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This near-invisible Overwatch downgrade gives a huge frame rate boost

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There’s a simple tweak you can do with your Overwatch settings that can give you a hefty performance boost without really sacrificing the look of your game. And all it takes is a couple clicks of the mouse.

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Now, Overwatch isn’t a massively demanding game when it comes to looks. There are a lot of smart brains at Blizzard and they have a history of using intelligent art and design choices to minimise the impact on your hardware. But still running the game on Epic settings at 2560 x 1440 can make your GPU groan if you’re running older tech.

The fingers of a human bashing a keyboard while on a the Reddit r/Overwatch page have brought us the information that simply by adjusting the Dynamic Reflections setting in the game you can seriously boost your frame rate without really affecting the visuals.

We tested the Nvidia GTX 970 and the AMD R9 380X, both with two-year-old graphics silicon thrumming away inside, to see what impact the simple tweak has on performance and the results are pretty stunning.

The GTX 970 gets a mighty 38% average frame rate boost from switching the Dynamic Reflections setting from high to off. The AMD R9 380X gets a slightly lower 32% frame rate hike, but in that case it’s almost more significant. That takes the overall performance from an average of 50fps well over the 60fps mark you’d want running VSync on a 60Hz monitor.

Then we obviously took it too far and dropped our GTX Titan X into the test rig to see what it could manage. Now the difference between 169fps and 226fps isn’t that easy to see, but still represents a hefty 34% frame rate boost.

If you’re gaming on relatively low spec hardware having your frame rate improved by around a third can make a massive difference to your experience. But what impact does it have on the fidelity of the gameworld?

That kinda depends how much time you spend stock still in an Overwatch map, looking at the shiny flooring or the puddles of water in the street. If you spend a lot of time doing that then a) there are prettier walking simulators that might serve you better and b) you’ll notice the reflections of the heroes as they run past, potentially dropping your sorry ass for taking up a server slot.

Overwatch performance boost

Dynamic Reflections means surfaces don’t just reflect the static scenery, they also reflect objects and characters as they hurtle through the gameworld. And you have to look really hard to notice it – chances are you won’t even notice if they’re not there. Anyways, the frenetic pace of Overwatch means stopping to take in the scenery isn’t really best practice.