Here’s the complete ARK: Survival Evolved graphics settings guide

EdNikoff avatar. By: EdNikoff
6 minute read
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The full version of ARK: Survival Evolved is scheduled for release sometime in 2017 but until then, a lot of players the Early Access that has been available for almost 2 years now. We are sure that the full version will be a treat for all action-survival games fans.

Since ARK is still work in progress, there are a lot of rough edges and optimization issues. So, in order to give you the best possible playing experience, we’ve prepared a guide for the best graphics settings for the best gameplay.

Set ARK: Survival Evolved graphics for seamless gameplay

  1. Minimum and recommended system requirements
  2. DirectX 10 improves performance but impacts graphics
  3. Standard Graphics Setup for Best Quality/Performance
  4. Advanced Graphic Setup for Best Quality/Performance
  5. Additional tweaks to improve in-game graphics

1. Minimum and recommended system requirements

First and foremost, you’ll have to be sure your PC can run the game. These are the game‘s system requirements:

ARK: Survival Evolved minimum system requirements:

  • OS: 64-Bit Win7 SP1, Win8
  • CPU: Dual(2)-Core with 2,0 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: DX10 Compatible, 1 GB VRAM
  • DX 10
  • Space: 60 GB

ARK: Survival Evolved recommended system requirements:

  • OS: 64-Bit Win10
  • CPU: Quad(4)-Core with 4,0 GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • DX12 Compatible, 4 GB VRAM
  • DX 12
  • Space: 100 GB

As you can see, the game‘s minimum requirements are not hard to achieve. However, keep in mind that with these specs, the game will run at 15-20 FPS — not exactly the most desired experience with an open world game.

Because of that, we advise you to upgrade your PC in order to play the game with at least 60 FPS. The stronger your gaming rig is, the better the experience you can expect.

Developers should optimize the game for DX12 before the full release, which is one reason more to acquire the DX12 compatible card. Until then, you can use your old GPUs to optimize the game performance/graphics.

If you’re not sure what are your exact system specs are, you can use Steam to check them out.

  1. Go to the Steam client.
  2. Open Help.
  3. Choose System information.

Increase your PC’s performance in games by disabling these services on Windows 10!


2. DirectX 10 improves performance but impacts graphics

As the game‘s developers said, users with older PCs can run the game in DX10 for better performance. You can change the DX version ARK is running on by following these instructions:

  1. Open your Steam client.
  2. Highlight the ARK in Library.
  3. Right-click and open Properties.
  4. In General tab, open Set Launch Options…
  5. Type next line -USEALLAVAILABLECORES -sm4 -d3d10
  6. The game will run in DX10 mode.

Keep in mind that even though this command can give you some extra FPS, it can cause various issues. Some users reported GPU crashes and glitches. If you experience some of those, try disabling it.


You can’t open Steam on Windows 10? Take a look at this useful guide to solve the problem in no time.


3. Standard Graphics Setup for Best Quality/Performance

Once you make sure your computer can run the game without FPS issues, move on to its in-game settings. We’ll walk you through every option as many of them can impact FPS or boost/lower overall game performance:

  • Resolution – Can decrease FPS.
  • Windowed mode – Windowed and Windowed Fullscreen are known to cause lags and FPS drops. Use Fullscreen mode only.
  • Resolution scale – Reducing Resolution scale will affect graphics but improve FPS. However, we advise you to always use max settings. Otherwise, the game is unplayable.
  • World Tile Buffer – This feature is related to VRAM. So, if you have less than 4GB of GPU VRAM, set World Tile Buffer to ”Low”.
  • View distance – Can destroy the game performance in low-spec PCs.
  • Anti-Aliasing – This feature smoothes the edges of in-game objects and is a resource hogging.
  • Post Processing  –  Affects graphic detail and rendering. However, if you set it to ”Low”, it can increase FPS a bit.
  • General Shadows – Shadows are known to hog resources. If you can live without them, set them to ”Low”.
  • Terrain Shadows – Just the same as the General Shadows. You won’t notice any changes in graphics, but FPS will go up.
  • Textures – Textures don’t affect FPS so much. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to set High/Epic preferences with less than 3 GB of VRAM.
  • Sky Quality – Sky Quality is not that important for FPS and lowering it can net you small FPS improvements.
  • Ground Clutter – By decreasing this slider, you’ll get fewer flowers and grass but increase FPS by a small margin.

If you’re getting high FPS drops in Windows 10, follow this guide to find some useful solutions.


Want more dedicated VRAM? Check out this amazing guide to learn how you can get it.


4. Advanced Graphic Setup for Best Quality/Performance

This options menu is enabled only for users that play with DX11. It offers a lot of advanced features that let you improve the game looks and immersive nature. These are the options and tips for their use:

  • High-Quality Anisotropic Filtering – This feature creates smoother looking objects from various points of view. It mildly affects FPS.
  • Motion Blur – An unimportant aesthetic. We advise you to turn it off.
  • Film Grain – Another unimportant feature. Turn it off.
  • Distance Field Ambient Occlusion – Triggers soft shadows for distant objects. It consumes resources so we advise you to disable it.
  • Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) – Triggers soft shadows for nearby objects. It is a resource hogging feature. Disabling it is advisable.
  • Dynamic Tessellation – Disabled by default until the upcoming DX12 patch.
  • Distance Field Shadowing – Another shadows-related feature. Disable it for more stable performance.
  • High-Quality Materials – This option improves textures of in-game materials. It consumes RAM, so turn it off.
  • Sub Surface Scattering – It affects light behavior and makes foliage more realistic. You can turn it On.
  • High-Quality VFX – It affects all in-game water effects. Turn it off for more FPS.
  • Simple Distance Character Movement – This should stay enabled. It relieves CPU from animations of distant characters.
  • High-Quality LODs – Improves the level of details. You can leave it ON since details won’t affect overall game performance.
  • Extra Level Streaming Distance – This will make map loading faster while moving fast. However, it takes a lot of RAM.
  • Color Grading – Slightly improves colors. It won’t affect FPS.
  • Light Bloom – Won’t affect performance.
  • Light Shafts – It doesn’t affect performance.
  • Mesh Level of Detail (LOD) – Again. you can choose to disable/enable it by your own preferences. It affects GPU VRAM marginally.

Additionally, have in mind that, with the powerful PC you can use any of the features to your liking. On the other hand, for the ones with the older machines, this can be a helpful read.

In order to use Advanced Settings, you’ll have to use the default Launch option without command inputs.

If you’re looking to increase your FPS, take a look at this step-by-step guide that will help you do just that.


Need a FPS counter for your game? Check out this list with our best picks.


5. Additional tweaks to improve in-game graphics

There are a number of additional tweaks you can employ to improve FPS and all-around performance. However, there are few drawbacks reported by users.

On some occasions, those tweaks can lead to crashes. So, we advise you to try them out and look for yourself:

  1. Open your Steam client.
  2. Highlight the ARK in the Library.
  3. Right-click and open Properties.
  4. In General tab, open Set Launch Options…
  5. Type following line -USEALLAVAILABLECORES -nomansky -lowmemory -high 
  6. Save and run the game.
  7. This should speed up the game, especially with older PCs.

You can also try to optimize your PC. This way, you’ll make sure that you get the best chance at a good gaming experience. To do that, take a look at this article with the best optimizer software for Windows 10.


Improve your Windows 10’s PC performance with a few incredible expert tips. Find them in this article. 


Wrap-up

That’s about it for our guide for setting up the ARK: Survival Evolved graphics settings. We hope you’ll find them useful and manage to improve gameplay while maintaining a decent visual experience at the same time.

If you have any suggestions or questions regarding the subject, please tell us in the comments.

RELATED STORIES YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT:

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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