View Full Version : GTA 4 Graphics tweak thread - Lets make this thing work FFS!

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12-03-08, 05:55 PM
Ok im starting a thread to get this game working as best as possible, especially for those of us with mid range or mobile graphic cards. So please use this as a place to submit tweaks and advice to optimise this game.

Do your best to submit machine specs, settings, and FPS.

I bought this game today and was shocked at the feeble default settings and lack of freedom to set my own desired options, which left me with an 800x600 image that looked like crap and struggled along at 20fps.

After a few hrs testing i now have it running about 80% of the performance of an X360 using a mid range macbook pro.

I have already found a great tweak trick to increase textures without performance hit or other restrictions!!!

This enables better quality on mid range machines with 256mb of GFX memory and should work on other more powerful cards.
Please read the following for details on how to do this!


A low end machine will by default settings not allow you to raise your resolution above 800x600. This is DOES NOT mean you cannot increase your resolution!

By default the game use a calclator to assess what how much memory we are using with just the 3 following options -

texture quality
view distance

If you lower or raise these settings the memory usage at the bottom will go up or down. If you go over your GFX memory the game flashes up a warning message and allows about 10-15% (as far as i can tell) extra allocation for more of the 3 values.

When you hit the ceiling you are unable to increase those settings at all, they will simply refuse to move. I initially mistook this as a limit for my machine, but if you reduce one or both of the other 2 values you can free up memory and increase the jammed one.

So if i want to raise my resolution, i need to reduce my texture size or view distance until the memory value turns green (indicating excess resources).

Ok so here is my clever tweak -

Since even modest graphics cards can run decent texture levels with even 256mb of memory, even a basic machine can run medium textures (possibly even high) with NO peformance hit.
However since the game refuses to let you choose your own settings you have to 'spend' memory to get the medium textures.

This means you have to have less draw distance or lower resolution, which really kills the experience. However i found a cunning way to get medium textures by fiddling the settings.

You need to set the game options initially to medium or high textures, and not worry about resolution and your view distance. Just set them as low as you can so you can spend all your memory on getting the textures as high as your machine will allow.
A 512mb card might be able to get high textures since you can spend over 512... so try it and dont forget to use fraps to check your frame rates before and after.

Now you have the game set at your desired texture level, start a game (making sure to restart GTA 4 if necessary to load new textures) then once in game go to the graphics menu and switch the textures to LOW!

The game will 'refund' you back the memory you spent on textures, but the textures wont revert back until you restart the game. This means you can now increase your resolution to a nice sharp level, and then add view distance (i recommend certainly NO LESS than 10 or it really looks screwed up).

If you check with fraps you will see no detectable decrease in frame rate, but you now have decent textures along with your original resolution and view distance combination.

Rockstar needs to seriously patch the menus, since even my 8600m GT can run ultra textures on all other games with no difference to lowest. Textures have such little impact on overall performance, it makes no sense to force such cards to use the lowest settings.

This arbitrary system of calculating memory does not represent real game performance!
See for yourselves!

My specs -

Macbook Pro 2.4ghz (santa rosa), 2GB ram, 8600m GT 256mb.

Graphics settings

Resolution - 1176x664 (pretty sharp, just a snip away from the X360)
textures - (set as MEDIUM and reduced to low without restarting)
rendering quality - medium (no real gain from high at this resolution)

View distance - 10 (can push to 17, but eats about 5fps for minor view improvement)
detail distance - 10 (same as X360)
traffic density - 28 (default)
shadow density - 0 (see end of post!)

This all runs between 18-26fps, which is playable and looks pretty decent for a laptop.
More powerful machines could easily hit 30fps and id recommend getting the resolution to 1280x720 and then work on increasing view distance.

I couldnt seem to find any visual or perfomance impact for shadow density, i havent yet tested it at 0 and 16 with a restart. But altering it makes no difference to the quality or number of shadows, nor does it seem to affect frame rate. If anyone figures ths is out please post details.

I hope this all helps to get this game playable.

12-03-08, 06:17 PM
Thanks! Will be very helpful. Hopefully more people add to this with more tweaks for more hardware.

12-03-08, 06:19 PM
I couldnt seem to find any visual or perfomance impact for shadow density, i havent yet tested it at 0 and 16 with a restart. But altering it makes no difference to the quality or number of shadows, nor does it seem to affect frame rate. If anyone figures ths is out please post details.

There's a huge performance difference between 0 and 16 on my rig, easily 10fps depending on the time of day/scene.

On my rig a setting of zero more or less means static shadows, on 1-16 they are dynamic.

12-03-08, 06:40 PM
Ok cool ill check the shadows now, in terms of quality there was no visible difference to the shadows resolution or flicker, which was my main concern.
For a user like myself struggling to squeeze 30 frames, its not a priority to have shadow movement.

But check out the texture trick, i think that will be the biggest pre-patch help to our problems.

Nitz Walsh
12-03-08, 07:08 PM
As Rockstar mentioned the "shadow density" is PC-exclusive, it adds more shadows to static objects apparently - this doesn't exist in the console versions, so lower end machines should just leave it at 0.

12-03-08, 07:46 PM
Only hardware I would buy is Glock and then I will go to R* building I think my "ideas" will blow up Dan Houser's head so he will never make unoptimised game again.

12-03-08, 07:59 PM
http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/3102/feedbackaq3.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/feedbackaq3.jpg/1/w350.png (http://g.imageshack.us/img338/feedbackaq3.jpg/1/)

12-03-08, 08:25 PM
Or change your settings the easy way...

From a dudes post, siapnar

Go to your GTA4 folder and make a shortcut of launchGTA4.exe.
Cut it to your desktop, open properties and add these lines to the end of the command line: "-norestrictions -DX9 /high"

norestrictions gets rid of the graphics options limits.
-DX9 forces DirectX 9 in Vista. I put it in anyways... (XP)
/high is to give the game the highest priority for resources (might just be for Vista, dunno, whatever)

PLUS, while your ingame, press ESC and go to "GAME". Turn the capture clip thing OFF. You won't be able to record replays, but it's a bit smoother with it off (for me)

Shadows: 0 (all this does is disable dynamic shadows like from car headlights. If you put it at '1' then your car only will display dynamic light)

This next bit is to make it look more vibrant and less washed out. It really makes a difference.
BTW BRIGHTNESS and CONTRAST are swapped. They labeled them wrong

Brightness (contrast): full
Contrast (Brightness): 1/3 full
Saturation: 3/4 full

Also, pressing "P" ingame will turn on motion blur and a depth blur kind of effect that masks edges (like in the console versions). I like the motion blur but not the depth one (less crisp). Hopefully in a tweak we are able to simply enable motion blur.

Mr Bigman
12-03-08, 08:31 PM
Game is not even out yet whats up with settings already?

12-03-08, 08:40 PM
Game is not even out yet whats up with settings already?

Came out yesterday...

Good idea on changing res in the game and the textures staying the same... I will try that "-restrictions" thing first though. I would like to up my draw distance.

I will also try the "P" thing... sounds neat.


12-03-08, 08:43 PM
Game is not even out yet whats up with settings already?

Been out 2 days here Bigman. Please try to stay awake. Sleeping for several days straight is corrupting for your Soul.

12-03-08, 09:50 PM
I copied LaunchGTA-shortcut to my desktop... but i dont know where the command line is:(

Can someone please explain that:o


Edit -

Ok i found out what i think it is supposed to be based on an old crysis tweak i remembered.
On the 'target' line in properties i added it and the extra part and it now says -

"C:\Program Files\Rockstar Games\Grand Theft Auto IV\LaunchGTAIV.exe" -norestrictions -DX9 /high

I tried this but still i have restrictions.. what am i doing wrong?

12-03-08, 10:11 PM
Command line doesn't work for me... game still restricts me.

Also, the "P" thing is terrible. Makes the game a blurry mess. One of the benefits of the PC version is a higher resolution and crisper textures, and the "P" thing ruins that.

12-03-08, 10:29 PM

12-03-08, 10:49 PM
this game has dx10?

12-03-08, 11:00 PM
this game has dx10?

12-03-08, 11:22 PM
PS3 has Dx10.

I have nothing to back that up. Just trust me. ::D:

It also has mouse support.

12-03-08, 11:45 PM
mOre (http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,669264/Reviews/GTA_4_PC_Graphics_settings_compared_plus_system_re quirements/?page=1)
In order to set maximal details indented of the available video memory you need to extend the shortcut targeted at the "GTA4Launcher.exe” with the parameters "-norestrictions" and "-nomemrestrict".

12-04-08, 12:28 AM
I just realized my file is not called that... called "LaunchGTA4.exe"... maybe this is why it does not work?

I have the Steam version.

12-04-08, 12:31 AM
mines the dvd version and its the same name

still no luck, anyone got this working yet other than the reviewers pre-release copy?

12-04-08, 12:33 AM
Anyone knows how to force AA in GTA4?

12-04-08, 06:26 AM
runs pretty good on my rig specs on xp @ 1680 1050 high details

didnt get much time to play last night tho

i HATE the jaggies though

12-04-08, 06:50 AM
PS3 has Dx10.

I have nothing to back that up. Just trust me. ::D:

It also has mouse support.

It also runs at 1152x640. :o

12-04-08, 07:21 AM
well...-norestrictions does not work. it works with -norestriction without S
the rockstar readme seems to be wrong

some other cmdline parameters from the readme:
-benchmark: Runs the benchmark tool and immediately exits game.
-help: Display list of all command line options

-renderquality: Set the render quality of the game. (0-4)
-shadowdensity: Set the shadow density of the game. (0-16)
-texturequality: Set the texture quality of the game. (0-2)
-viewdistance: Set the view distance of the game (0-99)
-detailquality: Set the detail quality of the game. (0-99)
-novblank: Disable wait for vblank (No Vsync)
-norestrictions: Do not limit graphics settings
-width: Set width of main render window (default is 800)
-height: Set height of main render window (default is 600)
-safemode: Run the graphics in the lowest setting possible
-frameLimit: Limit frame to interval of refresh rate
(ex If refreshrate is 60HZ –frameLimit 1 = Locks down to 60HZ)
-refreshrate: Set the refresh rate of main render window
– Warning - Monitor must support (ex. –refreshrate 60)
-fullscreen: Force fullscreen mode
-windowed: Force windowed mode
-availablevidmem: Set amount of physical Video Memory(ex. –availablevidmem 0.9)
-percentvidmem: Percentage of video memory to make available to GTA

-fullspecaudio: Force high-end CPU audio footprint
-minspecaudio: Force low-end CPU audio footprint

-noprecache: Disable precache of resources
-nomemrestrict: Disable memory restrictions

P.S.: i have 35-60fps with my 3ghz quadcore, 4gb ram, vista64, 9800gtx+ (512mb vram) @ 1680x1050 with textures high and all other settings at 3/4 (gta4 says over 850mb will be needed). make sure you have defragged so that the textures can load faster and i think raid1 hardrives (like mine) will be nice also.

12-04-08, 07:29 AM
PS3 has Dx10.

I have nothing to back that up. Just trust me. ::D:

It also has mouse support.

PS3 got no DX it's just can use same effects