F1 2021 graphics optimization guide - most important graphics settings benchmarked

Written by Chad Norton on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 2:39 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

It's been a week since the much anticipated racing game F1 2021 zoomed onto our screens, proving once again that it is indeed the Formula One to rule them all. But how well does it perform? More specifically, how demanding is each graphics settings individually? What are the most demanding graphics settings? And how much can we adjust each setting to give us better performance?

In this article we will take a look at which F1 2021 graphics settings are the best to turn all the way up to Ultra and which ones can get us a little FPS boost for no real visual loss when we turn them off or down. We've compiled a list below of the most demanding graphics options in the game, so you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in F1 2021 to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked against a minimum graphics setting used as our baseline benchmark for F1 2021. From there we see which graphics options have the highest performance impact on our hardware for the least visual improvement, and then we will see which options can be turned up to max and deliver the best visual improvement in F1 2021.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running F1 2021 then you can check out our F1 2021 PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various F1 2021 PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

F1 2021 PC system requirements

F1 2021 PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the recommended GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, an Intel Core i7-5820K processor, and 16GB of DDR4 memory. However, since ray tracing requires a capable GPU that supports it, we used an RTX 2060 instead for those results since it is the minimum required graphics card for ray tracing in F1 2021.

To standardize the benchmark tests they were all carried out using the in-game F1 2021 benchmarking tool. Like our PC performance report, this was done on the Monaco track since from our testing it seemed to be one of the most demanding tracks in the game. This run then takes you on a single lap of the track with various AI opponents racing with you in a predetermined course for the most accurate and consistent results.

If you see any significant discrepancy/difference between the benchmark tool FPS and actual FPS returned then please do share your findings in the comments below.

There's quite a few graphics settings available in F1 2021, so we went through the 18 graphics options listed - plus ray tracing for a total of 20 options - and tested each one in turn, recording the average frame rates for each and then comparing them to a baseline FPS that was recorded with all the graphics options either turned off or to their lowest settings.

F1 2021 baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for F1 2021 Frame Rates achieved when all F1 2021's graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6

F1 2021 Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

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

What are the most demanding graphics options in F1 2021?

As you can see in the graph above, F1 2021 has a decent range of graphics options with varied performance impacts. This gives us a pretty good way of customizing F1 2021 graphics settings for the perfect balance of image quality and FPS performance.

In terms of the most demanding options though, Shadows is the clear winner here at an FPS performance cost of 24.74%, followed by Screen Space Shadows at 19.23% and Car and Helmet Reflections at 18.54%. Ambient Occlusion is then next with a 15.15% FPS performance cost.

Those are the biggest heavy hitters, as the next most demanding option is much lower at 9.53% for Anti-Aliasing and Mirrors at 8.44%. Then there's Post Process at 6.14%, Crowds at 5.8%, and Texture Streaming at 5.74%.

Any settings below that have minimal impact on FPS performance in F1 2021, these include Lighting Quality (3.39%), Particles (1.15%), Weather Effects (1.26%), Ground Cover (2.07%), Skidmarks (0.4%) and Skidmarks Blending (1.09%), Screen Space Reflections (1.72%), and Anisotropic Filtering (1.03%).

There is of course Asynchronous Compute, which actually improves performance by a small amount. In our testing the range at which this improved performance varied from hardware and graphics settings, but is best to always leave on as its a free FPS boost.

F1 2021 also includes ray tracing support, and whilst we did benchmark those settings as well, they are much more demanding and so completely dawrf the other settings in this graph. We also used a different graphics card for those tests, those the percent FPS performance impact should remain consistent across all GPUs. As such, the F1 2021 ray tracing benchmarks can be found towards the bottom of this article.

F1 2021 All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in F1 2021

There is quite a few graphics settings to adjust in F1 2021, which will give us a decent amount of options to customize our experience and get the perfect balance of visual quality and FPS performance.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think are the best F1 2021 graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...

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Lighting Quality

Lighting Quality Ultra High setting performance impact

Lighting Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Lighting Quality 168.3 151.8 196.9 134.1 118.7

Lighting Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Lighting Quality setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the Lighting Quality.

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Post Process

Post Process High setting performance impact

Post Process graphics option Low compared to High

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Post Process 163.5 147.4 191.2 130.8 121.5

Post Process option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Post Process setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of post processing effects.

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Shadows

Shadows Ultra High setting performance impact

Shadows graphics option Ultra Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Shadows 131.1 102.1 167.9 99.3 90.1

Shadows option range: Ultra Low/Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Shadows setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of detail in the shadows.

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Particles

Particles High setting performance impact

Particles graphics option Off compared to High

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Particles 172.2 153.1 199.9 136 121.4

Particles option range: Off/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Particles setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of detail of the particle effects.

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Crowd

Crowd Ultra High setting performance impact

Crowd graphics option Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Crowd 164.1 137.1 199.4 126 114.9

Crowd option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Crowd setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of detail of the crowd.

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Mirrors

Mirrors Ultra High setting performance impact

Mirrors graphics option Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Mirrors 159.5 132.7 199 121.3 97.2

Mirrors option range: Low/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Mirrors setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the detail of the mirror reflections.

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Car and Helmet Reflections

Car and Helmet Reflections Ultra High setting performance impact

Car and Helmet Reflections graphics option Ultra Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Car and Helmet Reflections 141.9 126.6 164.2 115.9 99.4

Car and Helmet Reflections option range: Ultra Low/Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Car and Helmet Reflections setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the detail of the reflections on car paint and helmets.

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Weather Effects

Weather Effects Ultra High setting performance impact

Weather Effects graphics option Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Weather Effects 172 153.4 198.2 136.9 119.9

Weather Effects option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Weather Effects setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of detail of the weather effects.

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Ground Cover

Ground Cover Ultra High setting performance impact

Ground Cover graphics option Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Ground Cover 170.6 153.2 194.7 135.9 126.8

Ground Cover option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Ground Cover setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the level of detail in the ground cover seen off track.

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Skidmarks

Skidmarks High setting performance impact

Skidmarks graphics option Off compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Skidmarks 173.5 153.8 201 135.4 114.4

Skidmarks option range: Off/Low/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Skidmarks setting do in F1 2021? Allows to specify the level of detail of the skidmarks left on track.

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Skidmarks Blending

Skidmarks Blending On setting performance impact

Skidmarks Blending graphics option Off compared to On

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Skidmarks Blending 172.3 153.3 200.4 137.2 121.9

Skidmarks Blending option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Skidmarks Blending setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify if improved skidmarks blending is used when they are rendered onto the track.

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Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion HBAO+ setting performance impact

Ambient Occlusion graphics option Off compared to HBAO+

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Ambient Occlusion 147.8 132.8 169.3 120.6 103.4

Ambient Occlusion option range: Off/On/HBAO+/ASSAO

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Ambient Occlusion setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify how shadows are rendered based on their exposure to ambient lighting.

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Screen Space Reflections

Screen Space Reflections Ultra High setting performance impact

Screen Space Reflections graphics option Off compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Screen Space Reflections 171.2 154.5 198.7 138.5 113.8

Screen Space Reflections option range: Off/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Screen Space Reflections setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify how dynamic objects reflect in the world when visible on the screen.

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Screen Space Shadows

Screen Space Shadows On setting performance impact

Screen Space Shadows graphics option Off compared to On

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Screen Space Shadows 140.7 82.7 196.6 80.6 65.3

Screen Space Shadows option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Screen Space Shadows setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to enable screen space shadows which will add additional shadow detail.

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Asynchronous Compute

Asynchronous Compute On setting performance impact

Asynchronous Compute graphics option Off compared to On

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Asynchronous Compute 175.7 156.3 204.9 139 123.8

Asynchronous Compute option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Asynchronous Compute setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify if compute shaders are processed in parallel with other GPU operations.

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Texture Streaming

Texture Streaming Ultra High setting performance impact

Texture Streaming graphics option Ultra Low compared to Ultra High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Texture Streaming 164.2 144.1 194.5 88.1 76.8

Texture Streaming option range: Ultra Low/Low/Medium/High/Ultra High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Texture Streaming setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the detail of the textures used.

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Anisotropic Filtering

Anisotropic Filtering 16x setting performance impact

Anisotropic Filtering graphics option Off compared to 16x

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Anisotropic Filtering 172.4 152 200.6 135.8 118.1

Anisotropic Filtering option range: Off/2x/4x/8x/16x

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Anisotropic Filtering setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the detail of the textures mapped on surfaces when being viewed from oblique angles.

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Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing TAA setting performance impact

Anti-Aliasing graphics option Off compared to TAA

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 174.2 150.9 200.2 135.3 122.6
Anti-Aliasing 157.6 142 182.4 127.6 118.1

Anti-Aliasing option range: Off/TAA/Nvidia DLSS/TAA and FidelityFX Upscaling/TAA and FidelityFX Sharpening

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Anti-Aliasing setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify the type of anti-aliasing used to help smooth out the jagged lines at the edges of rendered objects.

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F1 2021 Ray Tracing Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Ray Tracing Settings in F1 2021

F1 2021 includes only a couple ray tracing graphics settings, including Ray Traced Shadows and Ray Traced Reflections. However, you can't customize the quality of either of them, and are limited to either enabling or disabling them. This doesn't give us a whole lot of room to customize ray tracing performance in F1 2021 unfortunately, but we can still see how each one impacts overall FPS.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think are the best F1 2021 graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...

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F1 2021 baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for F1 2021 Frame Rates achieved when all F1 2021's graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 202.6 184.8 218.9 166 132.6

F1 2021 Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

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

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Ray Traced Shadows

Ray Traced Shadows On setting performance impact

Ray Traced Shadows graphics option Off compared to On

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 202.6 184.8 218.9 166 132.6
Ray Traced Shadows 137.1 107.9 149.8 96.5 71.7

Ray Traced Shadows option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Ray Traced Shadows setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify if ray traced shadows are enabled. Requires ray tracing supported graphics hardware, latest video drivers and the recommended Windows version.

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Ray Traced Reflections

Ray Traced Reflections On setting performance impact

Ray Traced Reflections graphics option Off compared to On

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

F1 2021 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 202.6 184.8 218.9 166 132.6
Ray Traced Reflections 116.8 102.7 140.4 87 58.3

Ray Traced Reflections option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Ray Traced Reflections setting do in F1 2021? Allows you to specify if ray traced reflections are enabled. Requires ray tracing supported graphics hardware, latest video drivers and the recommended Windows version.

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Conclusion

F1 2021 graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Overall, looking at the results above, F1 2021 has quite a few graphics settings to customize with a decent range of quality in order for us to find the perfect balance between image quality and FPS performance.

Although there is a good range of graphics settings with varied performance impacts, the most notable settings that cause the biggest drops in FPS are Shadows at 24.74%, Screen Space Shadows at 19.23%, Car and Helmet Reflections at 18.54%, and Ambient Occlusion at 15.15%. These settings should be your first port of call when looking to increase FPS performance in F1 2021.

Interestingly, Although the Car and Helmet Reflections setting has a major impact on FPS performance, Screen Space Reflections is rather minimal on its impact to FPS. There are a few other options as well which have more/less of an FPS impact than you would expect.

Settings like Lighting Quality and Texture Streaming are not as impactful on FPS as you would normally expect. On the other hand, Post Process and Crowd settings are a bit more demanding on FPS performance than you would normally expect.

Weather Effects is obviously more demanding depending on the weather on the track, so can vary on FPS performance impact based on those factors. Skidmarks is also a tough one since that only refers to skidmarks left by players in a race, and not the skidmarks left on track before a race starts. Though we wouldn't expect skidmarks to be very demanding anyway.

Apart from that though, the last graphics setting worth mentioning is Asynchronous Compute, which aims to actually increase performance slightly. However, in our testing it was very minimal and only improved frame rate by 1.5fps. But this setting's FPS impact will vary depending on your hardware and gameplay situation. So it's best to leave on anyway to get the most out of it, even if it does provide a very small boost to performance.

And that's it for the most important graphics options in F1 2021. Now we're passing it over to you guys! We'd love to hear your thoughts on what graphics settings you turn all the way up for little to no performance impact, and which options you turn down to get some extra frames so we can all benefit from better performance in this great looking game!

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15:46 Jul-23-2021

Why does it look like some of the pictures has accidentally made low and ultra switch places?

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12:51 Jul-24-2021

I've only noticed it being switched for Ray Traced Reflections, especially if you compare it with Car and Helmet Reflections.

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