hit 150 FPS.

As you’ll soon see, only a few settings are the primary drain on performance.

Volumetric Rays (Godrays) and Lighting Quality

Part of NVIDIA’s GameWorks library, godrays (or volumetric lighting) is the most intensive graphics setting in Fallout 4. Merely switching from “Ultra” quality to “High” grants you a 51% uplift in performance. “Medium” and “Low” perform roughly the same, delivering 72% higher framerates than “Ultra.” Completely turning off godrays improves your framerates by 87%.

Medium is the sweet spot, though high and ultra should do well on modern GPUs too

Lighting quality controls the direct lighting in Fallout 4. “UItra” tanks performance by ~12%, while “Medium” and “High” perform the same.

Lighting quality has a modest impact on performance

Ambient Occlusion and Shadow Quality

Ambient occlusion is a critical component of modern 3D graphics. Without it, most games look bland and 2-dimensional. SSAO and HBAO+ are about as taxing, both impacting frame rates by 14-15%.

HBAO+ provides better coverage and is as fast as base SSAO

Fallout 4 offers two settings to control shadow quality and range. Shadow Distance affects the distance (from the player) at which shadows are culled/not rendered, while Shadow Quality sets the resolution/level of detail of in-game shadows.

Shadow Distance modestly impacts performance, reducing frame rates by 15% at “Ultra” versus “Medium” which is as fast as “High.”

High-Medium Shadow quality won’t demean your performance

Shadow Quality affects performance and VRAM consumption. “Ultra” is 35% slower than “Low,” while “Medium” and “High” deliver similar frame rates, about 13% slower than “Low.”

Decals and Reflections

Decals are as taxing at “High,” and “Medium,” as when disabled. “Ultra” reduces your performance by 13% versus “High.”

Screen Space Reflections have a limited impact on visual fidelity in games like Fallout 4. If you’re strapped for frames, it’s better to disable it for a 16% boost in performance.

Distant Object Detail and Object Detail Fade

DOD or Distant Object Detail controls just that. The “Ultra” quality is 12% slower than “High” which is as fast as “Low” and “Medium.”

ODF or Object Detail Fade sets the distance at which objects are culled/removed from view. Like most other settings, the “Ultra” quality is 13% slower than the rest.

Anti-aliasing and Texture Filtering

Fallout 4 was designed with TAA in mind. Disabling it leads to an unreasonable amount of shimmering. Temporal anti-aliasing reduces your frame rates by 15% on average.

Anisotropic filtering is another essential of modern 3D graphics. The 8x is only 5% slower than “Off,” while 16x reduces your performance by 18%. The two look almost similar.

Object, Item, Grass, and Actor Fade

Object/Item/Grass/Actor Fade are the only four settings that can be tweaked in-game. The rest are configured from the Fallout 4 launcher. These control the distance at which characters (ally and enemy), clutter, crafting materials, in-game objects, and grass start to fade from view.

The maximum value (100%) is 10-15% slower than the lowest (0%), while the ones in between have a nominal impact on framerates.

I recommend keeping these settings at 70 or higher to reduce texture/mesh pop-ins and excessive culling.

Fallout 4 CPU Bottlenecks

Fallout 4 is fairly CPU-bound at 1080p. However, this won’t be the case if you have a low-end or midrange GPU that can’t hit more than 100 FPS on average.

1080p Ultra
1440p Ultra

Ultra HD (4K) and QHD are mildly CPU-bound with a GPU-Busy Deviation of 8-11%. Reducing the graphics settings, unsurprisingly reduces the CPU bottlenecks.

High
Low

At High, we observed a GPU-Busy Deviation of 5%, which fell to a mere 3% at “Low.” Settings that reduce the draw distance of objects, characters, shadows, and vegetation reduce the CPU workload. Interestingly, the highest “Godrays” setting also impacts this metric.

Fallout 4 VRAM Usage

Fallout 4 uses less than 6GB of VRAM even with the ~60GB “High Resolution” texture pack. And that too at 4K “Ultra.” Graphics memory usage should be lower at 1080p and 1440p.

Fallout 4 Optimized Settings for Low-End, Midrange, and High-End PCs

Graphics SettingsHigh-End PCMidrange PCLow End PC
Resolution4K1440p/4K1080p
Texture QualityUltraUltraUltra (6GB VRAM, or High)
Lighting QualityUltraUltraUltra
Anti-AliasingTAATAATAA
Volumetric Lighting (Godrays)UltraHighMedium
Screen Space ReflectionsOnOnOn
Decals QualityUltraUltraUltra
Shadow DistanceUltraUltraUltra
Shadow QualityUltraUltraUltra
Ambient OcclusionHBAO+HBAO+HBAO+
Object Detail FadeUltraHighHigh
Distant Object DetailUltraHighHigh
Object/Item/Grass/Actor Fade100%100%100%
Texture Filtering16x AF8x AF8x AF
High-end (4K)Mid-range (1440p)Low-end (1080p)
CPUIntel Core i7-13700K/AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3DIntel Core i5-12600K/AMD Ryzen 5 5600Less than: Intel Core i5-11400/AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPUNVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti/AMD RX 7900 XTNVIDIA RTX 4060 Ti/AMD RX 7700 XTLess than: NVIDIA RTX 4060/AMD RX 7600
Memory32GB (dual-channel)16GB (dual-channel)Less than: 16GB (dual-channel)

Areej

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have been writing about computer hardware for over seven years with more than 5000 published articles. Started off during engineering college and haven't stopped since. Find me at Hardware Times.com and PC Opset. Contact: areejs12@hardwaretimes.com.

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