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Valheim graphics optimisation guide - most important graphics settings benchmarked
By Chad Norton on February 27th, 2021 at 07:25pm - original article from game-debate

Valheim is the latest viral hit to top the Steam charts, with millions of players already dropping into the Viking-themed survival game. It's currently still in Early Access, and so far performance has been pretty demanding even on the most top-end hardware today.  But how demanding is each individual graphics option? What are the most demanding graphics settings? And how much to adjust each setting to provide better hardware performance from Valheim?

In this Valheim performance optimisation guide we will take a look at which ¬¬g_id:37831[Valheim]¬¬ graphics settings are best to turn all the way up to Ultra for little to no impact on frame rate, 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, which might also help identify which graphics settings are the poorest optimised. From this Valheim optimisation graph you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in Valheim to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

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Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked to find the best optimisations. Where we use a minimum graphics setting as our baseline benchmark for Valheim. 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 Valheim.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Valheim then you can check out our Valheim PC Performance Benchmarks article instead.

Valheim PC system requirements

Valheim PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

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For the performance cost result baseline we used the ¬¬gc_id:3540[Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060]¬¬ graphics card - the recommended GPU for Valheim on High graphics settings at 1080p resolution; an ¬¬p_id:2116[Intel Core i7-5820K]¬¬ processor; and 16GB of DDR4 memory.

To standardize our Valheim optimisation guide's benchmark test we took the same route at the start of the game, wandering through the forest and beating up a few enemies. Although, be aware that the game can suffer more slow down in densely built player areas. But to give a good jumping off point for us we felt this run to be pretty representative of the majority of your experience in Valheim. as its still in Early Access and the game's most demanding moments are usually found in the late game.

There's only a few graphics settings available in Valheim, so we went through the 13 graphics options listed and tested each one in turn for their optimisation impact, 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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Valheim's optimisation guide baseline FPS

Here is a comparable FPS baseline for Valheim Frame Rates achieved when all Valheim's graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

Valheim Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3

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Valheim Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

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

Valheim graphics options performance breakdown

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What are the most demanding graphics options in Valheim?

As you can see in the Valheim PC graphics settings performance cost graph above, Valheim has a decent spread of high impact and low cost graphics options. However, the most demanding graphics settings in Valheim are Shadow Quality at 23.28% FPS performance cost, Draw Distance/Level of Detail at 21.51% cost, Vegetation Quality at 12.67%, and SSAO at 10.61%.

Following from that we have Motion Blur at a 6.39% FPS performance cost, Sun Shafts at 5.7%, Particle Lights and Bloom both at 3.73%, followed by Depth of Field at 3.44%, Tessellation at 3.05%, Anti-Aliasing at 2.06%, Chromatic Aberration at 1.28%, and finally Soft Particles at 0.29%.

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Valheim All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Valheim

There's only a few graphics settings available in Valheim, but even then they will still give us a decent selection of options to customize and tweak our experience to get the right balance of image quality and FPS 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).

Right, let's jump in...

Some of the comparison images are hard to see on this page so click on any image to enlarge it.

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CLICK ANY IMAGE IN THIS PAGE TO ENLARGE THE IMAGE

Vegetation Quality

Vegetation Quality High setting performance impact

Vegetation Quality graphics option Low compared to High

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Vegetation Quality High Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Vegetation Quality Low
Vegetation Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
High 88.9 81.4 103.9 56 16.4

Vegetation Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Vegetation Quality setting do in Valheim? Adjusts the amount and quality of vegetation that appears in the world. Higher settings mean more and higher quality vegetation. This is one of the most important settings to add a depth of immersion to your Valheim experience. This is a high impact graphic setting in Valheim and its very important to keep it on Medium at least. As you can see, if you turn it down to low then the Valheim world seems naked and a good part of your immersion could be removed. But, we like playing Minecraft right, so I am sure we can get use to a lower setting if you really need that extra bit of performance in Valheim.  

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Particle Lights

Particle Lights High setting performance impact

Particle Lights graphics option Low compared to High 

Particle Lights Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
High 98 84.9 114.7 60.6 17.1

Particle Lights option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 3/5

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Draw Distance/Level of Detail

Draw Distance/Level of Detail Very High setting performance impact

Draw Distance/Level of Detail graphics option Low compared to Very High

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Draw Distance and LOD Very High Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Draw Distance and LOD Low

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Draw Distance/Level of Detail Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
Very High 79.9 69 96.2 51.8 16.6

Draw Distance/Level of Detail option range: Low/Medium/High/Very High

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Draw Distance/Level of Detail setting do in Valheim? Adjusts the distance at which objects appear relative to the player's location. Additionally affects the quality that distant objects are rendered. Higher settings mean objects are rendered at a higher quality and from further away from the player character. This is a nice to have graphics setting, but if your Valheim FPS performance is struggling then you might like to adjust this down the setting to Medium to help you run it better.

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Shadow Quality

Shadow Quality High setting performance impact

Shadow Quality graphics option Low compared to High

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Shadow Quality High Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Shadow Quality Low

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Shadow Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
High 78.1 73.7 97.3 55.8 15.7

Shadow Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Shadow Quality setting do in Valheim? Set the quality of shadows in Valheim. Higher settings will result in sharper and more accurate shadows.

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Bloom

Bloom setting performance impact

Bloom graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Bloom On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Bloom Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Bloom Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 98 85.5 115.9 58.3 17.1

Bloom option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Bloom setting do in Valheim? Turning this setting on in Valheim will add a bloom effect to light sources.

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SSAO

SSAO Valheim setting performance impact

SSAO graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Ambient Occlusion On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Ambient Occlusion Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

SSAO Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 91 82.9 105.2 60.1 16.7

SSAO option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the SSAO setting do in Valheim? Turning this setting on will add Screen Space Ambient Occlusion effects to objects in Valheim. Can increase immersion by adding a soft shadow effect to objects simulating local light and shadows.

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Sun Shafts

Sun Shafts Valheim setting performance impact

Sun Shafts graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Sun Shafts On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Sun Shafts Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Sun Shafts Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 96 84.4 113.9 57.9 16.4

Sun Shafts option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Sun Shafts setting do in Valheim? Adds rays of light that are projected from the sun when looking at certain areas where the light passes through narrow gaps of an object.

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Motion Blur

Motion Blur Valheim setting performance impact

Motion Blur graphics option Off compared to On

Motion Blur Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 95.3 82.7 110.8 55.9 16.5

Motion Blur option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Motion Blur setting do in Valheim? Blurs moving objects to simulate the blurring of fast objects in cameras and real life. Purely down to personal preference as it is a cinematic effect, but can help to mask low frame rates if you're struggling to get your desired FPS.

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Tessellation

Tessellation Valheim setting performance impact

Tessellation graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Tessellation On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Tessellation Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Tessellation Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 98.7 88.7 116.5 61.2 17.1

Tessellation option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Tessellation setting do in Valheim? Tessellates the ground to add depth and contours to the surface.

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Soft Particles

Soft Particles Valheim setting performance impact

Soft Particles graphics option Off compared to On

Soft Particles Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 101.5 89.5 118.2 64.3 16.7

Soft Particles option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 1/5

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Depth of Field

Depth of Field Valheim setting performance impact

Depth of Field graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Depth of Field On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Depth of Field Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Depth of Field Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 98.3 88.6 110.8 64.2 16.9

Depth of Field option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Depth of Field setting do in Valheim? Turning this setting on will enable a Depth of Field effect to Valheim. Purely personal preference, can add a cinematic quality to the game but is not needed for an enjoyable experience.

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Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing Valheim setting performance impact

Anti-Aliasing graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Anti Aliasing On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Anti Aliasing Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Anti-Aliasing Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 99.7 84.7 116.9 60.9 16.6

Anti-Aliasing option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Anti-Aliasing setting do in Valheim? Reduces the effect of jagged edges around objects. Better for lower resolution displays. Slightly blurs the image though, so if you are playing at a higher resolution such as 4K then the effect is less noticeable and not needed as much.

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Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic Aberration Valheim setting performance impact

Chromatic Aberration graphics option Off compared to On

Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Chromatic Aberration On Valheim graphics options performance impact - setting Chromatic Aberration Off

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Chromatic Aberration Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 101.8 89.2 121.2 60.1 17.3
On 100.5 87.6 120.7 62.8 17

Chromatic Aberration option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Chromatic Aberration setting do in Valheim? Turning this setting on will enable a Chromatic Aberration effect in Valheim, slightly distorting the picture by simulating the refraction of light on a camera lens. This option is down to personal preference and is not needed to have an enjoyable experience.

It's difficult to spot in the above image, so make sure you click the image to enlarge it and check the edges/corners of the screen as this is where the effect is most noticeable.

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Conclusion

Valheim graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Looking over all the results above, we can see that whilst Valheim doesn't have a huge selection of graphics options available, it still has enough to tweak and optimize performance so we can get the perfect balance of FPS performance and visual quality.

There are only 13 graphics options available in Valheim, with 4 of them being the biggest heavy hitters. If you are experiencing performance issues the first graphics settings to look at and adjust would be Shadow Quality and Draw Distance/Level of Detail.

Considering the Draw Distance/LOD has 4 settings to choose from compared to 3 for Shadow Quality, we suggest tinkering with this setting first to get back a few FPS. After that, your next port of call should be Shadow Quality.

Vegetation Quality should then be the next option to adjust. At the Low setting almost no ground vegetation is rendered apart from the interactable objects. Medium and High settings at more vegetation, with High rendering the most. Moving down to Medium from High settings won't impact visuals very much as you'll still get some vegetation rendered at least.

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Finally we have SSAO (Ambient Occlusion). We recommend this to be the last one of the top 4 graphics settings to adjust. Since this is a standard Off/On switch it should be saved for last to get some extra FPS, if you're still struggling. In our opinion SSAO does a lot to enhance immersion and add visual quality to the graphics in Valheim, and so should only be turned off if you're really struggling to get the FPS you want.

After that the rest of the graphics options either don't affect FPS performance all that much, or are completely down to personal preference such as Motion Blur, Chromatic Aberration, Depth of Field etc.

Overall, Valheim has an okay amount of graphics settings available, but still provide a decent amount of customizability when it comes to balancing FPS performance over graphical quality. Valheim has been well received by the gaming community but gamers are also saying that Valheim has not been well optimised and suffers performance slowdown. So hopefully some of this performance information can help people playing Valheim optimise the game to run more smoothly across various hardware and graphics cards.  

So that's it for the most important graphics options in Valheim. Now it's over to you guys! We would love to hear your thoughts on what graphics settings you turn all the way up for little performance impact, and which options you turn down to get some extra frames. So let us know!