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Horizon Forbidden West PC Optimized Settings & Performance Guide

The best graphics settings for Horizon Forbidden West on Low/High End PCs

Horizon: Forbidden West is the latest PlayStation “exclusive” to hit Steam and Epic games. Contrary to its predecessor, the game is remarkably well-optimized, averaging over 60 FPS on every reasonable configuration. If you have been facing any performance issues with the game, read on as we test every graphics setting to find the culprit.

Horizon Forbidden West: PC System Requirements

Horizon: Forbidden West demands a hex-core Ryzen 5 3600/Core i5-8600 alongside a GeForce RTX 3060/Radeon RX 5700 for 1080p 60 FPS at the “Medium” quality preset. Switching to 1440p “High” increases the CPU requirement to a Core i7-9700/Ryzen 7 3700X and the RTX 3070/RX 6800.

Ultra HD or 4K raises the GPU requirements to a GeForce RTX 4080 or a Radeon RX 7900 XT, and the CPU recommendation to a Core i7-11700 or a Ryzen 7 5700X. The game requires 16GB of memory at any resolution/preset and 150GB of SSD storage.

Our Test Bench

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

Horizon Forbidden West: 1080p vs 1440p vs 4K Performance

Horizon Forbidden West runs remarkably well, averaging 69 FPS on the GeForce RTX 4060 at 1080p “Very High.” The RTX 4070 pushes 100 FPS, while the Radeon RX 7900 GRE posts an average of 124 FPS with 1% lows of 98 FPS.

The RX 7900 GRE delivers over 100 FPS at 1440p “Very High,” while the RTX 4070 drops to 84.5 FPS. The higher-end GeForce and Radeon cards post averages of nearly 120 FPS, led by the RTX 4090’s 138 FPS. Even though the RTX 4060 is reduced to 46 FPS, it should be a valid 1440p option when paired with DLSS/FSR.

The higher-end GPUs are limited to ~80 FPS at 4K, while the RTX 4070 barely falls short of the 60 FPS mark. The RX 7900 GRE nets an average of 62.5 FPS, while the RTX 4090 leads the convoy with an average of 94.4 FPS. Once again, all these GPUs should offer a delightful experience with upscaling (or frame generation in the case of the RTX 4060).

Best Graphics Preset for Horizon Forbidden West: Low vs High vs Very High

Horizon Forbidden West runs across a wide range of hardware. At 4K, the GeForce RTX 4090 averages 149 FPS using the “Very Low” quality preset, versus 134 FPS at the “Low” quality preset, marking a performance dip of 11%. Increasing the graphics preset to “Medium” reduces the frame rate by another 10% to 121.5 FPS.

The switch to “High/Very High” has the largest impact on performance, reducing frame rates by 20-25%. Interestingly, “Very High” and “High” produce nearly the same framerates (95-100 FPS) on the GeForce RTX 4090.

Field of View Slider Performance

The field of view (FOV) slider has a surprisingly low impact on performance. Increasing the slider reduces frame rates by 3% while decreasing it by the same amount makes the game run 4% faster.

Texture Filtering and Terrain Quality

Texture filtering improves the appearance of on-screen textures, enhancing detail and reducing artifacts. This is achieved using Anisotropic Filtering which resamples the textures perpendicular to the screen. Without texture filtering, surfaces in the distance often look blurry and lacking detail. The reason is that the game uses low-quality MIP maps to save resources for far-off meshes.

Texture filtering has a modest impact on performance, reducing frame rates by 5% at the highest “16x” quality setting. If you are strapped for FPS, we recommend switching to “x2” for the best experience.

Terrain quality sets the resolution of rocks, soil, and other surface textures. It usually does so by increasing the polygon count (CPU+GPU intensive) or using tesselation (GPU intensive). In Horizon, it has a nominal quality on performance, reducing frame rates by a mere 3%.

Level of Detail and Crowd Quality

Level of Detail (LOD) is used to adjust the mesh quality of different objects in the game. This refers to the 3D polygon complexity rather than texture quality and affects the CPU and the GPU. Usually, the lower-quality presets reduce the LOD of far-off objects while “High/Ultra” renders several distant meshes.

LOD has a sizable impact on performance in Horizon Forbidden West. Going from “Very Low” to “Very High” reduces frame rates by 18% on average. “High” offers a more balanced ground, retaining most details, while decreasing frame rates by only 8%.

Crowd Quality causes a 9% drop in average performance at “High,” from 79.4 FPS to 73.7 FPS. “Medium” produces a more favorable 78 FPS without culling many characters.

Shadows and Ambient Occlusion

Horizon Forbidden West features Shadows, Screen Space Shadows, and Screen Space Ambient Occlusion. The latter two are dynamically generated for objects on the screen, while the former is a product of pre-baked shadow maps.

Disabling shadows grants a 12% performance improvement but dramatically reduces realism. If you’re running low on performance, the “Medium” setting is a more balanced option delivering roughly the same frame rates as “Off.”

Screen Space Shadows has an unexpectedly hefty impact on performance, bringing down frame rates by 12.5%. If you’re struggling to hit 60 FPS, this can turned off.

Screen Space Ambient Occlusion has a negligible impact on performance, reducing less than 1% of the frame rate.

Transparency, Water, and Cloud Quality

Reflections and transparency can have varying impacts on performance. “Screen space reflections” is one of the more taxing on-screen effects. Water and Cloud quality have a minimal impact on performance, reducing frame rates by only 3%.

Screen Space Reflections, Translucency, and Parallax Occlusion Mapping are settings with a subtle impact on quality and performance. Together, they have a sizable impact on frame rate but should be switched off only if you’re running a several-year-old PC.

Hair Quality

Hair Quality affects the hair quality of the human characters and animal/machine creatures. It has a nuanced impact on performance, with “Medium” being the most balanced setting. Even the “Very High” option degrades performance by only 4%.

Upscaling and Frame Generation: DLSS 3 and FSR 3

Horizon Forbidden West features DLSS 3, FSR 3, and XeSS. Frame generation is only available on GeForce RTX 40 series GPUs, while DLAA (Deep Learning Anti-aliasing) should work on all RTX GPUs. For whatever reason, Frame Generation didn’t provide a higher performance than DLSS “Performance” upscaling.”

Since it generates a whole frame, Frame Generation alleviates CPU and GPU bottlenecks which is why this is so strange. With standard upscale, DLSS “Quality” improved performance by 21%, while “Performance” led to a 35% uplift.

Anti-aliasing techniques like SMAA and TAA perform the same as “Off,” while DLAA bites off a few frames from the average.

Horizon Forbidden West: CPU and VRAM Usage

Horizon Forbidden West requires an 8GB graphics card for optimal performance. Higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K are even more demanding, using up to 10GB of video memory. Upscaling and frame generation are the easiest ways to get away with a slim VRAM buffer. It’s the reverse on the CPU side. The game didn’t exhibit any CPU bottlenecks at any resolution or setting. We tested using the Core i9-12900K, i9-13900K, and the Ryzen 7 7800X3D.

Best Graphics Settings for Horizon Forbidden West on PC

High-end PCMid-Range PCLow-end PC
Resolution4K1440p1080p
Texture QualityVery HighVery HighHigh (Keep this at VH if your GPU has 8GB VRAM)
Texture Filtering16x AF8x AF8x AF
Depth of FieldOffOffOff
Shadow QualityVery HighVery HighMedium
Level of DetailVery HighVery HighHigh
Terrain QualityVery HighVery HighVery High
Cloud QualityVery HighVery HighVery High
Ambient OcclusionSSAOSSAOSSAO
Hair QualityHighHighHigh
Screen Space ReflectionsHighHighHigh
Water QualityHighHighHigh
Crowd QualityHighHighMedium
Translucency QualityHigh ResHigh ResHigh Res
Screen Space ShadowsOnOnOff
FOV+25%0%0%
Anti AliasingDLAA/TAAN/AN/A
UpscalingNativeDLSS/FSR QualityDLSS/FSR Balanced or Performance

Definition of High-end, Midrange, and Low-end

High-end (4K)Mid-range (1440p)Low-end (1080p)
CPUCore i7-13700K/Ryzen 7 7800X3DCore i5-13600K/Ryzen 5 7600XLess than: Core i5-12400/Ryzen 5 3600
GPURTX 4070 Ti Super/RX 7900 XTRTX 4070/RX 7800 XTLess than: RTX 4060/RX 7600
Memory32GB (dual-channel)16GB (dual-channel)Less than: 16GB (dual-channel)

Optimized Settings for RTX 4060/3060 Laptop GPU

RTX 4060 Laptop GPURTX 3060 Laptop GPU
Resolution1440p1080p
Texture QualityVery HighVery High
Texture Filtering8x AF8x AF
Depth of FieldOffOff
Shadow QualityVery HighMedium
Level of DetailVery HighHigh
Terrain QualityVery HighVery High
Cloud QualityVery HighVery High
Hair QualityHighHigh
Ambient OcclusionSSAOSSAO
Screen Space ReflectionsHighHigh
Water QualityHighHigh
Crowd QualityHighMedium
Translucency QualityHigh ResHigh Res
Screen Space ShadowsOnOff
FOV0%0%
Anti AliasingN/AN/A
UpscalingDLSS 3 “FG” BalancedDLSS Balanced/Performance

Horizon Forbidden West PS5 Graphics Settings

The PC equivalent settings of the various PS5 graphics quality modes, courtesy of Eurogamer:

PS5 Performance ModePS5 40fps ModePS5 Quality Mode
Texture QualityVery HighVery HighVery High
Texture Filtering2x/4x/8x AF2x/4x/8x AF2x/4x/8x AF
Shadow QualityHighHighHigh
Depth of FieldHighHighHigh
Level of DetailHighHighHigh
Terrain QualityHighHighHigh
Crowd QualityHighHighHigh
Hair QualityHighHighHigh
Ambient OcclusionSSAOSSAOSSAO
Screen-Space ReflectionsHighHighHigh
Water QualityHighHighHigh
Cloud QualityHighVery HighHigh
TranslucencyDefaultHigh ResHigh Res
Parallax Occlusion MappingOnOnOn

Check out our mobile GPU guide for more details on how Horizon Forbidden West performs on the GeForce RTX 4060 mobile.

Horizon Forbidden West Optimized Settings for Low-End PC

The R5 5600/RTX 4060 PC should perform well at 1440p with the DLSS set to “Performance” mode.

Ryzen 5 5600/RTX 4060i5-12400F/RX 6600
Resolution1080p1080p
Texture QualityHighMedium
Texture Filtering8x AF16x AF
Depth of FieldOffOff
Shadow QualityHighMedium
Hair QualityHighHigh
Level of DetailHighMedium
Terrain QualityHighVery High
Cloud QualityHighMedium
Ambient OcclusionSSAOSSAO
Screen Space ReflectionsHighHigh
Water QualityHighHigh
Crowd QualityHighMedium
Translucency QualityHigh ResHigh Res
Screen Space ShadowsOffOn
FOV0%0%
Anti AliasingN/AN/A
UpscalingDLSS QualityFSR Balanced

Here’s our low-end PC optimization guide for more details.

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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