Valorant at 30 FPS vs. Valorant at 300 FPS
The genre for which low latency and high framerates are of the utmost importance is the first-person shooter. Having higher specs and therefore better performance than the competition gives one an undeniable advantage. With more frames of animation in every second, you will have an overall smoother experience and effectively more visual cues to react to. However, I can speak from recent experiences to the fact that it’s not a catch-all solution to one’s first-person shooter woes.
See, my old PC was one built by a friend and sold to me for cheap way back in 2014, when he upgraded to a new rig. It served me well over the years, playing old titles with the best of them and usually being able to run newer titles, at least on Low settings. It would get me a good 60 FPS in Valorant for a while there, but eventually, a motherboard problem led me to invest in some slightly newer (but unfortunately slightly worse) parts.
The processor which I replaced the original with was, to my dismay, not compatible with Valorant. When briefly playing the game with that “new” AMD A-Series, I was constantly getting Error Code 138. That is apparently an issue Riot have known about for more than a year but has shown no signs of fixing. Well, granted, they may have fixed it in the short time that I wouldn’t have known about it. I doubt it. And either way, that error cost me another sixty-ish dollars (which I’m adding to my secret total of dollars I’ve spent on skins because it was part of playing this game), to get another processor (which I installed myself, albeit with some difficulty) that was compatible with both Valorant and my motherboard.
Anyway, at some point, I played Cyberpunk 2077 on the gutted old PC, in a new case, with these new parts, and the thing was a slideshow despite supposedly meeting the minimum requirements. More relevantly, I was lucky if I could maintain a steady 30 FPS in Valorant. The poor machine was struggling to run most games that came out later than the year in which I bought my first gaming PC, even those not made by CD Projekt Red. It was time to upgrade.
Now, I must admit something rather embarrassing. I did not build my new PC. I had planned to, but instead, I bought a pre-built MSI MEG Triton X from Amazon, with specs in that link. A beast of a machine for less than its parts would have cost me to buy individually, what with all the GPU scalpers still taking advantage of the pandemic, the computer from which I type these words absolutely crushes Cyberpunk 2077, even on max settings. Honestly, it does so to the point that I’ve actually come around on the game a fair bit after coming down on it very hard in the wake of my initial few hours on minimum spec hardware.
But that’s not the point. The point is, the first time I booted Valorant up on the new PC, I was automatically set to max settings and still got upwards of 400 FPS in the Practice Range.
Of course, the Range is the least taxing part of Valorant that isn’t a menu. Even on these maximum settings, my framerate hovers around 300 FPS in Deathmatch and anywhere from there down to around 180 in actual matches. The lower end of that comes in the forms of some not so noticeable dips whenever Viper or Astra have deployed a lot of utility.
After turning everything down to the lowest possible setting for the sake of this article, my framerate in real Valorant matches was consistently in the 200-300 range. That figure isn’t the highest I’ve seen on streams or videos, granted, but it’s more than enough for every one of my deaths to be squarely my own fault.
The biggest upgrade outside of the internal PC parts was the DisplayPort cable I got at Best Buy. This enabled me to finally push my monitor past 60 hertz, where it now sits at 144. Otherwise, the massive FPS boosts wouldn’t have done much for me. Most HDMIs can only run at 60 hertz, which to me now feels rather jarringly slow when I plug my Nintendo Switch into this monitor. Still, hertz and frames per second are not quite perfect analogs, and going beyond 60 FPS, even on a 60-hertz monitor, will still result in a smoother experience. More on how to squeeze out every frame per second from your computer later.
One thing to keep in mind when discussing Valorant framerates is that, for us regular people anyway, squeezing every single frame you can out of every single second is not necessary. It’s not even that much of an advantage, after a certain point. Going from 60 to 144 frames per second is a huge difference, but the difference in terms of quality of gameplay between 250 and 300 FPS is frankly minuscule, for example, and the difference between 300 and 400 FPS is almost unnoticeable, at least to me. Framerate gains in Valorant or any game that supports them seem asymptotic.
Of course, if a pro reads this article, they’re liable to disagree. At the highest level of any game, the slightest advantage could mean the difference between a win and a loss. However, most of us do not need to claw and fight our way to every tiny edge we can get over our opponents in Iron, Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Rather, most Valorant players merely need enough FPS to compete at a reasonable level. More on what that means in a sec. I think 60 FPS is a reasonable level for me, but I will say that my enjoyment of the game did increase pretty significantly when running at its current buttery smoothness.
The bottom line is that, though an advantage, an increased framerate in Valorant is not a cheat code. It certainly won’t make you any more tactical. I haven’t been able to erase my bad habits from my Call of Duty days on the Xbox 360. If anything, the assistance the extra frames per second gave to my aim only made me “ego peek” more often, gave me even more misguided confidence to hold the W key before I get blasted. My aim is better, sure, but only by a little bit. There’s no substitute for hard work… or cheating.
I write this section to dissuade people away from thinking that “If only my PC was better, I’d be in Gold/Plat/Diamond/Immortal” or whatever. It’ll help, but only to a certain point. Honestly, I was surprised by how little an impact it had on my game beyond the slightly easier aim and the above-mentioned psychological effects. A higher framerate in Valorant has basically no effect on crosshair placement, for example, though it will certainly aid your reaction times between seeing an enemy and actually launching your pre-aimed shot.
No matter how many frames you get in a second, Valorant is Valorant. Just keep that in mind before you shell out thousands of dollars for a new gaming rig. So long as you’re getting a reasonable framerate, Valorant should probably not be the main reason you have for getting a new PC.
So, What Is a Reasonable Framerate?
Well, my old PC after the motherboard incident was just outside of that range, I’d say. Dips below 60 FPS result in a game that feels choppy, sloppy, and just nowhere near as fun to play as the present, where my PC is crushing the game with ease. I also enjoy being able to use High graphical settings, because the game looks a fair bit nicer than when those settings are all set to Low. I’m very grateful that my days of hoping that the more FPS-taxing agents would not be picked are now over.
However, if your computer is giving you more than 60 frames per second, I again stress that I wouldn’t recommend spending the money on new parts or a completely new PC unless you were already planning to upgrade your rig. This is because of those diminishing returns I just mentioned. Competing in Valorant is already optional; squeezing out hundreds of frames in each second is even more optional. You won’t go pro on your old-ish gaming laptop, but you may still be able to get a smooth enough experience to have fun with your friends. You’d certainly be able to watch Valorant Twitch streams or YouTube videos on that thing.
And not to be cliché, but only you can decide what’s “smooth enough” for you, no matter how good your hardware is.
How to Maximize Framerate in Valorant
I’ve got experience with this one, from the days of coddling my old machine.
Now, Valorant isn’t the most taxing game in the world; it can run just fine on most rigs. However, old lemons of PCs like mine may still struggle with various parts of the game. So, let’s go through a few ways in which you can squeeze every frame that you can out of that lemon.
First, on the General settings tab, turning off mature content like corpses and blood can actually give a few benefits. Not only will these marginally increase FPS, but turning off Show Corpses can help Sage mains identify who they’re resurrecting with her Ultimate. There’s less of a question who you’re aiming at with that ability once this option is off. I’ve always played with it on, even in my days as a Sage player, but I digress. Turning off blood can also give you another frame or two per second and may result in slightly easier headshots, supposedly. The latter is because the cloud of blood can obscure the target you’re shooting or even the people behind them. However, I do believe that Riot toned back the blood a bit several patches back, and I’ve never turned blood off either, even on my old PC. I find that these settings being turned on helps with my immersion, and the blood makes headshots all the more satisfying.
Those two options are largely personal preference, in other words, if you’re down to sacrifice some immersion for a few more frames per second. Now, before I get into my essay writer mode, let’s move on.
Of course, most of the boosts we’re able to get to frames per second in Valorant (or any game, really) come in the Video tab, specifically in Graphics Quality. There, if you need to get every frame possible to reach that 60 FPS baseline, or just want every advantage you can get, you’re going to want to turn almost everything in that menu to Low or Off. Simple as that. Lowest option for everything, from Low Material Quality to None for Anti-Aliasing to 1x Anisotropic Filtering. The hardest part is seeing your beautiful, expensive skins turn into PS2-era virtual guns – a dealbreaker for me now, honestly. There’s probably a happy medium for most folks, if you catch my drift.
Apparently, Multithreaded Rendering does something along the lines of allowing both your CPU and GPU to… “work” together on the game… but frankly, I’m not sure exactly what it does, and people around the Valorant corner of the Internet say that the option either gives them FPS boosts or drains their FPS… so try it both ways and see what works for you, when it comes to the top option of the Graphics Quality menu tab.
In the General sub-menu of the Video tab, the biggest change you can make is to your resolution. If you’re really desperate for a higher framerate in Valorant, you can lower the resolution. The PC will then have to render less, giving more frames in every second. However, any significant decrease to this setting looks pretty awful to me. Still, some people probably won’t mind it, especially old-school Counter-Strike players.
Finally, the Borderless Windowed option often gives significantly fewer frames per second across most games, when compared to just Fullscreen. This is because the latter setting prompts the computer to dedicate all of its possible resources to Valorant, which you definitely want, no matter what hardware you’re rocking. The marginal increase to Alt + Tab speed gained by setting it to Borderless is not worth sacrificing the frames per second of actual Fullscreen.
On the topic of Alt + Tabbing, the ability with my new rig to be able to pull up a YouTube video while practicing without the game exploding is very nice for people like me, who follow Sova’s advice that you don’t have to be aiming well “to be useful,” and look for “other ways” like lineups to support our teams… it’s just good to be able to actually watch something while practicing without said practice looking like a PowerPoint Presentation. ™
But even on the old PC, I’d listen to music or a podcast or something while practicing in the Range. I’ve just found that doing so helps prevent burnout, no matter which game I’m practicing. And I’m sure most computers can handle one browser tab and Valorant at the same time. I was just not so fortunate after my unfortunate downgrade.
Out of Game Computer Settings
There are also several settings in Windows itself that you might want to change, to make your Valorant experience better.
This first one has nothing to do with framerates, but rather sensitivity, since it came to mind – a little bonus in case you haven’t heard about this. I wasn’t even aware I had this setting on until someone online pointed out how bad it can be for Valorant and other FPS games. In Windows, there’s a setting for your mouse, under Pointer Options, under Mouse, under Hardware and Sound of the Control Panel, that’s called Enhance Pointer Precision. I don’t know why it’s called that rather than “mouse acceleration,” the more proper name for it, since having this setting turned on actually does the opposite of enhancing your precision with the mouse. (Side note: I once installed a Mass Effect 1 mod that turned this off, but didn’t know that Windows itself was still running it by default.) Rather than enhancing precision, this setting ties how far the cursor moves to how fast you’re moving your hand. This is suboptimal for most shooters, since being able to know the exact distance you need to move your hand to move between certain targets is pretty important. Disabling this Windows setting will make your aim more consistent, even if you’re used to using it for everything.
My aim in Valorant certainly got a big boost when I turned off “Enhance” Pointer Precision, just as it did when I increased my framerate. So, back to that.
This may sound obvious, and isn’t really a setting, but closing out of other programs before you play can boost your FPS in Valorant a ton, especially if said program uses as much memory as, say, Google Chrome.
Now going back to the settings under Hardware and Sound, we can find Power Plans. Ultimate Performance is what you want for Valorant, since it improves on the previous “High performance” plan in ways that are too technical for my English major brain to comprehend. The long and short of it is that it provides… well, the ultimate performance, at the cost of some energy. The most you’d probably notice is a slight increase to fan speed, and obviously to your framerates across various games. Note, however, that this was the default setting for my new PC anyway.
Moving from the Control Panel to regular Settings, you can search for Game Mode, turn that on so that Windows will make some optimizations for gameplay, and then turn off Game Bar. I like playing with the latter on, because it allows for clips of the last 30 seconds to be taken, as well as a few other features, with easy keyboard shortcuts. However, it does come at a small performance cost that may be worth turning off on rigs that need every possible frame to stay competitive in Valorant.
If you then search for Graphics Settings in Settings, you’ll find a few more options. Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling is again a little above my English major paygrade, but it may increase performance, especially on lower-end CPUs that are working at 100% while playing Valorant. Variable refresh rate is likely worth turning on in general, but doesn’t do anything for Valorant since the game certainly has that turned on by default.
Next, in the same menu, hit “Browse” under “Graphics performance preference.” From there, your filepath will look something like “C:\Riot Games\VALORANT\live\ShooterGame\Binaries\Win64.” After adding the VALORANT-Win64-Shipping.exe file, select “High Performance” and you’re good to go, likely with another marginal framerate boost.
Finally, go to the same file location, right-click that .exe, and go to Properties. This is another option that’s had varying results across different reports, so try it if you’re looking to experiment in the search for more frames per second. Anyway, the option in question is “Disable fullscreen optimizations,” which you’ll find in the Compatibility tab. Another option you might want to try is under Change high DPI settings, where you’ll check off “Override high DPI scaling behavior. Scaling performed by:” and make sure that’s set to “Application.”
Next, in order for these options to take effect, go to “C:\Riot Games\VALORANT\live” and perform the exact same steps as above on the main VALORANT.exe. As an aside, I’d do so while changing settings for all users as an Administrator, since Windows can be weird about this sort of thing. The point of all this right-clicking and going through Compatibility properties is that it supposedly prevents Windows from running its default fullscreen settings, which can reduce latency and boost framerate. Your mileage may vary, however.
I might have missed a few options that are out there on the net, especially when it comes to Windows itself, but I think I covered most of what may be holding your rig back from achieving high-FPS Valorant. It certainly helps, but do remember that having a much better PC hasn’t made me a significantly better player or anything. Having the highest framerate possible isn’t a panacea for all of one’s Competitive troubles. With all of that restated, a noticeable boost to the smoothness of Valorant’s gameplay and your subsequent enjoyment of it might make all of these upgrades and settings worth it.