Tomb Raider 2013: Graphical Preset Comparisons & Performance Tips

This year’s Tomb Raider is a reboot of the entire Tomb Raider franchise, which began almost two decades ago and saw the rise of Lara Croft as an iconic video game character. She stands among the greats like Mario and Link, and predates Uncharted’s Nathan Drake by being one of gaming’s first modern day adventurers.

Beyond rebooting the series, the new Tomb Raider is built upon a cutting-edge graphics engine that brings to life Lara Croft’s details in a manner that’s almost true to life, and given a voice by the talented Camilla Luddington.

It goes without saying that the game looks best on the PC, and offers players with a wide array of graphical options for which to customize the game and allow it to look best on a variety of computer hardware.

Before you get started with Tomb Raider, first ensure that you have a computer capable of running the game. The requirements aren’t too steep, and are capable of catering to bow low- and high-end set ups.

Minimum Specs
OS:Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Vista,7,8 (32bit/64bit)
Processor:Dual core CPU: AMD Athlon64 X2 2.1 Ghz (4050+), Intel Core2 Duo 1.86 Ghz (E6300)
Memory:2 GB RAM
Graphics:DirectX 9 graphics card with 512Mb Video RAM: AMD Radeon HD 2600 XT, nVidia 8600
DirectX®:9.0c
Hard Drive:10 GB HD space

Recommended Specs
OS:Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
Processor:Quad core CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 565, Intel Core i5-750
Memory:4 GB RAM
Graphics:DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM: AMD Radeon HD 4870, nVidia GTX 480
DirectX®:11
Hard Drive:10 GB HD space

Graphics Options – Basic Settings

Like many other recent, high-quality ports, Tomb Raider for the PC offers a broad range of settings for you to choose from, many of which will substantially alter how the game looks and plays. Depending on your set up, you’ll have to play around with the settings to figure out the best fit for your system. To do so, simply access the game’s graphics options from the main menu.

As you can see, the basic settings allow you to modify the resolution, refresh rate, V-Sync, and so forth. Disabling V-Sync will provide you with the best framerate, so be sure to toggle that off. The quality setting is a basic preset that defines the overall settings you can further explore under the Advanced tab.

Graphics Options – Advanced Settings

Quality: Determines the overall quality of the graphics. It’s a good baseline to know what to expect from each of the settings.
Texture Quality: Keep this one on “normal” unless you have a lot of video memory to spare. Medium performance hit.
Texture Filter: Determines the level of anisotropy (e.g. how clear the textures look). Unless you’re running a low-end graphics card, you shouldn’t have any problem bringing this all the way up. Low performance hit.
Hair Quality: Makes Lara’s hair look realistic. I recommend setting it to TressFX for the best experience—but only if you have an AMD card. It doesn’t work well for nVidia cards. Very high performance hit.
Anti-Aliasing: Smooths jagged edges. It’ll give you a major performance hit unless you set it on FXAA or turn it off. Computers with high-end set ups should experiment with 2xSSAA and 4xSSAA
Shadows: Determines how many shadows are projected onto the scene. Leave this one on Normal.
Shadow Resolution: Defines the quality of the shadows. High performance hit.
Level of Detail: Determines how objects look from a distance. Unless you need to see high-quality leaves and flowers from miles away, leave this one on normal. Medium performance hit.
Reflections: Determines which objects cast reflections and at what quality. Medium performance hit.
Depth of Field: Gives close-up scenes a “bokeh” appearance in the background. Medium performance hit, but only during those occasions.
SSAO: This stands for “screen space ambient occlusion”. This is one of the biggest performance-affecting settings in the game. Adds global shadow and lighting effects to every scene and allows objects to cast realistic shadows on other objects in the scene. Goes all the way up to Ultra.
Post-Processing: Adds a bunch of motion blur. High performance hit.
Tessellation: Adds detail to models in the game. Currently problematic and related to crash issues, recommend setting it to ‘off’ for now.
High Precision: This poorly defined name describes a feature that adds darker shades and different intensities of light to the game. In short, it makes the game look more realistic. Minor performance hit. Keep it on.

The following graphical comparison video by ResetLoad shows the differences in action.

If you’re having low framerate issues, disable Anti-Aliasing, Post-Processing, SSAO, High Precision, and set the Hair Quality to normal. If you experience crashes, head over to this post for some solutions.

The game even contains an in-game benchmark you can run to test your settings. Ideally, you’ll want an average framerate of 60, but running the game at a constant 30fps shouldn’t hurt your experience if you prefer graphical fidelity over fluidity.

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8 Comments on Tomb Raider 2013: Graphical Preset Comparisons & Performance Tips

oram

On March 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

the major performance hit is not the SSAO but the TressFX. The only setting that reduces your performance with around 15-20 FPS; After that is Tesselation and SSAO on;y above Normal that impacts performance but with lesser consequences.
High Precision as far as Ive seen makes no performance difference

supson

On March 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

this article is hilariously bad at the suggestions and predicted impact to performance

DirkBelig

On March 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

With my rig (Core i7-920 @ 3.6 GHz, 12GB RAM, GTX 670 2GB, 314/14 beta drivers, adaptive vsync in driver, off in game) I got an ave. 33 fps at 1920×1200 Ultra Settings including TressFX. Turning off AA helped somewhat, but killing Post-Processing bumped me up to 53 fps(!) and 2X SSAA only dropped me to 49 fps, so I’m rolling with that.

Judging from my FRAPS screenies, I’m averaging mid-40s to mid-50s, but during in-engine cut scenes, the rate can wildly vary from shot to shot from the 20s to 80s or even higher. There’s no rhyme or reason to what chugs – close-up of a character will be 20-something than a long shot with several people and the jungle in view is 60+.

John

On March 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I have a core 2 quad @ 2.8ghz with 4GB of DDR2 @ 1066 and nvidia Geforce 460

I turn off TressFX and Tessilation, everything else is set to High/Ultra/On etc.

On this old beast I get 41FPS average, low of 27 and high of 53 during the benchmark.

MAthews

On March 10, 2013 at 1:17 am

I have a Toshiba Qosmio F20(bought 8 years ago), Intel Pentium M 2.13 GHz,1 GB DDR2 SIMM dedicated NVIDIA Geforce 6600 128 MB VRAM, OS: Windows 7,
Tomb Raider 2013 16 FPS at 800*600 (Low settings) obtained on almost nine year old GPU tech,

Sontawila

On March 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm

What does the “Display” option in the first screen do? I have another monitor hooked up to my PC and the only time I am able to adjust the display option (either 1 or 2 ) is when I set up the display in screen resolution to “extended”.

But even then there is no change. Any idea of what that option is for?

cullen

On February 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

i have an nvidia card and i noticed than turning on tressfx had almost no performance hit at all. so this post is pretty retarded

Ranandar

On July 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm

I found your article to be quite helpful. Thank you.