GUIDE: Maximizing System Performance for Overwatch (PC)


#1


by WyomingMyst

The following guide is composed of various tips and tricks that I have been compiling to help users get every possible frame per second, the lowest possible simulation rate, and minimize spikes of system lag during matches of Overwatch. This guide will go over recommended settings in Overwatch, settings outside of Overwatch, and other tricks you can use to improve performance. Please note, this guide is intended to improve performance assuming you have no technical issues. If you are encountering severe FPS drops, freezes, or other noticeable issues, please check out these official Blizzard posts containing various troubleshooting tips:

By following these tips, you will find increased FPS, a more stable connection, and an increased response in your controls. So, this could help improve your actual gameplay, but of course, this is only a small factor and only continuing to practice and play Overwatch will ultimately improve your skill as a player.

DISCLAIMER: While I am an MVP-Tech Support forum member, I am NOT a representative of Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard Entertainment (nor I) cannot be held responsible for any malfunction, damage, or undesired effects by implementing the steps this guide has.

Meeting the Recommended System Requirements

While Overwatch is very capable of playing on many modern-day computers, you are going to have a better time playing by meeting, if not exceeding, their recommended system requirements, in case you do not know what those are let us review them:

  • Operating System: Windows® 7 / Windows® 8 / Windows® 10 64-bit (latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i5 or AMD Phenom™ II X3 or better
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660 or AMD Radeon™ HD 7950 or better
  • RAM: 6 GB RAM
  • Storage: 30 GB available hard drive space
  • Internet: Broadband internet connection
  • Display: 1024 x 768 minimum display resolution

Now, I will note the better you can get, the more likely you will find to improve your performance in the game. As a comparison, here are my primary computer’s setup basic stats:

  • Operating System: Windows® 10 64-bit (April 2018 Creator’s Update)
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-6700K CPU @ 4.00 GHz
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1070
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage: 1 Terabyte Solid State Drive

Building an optimal Computer for Overwatch

Now that we know what the system requirements are, let’s go over detailed tips that can prove to give an edge in performance if you are upgrading or building your own PC.

Type of Storage

To minimize issues with Overwatch running properly on your system, I strongly recommend making sure that Overwatch and Blizzard App Launcher is installed in the same storage drive/partition as your Windows® Operating System. I have found many players often have performance issues if not crashes when Overwatch and the Blizzard App Launcher are installed on a secondary storage drive. Furthermore, if you really want to get an edge in speed performance during key events such as the Hero Selection Screen, consider using a solid-state drive as your primary storage drive. A solid-state drive (SSD) is a storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently and uses no mechanical components, unlike a traditional magnetic disc Hard Disk Drive. Data transfers quickly and fluently. This way so loading screens run faster.

Monitor and Cable Hookup

When connecting to a monitor, I recommend the use of a DVI cable, Display Port cable, or an HDMI 1.3 cable, over older HDMI or VGA. This is because with a DVI or Display Port cable you can get refresh rates of up to 144 Hz. Older HDMI cables do not do this and even a 1.3 HDMI can only output video data at 120 Hz. When shopping for a monitor, I recommend simply making sure it is capable of 144 Hz refresh rate and preferably be a 16:9 scale monitor.

Also remember that if Overwatch is intended to be your only game to play, you don’t need bells and whistles such as an ultra-wide 21:9 scale resolution. Overwatch does not support a frame-of-view greater than 103 to ensure an even competitive platform for all monitor setups (meaning portions of the top and bottom of a screen on a 21:9 monitor will be cropped off in comparison to that of 16:9).

Other Hardware Tips (for the tech savvy)

Aside from getting the best possible components for your computer, I recommend the use of a liquid cooler for your CPU. You can also find easy to install liquid cooler assemblies for your GPU as well. Also, remember the beefier the hardware, the higher wattage it will require, so make sure your power supply unit (PSU) covers the wattage necessary to power up everything. A cheap 300-Watt Power Supply is a death sentence to your computer. It really does not hurt to invest the money into something as beefy as a 750-Watt power supply. Finally, while Overwatch only needs 6 Gigabytes of RAM, try to install ram that has a higher speed rating for faster responses and load times. Usually RAM sticks that are marketed for gaming PCs are a good way to go. If you intend to do other tasks such as streaming, or if you have other applications running at the same time, the more RAM you have, the less likely you are to encounter freezes.

Each of these little things keeps your system running powerful enough and cool enough so that system performance is never an issue. I could go on writing about building a custom PC from scratch. However, there are many superior guides on the internet to do that.

Evaluating your System Performance in Overwatch

Now, not accounting for system resources available, there are two ways to play Overwatch, which is accounting for speed and performance or accounting for graphical appeal and looks. Most professional players will crank down most video settings to get as fast a frame rate as possible and as low a SIM rate as possible. SIM rate is the simulation or the amount of time your game client took to process a tick. Like connection ping, this is measured in milliseconds. A system that is running with high-graphic settings will often find their SIM rate to run in the tens of milliseconds, whereas a high performing system with the lowest graphics quality settings can often crank out speeds of 3 to 4 milliseconds. This may not seem like much, but that is visual lag and input lag that can affect how fast your inputs respond much like the connection latency in your game.

So how can you measure SIM rate? Using the Network Graph in Overwatch. Go to the Training Range, and after selecting a hero, tap the following key combination:

Ctrl + Shift+ N

You will see a shaded area with a bunch of moving lines scrolling from right to left. The faster these lines are moving the more ticks you are processing. Look for the upper white line and value to read your SIM rate. Remember the lower it is, the faster your game will perform. If you can, try to play around in the Training Range, especially in the area with the multiple Training Bots moving in and out of the left side building and output as much primary fire as you can and move around as fast as you can. This will test how fast your system is processing commands and rendering graphics to your screen.

If by any chance you see any white shaded bars appear as you do this, then this means your system had a delay in processing data from the game server. These white bars often point to your computer lagging (and not your connection). On the other hand, if you see orange bars, this often points to a problem with your connection and if they appear frequently, you should troubleshoot your connection. Now that you know how to measure your system performance, let’s work to maximize performance.

Overwatch In-Game Video Settings

Let’s go over each of these handy settings and see what and where we can change to improve performance.

Also note when you view the Video options on Overwatch, it will list your GPU. So, if by rare chance it displays the wrong GPU (such as the motherboard’s integrated graphics) you will know that needs to be changed (outside of Overwatch).

  • DISPLAY MODE: Most likely you will want this in full-screen view, however, this can be at your preference based on your setup and use of Overwatch.
  • TARGET DISPLAY: Again, this is your preference if you have multiple Monitors to use.
  • RESOLUTION: Try to get this to 1920 by 1080 and at the highest refresh rate you can get, for me, this is at 1920x1080 (100)(*)
  • FIELD OF VIEW: This should be increased to a maximum of 103, this allows you to have the maximum view of the playfield in the game.
  • ASPECT RATIO: Chances are this will be at 16:9. There is support for 16:10 and 21:9 (however the field of view is negatively affected with these aspect ratios).
  • VSYNC: I recommend this turned OFF. Short for Vertical Sync, Vsync allows you to synchronize the frame rate of the game with the monitor refresh rate for better stability, however, you will limit your frames per second with this setting on.
  • TRIPLE BUFFERING: I recommend this turned OFF. Triple buffering simply buffers one extra frame to the CPU instead of two. This extra frame gives enough time to correct more issues such as frame tearing and Vsync. However, an extra frame being buffered by the GPU means it must use more onboard GPU memory to store and buffer that frame.
  • REDUCE BUFFERING: I recommend this turned ON. This allows the game to buffer fewer frames but at the cost of visual appearance.
  • DISPLAY PERFORMANCE STATS: These handy stats will appear in the upper left corner of your screen that you can quickly glance at to ensure you game running properly at any time. You can choose specific stats by selecting the Advanced tab. I personally like to show the Framerate and the Network Ping. I will often keep the others open when experimenting with settings or doing connection troubleshooting.
  • DISPLAY SYSTEM CLOCK: I recommend this also turned ON. Just because you don’t want to realize that its 4 AM and you should have been at work 20 hours ago… Forget it! play one more game. (^^)v
  • LIMIT FPS: I recommend this set to CUSTOM and based on what your system can handle go as high as you can on the FRAME RATE CAP.
  • FRAME RATE CAP (this option is only available when LIMIT FPS is set to CUSTOM): Really go as high as you can until you start to notice adverse effects from your GPU (such as increased GPU temperature) or the game, the maximum is 300.
  • GRAPHICS QUALITY: Set this to LOW, changing this will change certain settings in the ADVANCED section automatically, so set to LOW and then open the ADVANCED section to further customize the setting.
  • RENDER SCALE: I recommend this at 100%, however, if you need to crank out more frames per second, you might try 75%.
  • TEXTURE QUALITY: I recommend at LOW.
  • TEXTURE FILTERING QUALITY: I recommend at LOW.
  • LOCAL FOG DETAIL: I recommend at LOW.
  • DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS: I recommend at OFF.
  • SHADOW DETAIL: I recommend at OFF.
  • MODEL DETAIL: I recommend at LOW
  • EFFECTS DETAIL: I recommend at LOW.
  • LIGHTING QUALITY: I recommend at LOW.
  • ANTIALIAS QUALITY: I recommend at LOW – FXAA.
  • REFRACTION QUALITY: I recommend at LOW.
  • SCREENSHOT QUALITY: I recommend at 1X RESOLUTION.
  • LOCAL REFLECTIONS: I recommend to OFF.
  • AMBIENT OCCLUSION: I recommend to OFF.

As for the remaining four options (GAMMA CORRECTION, CONTRAST, BRIGHTNESS and COLOR BLIND OPTIONS), I recommend leaving them alone unless you need to adjust based on the needs of your monitor or your own personal needs.

Overwatch In-Game Sound Settings

Most of these options will be based on your computer set up and equipment so I am not going into too much detail here. If you want to have more awareness in your matches, mute out Music Volume as it is more important to hear weapons fire, voice lines, and enemy footsteps. When it comes to your microphone carefully experiment with both your Windows® Microphone Settings and any third-party software that controls your Microphone (if you are using a USB headset or Mic). Finally, if you can disable any outside surround sound features with your headphones, turn on Dolby® ATMOS™. This amazing feature really works to provide realistic surround sound to pinpoint the sound enemy movements and weapons fire.

Overwatch Controls Settings

Not going to touch on much here. However, I will give the general guideline to improving aim by slowly adjusting your mouse sensitivity, slowly drop your mouse sensitivity bit by bit and practice aiming with it. This will take several days to master and develop, but if you can learn to aim with your arm and not your hand, you will find you can accurately pinpoint targets easily.

Aside from that, you may want to experiment with different keybindings if you find yourself mistyping something during gameplay. One common problem I have seen is that players accidentally disable their HUD elements by pressing Alt+ Z. Both of those keys are relevantly near each other, so it may be more helpful to bind a key combination not so easy to trigger. I personally have mine set to Alt + 3. In addition, I have swapped my healing communication key X and my melee key (V). This is because I have a nasty habit of hitting X when playing, especially when trying to move backward with S.

You may also find the need to swap your Ability 1 (Shift), Ability 2 (E), and Alternate Fire (Right Mouse Click) to play in a more comfortable play style. For example, I play D.Va in her “old school” control configuration. Prior to patch 1.1, D.Va used to have her Defense Matrix ability bound to E by default and not Alternate fire. This was because the ability worked very differently than what it does today. I never could get used to using Defense Matrix as alternate fire and at the time I used the empty right click slot for my boosters. Since the introduction of Micro Missiles in patch 1.15, I have bound that new ability to Shift.

Using gaming mouse keybindings

If you are like me, you probably have a high-quality gaming mouse which provides additional buttons which you can assign buttons to. I currently own a Razer® Deathadder Elite Overwatch Edition mouse which features two thumb buttons on the right side and two quick action buttons just below the scroll wheel. I have the upper side button (Mouse 5), bound to my spray binding, my lower side button (mouse 4) bound to my Melee attack. The quick action buttons bound to my default voice line and default emote with the exception of Torbjorn and Mercy who have switchable weapons. I have Shift bound to my scroll wheel click for quick access, but I often found using the scroll wheel click caused me to switch weapons accidentally when playing Torbjorn or Mercy, so I removed the scroll wheel rolling bindings.

Just remember that Macros (programmable scripts to automate multiple key presses) are NOT permitted in Blizzard games. So, avoid using any Macro features for any gaming mouse that you use.

Overwatch Gameplay Settings

In this section, I am going to point out three key settings. First, the NETWORK QUALITY NOTIFICATIONS setting should be turned to ON. These will show two orange icons towards the upper left corner of your screen when you encounter connection issues, most likely this will blink maybe every now and then, however, if they flash rapidly or appear lit constantly, you have severe connection issues to address. Next, if you are encountering connection issues, try turning on either the LIMIT CLIENT SEND RATE or the LIMIT SERVER SEND RATE to on. This will help prevent any overloading of your router with data (which can cause a disconnection from the game server), but it can possibly impact your input and output (especially sound effects and voice lines) as you play.

Computer Settings Outside of Overwatch

There is so much I could cover but I am going to just cover a few basics. First, going back to improving input lag, consider disabling “Enhanced Pointer Precision” for your mouse settings in Windows:

  • Open Windows® Control Panel and find the Mouse option.
  • Click the Pointer Options tab.
  • Uncheck the “Enhance Pointer Precision” checkbox
  • Click “Apply” then “OK” to close.

Razer® Deathadder Elite Overwatch Edition Mouse

Another factor in controlling your mouse movement is to manage your mouse driver’s DPI sensitivity (usually adjustable with many gaming mice driver software). Unlike the in-game sensitivity, I don’t recommend trying to crank down the DPI to bare minimums (as it has a similar effect), but to be at a balanced amount to ensure accuracy with control. I have seen pro players use a range around 4.00 in-game sensitivity with 1600 DPI to 8.00 in-game sensitivity with 800 DPI. Note that adjusting your DPI will affect how fast your cursor on menu screens (including the Hero Select Screen) moves.

If you are using a Gaming Keyboard, check to see if its driver software contains features that help disable the Windows® Key while the game runs. This is handy as it can be very easy to tap the Windows® key and open the start menu (which can be annoying to reverse and get back into the game). Also, if you have customizable lighting features with your keyboard, consider alternating the colors of your A, S, D and W keys, and a different color for your Q, E, and LEFT SHIFT keys. Please note, that if you have a Razer® branded USB Keyboard (such as the Razer® Blackwidow Chroma Overwatch Edition) with built-in Razer® Chroma™ effects, Overwatch will automatically output color effects based on gameplay.

Razer® Deathadder Elite Overwatch Edition Mouse

Graphic Card Video Settings

Please note, the screenshots and steps will primarily reflect settings for Nvidia® GTX Graphic Cards and Control Panel, however, there are similar settings in the AMD® Radeon Control Panel for AMD Graphic Cards.

There are several settings in your Graphics Card Control Panel that are not available in your Graphics Card Experience suite that can be changed to have a positive impact in your game. To reach your graphics card control panel, go to your Windows Desktop (minimize all programs), right-click any empty space, and select the graphics card control panel shortcut that appears in the pop-up menu. For the most part, keep most of these settings at default unless you are experiencing performance issues overall, however, I recommend changing these four settings for Overwatch. In the Nvidia control panel, you can specify which 3D settings are running for each program.

3D Settings > CUDA – GPUs: Here you can specify which GPU (if you have multiple) are running on your system. I recommend making sure this is set to your desired GPU (most likely your most powerful one).

3D Settings > Power Management Mode: Here you can specify the power performance of your GPU. This setting is especially important for laptops. Please note, whenever you play Overwatch on a laptop, make sure to always be plugged into electrical power and not run off the battery. For this setting, I recommend manually setting to Prefer Maximum Performance.

Configure Surround, PhysX > PhysX Setting: This is a global setting to make sure your primary graphics card is being used over the CPU to ensure proper graphical rendering.

Adjust Display Size and Position > Refresh Rate: Finally, check this setting to ensure you have the highest possible refresh rate being sent to the monitor.

Updating/Reinstalling your Graphics Card Driver

Updating your graphics card driver frequently will in most cases ensure Overwatch will be able to run with the latest patches. You can often update your driver through support programs like Nvidia® GeForce Experience or AMD® Radeon ReLive.

In the unlikely event, however, if you are finding that after simply updating you are experiencing low FPS, you may need to consider doing a full reinstall of the graphics card driver. Remember to use Display Driver Uninstaller to completely clean out your old driver. Then download the most recent Nvidia® or AMD® for your system.

Overclocking

In certain situations, you may find that overclocking either your CPU or your GPU may help get boosted performance. Overclocking is basically configuring your processors to run at a faster pace than their factory limits are configured to do so. The risks to overclocking include reducing the overall shelf life of your GPU or CPU or overheating your computer entirely. Overwatch also tends to be more prone to graphical artifacts (distorted graphics rendered on screen) with some overclock configurations.

I will not explain any steps to overclocking (as this can vary based on your motherboard), and I do recommend that you approach this with caution, as overclocking can cause game crashes in specific setups. I also recommend only implementing overclocking features that are built into your motherboard. Thoroughly test your changes in non-competitive game modes for any changes you have made and take careful notes to what you have changed from in case you need to switch back.

Expanding Virtual Memory

If you are needing to boost performance with your current system resources, you can also try expanding the limits of your virtual memory (the hard disk space set aside to manage additional temporary memory that your RAM can’t handle). You can also review settings in your graphics card control panel (often found in the Windows Control Panel) to ensure you have no restrictions such as your refresh rates for your monitor. Again, this all varies with your setup, so carefully research each option before making changes.

Conflicting programs that can hinder performance in Overwatch

There can be a variety of programs both on the overlay and the in the background that can hinder your performance in Overwatch. If you notice freezes in game, this can often be pointed to a program that is taking up system resources. This includes:

  • Web Browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome (Chrome is a big culprit)
  • Third-Party Communication Applications such as Discord, Skype, and Teamspeak
  • Cloud Storage Management Programs such as OneDrive, Evernote, and Dropbox
  • Streaming software such as ShadowPlay, Open Broadcasting Software, and ReLive
  • Anti-Virus and Malware Protection applications

I am not going to cover each of these in detail, and depending on your connection and computer setup, not every program will pose an issue. However, if you encounter troubles, try disabling each and see if you can improve performance. You may have to forcefully shut down programs in the Windows® Task Manager to fully close them down. Then check that programs setting to see if you can prevent it from conflicting with Overwatch. Furthermore, there can be background programs that can cause conflicts with Overwatch, and if you feel this is the case, check out this Blizzard Support article to learn how to disable and carefully test each one to isolate any conflicting background programs:

Updating your BIOS

The BIOS is a special chipset on your computer that is a set of computer instructions in the firmware that control input and output operations. Sometimes in rare cases, updating your BIOS can improve performance to all your other components which can improve FPS and input performance. Unfortunately updating the BIOS varies across each motherboard, so you will need to reach out to the manufacturer of your motherboard (or overall computer manufacturer if you have a pre-built computer) to find out how you can check and update your BIOS. I recommend checking your BIOS firmware at least once a year. I must also emphasize extreme caution when updating your BIOS, as doing so incorrectly can completely brick your motherboard. Read all the steps from your manufacturer first before starting, if you are uncomfortable with any step, seek out help from a knowledgeable computer technician.

Optimizing your Internet Connection

There are several options you can do to decrease latency and stabilize your connection to Overwatch. First let me point out one of the biggest misconceptions about connecting to online games, which is you don’t necessarily need to have the widest bandwidth to connect to Overwatch. I have operated Overwatch without problems on connections as small as 3 Mbps Download/0.5 Mbps Upload. Bandwidth is how big your specific “pipe” to the internet is. The bigger the pipe, the more things can fit through at once. Online games like Overwatch send very small amounts of data (but just constantly send a lot over time). Applications like video streaming from Netflix, YouTube, and Twitch, or file syncing from cloud storage applications are often the biggest hogs in bandwidth. So, running those applications can possibly cause an undesirable increase in latency if the bandwidth is not big enough. Furthermore, the more devices on the same local network that uses the internet at the same time will decrease the overall available bandwidth.

Now, I have seen many computer setups connect to their router using their local wireless (WiFi) connection and not directly connect by an ethernet cable. This is typically not a good idea is because WiFi is sending your data over a digital radio signal, and this signal significantly deteriorates until it reaches the router or your computer. Furthermore, factors such as electric appliances such as a vacuum cleaner or a microwave oven, other radio signals, and line-of-sight obstacles such as walls all increase that deterioration in your signal. Ethernet communicates by a closed-circuit connection and is far less prone to interference. I also don’t recommend the use of “powerline” adapters which sends a signal through the high-voltage electrical wiring of your home as this is subject to a lot of interference. The same applies to how your Internet Service Provider works. A DSL, Cable, or Fiber-Optic connection are more preferred over connection services that work wirelessly such as a cellular provider.

Aside from setting up a proper local area network and choosing a good internet service provider, you may find that you are still subjected to the problems of the World Wide Web. When you start up Overwatch each time, the game client takes time to ping all possible servers in the region you have booted up into. This way it knows which servers it should try to send you to when you queue into any game. When there is a problem in your connection route to what would normally be your geographically closest game server, the game will instead send you to the next best possible one. However, this may result in increased latency. There are some options to try and resolve this:

  • Run a WinMTR test to see if there is an issue between you and the game server. If you are not certain how to read the results of a test. Post them here in the technical support forum where a Blizzard Support Agent or players like myself can lend a hand. There we can advise if there is a problem with your own router, your ISP’s, hubs or if there is a major problem affecting the internet overall.
  • Subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. This option costs money in most cases, unfortunately, and connection troubleshooting to these services are not supported by Blizzard if you have any technical problems. A VPN will have you connect to a server which then directly routes you to a game server on a connection path that is more optimized than a normal internet connection.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many possibilities to maximize system performance to get the fastest possible performance out of your system. Remember to carefully adjust and test each setting to make sure you like it and see how it affects the feel of the game. This may take time, but you are bound to enjoy Overwatch even more as you explore and maximize your system performance. As always, I love feedback and will be happy to add in additional tips that you have that can help everyone improve their system performance. Thanks for reading!


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Last updated: October 29th, 2018


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#8

Something that should also be paid a bit more attention to is your RAM frequency and configuration.

Overwatch is notably dependant on RAM bandwidth[1], so making sure you have at least 2666Mhz RAM in a dual channel configuration, I would think, would be more important than having more than 8GB of system RAM.

Another thing of note is how many CPU cores Overwatch can effectively make use of, Overwatch scales best around 6 cores[Citation Needed], so going for a 6+Core CPU would be advantageous, and fortunately they’re fairly common with the recent line of CPUs from both AMD with Ryzen and Intel with Coffeelake.


#9

Hi Wyomingmyst,

Thanks for your help with my Xbox query. The forum won’t let me reply to the specific post cus I deleted my message and it still thinks I have posted.

Anyway I solved the Xbox game blinking problem by uninstalling the game and putting it on the internal hard drive. This has made the game run smoother and it no longer jumps around. I couldn’t get the graph latency thing to work, it only gave me numbers rather than a graph but it is fine since I reinstalled it.