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Star Wars Squadrons most important graphics options - every video setting benchmarked
By Chad Norton on October 2nd, 2020 at 04:47pm - original article from game-debate

Star Wars: Squadrons is finally here, the space sim set in a galaxy far, far away now allows us to pilot our favorite spaceships from the universe in the most realistic controls we've seen for a Star Wars space sim yet.

Luckily it seems that SW Squadrons performs really well across a range of GPUs, as according to our latest Star Wars Squadrons PC performance benchmarks, but which graphics settings are the most demanding? We've benchmarked each graphics option to see which ones are the most demanding, and which ones we an turn all the way up without much of a hit to the performance frame rate. 

In this article we will take a look at which ¬¬g_id:37309[Star Wars: Squadrons]¬¬ graphics settings are the best to turn all the way up to Ultra and which ones can get us a little FPS boost for no real visual loss when we turn them off or down. We've compiled a list below of the most demanding graphics options in the game, so you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in Star Wars: Squadrons to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked against a minimum graphics setting used as our baseline benchmark for Star Wars: Squadrons. From there we see which graphics options have the highest performance impact on our hardware for the least visual improvement, and then we will see which options can be turned up to max and deliver the best visual improvement in Star Wars: Squadrons.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Star Wars: Squadrons then you can check out our Star Wars: Squadrons PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various Star Wars: Squadrons PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

Star Wars: Squadrons PC system requirements

Star Wars: Squadrons PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the recommended GPU  graphics card, an  processor, and 16GB of DDR4 memory. To standardize the benchmark tests we ran through the same area in of the early story missions of the single player campaign, flying through space, weaving around some large spaceships, and shooting a few bad guys. We found this run to be pretty representative of the experience in-game, when considering graphics options compared to other graphics options and their relative performance impact.

There's a few graphics settings available in Star Wars: Squadrons, so we went through the 13 graphics options listed and tested each one in turn, recording the average frame rates for each and then comparing them to a baseline FPS that was recorded with all the graphics options either turned off or to their lowest settings.

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Star Wars: Squadrons baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for SW Squadrons Frame Rates achieved when all Squadrons' graphics settings are on the lowest or OFF.

Star Wars: Squadrons Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Star Wars: Squadrons Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further to the right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is.

Star Wars Squadrons graphics options performance breakdown

What are the most demanding graphics options in Star Wars: Squadrons?

Looking over the graphics options performance breakdown graph above, we can see there aren't a whole lot of demanding settings in Star Wars Squadrons apart from a select few.

Most notably, Shadow Quality is the most demanding at 22.7% FPS cost, with Lighting Quality and Mesh Quality coming in second and third with 8.44% and 7.54% FPS cost respectively. Apart from that, there's only really Effects Quality with a 4.98% FPS cost, and Anti-Aliasing with 3.03%. The rest of the graphics settings are negligible and hardly noticeable in terms of frame rate cost.

Typical post processing features like Film Grain and Lens Distortion hardly have an impact at all, and surprisingly setting like Screen Space Shadows, Volumetric Quality, and Ambient Occlusion all have barely an effect on the FPS performance.

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Star Wars: Squadrons All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Star Wars: Squadrons

There's quite a few graphics settings in Star Wars Squadrons that we an tweak in order to optimize our performance, as well as a few options that will allow us to squeeze out some extra frames and properly fine-tune Squadron's PC performance.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think the best Star Wars: Squadrons graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump right in...

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Film Grain

Film Grain On setting performance impact

Film Grain graphics option Off compared to On

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Film Grain

208.6 172.1 221.4 124.7 107.5

Film Grain option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Film Grain setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Film Grain is a technique used to add a visual effect that emulates celluloid film, which adds a slightly organic noise filter over the image to make it feel more cinematic. This is purely down to personal preference as it is hardly noticeable in-game and doesn't affect image quality.

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Lens Distortion

Lens Distortion On setting performance impact

Lens Distortion graphics option Off compared to On

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Lens Distortion

210 174.3 223.9 165 111.6

Lens Distortion option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Lens Distortion setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Artificially adds a distortion effect to the player's camera to make it seem like you are viewing it through a camera lens and can make the image look a little but more cinematic. This is another setting based on personal preference and does not affect image quality either.

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High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range On setting performance impact

High Dynamic Range graphics option Off compared to On

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

High Dynamic Range

209.2 171.7 223.1 133.6 108.2

High Dynamic Range option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the High Dynamic Range setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? A technique used in photography, film, and video games that reproduces a larger dynamic range, allowing for greater detail in very bright areas or very dark areas. Essentially allows for a larger range of detail in lighting. This does make an image more vibrant, clear, and cinematic, but is usually only reserved for HDR-specific monitors. In Star Wars Squadrons, it seems that this setting might be software-based and emulates the same effect without the need of a compatible monitor.

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Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering Ultra setting performance impact

Texture Filtering graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Texture Filtering

209.3 171.9 223.3 150.6 106.2

Texture Filtering option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Texture Filtering setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Texture Filtering in Star Wars Squadrons adjusts the level of Anisotropic Filtering, which is a technique used to retain more detail in textures when viewed at oblique angles. A higher setting results in more detailed and sharper textures when viewed at an angle. Barely impacts frame rate and great for increasing the game's graphical quality to look more realistic.

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Lighting Quality

Lighting Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Lighting Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Lighting Quality

193.2 165 204.7 141.5 108.7

Lighting Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Lighting Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? The Lighting Quality setting in Star Wars Squadrons bundles together several different lighting techniques. Turn this option up or down adjusts the quality of lighting, dynamic environment maps, as well as subsurface scattering. Great for increasing immersion and improving on graphical quality. Whilst it does impact FPS a bit, this setting is definitely worth turning up considering the game is set in space.

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Shadow Quality

Shadow Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Shadow Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Shadow Quality

163.1 140.8 171.3 130.7 96.9

Shadow Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Shadow Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Shadow Quality is responsible for adjusting both the quality and resolution of shadows. A higher value will result in more detailed and sharper shadows. This setting also affects the distance at which shadows can be seen as well as how much detail is retained in them depending on distance. Just like Lighting Quality above, this is a good setting to turn up due to the space setting, but is not too important to turn all the way up if you need those extra frames.

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Screen Space Shadows

Screen Space Shadows On setting performance impact

Screen Space Shadows graphics option Off compared to On

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Screen Space Shadows

209.6 172.5 223.1 160.7 110.5

Screen Space Shadows option range: Off/Sun Only/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Screen Space Shadows setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Screen Space Shadows is responsible for casting contact shadows from small objects on-screen that are usually missed by traditional shadow maps. Turning this setting on will affect all objects that are affected by all types of lighting, whilst Sun Only will only be affected by lighting coming from the Sun. Not super important to run all the way up, but considering the low performance impact is still worth it.

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Effects Quality

Effects Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Effects Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Effects Quality

200.5 164.4 212.8 147.2 104

Effects Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Effects Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Effects quality sets the quality of effects in-game; such as explosions, fire, lasers etc. It also affects the resolution of the effects as well as the maximum number of effects that can be rendered at once. Great for increasing immersion into the world of Star Wars but not necessarily a massive priority given the FPS performance impact.

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Volumetric Quality

Volumetric Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Volumetric Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Volumetric Quality

209.7 172.1 223.5 151.9 108.7

Volumetric Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Volumetric Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Volumetric Quality affects the overall quality of volumetric features like clouds or fog. You won't be seeing a lot of them when playing Star Wars Squadrons so is good to turn all the way up for enhanced quality and immersion, however may need to be turned down slightly when in some very heavy areas of fog and clouds.

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Post Process Quality

Post Process Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Post Process Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Post Process Quality

207.2 170.5 219.5 152.9 108

Post Process Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Post Process Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? The Post Process Quality setting actually bundles together quite a few options like motion blur, distortion, HDR, and depth of field. A lot of those settings would be considered personal preference anyway and so are not a high priority, but is good for making images look a little more cinematic.

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Mesh Quality

Mesh Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Mesh Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Mesh Quality

195.1 167.8 217.9 143.1 106.7

Mesh Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Mesh Quality setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Mesh Quality also bundles quite a few options together and directly affects the quality of tessellation, reflections, simulations and LOD (Level Of Detail) distances for meshes. Will increase quality of objects in-game and so is recommended to turn up, however considering the performance impact you may not want to turn it all the way up to Max.

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Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing TAA High setting performance impact

Anti-Aliasing graphics option TAA Low compared to TAA High

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Anti-Aliasing

204.6 167.4 217.7 147 106.6

Anti-Aliasing option range: TAA Low/TAA High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Anti-Aliasing setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Anti-Aliasing is a technique to smooth out distorted edges and prevent 'jaggies' or the 'staircase effect' from appearing on sharp edges. Whilst you can't turn this setting off, it's recommended to keep on the highest setting for the greatest visual improvement and the least amount of artifacts like ghosting or blurriness.

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Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion Ultra setting performance impact

Ambient Occlusion graphics option Off compared to Ultra

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 211 129.9 222.2 135.5 112.6

Ambient Occlusion

209.5 171.5 223.8 148.6 110.8

Ambient Occlusion option range: Off/Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Ambient Occlusion setting do in Star Wars: Squadrons? Ambient Occlusion is a technique used to create artificial shadows between objects close to each other as a way to increase the quality of lighting without as big of a performance impact. Turning this setting off will look noticeably different in the world as it can make some objects appear flat and less detailed. Turning this setting up increases quality and is recommended due to its low performance impact.

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Conclusion

Star Wars Squadrons graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Looking over all the results above and the graphics settings available in Star Wars Squadrons, there aren't a whole lot of really demanding options apart from a select few like Shadow Quality, Lighting Quality and Mesh Quality. These 3 cause the most significant FPS performance cost and should likely be your first port of call when you want to squeeze out some more frames.

Effects Quality will likely be the next one to go, but apart from that there really isn't a whole lot that are worth sacrificing when comparing their quality improvement at Max settings to the performance improvement of turning them off.

Some post processing effects like Film Grain and Lens Distortion will be entirely optional as they have little to no impact on FPS performance and are generally down to personal preference if you want to leave them on.

Interestingly, some of the graphics settings which you might find have been separated in other games are actually bundled together in SW Squadrons, like Shadow Quality which adjusts the quality, resolution, and distance of shadows rendered. Or the Post Process Quality setting that adjusts motion blur, distortion, HDR, and depth of field. This does make it a bit harder to truly customize your experience, but isn't that bad in the end.

Overall though, Star Wars Squadrons has a decent selection of graphics options to choose from in order to get the most optimized performance, with only a few options that will actually significantly affect your frame rate.

Okay well that's it, and now over to you guys! We'd love to hear your thoughts and to share your experiences with the game. What graphics options do you find to be the most demanding? Which settings have you turned all the way up and which have you turned all the way down? Let us know in the discussion area below!