SWTOR Tweaks Guide – Graphics and Performance

By   /   4 years ago

There are two ways you can optimize SWTOR for performance; one is by tweaking the in-game settings and second (Advanced Tweaking) is by tweaking different variables in your client_settings.ini file. You can find that file in the location specified in the advanced tweaking section of this guide.

Following are the list of in-game options with the recommended settings that you can tweak in the graphics option menu of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Thanks @zenstrata

For more help on Star Wars: The Old Republic, read our SWTOR troubleshooting guide.

Game supports a range of resolutions, pick one that your monitor or LCD supports and stick with it. Higher the resolution, prettier the graphics, and more resources required to run the game.

Checkable Boxes: Off or On

  • Windowed Mode (Off)
  • Vertical Sync (Off)
  • Bloom (Off)
  • Conversation Depth Of Field (Off)
  • Blob Shadows (On)
  • Anti Aliasing (Off)

Note. Whatever changes you make here will directly affect the settings that follow. You want Bloom, Shadows, Vertical Sync and Anti-Aliasing then you will have to adjust Texture quality and other graphics setting appropriately so you can still run SWTOR at best performance. This is a trade-off you will have to make.

Drop Menus: Low, Med, High

  • Graphical Quality Preset (High)
  • Texture Quality (High)
  • Shader Complexity (High)
  • Dynamic Light Complexity (Medium)
  • Mesh Level of Detail (High)

Graphic Settings Sliders

  • Texture Antistropy (Max)
  • Clip Distance (Max)
  • Shadow Quality (Minimum)
  • Ground Clutter Density (Max)
  • Speed Tree Distance (Middle)

Recommended – Nvidia users can force tipple buffering and enable multi-tasking; it has helped several users. Setting in-game setting ‘Character Model’ to low will give you much-need performance boost and add to that, its effect on graphics is minimal. Don’t force V-Sync through Nvidia or ATI Catalyst control panel; it will make performance worse in most cases. Advanced Tweak – Keep ‘AntiAliasingLevel = 2’ – it is optimal level at which the game works (Not for ATI Users).

Advanced SWTOR Tweaks

Before you move on to this section, we recommend you try to adjust in-game graphics settings in such a way to optimize SWTOR graphics and performance. If that doesn’t cut it, move to this advanced section of SWTOR Tweaks.

Bioware highly recommends that you don’t make any changes to client_defaults.ini and client_settings.ini so be warned. To make these tweaks work, you will have to set your client_settings.ini to read-only and if they still don’t work, you may have to make the changes to ‘client_defaults.ini’. You may have to make the changes again after the patch if it over-writes the changes made to your CFG. It is recommended that you keep a back-up of the original file before you add/alter tweaks.

Where To Find SWTOR INI Settings File
You can find it in:


If you can’t find the client_settings.ini file on your operating system, you may have to do the following subjected to whatever OS you use.

For Windows XP
Click Start, then Run and type “shell:Local AppData” (without quotes) then browse to SWTOR \ swtor \ settings. You should find it.

For Windows Vista/ Windows 7
Click Start, type “%localappdata%\swtor\swtor\settings” (without quotes). You should be able to see it now (It’s a hidden file).

Before you begin editing your CFG or INI settings file, do make a back up of client_settings.ini in your

Windows Vista / 7

\Users\(user name)\AppData\Local\SWTOR\swtor\settings

Windows XP

\Documents and Settings\(user name)\Local Settings\Application Data\SWTOR\swtor\settings

You may see the following variables in this file (Values may be different based on your settings). You may not see all these variables but you can add them as explained later:

Height = 1080
Width = 1920
WindowX = 0
WindowY = 0
DynamicLightsLimit = (#)
TextureAnisotropy = (#)
FarClipScale = (#)
PlantDensity = (#)
D3DFullScreen = true
NativeHeight = 1080
NativeWidth = 1920
AllowDepthOfField = true
doBlobShadows = false
SpeedTreeDistanceScale = (#)
EnableBloom = false
UseMinSpecShaders = false
TextureQuality = (#)
VerticalSyncState = false
AntiAliasingLevel = (#)
MeshLODQuality = (#)
enableadvenvirolighting = false
DebugAdvEnviroLighting = false

If you have an ATI Card and have added ‘AntiAliasingLevel = 2’ tweak, it may cause your game to close after the splash screen. To fix that, remove that tweak.

Now let’s talk about the impact each setting would have on the performance or graphics of Star Wars: The Old Republic before explaining which settings you should really consider tweaking. Note that this isn’t the only INI setting file in SWTOR and we will explain others later in this guide.

Go the next page for details on Advanced SWTOR Tweaks or check this page for General SWTOR Tweaks and sample config files.

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Zawad is the lead editor of SegmentNext. He primarily manages what gets published on the site. He is a finance student and PC games enthusiast.
  • davis

    i only have these Renderer]
    AllowDepthOfField = false
    AmbientNPCCount = 35
    D3DFullScreen = true
    doBlobShadows = true
    doShadows = false
    EnableBloom = false
    GraphicsDeviceId = 38674
    GraphicsQuality = 5
    Height = 768
    NativeHeight = 768
    NativeWidth = 1366
    PerfTestFlags = 917783
    PlantDensity = 0
    RefreshRate = 60
    ShaderSet = 1
    SpeedTreeDistanceScale = 0.75
    TextureQuality = 0
    VerticalSyncState = false
    Width = 1024
    CodeVersionChanged = false
    LastCodeVersionRun = 1
    WindowX = 0
    WindowY = 0
    FullScreen = true

    wat do I do

  • Saeren

    Heya, so i tried your tweaks mate and it works quite nicely id say, i got about 15 fps increase. My question is tho, are they up to date? As of now im running 1.2 version of swtor ofc and 1.3 is coming soon, were there any relevant changes that could cause problems with my game? And when 1.3 hits, is it gonna rewrite my ini file? I set it onto read only so it would work as u suggested, but if a patch that will change the settings comes out, will they be changed even when the file is read only? or will i have to play with it before the patch again? Ty for answers :)

  • TheNetAvenger

    A couple of things for th authoer to consider and research further, and for other to consider…

    The Compatibility Tab
    1) Windows XP SP2(3) Mode
    – This doesn’t make much difference on systems that have 1GB of dedicated GPU VRAM with regard to performance; however it will increase the ‘quality’ of textures and texture loading in the game. (Distant flags, rocks are crisper, and this occurs without ANY loss in performance.)

    However, if your Video card has less than 1GB of dedicated GPU VRAM, this setting will make a performance difference, and based on your Video RAM and type of GPU ,it can be a massive jump in performance. It also adds in the ‘crisper’ images that the user with 1GB on their video card gets again without any drop in performance for this extra quality.

    Why this setting works…
    The game engine is detecting Vista or Windows 7, and bypassing the ‘shared memory’ technology. With this setting, it no longer bypasses the ‘shared memory’ technology, and thus why video cards with lower amounts of VRAM get a significant performance boost as the Game is getting more RAM to use for Video Assets, instead of artificially limiting itself.

    Many of the integrated GPU technologies use BIOS allocated shared System RAM already; however, with Vista and WIndows 7, instead of locking a set amount like 512mb of RAM to the GPU, it ‘locks’ a small amount (like 32mb or 64mb) and then lets Windows 7 and Vista handle the sharing, as they are designed to do this. This becomes a MAJOR problem with SWTOR, as it is not honoring Windows Vista/7 and is only using the 32mb or 64mb alloated by the BIOS for GPU RAM. These systems can see a huge jump in performance.

    A 128,256,512,768mb Video card will also see a jump in performance, as the game is on average using about 700mb of assets in video RAM.

    (More info on why and how Windows Vista/7 does this can be found by looking up information on WDDM/WDM at the Microsoft website.)
    *The only exception is if you only have 1-2GB of System RAM, as Windows 7 cannot ‘share’ very much to the GPU; however, the setting is worth trying as it still may improve performance.

    *To test the ‘visual’ improvement, even on a video card with 1GB of RAM, go to a larger planet like Tatoonie, and even around the spaceport, look at the Imperial Red flags from a distance, they will be ‘lower resolution’ textures’, and as you get closer, will ‘snap’ to the crisper higher resolution textures, and then as you walk away from them, at a certain distance,they will go back to the lower resolution images.

    With Windows Vista/7 giving the game a minimum of 1.5gb of RAM for Video assets, the game STOPS loading in the lower resolution textures all together, so even at a distance, it is pulling the higher resoultion texture from memory. (This also increases performance ‘a bit’ even on high end systems, as the game is no longer having to load in/out the low/high textures, which eats a bit of performance, especially if the game it having to relad these from the Hard Drive.

    2) Do NOT Disable Desktop Composition

    Windows Vista/7 already turn off the Desktop Composition for the Full Screen game, so it is not ‘drawing’ through the DWM.

    By selecting this option, you are crippling Windows WDDM features that often ‘speed’ up rendering operations that happen in the non-drawing portions of the DWM.

    For example if the game reads an images like a JPG from the Hard Drive (or many compressed image formats), the DWM’s lower technology is used, and Windows has the GPU quickly decode this image, which is what GPUs do well, and where it can be a 2 second 50-100% load on your CPU, if the GPU is doing it, it will be less than 5% of the GPU for about 1/30th of a second that is used.

    This also extends on to Fonts that are handled through the OS, which even SWTOR does. Again the lower level of the DWM is given the task to render the Font using the GPU, taking a tiny fraction of processing, which again could be 50% of your CPU for 1-2 seconds depending on the Font complexity and the surface it is being rendered onto.

    These are just a couple of examples of how the DWM is working ‘for you’ even when playing a game, and using the fastest method possible.

    When you turn this off, it turns off the DWM for all applcations in the background (not a big deal usually) and it also suspends the two examples I gave, and forces the CPU to do all the work.

    When you consider that the majority of ‘jitter’ and loss in FPS is due to CPU spikes, this can hurt your gaming performance, so don’t monkey with this setting.

    People think that because this setting is turning off the pretty ‘glass’ and reducing the memory of the DWM.EXE process that it is faster, and the opposite is very much true. (The DWM memory usage size is irrelvant, because Windows is smart about it, and if needed it will page out this RAM or even completely dump it on its own if needed.)

    (A side note about the DWM and the ‘vector composer’ in Windows Vista/7… Some older games will run faster in Windowed Mode/Windowed Mode Fullscreen with the DWM ‘active’ for the game, as the DWM is smarter about drawing the final rendering of the games image to the monitor. SWTOR might even run faster for some specific video cards in Windowed Mode/Full Screen. The reason this occurs is that the DWM render stage knows the video card better than the DX9 drivers and it also has newer techniques of using the GPUs newer DMA system and PCI/e BUS transfer technologies that Microsoft developed for the XBox 360 which is how the WDDM/WDM in Windows Vista/7 can move assets in system RAM to the GPU directly and not have to copy them in and out ot he GPU as other OS composer technologies, like in OS X, have to do that slow things down.)

    Also when you turn off the DWM, it suspends the video states of all appliations on the system, and dumps the information. So if you are playing SWTOR and want to Alt-Tab back to the desktop, Windows has to requery all applications to redraw their screens each time, which if your system is stressed already, is an extra burden on RAM and CPU resources.

    When you do this, Windows dumps all the ‘stored’ composer video assets, and when you Alt-Tab back to Windows, these images have to be queried from the applications again, and redrawn.

    3) No reason to select Disable Themes

    The reason this option exists, is that back when XP was released, there were a few applications that would have drawing issues or not deal with the ‘skinning’ technology well and cause users problems.

    Since this game is not old, and it doesn’t use any of the desktop skinning being a DirectX application, this setting would have no effect.

    It in theory might save the RAM used for ‘skinning’ the controls, but this is really tiny, as in 1-2mb at most, which is 1/2000th of the RAM in an average computer.

    Some things to consider, and it is good that this person and others are stepping forward with solutions to ‘try’ or use to get better performance out of the SWTOR Hero Engine.

    Game Engine is Actually Good

    I know a lot of people like to make fun of and knock the engine used in SWTOR, but it is actually rather good. Right now ATI and NVidia need to performance optimize their drivers to help the game and engine out, but that will happen.

    If you doubt the engine is a good technology or think the graphics are ‘low’ quality compared to Crysis for example, remember this…

    The ‘realistic’ engine being compared load ‘small’ areas of textures, and uses load screens when moving in and out of these areas.

    They could not seamlessly ‘load’ all the objects and textures that a planet like Tatoonie alone offers, especially at the super high realism level either.

    However, the SWTOR engine can load an entire large planet/area with fairly high resolution textures and objects without load screens when moving around. Sure moving from planet to planet incurrs a load screen, but if you had to sit through a load screen even 100meters you moved in the game like you do with MOST MMOs, it would drive you crazy.

    SWTOR also uses a bit of stylistic approach, but so does Halo Reach, and people still love Halo, even though it doesn’t try to be photo-realistic.

    The engine is also fully dynamic, lighting, shadows, and most reflections are pulled in realtime, unlike tricks many games use of drawing the ‘shadows’ into the textures so they don’t have to render.

    This dynamic approach takes a bit more procesing, but offers a lot more realism in the end. For example when you are soaring through the forest on a speeder with shadows on, the light ‘flickers’ off your character and the speeder accurately. It is actually immersive and pretty.

    All the cut scenes from the ships flying to the character conversations are dynamically rendered. They could have used ‘canned’ cut scenes as MANY games do, and removed the immersion as the clothes on your character would not match, etc.

    This dynamic element and ‘whole’ world without load screen concept gives the ‘engine’ and future of the game a lot of power too. Bioware can ‘easily’ add content and features UNLIKE any other MMO to date because of the engine technology. It also has automatic growth, and in 5 years when we all have uber computers, the engine inherently will allow Bioware to load in SUPER high resolution texture that NO system could use today, and it would be fairly easy and seamless, and keep the game looking ‘updated’ and ‘fresh’.

    So give Bioware/Hero and ATI/NVidia time to optimize performance, and also remembe

  • Gixx

    Can someone tell what is the…

    Bucket = #

    …command for?
    It is in the client_settings.ini
    It has a numeric value that, by default, is set to “2”. I’d like to know if I can improve performance by lowering or augmenting it.

  • Habboi

    FYI you spelt:

    VerticalSyncState = flase

    in the low end wrong :)

    • http://segmentnext.com Zawad Iftikhar

      Thanks for correcting =)

      • Habboi

        Oh also, if it’s meant for low end laptops shouldn’t

        TextureQuality = 0

        be set to anything but 0? If I recall 0 was oddly the highest setting?

        I also noticed the viewdistance doesn’t work for me anymore. I used to only see like 5 ft in front of me but now the game is rendering distant mountains. This all happened after 1.1 came.

        • http://segmentnext.com Zawad Iftikhar

          Yes, 0 is highest texture quality but there are no high-res textures in SWTOR =) 1 has been widely suggested to work best for performance and even if you set it to 0, textures are the same.

  • Jared

    Can you please update this for the 1.1 patch? I tried your laptop ini and it doesn’t work as intended. I think some of the settings must be out of date as a lot of the sliders are on ‘high’ and the textures look really good.

    I want the worst possible looking graphics to give me the best possible fps.

    I have been playing around a bit and have managed to get the textures to look terrible (which I’m happy about). But my spell animations look really good now so I think I must’ve stuffed up somewhere.

    • http://segmentnext.com Zawad Iftikhar

      I will look into that and Update. Though If you could be more specific, it will help me =)

  • Blixmo

    Really nice guide, I got 15 fps more in total with this, thanks!

    (Don’t forget to make your .ini files only readable, else the client will overwrite it)

  • Sydeburnz

    Blob shadows should be disabled in the higher-graphics settings. Blob Shadows simply create a faint circle of shadow at all characters feet. When set to true it is also visible when the higher-resolution doshadows are present and looks out of place. If you have a slow system, set doshadows to false and blobshadows to true.

  • Asmodean

    Just FYI, MeshLODQuality = 0(Lowest), 1 =(medium), 2 =(Highest), not vice versa. Otherwise, awesome guide :)

    • http://segmentnext.com Zawad Iftikhar

      Thanks for the heads up =) Corrected!