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The best Forza Horizon 5 settings for performance on your gaming PC

Playground Games has tuned Forza Horizon 5 to the point that nearly any gaming PC can run it, but there's plenty you can do to increase your frames per second

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring two cars racing in the darkness and creating volumetric smoke

Forza Horizon 5 is the first game in either of the Forza series to debut on Microsoft’s latest Xbox Series consoles, complete with gorgeous visuals, and it’s a sight to behold on the PC as well. If you’re ready to head to Mexico, let’s get your gaming PC tuned up and tinker with the game’s many settings in its graphics menu.

Given that it’s a cross-gen title, the Forza Horizon 5 system requirements are low enough that most people shouldn’t have trouble getting behind the wheel or even cranking it up to fifth gear. Unfortunately, there’s no support for Nvidia DLSS or AMD FSR, but you likely won’t need them given how well the game already runs and looks using most of its presets.

If you haven’t bought your Horizon festival ticket, you can pick up Forza Horizon 5 via Xbox Game Pass, in addition to other Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport titles. It’s also available via on the Microsoft Store and Steam.

Before we hit the road, here’s a reminder of what kind of kit you’ll need under the hood of your gaming PC to meet the Forza Horizon 5 system requirements.

Minimum Recommended Ideal
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 1200
Intel i5-4460
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Intel i5-8400
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT
Intel i7-10700K
Nvidia GTX 970
AMD RX 590
Nvidia GTX 1070
Nvidia RTX 3080
Storage 110GB 110GB 110GB on SSD

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring several cars atop a glistening snowtop

best horizon 5 presets

Unlike some PC games such as Back 4 Blood and New World, selecting one of Forza Horizon 5’s presets won’t make all the game’s individual options adopt the same level of fidelity and will instead use a range of optimised settings. Although, not every setting has the full range of options from Very Low to Extreme, but we’ll touch on them as and when they come up in our individual settings breakdown

If you’re raring to hit the road, we think the High preset is the best starting position for most players. It enables you to experience most of the graphical technologies Forza offers, bar SSAO (screen space ambient occlusion) and Night Shadows. This preset also allows you to make use of your graphics cards’ ray tracing capabilities in the game’s ForzaVista model viewer, if your GPU supports the tech.

Ultra does look a touch nicer but will decrease your frame rate by about 23%, and we can only recommend those with gaming PCs akin to supercars even consider the Extreme preset, as it has a 41% performance cost in comparison to High. Shifting gears down to Medium will only net you an 8% increase, but it could be worth the trade-off if you’re struggling to hit your target frame rate. We’d advise against using the Low or Very Low presets, and instead recommend tinkering with the swathe of individual settings to fine tune your Forza Horizon 5 experience.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring several cars descending down a dusty incline

best forza horizon 5 settings

Forza Horizon 5’s graphics settings can be found in the Settings menu under the ‘Graphics’ tab:

  • Anisotropic filtering: High
  • Shadow quality: Ultra
  • Night shadows: Off
  • Motion blur quality: High
  • Environment texture quality: Ultra
  • Environment geometry quality: Ultra
  • MSAA: x4
  • FXAA: Off
  • SSAO quality: Ultra
  • Reflection quality: High
  • World car level of detail: Ultra
  • Deformable terrain quality: Ultra
  • SSR quality: High
  • Lens effects: High
  • Shader quality: High
  • Particle effects: Ultra
  • Ray tracing: Optional

Our recommended settings were determined through a combination of real-world tests and the game’s built-in benchmark. Thankfully, Forza is a shockingly well optimised game that not only caters to the average gaming PC, but has plenty to offer those with the best graphics cards as well as anyone with an ageing, less-powerful gaming rig. Here’s our breakdown of the performance impact of individual settings, in order from biggest to smallest:

Shadow quality affects the resolution and rate at which shadows update, and can be the most taxing graphics setting in Forza Horizon 5. The Extreme preset in combination with the High shader quality setting and night shadows offers fantastic visuals but tanks performance by a whopping 30%. Thankfully, moving down to Ultra costs just 7%, but we’d recommend keeping the shader quality at High, meaning this level of shadow fidelity costs 15% in total. Night shadows are a nice extra, but given their 4% cost and the fact you’ll only benefit from them during night time sequences, they’re an easy omission to recommend if you’re struggling to maintain consistent levels of performance. Your only other options here are the Low setting, which has a 1% performance impact in comparison to the Very Low preset with the low shader quality, but we’d recommend pursuing other avenues to boost fps.

Reflection quality controls the quality of reflections in car bodies/mirrors, which you’ll naturally be seeing a lot of in your shiny new sports cars. This setting may be bugged, as we found that neither its performance cost nor fidelity didn’t increase past the High setting. Your mileage may vary and this might be resolved by a future patch, but for now, we recommend the High setting with its 13% frame rate footprint. Medium will net you a 4% performance gain compared to High, but given how prevalent these reflections are, we’d think twice before turning this setting down.

As we mentioned earlier in this settings guide, the game turns off SSAO if you opt for the High preset. We think this is a smart decision by Playground Games, as the extra depth offered to the game by turning up SSAO quality can get lost in the fast motion of Forza Horizon 5’s racing. It comes at a sizeable 16% performance cost as well, requiring the shader quality setting to be set to High. This is the first setting we’d recommend you omit if your gaming PC isn’t hitting target frame rates.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring two cars racing down a rain soaked road at night

MSAA (multi sample anti-aliasing) helps get rid of those pesky jagged edges that can cause shimmering, which we find particularly distracting during gameplay. There are four levels to chose from, including off, but we recommend 4X. It’ll hit fps by about 10%, but you can turn it down to 2X to mitigate your losses to just 5%. 8X is overkill in our opinion, costing a massive 20%, but it’s also worth bearing  in mind that this setting has a minor increase to VRAM usage from 0.06GB-0.5GB. FXAA is also available as an anti-aliasing setting, but it’s frankly not worth using when MSAA 2X is available.

As you might expect, world car level of detail affects the fidelity of Drivatars you encounter in the open world and AI race opponents. This setting can have up to a 10% performance cost and also affects VRAM usage by about 0.2GB when moving upwards from Low. Like the reflection quality setting mentioned earlier, we didn’t notice any difference in visuals or frame rate between this setting’s Ultra or Extreme level. As such, we recommend Ultra for now, but Extreme is worth considering. Moving down to Medium offers a 6% performance improvement compared to High, while Low reduces VRAM usage and improves fps by 7%.

Particle effects quality controls the visual splendour of volumetric effects like smoke from wheel spins and various other particle effects throughout the game, such as those present in its sandstorms. Your choices here are basically either Medium or Extreme, as we don’t recommend anyone use the Very Low settings and the Low/High modes offer extremely little in the way of performance gains. We recommend most people opt for the Extreme setting, with an 8% performance cost, but Medium provides a decent 4% improvement by comparison and doesn’t look much worse.

In lieu of ray traced reflections, which we’ll touch on more when we get to the full fat ray tracing setting, Forza Horizon 5 uses SSR quality (screen space reflections) to handle its reflections in bodies of water. This is particularly noticeable when driving on rain soaked streets, but given how the majority of your driving will be in decidedly sunny weather, this is another setting worth eyeing up for a chop. If you opt for the High setting, you’ll trade 5% of your frames per second, while Medium and Low offer a measly 1-2% increase. If you’re lucky enough to have one of the best graphics cards available, throw the Extreme setting on and watch your fps tank by 18%.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring a car wading through a river

Moving on to motion blur quality, this cost us 7% of our fps in our testing regardless of which setting we chose. This will largely depend on your personal preference when it comes to this particular setting, to either have it on or off. Personally, we think Forza Horizon 5’s implementation of motion blur enhances the feeling of speed and weight in its cars and would recommend it be kept on, but this is an easy win if you’re absolutely against motion blur.

Environment texture quality doesn’t impact performance much, with a ceiling of 5% using the Extreme setting. However, it does have a substantial impact on VRAM. Every GPU model has a different amount of VRAM, so it’s important that you use Forza Horizon 5’s benchmark to measure and manage its usage. In our testing, we found that Low-High had fairly minor bumps in VRAM, while Ultra used 1.55GB more than the High setting and Extreme demanded a further 1.5GB.

Meanwhile, environment geometry quality affects the density of objects in the environment, such as cacti, foliage, and rocks, and can have a surprisingly minor impact on performance. Every setting up to High, which only has a 1% fps cost, can be used with any environment texture quality setting. However, turning this up to Ultra or Extreme requires that the environment texture quality be turned up to Ultra as a minimum. For most people with at least 6GB of VRAM, we recommend the Ultra preset for both, which should incur a 6% cost in total.

To round out the last of the settings, lens effects, anisotropic filtering, and deformable terrain quality all have negligible impacts on performance and should be put on their highest respective modes. We don’t recommend anyone use the resolution scaling option, and it’s unfortunate that Playground Games was unable to implement a dynamic resolution scaler like on the console versions of the game. Ray tracing doesn’t impact gameplay and is only used in the ForzaVista model viewer, which is a crying shame in our eyes. It’ll cost you between 12-17% if you want to gawp at your collection with improved reflections.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring several cars parked outside of a chapel

forza horizon 5 accessibility settings

In our interview with Mike Brown, creative director of Forza Horizon 5, he describes accessibility as “one of the core pillars that makeup Forza Horizon 5, and great efforts and investments were made to ensure the development team understood its importance.” Like other modern titles, the game presents a selection of accessibility settings to you before you even set foot (tyre?) in Mexico and can later be accessed via the ‘Accessibility’ tab in the game’s settings menu.

Playground Games has implemented two fairly unique tools that should help make the game more accessible from a difficulty perspective. Players can now control the game’s offline game speed and slow down proceedings to as much as 40%, allowing you to hit those lightning-fast top speeds without having the reflexes to match in order to keep the car under control. It also features a new ‘Tourist’ difficultly mode, which makes AI opponents wait for you, should you fall behind.

There are separate colour blind settings for the interface and visuals, with sliders and presets for deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia, as well as a high contrast mode for the game’s interface. There’s also a setting that disables motion in background images.

A screen reader is included, in addition to voice chat text-to-speech and speech-to-text support. Subtitles can be enabled and customised in terms of size, background opacity, as well as keyword highlighting. Text size can also be increased across the board by up to 150%.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring a close up of a car's front body with chrome headlights

Forza horizon 5 issues

Our time testing Forza Horizon 5 was thankfully largely free of bugs, but developer Playground Games is maintaining an ‘FH5 Known Issues’ support article, which helpfully separates all known problems with the game by platform.

We just hope that the issues we encountered while shifting between the game’s settings can be resolved, but we truly appreciate the efforts made by the developer to include detailed descriptions of what each setting affects and what components they impact.

A screenshot from Forza Horizon 5, featuring a car driving into the Mexican sunset

Overall, Forza Horizon 5 is an absolute joy to play and look at on PC. Its graphics menu offers a good deal of customisation, and caters to gaming PCs of all specs and sizes. However, we hope that we can see Playground Games extend their implementation of ray tracing to gameplay, given the headroom afforded by the best graphics cards of today and the future.

Is your PC still in limp mode? Forza Horizon DLSS 3 support is now a thing, so you could reach higher frame rates than ever using a RTX 4000 graphics card.

Take the Forza Horizon 5 system requirements test over on PCGameBenchmark to answer the question… Can I run Forza Horizon 5?