von Sandro Villinger
am a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) addict. Back when it first came out, I only had a 486DX4 with a mere 100 MHz. The game took its toll on my PC to say the least, so I employed all of the techniques I knew (from tweaking system files to defragging to running the original TuneUp 97 – no kidding) to optimize the game.
Jump forward to 2018 GTA V, due to being a console port, is a very CPU-heavy game and still has its performance problems. In this installment of our “Perfect Gamer” series, I’ll show you how to optimize the latest version of the game to its fullest. We’re not just going to upgrade its graphics to (almost) GTA V levels but also noticeably increase its FPS.
Like in all of our game-specific tweaking guides (as listed above), it’s important to ensure that you have the perfect gaming environment . TuneUp has already outlined some great steps for pushing your gaming PC to its limit ; these include grabbing the latest AMD/NVIDIA drivers, turning off non-critical Windows background services with our Turbo Mode and overclocking the CPU and GPU. After cleaning up your system, install FRAPS, a useful tool for benchmarking FPS and PC gaming performance, before getting started with these tweaking tips to evaluate their impact on your system. Ready? Then, let’s take a closer look at GTA IV.
Use iCEnhancer 2.0
GTA V is slated to debut later this year or early in 2013. Its first trailer made fans all over the word drool over its graphics, which seem to have gotten a massive polish when compared to GTA IV’s sometimes “muddy” look. Using the iCEnhancer 2.0 mod, we’ll achieve graphics that should come pretty close to those previewed in GTA V.
1. First, back up your entire GTA IV folder to a different location. If anything goes wrong, you can always start over again with the original folder.
2. Download iCEnhancer 2.0 from the official mod website (which is offline at the moment as the creator has problems with file hosters), or use the mirror link here, and extract the file.
3. Make sure you have a fresh GTA IV install. If you’ve previously applied mods, you may run into problems such as a jiggly camera or random crashes after 5-10 minutes into game play. Since iCEnhancer works best with GTA IV version 220.127.116.11, download this patch.
Do not update to version 18.104.22.168! If you bought GTA IV via Steam (such as I did), make sure that it doesn’t update itself. Right-click on the GTA IV entry, select “Properties” and go to “Updates”. Select the “Do not automatically update this game”—otherwise, Steam will install 22.214.171.124 and might mess up your iCEnhancer mod in the process.
4. Afterwards, decide if you want to install additional mods. If so, head over to GTA4-Mods and download the ASI Loader+Script Hook 0.5.0. Copy the dsound.dll and scripthook.dll into the root folder of GTA, for example.
Only if fresh installation: Copy the files “xlive.dll” and “xlive_d.dll” into the “C:Program files (x86)SteamsteamappscommonGrand Theft Auto IVGTAIV” (Steam) or “C:Program files (x86) Grand Theft Auto IVGTAIV” folder. Overwrite any existing files.
Main files: Copy all of the files you see here to the root folder of GTA IV and, again, overwrite all existing files.
Anti-Aliasing: You now have to choose between a variety of edge smoothing techniques. The first is FXAA, which is explained here in detail and is usually the faster aliasing method. It costs about 5-15% of performance on even a mid-grade graphics card. However, FXAA doesn’t just apply to edges—it may also affect textures, texts and other on-screen elements which you might not want to see anti-aliased. Since this is not very noticeable in GTA IV, it’s my preferred technique.
You could also go with Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing (SMAA), a new form of Anti-Aliasing, which includes more reliable edge detection. However, it costs more in terms of performance than FXAA. Whichever you choose, copy the “iceconfig.cfg” into the root folder of GTA IV.
3. Tune GTA V’s Reflections
No matter if you’re running the beautiful iCEnhancer 2.0 mod or if you’d like to boost your vanilla GTA IV’s performance, this tweak should be at the top of your list. When you increase the resolution of GTA IV, the engine automatically increases the resolution of all reflections as well. “MonkeyMhz” over at the GTAForums.com analyzed this problem in detail, and he explains that reducing the resolution of reflections has little to no impact on graphics’ quality. The idea is to trick the game into thinking it’s running at 800×600 or 1024×786 resolutions and then scale up all other resolutions. These are the steps to lower GTA IV’s reflection quality.
1. Launch GTA IV and make sure that no command line parameters are set. You’ll find all of the parameters in a file called “commandline.txt”. Alternatively, you’ll find parameters when you right-click on your GTA IV shortcut and select “Properties”. Steam users need to go to “Properties” and “Set Launch Options”.
2. Set the resolution to 800×600. You’ll find this resolution under the “Graphics” menu. Set the other options to values you like until all of the graphics cards’ video RAM is almost filled up. A good way to do that is to increase the view distance. Now, write down the value of the remaining video RAM. In my example, that’s 963 out of 969. Divide this value with the total video RAM of your graphics card. For example, my GTX 555 has 1 GB of memory, so I divide 963 by 1024. The result is: 0.94.
3. Next, create a new shortcut to GTA V and add the parameters “-availablevidmem 0.94″. Replace the 0.94 in this example with the result of your division.
4. Fix GTA V Stuttering
GTA IV still has some issues in which it uses too much memory and actually exceeds your physical RAM. To fix this, add the “-memrestrict X” parameter to your GTA IV shortcut or type it into a “commandline.txt”, which you’ll save in your GTA’s root folder. “X” should be replaced by the amount of your video card’s RAM multiplied by 1024 squared. For example, on a 2 GB (2024 MB) video card, it would be 2048x1024x1024. The resulting parameter would read as -memrestrict 230686720. Save the file and run the game!
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