Arma 3 Tweaks Guide – Graphics and Performance


Arma 3 has finally made it to the market, and after a grueling three-phase release that included an early access Alpha and early access Beta, it’s easy to find plenty of tweaks for running this game in the best possible way.

Arma 3 Tweaks

We’ll first have a look at some general issues that Arma 3 has had with graphic card models, and then move on to general settings, and finally more sophisticated graphic tweaks such as Field of View and messing around with the configuration file.

Note: Perform these tweaks at your own risk! We are not responsible if your game ends up being unplayable. Make sure you have adequate know-how and experience of tweaking games according to your need.

Now that we have that off our chest, let’s have a look at some basic things to refine performance.

Graphic Card Issues
Often Arma 3 tends to have serious issues with AMD cards. If you are witnessing performance issues and have an AMD card, then you should update your driver.

Don’t be shy of beta drivers; almost all of them work perfectly fine and like final versions.

If you are still facing lags and feel that you have a powerful enough AMD card not to have this issue, then consider running the game in DirectX 9 while also disabling VSync. Yes, it’s a shitty bargain, but reports have suggested that Arma 3 tends to struggle at times with DirectX 11 and enabled Vsync.

A lot of people have been having serious issues with the Nvidia 500 series cards running DirectX 11, with black screens.

This is a common problem with series. One solution is running the game on DX9, but apart from that you can also try a risky over-clocking solution posted by L2TG here. Do this at your own risk though!

Arma 3 General Graphic Settings

Alright, first we’ll have a look at some of the basic options for Arma 3 present within the game options. Here are some options and suggested settings:

Sampling: This should be around 100%. There is no reason to set it lower with a medium-tier rig.

Texture Quality: A lot of people actually set this to normal or so. If you have a decent or even medium rig, consider setting it to either High or Ultra. Texture Quality will ensure there are no texture pop-ups. It will have a very slight effect on your FPS.

Objects Quality: This should be between Standard to High. Again, this also ensures that there are no pop-ups and objects appear visually more appealing.

Terrain Quality: I recommend leaving this to Standard, and coming back to it only if you feel you have plenty of frame-rates to spare after all the other settings are done.

Shadow Quality: This is something you should treat with extremism. I would either set this to Disabled for most medium/low-end rigs, or Ultra. Other settings look visually bad and also have poor performance.

Particle Quality: I’d set this to Ultra. It doesn’t have a very intense effect on frame-rates.

Cloud Quality: You shouldn’t even have any! Focus on the ground instead.

PIP: The picture-in-picture is a stupid setting and should always be disabled.

HDR: I like HDR, but it has an impact on performance. Set it according to what you feel is best.

Dynamic Lights: Adjust this according to your FPS. Ultra seems to be a good option, but can strain your FPS in multiplayer. Test it out and then decide for yourself.

I would recommend High as the most balanced choice.

Arma 3 Advanced Graphics Settings

The above were very primary settings, but you also have access to some additional graphic options for utility.

Vsync: I would highly recommend disabling Vsync, unless you are facing severe screen tearing issues.

Bloom: A cosmetic effect that makes stuff overly shiny when light is emitted on it. Purely cosmetic, so set it only if you have graphic power to spare.

Radial Blur: This is radial motion blur, and for multiplayer should stay off.

Rotation Blur: Another type of motion blur; same story as above.

Depth of Field: This effect gives a realistic focus effect when aiming down sight or sprinting. It adds to the visual appeal, but has a good impact on FPS, I would recommend it to be off for multiplayer, unless you have a very good GPU.

SSAO: SSAO stands for Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, and it a method with which the graphics processor can render the ambient occlusion effect. This is a high-end setting, so you definitely want it disabled if you have a slightly old card. However, most modern DX11 cards can handle this superbly well without much impact on FPS, so you might be in luck if you own one (high-end Nvidia 600/700 series cards or AMD 7800/7900 series cards).

Caustics: These are flashy light rays. Again, this is handled well by newer cards, so same story as above.

Antialiasing: Every PC gamer knows about this setting. I would recommend 4x for cards with high bit-rates (AMD 7900 series and Nvida 700 series), but apart from that I would have it off.

AToC: AToC enhances anti-aliasing for textures that use a lot of transparency, such as grass and tree leaves. This makes it a massive fps eater. Off is recommended for most people; others should consider Trees only.

Anisotropic Filtering: This barely has any impact on fps, so keep it on High or Ultra.

So these were the basic settings available through the in-game options menu. But you can also tweak additional stuff by accessing the configuration file, which we’ll discuss in the next section:

Arma 3 Config File Tweaks

Don’t know where the configuration file for Arma 3 is? Look here:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\ArmA 3\

It’ll be called Arma3.cfg, and opening it in notepad will display lots of variables with specific values. We’re going to leave most of these things as they are, but we will make only two tweaks that may enhance your performance:

MaxFramesAhead: This is an advanced frame buffering option that can be utilized by high-memory graphic cards. It can greatly improve performance with modern cards, but can have a completely opposite effect with older GPUs.

Consider this if you have a good, modern GPU:

GPU_MaxFramesAhead=4
The value can change from 1 to 4. Experiment with the values to find what suits you best, starting off from 4 and going down if you experience issues.

DetectedFramesAhead: This works somewhat similar to the above, but instead constrains the video processing. Basically, it is kind of a limiter, and for that reason we want it set to 0.

GPU_DetectedFramesAhead=0
Note that if these two variables are not present in your config, you can automatically add them. Make sure you create a backup just in case.

Field of View
Every competitive gamer has his/her own personal preferred field of view (FOV) value. Sadly, many games don’t offer a direct option to adjust this important setting in the options menu. Luckily, there is almost always a way around this problem.

Open up your Arma3 Profile by finding it the following folder:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\ArmA 3\

You should find a file called ****.arma3profile, where **** is your username. Open it up with Notepad, and you can adjust the ‘top and left’ FOV settings.

Search for something like this:

fovTop=0.75;
fovLeft=1.34;

These are probably your default values, and they represent a 70 FOV with default aspect ratio.

Here are some options that you can use according to your need. My own personal FOV is around 80-90 for most first-person games.

75 FOV, 16:9 Aspect Ratio:

fovTop=0.82;
fovLeft=1.46;

80 FOV, 16:9 Aspect Ratio:

fovTop=0.89;
fovLeft=1.58;

85 FOV, 16:9 Aspect Ratio:

fovTop=0.96;
fovLeft=1.71;

90 FOV, 16:9 Aspect Ratio:

fovTop=1.03;
fovLeft=1.83;

If you have any queries or additional tweaks, please share with us by commenting below.