Star Citizen, in it's alpha state, is a very graphically intensive game to run. In addition to this, there are various idiosyncrasies with the game's optimization that are not immediately obvious to a new player. This page aims to provide an easy-to-understand cheat sheet to maximize the performance of your system.
Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary; what works on one system may not work as well for a slightly different system. Everyone's hardware is a little different. The following is a collection of observations and personal experience from myself and other players.
General tips & tricks
- Star Citizen will be effectively unplayable unless it is installed on an SSD. You will be waiting for 45 minutes to respawn when you die if not. This is a fairly common issue that a lot of people have, and unfortunately the only solution is to upgrade to an SSD.
- In order to view FPS in Star Citizen you can use Console Commands. Press the tilde
~beside 1 on your keyboard. Type in r_displayInfo 1 and hit enter. r_displayInfo 2, 3, or 4 will show you differing information. You can autocomplete using tab.
- If it's your first time launching the game, be patient. Star Citizen compiles all of it's shaders on startup, so ridiculously low framerates are normal for ~10 minutes after you first log in.
- Ensure nothing is running in the background. Chrome, Firefox, Spotify, and even Steam can all take up valuable processing power and RAM that Star Citizen could otherwise use.
- If you have a Ryzen 7900x3D or 7950x3D you may see a performance boost from parking some of your CPU cores to reduce thermal load and increase cache response time.
- Deleting your shader folder will fix visual issues and can help with performance bugs in some cases. Be warned that the game will recompile them on the next startup. The shader folder can be found at %localappdata%\Star Citizen\ in the folder with your game version on it.
- Restart! If you run into a weird graphical bug, or lower-than-usual framerates, restarting your computer will often fix the issue.
- If you only have 16GB of RAM, it is strongly recommended that you set up a 16GB pagefile on your fastest SSD.
- Make sure performance mode is enabled in Windows.
- Change the Star Citizen Process Priority to High.
- If you have an Nvidia GPU, increasing the shader cache size to 10gb in Nvidia Control Panel seems to help.
- Ensuring the 'Prefer Maximum Performance' power option in Nvidia Control Panel is selected can also increase FPS.
|Setting Name||Description||Performance impact|
|Gamma||Gamma controls how bright shadows appear when rendered, a high gamma value can result in more visibility in dark areas, but make the image look more flat.||Negligible.|
|Brightness||Brightness controls how bright the rendered game window is.||Negligible.|
|Contrast||The contrast slider affects how stark the difference between one color and another is. Play around with it!||Negligible.|
|Resolution||The resolution of the game window determines how many pixels will be rendered, and how sharp the image will be when displayed on your monitor. Typically it should be set to the resolution of your display, but you can lower it to increase performance. Generally, the lower the resolution, the better the game will run.||Moderate; lower will increase performance but decrease visual fidelity.|
|Window Mode||This setting controls how Star Citizen is rendered. Fullscreen will typically give the best performance.||Moderate; fullscreen yields better performance.|
|Quality||The overall quality of the game. Your instinct may be to set this to 'Low,' however the 'High' and 'Very High' options will often produce drastically better results, as the higher settings are better optimized to utilize your GPU.||Dramatic, High or Very High typically yield best performance, especially on lower end CPUs.|
|Terrain Tessellation Distance||This setting controls the distance at which 'fake' geometry is added to far-off terrain to make it seem more detailed.||Negligible, recommend setting to High.|
|Planet Volumetric Clouds||Many of the planets in Star Citizen feature volumetric clouds, which realistically catch the light, create ambient lighting, and look pretty. They will also absolutely decimate your framerate. Turning them off doesn't affect gameplay beyond making the game look slightly less realistic.||Drastic, turn them off for better performance.|
|Field of View||This slider affects how much of the scene is displayed on your screen. Widescreen users should turn this up. Anecdotally, tweaking this setting can help mitigate motion sickness||Negligible, but widescreen users should turn this up for a better experience.|
|Motion Blur||Motion Blur is the effect you see when you move your head fast. This is mostly a visual preference thing, but there is a slight performance benefit to turning it off. It can actually help hide uneven frametimes, so it's really up to you if you use it.||Minor, off may get you slightly better performance.|
|VSync||VSync is a technology designed to limit the game's framerate to the refresh rate of your monitor. It reduces screen tearing.||Minor, turning it on may net 1-2fps increase depending on the system.|
|Sharpening||Applies black magic image sharpening to your game. typically 1440p and greater don't benefit from it, but I have heard that it can increase performance on smaller displays||Possible, though your mileage may vary. Higher values may net gains.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Chromatic Abberation is an effect created by low quality lenses when light hits them at a certain angle. This produces different colored spots on your display. It's also a preference thing, many people turn it off by default.||Minor, off may get you slightly better performance.|
|Film Grain||Exactly what it sounds like, adds a cinematic film grain to your screen.||Minor, off may get you slightly better performance.|
|Session Information QR Code||Toggles the QR code in the top right corner of your screen. Useful if you regularly use the Issue Council, as it contains all session information in one screenshot.||Negligible.|