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[Tutorial/Documentation] settings.xml - a (very) low-spec gamer guide

  • settings.xml is an important file used for storing in-game graphical settings for GTA V. After the release of the game, low-spec PC players took full advantage of this file in order to make the game much more smooth than it originally is at its lowest.
    But now, things have changed. On this tutorial, you will learn how to create and customize your own settings.xml file. Read below and try to make a good setting compatible with your PC's speed, and your taste.
    Inspired by Junior_Djjr's Project2DFX' tutorial.

    Be warned: you'll have to wait for a lot of loading screens while testing so be patient. Use Auslogics Disk Defrag (not sponsored btw) and go listen to this underrated vapor masterpiece while the game loads.

    These control LODs and were the settings that got popular on LSG's newest video about GTA V. Use increments of .100000 for better results (e.g. you shouldn't use 0.150000 or 0.350000 but you can use 0.400000 or 0.500000). Use negative values (e.g. -0.300000).

    1. "LodScale"
      Controls the world draw distance ("Distance Scaling" on in-game settings). It does not give that much of a boost and you might want to leave it like it is.

    2. "PedLodBias"
      Controls the draw distance for pedestrians. It's an extremely subjective tweak, but what I like to do (and what I recommend) is this: when messing around with it, switch to Franklin, stay on foot, press V until you're in the "farthest away" camera mode and then look at Franklin's hair. If you can see his hair it means the current value is acceptable.

    3. "VehicleLodBias"
      Controls the draw distance of vehicles. Again, very subjective tweak, but what I like to do is going to the movie theater icon on Vinewood (which is also the place in which the car on the last scene of the benchmark is) and looking to the west. If I can see high-detail cars 20m away from me, it's good.

    4. "MaxLodScale"
      This line controls general draw distance and is a mix of the three values above. It also controls the draw distance for high-detail world models and it is VERY useful. I recommend using "-0.600000" and you'll have a much smoother FPS with almost 0 graphical sacrifices.
      Be careful as this value also affects the other values in the file, you should start customizing with this value and customize other values afterwards.
      Use the last scene of the benchmark or the technique to see if there aren't any LOD models on the road.

    Conclusive example:
    <LodScale value="-0.200000" />
    <PedLodBias value="-0.400000" />
    <VehicleLodBias value="-0.700000" />
    <MaxLodScale value="-0.600000" />
    alt text
    It's easy to notice if you look for it but it's hard to notice if you don't really care about it.

    These settings are very useful if you have a low-end PC but the game is just straight unplayable without shadows for you.

    1. "ShadowDistance" - only works if the shadow quality is set to very high, "2" should probably be enough (and might fix some bugs, as user InfiniteQuestion explained).

    2. "Shadow_SplitZStart" and "Shadow_SplitZEnd"
      I did not understand these very well but the thing I've noticed is:
      if you change the numbers' position the FPS increases and the shadows have a lower draw distance (e.g if you change 0.930000 to 0.093000, then 0.009300 and so on), if anyone has a better explanation I'll be glad to know about it. If you change "SplitZStart" you should also always change "SplitZEnd" in the same way.

    3. "Shadow_aircraftExpWeight"
      Same as the above but apparentely related to planes and aircrafts. Again, I did not understand these settings very well but they were quite useful.

    Conclusive example:
    <Shadow_SplitZStart value="0.000093" />
    <Shadow_SplitZEnd value="0.000089" />
    <Shadow_aircraftExpWeight value="0.000099" />
    alt text
    You can still notice the point where the shadow becomes low-quality but again, if you ignore it it won't be visible.


    1. "SamplingMode"
      This value modifies resolution without affecting the UI. It's the option "Frame Scaling" on in-game settings, you better modify it in-game. It is great if you still wanna play on fullscreen mode but without black borders. It works fractionally, so if you're playing at 720p and you set it to "2/3" the game resolution will be 480p, but the UI will retain the 720p quality.

    2. "DX_Version"
      This line controls the DirectX version your game currently uses (duh).
      0 for DX10, 1 for DX10.1 and 2 for DX11.
      If you're using integrated graphics and 4GB of RAM, you should use DX10. Same thing for people with off-board GPUs but with only 512MB VRAM (e.g. the NVIDIA 8800GT). For everyone else, use DX11.

    3. "ShadowQuality"
      Used for shadow quality settings. As explained on LSG, use 0 to disable them. Very useful if you have something like an Intel G43 Express on your PC (I had one of those and oh boi, it is the sinonymous for shett).

    Conclusive example:
    <SamplingMode value="3" /> (800x600 resolution)
    <DX_Version value="0" />
    <ShadowQuality value="0" />
    alt text
    As you can see, the absence of shadows makes the FPS increase significantly.


    1. "CityDensity"
    2. "PedVarietyMultiplier" and "VehicleVarietyMultiplier"
    3. "<system>" section
    4. "Convergence" and "Separation"


    1. You can also check about commandline.txt, Rockstar Games itself will help you.
    2. Older versions of the game have better performance.
    3. Reflection_MipBlur makes the water practically invisible and has no effect on FPS whatsoever.

    Edit (3 July 2021): Pardon me if this was not helpful to most people. I'm a bit ashamed of how bad my specs were back when I first made this tutorial but I still respect those that are in the same level of, if not worse than, me.
    On this edit, I have removed a part talking about countries on this. It was kinda c-r-i-n-g-e, ya know?

  • Banned

    @Lowlolo ShadowDistance set to 2 is the only setting I have ever needed and that's to expand the shadow box. With a high FOV the damn box is too noticeable going under overpasses.

  • @InfiniteQuestion Oh I see, I've had this problem in a different way though (when I actually had a GPU). I had this problem at certain points of the map (high places, like the top of the Mount Chiliad. It didn't really bother me and I just forgot about it anyways but it indeed looked strange.

  • @Lowlolo CityDensity increases the amount of cars you see. Not sure does it have any affect on ped amount though since they are kinda limited very unfortunately... :/

    PedVarietyMultiplier and VehicleVarietyMultiplier increases the varieties. Low values can make the same peds/cars spawn too much but higher fps, bigger values makes more different peds/cars to spawn but slightly lower fps (If your high quality addon cars spawn as well the fps drop will be more significant). If you have good PC, increasing them to 2 can make the game more diverse. If you have high end PC, you can push it to 2.6 to 3. I don't recommend over 3 though neither will it makes a big difference. Because the game also has a thing to tend to spawn same cars.


    Increasing "CityDensity"
    "PedVarietyMultiplier" and "VehicleVarietyMultiplier" above 1.4 is a guaranteed way to crash your game due to memory limitations

  • @ReNNie well for city density, yes, but for variety multipliers, they work fine upto 2.0 and are recommended by few modders to be set to 2.0

  • @ReNNie Until I learned about vehicle density can be increased with gameconfig, I was playing with 1.3 City Density and 2.6 Ped and Vehicle variety multiplier.

    My pc.. well it's not really bad but not even close to highend compared to today's hardwares.
    Alienware 17 laptop (bought at 2015)
    i7 4980HQ cpu
    Desktop Maxwell Titan X gpu with graphics amplifier
    16 GB ram
    Samsung Evo 860 1 TB SSD

    If I'm not mistaken my mods folder was around 20 GB and it wasn't crashing for me.

    At the moment I decreased city density to 1.0 and using 2.5X traffic compared to stock gameconfig and it's mostly constant 60 fps. My mods folder is 30 GB. Although should point out, 2 things causing some issues.

    1. Since almost all of my police cars have 4k liveries and I also have addon ones, a long chase crashing my game. I will try decreasing their livery resolutions to 1024x1024.
    2. While addonpeds mod installed, when I die PedSelector.dll changing my model to Micheal to prevent the game crashing. Well it does prevent the crashing but for some reason after I die 2 times especially in a quick roll I'm experiencing texture loss all over the game. Roads just disappearing. Same thing happens if I get busted while in car and spawn at the police station. but if I go out of the car and surrender (Better Chases+ allows me to) PedSelector.dll changing my model back to Micheal regardless but I instantly lose the wanted level instead of respawn at police station and this isn't causing any issues.

    Except these 2 situations I didn't experience crash with 6 hour playing. Oh and, also using eshenk's A New GTA mod but only the scenarios (to increase ped amount) and InfiniteQuestion's increased ped amount mod (that one removes birds and fishes to make room for more human ped spawn pool).

    At the mountain areas where there are too many grass, my fps can go down to 40 because of probably the graphic mods and ultra grass setting.

  • Banned

    I can guarrentee that I can show you 2 videos from my game, one with a modified city density and variety and one with a properly configured game, and you wouldn't be able to see a difference in peds or traffic between the two.

    Can we also define the terms here, what do people think it means for density and variety?

    Is it variety if you occasionally see the same car, or do you want the game to 100% show every other model before it spawns a duplicate?

    Do you want a city density that still looks normal, or do you want every car to be inches from each other?

    Expectations versus reality

  • @InfiniteQuestion City Density most noticeable at the highway but very very noticeable. Like you can't just hold the gas pedal to drive, the amount of cars are being insane there with increased City Density.

    Here is a video about it;

    and comparison of City Density;
    1.0x : alt text
    1.5x: : alt text

  • Banned

    @Aurora11 Really, that's nothing. I can make highways so full of traffic you can't drive between them. Density spacing in the gameconfig can do more than the settings file can do.

    The ONLY value of interest in the settings file is extended shadows, stupid shadow box.

    I should count how many people I see on the beach, cause it's more than that lol

  • @InfiniteQuestion I should take a look at it too :D I'm using shadows at softest and highest quality so they dont look blocky on my character's pretty face haha :D

  • Has anyone found a fix to the damn distance shimmering yet? The only thing that makes it better for me is playing at DX 10.1

  • Hey guys, I hope this was useful for high-end PC players, though I'm afraid it wasn't. It was more of a tutorial for people who still have something like a 9 year old Dell notebook. It might be useful for people such as DarkViperAU, who have a fuccin RTX 3090, and if it wasn't, I'm sorry. Probably going to update this thread soon.

  • yo homies, so I've set

    <LodScale value="2.000000" />
    <PedLodBias value="0.500000" />
    <MaxLodScale value="2.000000" />

    and it's like I've been playing blind before that. The difference is like forgetting your glasses at home vs having them on.

    However, this still looks like shit -- shadows sharpen right in from of my feet o.O

    <Shadow_SoftShadows value="1" />
    <UltraShadows_Enabled value="false" />  # expensive sh1t
    <Shadow_ParticleShadows value="true" />
    <Shadow_Distance value="2.000000" />
    <Shadow_LongShadows value="true" />
    <Shadow_SplitZStart value="1.000000" />
    <Shadow_SplitZEnd value="0.990000" />

    I think, I'd need this thing.

  • The above has a funny side-effect of doubling the FPS in a tunnel, and having insane dips when speeding through a new area :D
    Going the same road twice gets me an FPS boost of 20-40% on the second pass -- CPU doesn't manage to load the textures fast enough on the first pass, but they're cached, I suppose.

  • How do i change the direct X version to 10.1? when i load its stuck on 11 and its over in video memory, it tells me to restart the game when i changed it to 10.1, but when it loads in again its 11, not 10.1. how do i change this in settings.xml?

  • Wow, I absolutely did not expect this to accumulate this amount of views. In regards to PC specs I am much better than previously, but I still hope this tutorial serves for somebody.
    I have kind of forgot about GTA V and games in general; nonetheless, I am still open to suggestions.

  • This post is deleted!

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