Now that everyone’s gotten access to the latest drivers and some essential hot fixes, people have also gamed the Cyberpunk 2077 PC settings to make it run best on hardware that the majority of gamers actually have.
People have been messing with all sorts of settings to get Cyberpunk running as good as possible. It’s a brutal game, and that hurts given that the visual fidelity of Night City is one of the game’s strongest attributes.
But unless you’re equipped with a CPU and GPU combo that costs twice the price of next-gen consoles, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. So, what’s worth cutting and what’s worth keeping?
I’ve argued before that Cyberpunk 2077 is one PC game where resolution absolutely matters. That’s especially noticeable on the Xbox Series S, PS4 and Xbox One, where you get a softer, blurrier image overall. In some cases you also lose out on things like ambient occlusion and even things like crowd density; Digital Foundry found the Xbox Series X version of Cyberpunk had a more populated world even compared to the PS5.
But in general, the image quality and effects scale much better with resolution. But once you get into that territory, there’s some things you can tweak to stay at the frame rate you need.
Screen space reflections is one of the heaviest settings in the game, for instance. It’s one of the few options that has a Psycho setting, although you’ll never want to use it: the performance impact can be up to 35 percent compared to the Ultra setting. That’s absurd, since you could just turn on ray traced reflections for that cost and have a more realistic effect.
Ambient occlusion and volumetric clouds are other easy wins: there’s little gain between low and high. In other cases, however, the differences between the low, medium and high setting for many options had a lot less of an impact (like contact shadows, local shadow quality, or local shadow mesh quality).
If you want to see the difference in individual settings, the full video is below. If you’re playing with an Nvidia card, it’s also recommended to start at DLSS Quality mode if you’re at 1080p, moving down as your resolution goes up (Balanced for 1440p, Performance for 4K).
If you’re really struggling for performance, manually reducing the crowd density can also be an easy 10 percent or more win, depending on your individual setup. And it’s also worth noting that Ryzen CPUs don’t appear to be fully utilised in the same way Intel CPUs are. Some users have been coming up with a neat hex-editor hack that’s noticeably improved their CPU utilisation on 3000 series and lower Ryzen PCs. Your mileage may vary, but a number of users on Ryzen 3600, 3700X and 3800X PCs have reported nice bumps in highly populated settings. If you want to give that hack a try for yourself, there’s a neat visual walkthrough here. (To be safe, please save a copy of the Cyberpunk.exe file.)
In general: it’s recommended to leave everything on high or ultra except for cascaded shadows resolution, volumetric fog resolution (lower to high or medium at 1440p or 4K), volumetric cloud quality (medium), screen space reflections quality, ambient occlusion (low), colour precision and mirror quality. Ray traced performance can be especially brutal, so unless you have the beefiest of rigs, ray traced lighting on medium and everything else disabled is best.
It’s worth noting that this is a factor if your GPU isn’t the bottleneck. If you’re playing at 4K or 1440p where your GPU is already completely maxed out, you’re unlikely to get much of an average FPS benefit with extra CPU utilisation. It’s definitely worth checking out for those on lower resolutions though. And even beefier systems might find Cyberpunk 2077‘s lowest frame rate dips are a little more stabilised, too.