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PC Games - Tips, Tricks & Tweaks!


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#1 SenitaL

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

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Hello all, I realise its been a while since i made one of these Big Posts but alas the pull of my Beloved OCC forums is as strong as always and I have Returned! :lol:

Today i Decided to go ahead and make a start on this thread which will be Dedicated to Listing (as the title states) Tips, Tricks & Tweaks for many games. Some will link to my work (e.g Fallout 3 guide) but mostly it's just stuff i've found and picked up on over my years of gaming. More will be added to the list as i get time, and text/picture formatting will follow too, so bear with me, as it might look a little bland at the moment :) Lets get started!

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Graphics Drivers:
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It's good practice to have the latest drivers for your graphics Card(s) installed. New Drivers Include performance enhancements (as you can see above in H.A.W.X) and Fixes for games which you might be having problems with.

I also HIGHLY recommend Downloading Nvidia Game Profiles, or ATi Application Profiles Regardless if you are running in Crossfire/SLI (more then one GPU in your system) or a single Card. These add Anti-aliasing Support (as an example) for newer titles which The main drivers can't always be updated to have upon every new games release.


In Game Settings & Driver Settings:
As a general rule of thumb, if a game has Graphics options for something you can also Set in your drivers, you want to use the IN GAME settings!

Lets take Anti-Aliasing in the ATi CCC (Catalyst Control Center) as an example. You're free to Set the Type of AA used (Super-Sample, Adaptive Multi-Sample, Multi Sample) And any Filtering options, such as Wide Tent or Edge Detect, but should have the "Use Application Settings" Checkbox ticked, and use the In game Anti-Aliasing options.

For Anisotropic filtering, the maximum setting you can apply is X16, now not all games let you choose how much you want to apply, and others only go up to lesser values such as X8 (or X15 for Fallout 3 as an example). So if you want to Max this feature out, then just set it to X16 in your Drivers and Leave the options off in game to make sure the drivers taking care of it.

Note: Many popular games, work fine when you override the Anti-Aliasing from the Drivers, but i have also come across many cases where if you enabled AA in both drivers and the game, it would cause problems. So take this as a pointer, if you cant seem to get Anti-Aliasing working correctly, enable it via the game OR the Drivers, but not both, as it could possibly cause slight conflicts and/or performance issues.


Troubleshooting Crashes:
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= Steam:
Steam games can get corrupt from time to time, it could be because of a crash from an unstable Overclock, or a modification you made to the game files. Many times i come across friends who had to completely Re-Install Their Game, and often overlooked or Didn't know about a simple Feature which Steam Implemented. It's called "Verify Integrity Of game Cache" and Its Extremely simple to use. If your game is having troubles Crashing or somethings up, this is usually the first thing i'd recommend you do before anything else.

= Go to your Games Library.
= Right click on the game in question.
= Click Properties.
= Click on the "Local Files" Tab.
= Select Verify Integrity Of game Cache, and let Steam Do its thing.
= Once all files have been Verified, and corrupt or missing ones have been replaced, Startup your game, and hopefully it should work fine!

If that's not working out for you, you can also try Deleting the ClientRegistry.blob file in your steam folder.

= Games For Windows Live (GFWL)
Ah good old GFWL.. NOT! :haha:
Crashes are a common occurrence when dealing with games which use GFWL. You'd normally think that theres something wrong with your computer, drivers or the problem lies elsewhere, when all the while theres a high probability of it being caused by your GFWL Installation screwing up. Heres the thing, When you install your GFWL games, They usually include a copy of it with them, and automatically install it. Multiple copies will end up being installed over one another again and again. It gets worse when you combine 2 services, such as Steam and GFWL, Dawn Of War II did this, Great game, but it was a Royal Pain to Track down what my crashing issue was.

So what i'd recommend you try is:
= Install your GFWL games.
= Update them with the latest patches Available.
= Completely Uninstall GFWL From your computer. (including the "Redistributable" one)
= Head to the Games for Windows Live Website, and Download the client.
= Install It, and let it Update.
= Restart your computer for good measure, and play your game!

= Other things to Try if your game is Crashing:

Overclocking: An unstable overclock will often cause your system to crash, hang, or act up in some other way. Make sure that your system is nice and stable by stress testing it (using Prime95, memtest etc). Better yet, to eliminate this possibility id suggest running stock and testing the game again.

Compatibility Mode: Older games might have trouble starting up on your computer. I'll be adding some of those games later on, as sometimes you need to do very specific things for each of them to work. First thing you could try though is to run the game in Compatibility mode. To do this:

= Right click on a shortcut or the main exe of the game
= Click Properties
= Click on the compatibility tab
= select the "run this program in compatibility mode" checkbox
= Try starting up the game with various options (e.g XP Sp3) from the drop down list.

User Account Control (UAC) Windows Vista and windows 7 use this feature for added security, but like for most of us, its more a hindrance then anything else. Constantly asking if you want to do something, and making your computer feel slow and unresponsive. If you're playing around with moding your game, are trying to use a Trainer or in some cases Installing a game, theres a chance that UAC is getting in the way and screwing things up. Thankfully you can disable this feature easily enough, instructions:

= Click Start.
= Click on your Avatar on the top Right hand side of Start menu (This opens up the User accounts screen)
= Click "Change User Account Control settings"
= There is a slider, Drag it to the bottom so that UAC is completely Turned off. Click Okay to confirm.
= Vista Users Require a Restart.
If you're uncomfortable without using it for some strange reason, you can always turn it back on again.


Hybrid PhysX:
If you have no clue what PhysX is, or what it does, here are 2 excellent videos Showcasing PhysX in Action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x9B_4qBAkk . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONQfbGBtitY
Now whether you think its a gimmick or not is besides the point. Personally i think it adds a nice touch of detail, though it wouldn't make me want to play a game any more or less without it. I used to have one of the old Ageia PPU cards, until nvidia bought them out and consequently dropped support for them, and later blocked Physx from working when a non Nvidia Card was detected in a system, which brings me to Hybrid PhysX.

If you are running Windows 7 or XP (Sorry Vista boyos, it won't work due to WDDM 1.0), and have an old 8800 series of Nvidia card or newer, you can use it for PhysX in games where the technology's supported, while keeping an ATi one as your main card. Note: I recommend the following cards, Anything less will perform sluggish in games, and could actually hinder performance. Anything too much More, would be a waste of power, money and is quite simply put, OVERKILL. I've seen people using GTX470's as a PhysX card, Please don't be That stupid! remember that it's ONLY for PhysX, and not all games use this technology, so find a cheap efficient card along the lines of the ones listed below:

8800GT, 8800GTS, 8800GTX, 9800GTX, GT240, GTS240, GTS250.

Installation: Just Fit your Nvidia Card in the PCI-E slot underneath the ATI one. I recommend that you download the Nvidia 260.99 Drivers, and Nothing newer. You don't need to upgrade the Nvidia Drivers, as the cards only for PhysX and you wont be seeing any performance increases by using newer drivers, unless theres a Major overhaul in a new PhysX Driver (which are included within the nvidia ones.)

This method should enable you to run both cards fine without any need for hacks. If you run into problems, or are using Windows XP, or also happen to have an old Ageia PPU However, then i recommend you check out GenL's Hybrid PhysX mod which can be found here: http://www.ngohq.com...03-v1-04ff.html

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you can't get PhysX to work in some games, but are sure its working fine in others, do a search for "physx" where the game is installed. Delete any dll files which pop up. As an example, to enable GPU-PhysX in Mirror's Edge you must delete PhysXDevice.dll and PhysXCore.dll from the games "Binaries" folder.


Input Devices:
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Choosing the right control method for your game can completely transform your experience believe it or not! It's an important thing to consider and is often overlooked. Lets take the Devil may Cry games as a Random example; No doubt you've come across a few people who said things like "the controls for those games sucked!" then you find out they were probably using their keyboard and mouse! Most of the following is common sense really, but i thought i'd add it in anyway (hey you might learn something! :P)

Joysticks:
Flight Sim/shooters, (e.g H.A.W.X) Really do come into their own when using a Joystick. Joysticks are relatively cheap to buy these days too since they haven't been a "Trendy" thing for a while, so pick one up and give your flight games another try! I recommend something from Saitek (i'm currently using a Cyborg Evo Force and love it! the x52 is widely loved too)

Wheels:
Racing games Play best on a Force Feedback Wheel, or if you don't have one use your controller! No-one should have to play racing games using their keyboard, it gets very uncomfortable fast. If you have an Xbox 360, then you can use the Wireless Force feedback wheel on your PC, it works and feels great, and also saves you having to go out and buy another wheel for playing on your PC. If you don't have one though, i'd recommend the Logitech G27.

Controllers:
The Great thing about controllers is that many game genre's play well using them! You can also get your Playstation and Xbox controllers to work on your PC without much hassle too! So you could save yourself some $ and start using your peripherals Cross Platform.

Keyboard & Mouse:
Ah yes, our most used peripherals! The accuracy of a mouse is unmatched, and you have a host of buttons to play with and bind on both it and your Keyboard. This flexibility means that its great for RTS, Shooter, and Straight up RPG games. Id Recommend Logitech, Razer and Roccat for their excellent keyboard and mouse products.

Light Guns & Motion Controllers:

Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver:

3D Vision:


Recommended Utilities:
= RadeonPro: http://www.radeonpro.info/en-US/
= SSAA-Tool: http://www.tommti-sy...s.de/start.html

Recommended Links:
= Find out if your hardwares up for it: http://www.systemreq...tslab.com/cyri/
= Excellent place for Tweaking your Game: http://tweakguides.com/

Games:


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Batman: Arkham Asylum:

= Performance Tips: If your Nvidia Card doesn't have enough punch, or you don't have a Dedicated PhysX card, or are using an ATi only card, try setting PhysX to Low/Off as its a major performance killer.

= Crashes: Crashes in Arkham Asylum Can be caused by Games for Windows Live, (see above in Troubleshooting Crashes Section.)

= Misc: In Game Anti-Aliasing Fix for AMD/ATi Graphics cards:
As you probably know, without an Nvidia card you won't be able to enable in game AA, and are forced to use the CCC, which does not work properly in this game the last time i checked. GenL (the fellow who also made the PhysX hack) Made this little fix which, unlike the one i was previously using, doesn't disable GFWL:
http://www.ngohq.com...-fix-100422.rar


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Bioshock:

= Performance Tips:

= Crashes: (Dx9)

= Misc: (MLAA, Sound)


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Burnout Paradise:

= Performance Tips:(ssoa) (360Cont/Wheel)

= Crashes:(desktop capture)

= Misc:
(no intro)
...................................... Vanity Pack Mod: .......................................................................... ENB Series Graphics Mod:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5-3-5_TQr8 . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8mQaKI5PQ4
............ Link: http://burnouthints..../vanitypack.htm ............................................................ Link: (coming soon)


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Crysis:

= Performance Tips: Try Disabling the In game Anti-Aliasing, and use an Autoexec config, With EdgeAA Enabled. Its Much less Demanding then the In game MSAA, and you will also be able to Fine tune how your game runs with many different variables (See my guide).

= Crashes: make Sure you have your game Updated to at least version 1.2. Crysis can also get a little touchy if your running Overclocked, so Tone down your clocks just incase this is whats causing the crashes; You could also try using the 32bit exe to see if that makes any difference. The last level of the game is known to have crashes and run extremely slow, To fix this, the only thing you can really do is run the game in DirectX 9 mode.

= Misc: If you Hear a Squealing sound while Starting the game, and in menu's, don't panic, as its basically because The game doesn't use vertical Synchronisation in these places, so your cards rendering at hundreds (or thousands) of frames per second, causing this noise. You can stop it in most cases by Enabling VSync In game.

= I made this moding guide, its geared towards people with Extremely good rig's, but theres a few things you can pick out if you dont quite have the hardware. It Currently needs further updating, as some of the Download links need to be sorted and the "TOD" modifications Should be left alone for now, until i can get word from Crymod about updated versions (i will update the thread as soon as i do get word back)
http://forums.overcl...howtopic=172883


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Dragon Age II:

= Performance Tips:

= Crashes:

= Misc: BioWare were awesome enough to Release a High Resolution Texture pack for us PC Gamers:
http://social.biowar...age/da2-patches


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Fallout 3:

= Performance Tips:

= Crashes:

= Misc: I made this guide, which you can check out for a multitude of Excellent enhancements for this game (a few links have gone down, but i'll fix that)
http://forums.overcl...howtopic=176964


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Halo: Combat Evolved - Custom Edition:

= Misc: Since it's old, you may want to disable Anti-Aliasing in your drivers to play it if you have problems starting the game.

The original Halo is (in my honest view) still the best out of all of them by far. The custom edition can be Downloaded for Free. Custom edition basically allows you to add user created content in, so there are hundreds of custom maps and Even Single-player Campaigns which you can download for the game.
Here is a "portable" version of the game i uploaded, you should be able to unzip it and run it anywhere fine:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=PSOE2M54

In addition to this, i uploaded a collection of the Finest Multiplayer maps available For this game. You can of course find them all at www.halomaps.org, but you'd have to sift through probably thousands of them (:lol:) and i hope i can get as many people as possible to download this pack, so we can have more people play amazing maps, which deserve recognition, as most people don't even know about:
Part 1: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GRS2LXFM
Part 2: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=J28UQLKE

= You can Also Download the CMT Singleplayer maps. These are golden, they're still in BETA stage though, so will probably change at some point in the future, but download all the Version 2 ones you see anyway! You basically have the whole Halo Campaign here, with added goodies, from extra sections in levels, to halo 3 style weapons and gear. Link: http://hce.halomaps....cfm?pg=1&sid=35

Installation Instructions: Just unzip and place the Map files into your Halo "maps" folder.
Note: The more maps you have installed the longer the game will take to start up as it Registers the maps.


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Left 4 Dead 2:

= Misc: Addon's For L4D2. Tired of playing the same set of maps again and again? You should Head over to: http://www.l4dmaps.com/files.php?cat=6 and download Addon Campaigns to play with your friends. There are some Excellently done ones here, i Recently Played though "one 4 nine" and was Simply Amazed by it! Installing them couldn't be simpler either, just Download, Extract and Double click on the file and let Steam Do the Rest!

Split Screen Play on PC: If you have Xbox 360 controllers to hand, or are using a Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver (See input devices), you can try this out. Download the following Text file: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=3RWBLSCQ - and watch this Video on YouTube for the rest of the Instructions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlp1j9u3T1Y


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Mass Effect:

= Performance Tips: You can enable Anti-Aliasing VIA Graphics drivers for this Title, as there isn't an option for it in game.

= Crashes:

= Misc: A Great place to go for tweaking your Mass Effect settings is Tweakguides:
http://www.tweakguides.com/ME_1.html
(i have worked on graphically tweaking my game with settings mostly found in this guide, in addition to others, which i'll post later on.)


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Mass Effect 2:

= Performance Tips: You can enable Anti-Aliasing VIA Graphics drivers for this Title, as there isn't an option for it in game.

= Crashes:

= Misc: Here is my updated (version 2.0a) Mass Effect 2 Mod, with many features added. Also comes with a Text file which you can read the changes i made. As always make a backup of the file a mod replaces, just incase you want to go back to the vanilla (unchanged) game, why you'd want to do that though is beyond me! :teehee:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=V8Q4TKYO

Installation Instructions: Just extract, and Place in your Mass Effect 2\BioGame\Config\PC\Cooked Folder, Overwriting the Coalesced.ini file.


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Need for Speed: Shift:

= Moding:

.
.


Please bear in mind that i've only just started this post, and theres much to add as i go along. For now, I'm Hungry and tired, so im going to post this and come back to it, probably later today. :wave:

Edited by SenitaL, 07 April 2011 - 04:33 PM.

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
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#2 SenitaL

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 05:51 PM

Placeholder (just in case!)

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
= 4GB OCZ ReaperX DDR2 PC-8000=Corsair HX620w,=

= True Black<=||<=Razer: Tarantula,Lachesis,eXactMat =


#3 SenitaL

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 06:51 PM

Second Placeholder, (lots of work to do! :mellow:)

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
= 4GB OCZ ReaperX DDR2 PC-8000=Corsair HX620w,=

= True Black<=||<=Razer: Tarantula,Lachesis,eXactMat =


#4 Waco

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 07:03 PM

In Game Settings & Driver Settings:
As a rule of thumb, if a game has Graphics options for something you can also Set in your drivers, taking Anti-aliasing for example, You always want to use IN GAME Settings! For something like Anisotropic filtering, if you wish to use the highest level (x16) and the game doesn't have it listed in the graphics options, then Set it in your Drivers. Whatever you do, DO NOT use both Driver and in game Settings, your computer will blow up! - heh, just kidding :P, but it will cause conflicts, and you probably won't see the benefits of Anti-aliasing at all if you have that setting turned on in both your drivers and game.

Wait a sec -

Don't the driver settings always take precedence? I know I never touch the settings in my driver as I have them set exactly as I like (16x Anisotropic filtering, 4x FSAA wide-tent, Vsync forced on, etc) and they are applied in every game I've ever played regardless of in-game settings.

Perhaps this is ATI specific though? I haven't run an nVidia in my main rig since my ti4200. :lol:
Tolerance is a sign of weakness.

#5 KK_

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 10:48 PM

great stuff SenitaL . be great to see what other games you post up here :)

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#6 Viexi

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 03:19 AM

Looks like the beginnings of a wicked guide, man! I hope you can keep the determination to upgrade it though. Looks like a crapton of work :whoa:


"I think we can put our differences behind us. For Science. You monster."

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#7 SenitaL

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 05:43 AM

Wait a sec -

Don't the driver settings always take precedence? I know I never touch the settings in my driver as I have them set exactly as I like (16x Anisotropic filtering, 4x FSAA wide-tent, Vsync forced on, etc) and they are applied in every game I've ever played regardless of in-game settings.

Perhaps this is ATI specific though? I haven't run an nVidia in my main rig since my ti4200. :lol:

Yes Driver Settings Do take Precedence. Say for example you're running a nice enthusiast rig, You want to max out all the settings in CCC/Nvidia Control panel and leave Anti-Aliasing to Application controlled, but your free to set the Filtering to Edge Detect and change the Type to SuperSample, which gives the best image quality. Forcing AA Through Drivers has more of a performance hit though (even if it's slight in some cases), so its really best for games which don't natively support AA, Mass Effect, Borderlands etc.

Personally i have Everything maxed out in the CCC, but don't like to use Morphological AA, as it has a big performance hit and makes the screen look a little odd (kind of fuzzy in some places) It has a neat effect of shaving off anything pointy though, so even text will have a rounded effect to it :lol:

Also i Force Anisotropic Filtering to X16 in drivers, Not many games offer the option, and those which do i just leave them turned off and let the driver take care of it.

Hmm, i really should add this info to the post, i was going to elaborate on it further anyway :P

Looks like the beginnings of a wicked guide, man! I hope you can keep the determination to upgrade it though. Looks like a crapton of work :whoa:


Lol yeah, it's going to be a pain up the royal *** :lol: but hopefully i can pull it all together, im Still working on the basics (layout, formatting, and later for pictures & videos etc) thanks for the vote of confidence though! =)

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
= 4GB OCZ ReaperX DDR2 PC-8000=Corsair HX620w,=

= True Black<=||<=Razer: Tarantula,Lachesis,eXactMat =


#8 Waco

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 07:41 AM

Personally i have Everything maxed out in the CCC, but don't like to use Morphological AA, as it has a big performance hit and makes the screen look a little odd (kind of fuzzy in some places) It has a neat effect of shaving off anything pointy though, so even text will have a rounded effect to it :lol:

The wide-tent and narrow-tent options do that as well - but after using it for a while I've found I actually prefer it since it smooths edges even on deferred shading (where edge-detect and regular MSAA don't).
Tolerance is a sign of weakness.

#9 joel.monteiro

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:47 AM

Great work,wish i could rep you,may this should be a sticky?
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#10 SenitaL

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:17 AM

The wide-tent and narrow-tent options do that as well - but after using it for a while I've found I actually prefer it since it smooths edges even on deferred shading (where edge-detect and regular MSAA don't).

hmm Waco, im Referring Specifically to "Morphological" Anti-Aliasing, Not the different filtering options (wide tent, edge detect). I don't think the 4870 series of cards has this option available. It was introduced with the 10.10a drivers, and only the 58XX Series and new 68XX Series of cards have it, at least to the best of my knowledge. ;)

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
= 4GB OCZ ReaperX DDR2 PC-8000=Corsair HX620w,=

= True Black<=||<=Razer: Tarantula,Lachesis,eXactMat =


#11 gotdamojo06

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:29 AM

There is an option to have CCC override any in-game settings for the specific option chosen. So if you clicked the override game settings for the AA, no matter what you set in lets say Crysis, your CCC settings would take effect.

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#12 SenitaL

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:00 AM

There is an option to have CCC override any in-game settings for the specific option chosen. So if you clicked the override game settings for the AA, no matter what you set in lets say Crysis, your CCC settings would take effect.

In popular games this is true in most cases, but there are many games i've come across which cause issues when settings are enabled in both places. Be they BETA games, or not very well known games, or Even newer titles which have yet to be included in the CCC Drivers or Application profiles. I think i'll have to further work on the wording of the Anti-Aliasing section.

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= MSI DKA790GX Platinum = AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE.=
= ATI HD5870+8800GTX for PhysX=Zalman GT1000,=
= 4GB OCZ ReaperX DDR2 PC-8000=Corsair HX620w,=

= True Black<=||<=Razer: Tarantula,Lachesis,eXactMat =