Shadow of War PC Most Important Graphics Options - Every Setting Tested

Written by Jon Sutton on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 3:03 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

We've been busy putting Shadow of War through its paces with a series of benchmarks. Fortunately, it runs fantastically, but Shadow of War is also a huge, and often demanding game that all but the most powerful gaming PCs are going to struggle to max out.

We're going to make this process a little easier for with our graphics options performance breakdown for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, benchmarking each individual graphics setting for its performance hit, as well as recommending how important it is for you to enable it.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War System Requirements

For the benchmark results below we used an MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G, an Intel Core i7-5820K processor, and 16GB DDR4 memory.

Shadow of War Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is.

Shadow of War Graphics Settings

Lighting Quality

A hideously demanding graphics setting on Ultra, a decent middle ground can still be found for Lighting Quality for those with lower-end graphics cards. This adds more realistic light sources and provides a cinematic edge that is lost when set to Low. Be careful with this one at has the biggest impact on frame rate in Shadow of War, so look for that sweet spot between this and Ambient Occlusion before tweaking the other graphics settings.

Performance Impact - 5/5

Priority - 4/5

Mesh Quality

While just pootling about Mordor, Mesh Quality can seemingly have little impact. However, light Vegetation Range, Mesh Quality really begins to come into play when travelling at speed. At Ultra, meshes are swapped in at triple the distance of Medium, reducing instances of level geometry and textures popping in.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Motion Blur

Pretty much does what it says on the tin - Motion Blur adds a blurring effect to just about anything that moves, whether that's the player camera, character models or projectiles. Enabling this is a matter of preference, but it does help smooth over some animation issues.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

Anti-Aliasing

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War offers a choice between FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing), TXAA (Temporal Anti-Alising), or none at all. Of the three, TXAA provides the best image quality, removing jagged edges at the expense of a few frames. FXAA is a decent middle-ground, although it can muddy the image quality of SoW somewhat.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 4/5

Shadow Quality

Normally one of the single most important graphics settings, Shadow Quality is a performance hog in Shadow of War. The performance hit doesn't quite pay off though, with Low or Medium still providing a decent standard. Shadow Quality should be your first port of call for an improved frame rate.

Performance Impact - 5/5

Priority - 2/5

Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering affects the sharpness of textures towards the edge of the screen. Textures you're looking at straight on will normally look fine, but when you look at them from an angle they can look blurred and messy. Texture Filtering, or Anisotropic Filtering, sharpens these textures up and leads to a cleaner image. Sometimes effective, in Shadow of War the Texture Filtering option has little impact on overall image quality.

Performance Impact - 0/5

Priority - 1/5

Texture Quality

Texture Quality is different from other graphics settings in Shadow of War in that you either have the required VRAM or you don't. Find where your GPU's limit is and stick to it. Provided you have enough GDDR5 memory then it will have almost zero performance impact, but should you exceed your VRAM allowance, SoW's frame rate will tank. Certainly a setting to mess around with as Shadow of War can begin to look ugly with low texture resolution.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 5/5

Ambient Occlusion

In many games, we'd let Shadow Quality take precedent over AO, but with Shadow of War, it's the other way around. Ambient Occlusion makes a profound different on the visual quality of Shadow of War, adding contact point shadows on objects that more effectively ground them in the world. It's the difference between a generic blob of grey stone and individually rendered rocks, each casting their own shadow. For me, getting AO up to at least Medium is imperative.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Vegetation Range

Vegetation Range comes with a hefty performance impact in Shadow of War, but it really is a setting that has a huge bearing on visual quality. On the Lowest setting trees and pushes pop in just a few feet in front of the player which can be quite jarring. While maxing Vegetation Range out isn't a must, we would recommend you at least dial it up to Medium or High so the effect isn't so noticeable.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Depth of Field

An effect similar to Motion Blur, Depth of Field distorts anything which is out of the player's focus. It's designed to replicate human vision and lends itself well to cinematic moments. It comes at a very minor cost to Shadow of War's frame rate, so enabling DoF comes down to personal taste.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

Tessellation

The function of tessellation is to soften out the triangular edges, making anything and everything look less polygonal. It's nice on paper, but the benefits in-game are almost totally imperceptible during gameplay.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 1/5

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War PC Performance Report

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02:00 Oct-19-2017

This game is well optimized. But it still put a little stress when you go to war. Too many fancy fiery cursy poisony effect.

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12:09 Oct-18-2017

Loving these articles, never stop making them :)

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05:39 Oct-18-2017

I"m running at very high - ultra and getting about 60fps. Great optimisation, haven't expected that good :-)

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08:18 Oct-18-2017

Strange, if I set to ultra the game runs at 45-50fps

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14:03 Oct-18-2017

I think it's because the game is not truly optimized for AMD CPUs, my cousin got slightly lower framerate at the start of siege battles on his new Ryzen 5 1600 than his older i5-3450, which seemed strange at first.

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01:27 Oct-18-2017

Lighting quality is so demanding those days

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Low, 720p
APU A8-7410 Quad-Core Radeon R5 7410 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB