Best Graphics Options For Ark

Best graphics options for ark

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If you follow the forums you can always find the question “can I run it?”.

The answers are sometimes correct and sometimes wrong or simply misleading due to missing knowledge about the game options. Some people also like to boast with impossible high settings with an old and weak GPU (without stating their used tweaks).

So with this guide I want to shed some light at the requirements, game options and the available tweaks.

In it´s current, unoptimized, state ARK needs a lot of power for the higher graphics and resolutions. Nonetheless a lot of old and weak GPU´s can handle ARK with medium or low graphics.

Dual(2)-Core with 2,0 GHz
Quad(4)-Core with 4,0 GHz
GTX 670 2gb / HD 7870 2gb

With the minimum requirements you can play ARK with low graphics and low resolution with something around 20 fps.
With the Recommended you can play with medium settings at 30FPS+.

Even after release, every patch will alter the performance, requirements and stability of the game!

Sometimes it get better, sometimes worse. Strong systems have no problems with this and could easily compensate for this.
But if you have a weak system, which operats already at its limit, a single patch could make the game unplayable for you. This is mostly shown with the freeze during the loading screen at "WorldsEnd" or an other file.
Furthermore the error with "LowLevel" and "Assertion faild" suggests a overburdend system or a faulty file (in this case verify the gamedata with Steam).

Which OS you are using is not important, except for the use of dx12, then you need Win10.

The important thing with the OS is that you need a 64bit-OS, since ARK needs more system resources than a 32bit-OS can provide.

The CPU is important for moving data around and has primary an impact on the loading times. In its current state of ARK the speed (GHz) of the CPU is a little more important than the number of cores. So a modern 4,0GHz Dual(2)-Core CPU is a little better than a modern 3,0GHz Quad(4)-Core CPU. The CPU can have an (bad) effect on the FPS if it throttles the GPU down.
Currently ARK gains nothing from "logical cores" (hyperthreading) and more than 4 cores.

So a I5 with its 4 cores is the current maximum ARK could utilize.

The RAM is a fast buffer (memory) which holds the stuff that’s needed in the next moment. Since ARK is an open world game where you can go where you want at any moment, the game needs to hold a lot of stuff in the RAM. If the RAM is too small, some of this stuff will be pushed back to your HDD/SSD and it takes noticeable more time to load it from there.
Windows takes usually 4GB RAM and ARK takes 12GB RAM with high settings (on epic a little more).

So if you have only 8GB RAM, you may need to run ARK in the "low Memory (4GB)" mode since from the 8GB 4 are already used by windows.
The speed of the RAM is also important. The difference between 2133-RAM and 3200-RAM could easily be 15FPS and up.

The VRAM is a very fast memory and is part of the graphic card.

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All graphic options need an amount of VRAM and this amount scales with the resolution. If the chosen graphic settings need more VRAM than the graphic card has, the game gets choppy. What happens exactly depends on the game but the performance suffers (fps goes down), objects pop up and textures get muddy before they appear in Hi-Res.
For ARK are 6gb VRAM needed. With less VRAM you will face FPS drops due to loading lags.

The GPU is the part of your pc which handles the graphics.

Since ARK is a next-gen-game utilizing a modern graphic engine (Unreal Engine 4, which itself is still in development) it burdened the GPU extreme. More about the GPU a little later.

The game runs currently in dx11 but the dx12 support will come as soon the devs and AMD/NVIDIA have fixed the problems. The game can also run in dx10 for better performance but the graphic suffers greatly.

The game is currently ~60GB big (only the base game).

The size can change with every patch. Also mods need space too and big mods, like a map, take up to 8GB of space.
With all DLC-maps and some mods, the will need over 100gb.

“What are my system specification?”
You can find information about your system with steam: steam > help > system information.

The exact graphic card can be found with the deviceID and Google. The ID here in this picture (0x7300) is the R9 Nano with 4GB VRAM.

The loading times depends on the CPU (GHz & Cores) the available RAM and the speed of your HDD/SSD.

So with a slow CPU, few RAM and a slow HDD you can wait a looooooong time (5min and up) for ARK to load.

ARK: Survival Evolved Revisited – Benchmark and Graphic comparison (German)
Source: PC Games Hardware 12.01.2016
The magazine “PC Games Hardware” did a new benchmark and tech-check of ARK.
This contains:
  • Comparison of the preset graphics (video, pictures with slider, picture with detail view in all 4 presets)
  • Benchmark with the preset graphics epic, high and medium at 1080p without adjusted options and tweaks

Here is the new test from 08.09.2017:

I will keep the old one here too, as comparsion.

The devs estimate a 20% increase in performance with DX 12 if it goes live.

Currently the DX12-version of ARK is not stable and only high-end-systems would benefit from the change. So the devs are working with AMD and Nvidia to fix it.

DX 12 changes many things and I will try to keep it simple here.
One of the biggest change concerns the CPU.

Best graphics options for ark

With DX12 all cores can be used which will lead to a high improvement in loading times and some FPS in some certain cases.
For example:
If you have a slow CPU like a A10, FX, I3 or low/medium I5 and a fast GPU like a 390X, Fury(X), 980(Ti), Titan X you will gain some FPS. This has nothing to do with the GPU-features from DX12! It is simply a better coordination between CPU and GPU.

Also the integrated GPU of a CPU can now be used as a slave for the dedicated GPU (graphic card).

This will improve the fps but the CPU needs more power (+10-25W) and generates more heat (+10-30W).

There are also many changes regarding the GPU. Most basic features are supported by all GCN-cards from AMD (HD5xxx, 6xxx, 7xxx, R7 Series, R9 Series) and most Nvidia cards (GTX 4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 7xx, 9xx).
But only the modern cards support DX12 (almost) fully.

Those are the R7 and R9 Series from AMD and the GTX 900 Series from Nvidia.

AMD cards could gain FPS from Asynchronous Compute while Nvidia cards can´t currently use it due to hardware/software problems.
On the other side, Nvidia cards will lose less FPS with the use of some graphical techniques due to Conservative Rasterization and Raster Order Views.

The gain from DX12 for a old system will be scant.
Modern systems will get a good boost regarding loading times and fps due to multi-core usage and asynchronous compute (R7/R9 series, GTX 900 series).

Best graphics options for ark

But I don´t think we will see a 20% increase in alpha stage due to the missing optimization.

Asynchronous compute is still disabled for NVIDIA-Cards.
This means that NVIDIA cards gains almost nothing from DX12 and could even lose some performance while using DX12.
Furthermore some features from NVIDIA´s "GameWorks" seems to cause graphic bugs if used with asynchronous computing (like HBAO+).
Still no statement from NVIDIA regarding the DX12 desaster.

The first GTX 1080 cards are in the hands of hardware magazines and were scrutinized.

The card itself is quite good (5-10% above a 980 TI).
Regarding DX12 it comes as feard. Since the Pascal chip is only a smaller and slightly modified Maxwell chip, it has the same problem with DX12. The GTX 1080 loses performance with DX12 and gains also nothing from asynchronous compute (it loses a little performance).

Nothing new here^^

There are 2 kinds of GPU´s out there.

First the integrated GPU´s which are a part of a CPU.
The integrated GPU is very slow due to its limitation in power draw and heat generation (since she must share this with the CPU).

ARK could be played with a modern integrated GPU (like Iris Pro Graphics 6000) but only with tweaks, low graphics and with a very low resolution.

Second the dedicated GPU´s or Graphic Cards.
Those things are the most vital part (beside the CPU) of your gaming pc. There are hundreds of Graphic Cards out there with multiple variants.

Best graphics options for ark

It is not easy to compare all those cards and some people call everything below 60 fps “unplayable” and some people are fine with 20 fps.

There was a lot movement in the GPU market over the last year and quite some optimizations for ARK.
Please remember: Since it is a sandbox game, you can always build so much that even a GTX 1080Ti will go down on its knees.

I will give here a rough overview for some GPU´s in 1080p 100% res scale (the resolution which over 90% of the people still use).

For full epic settings you will need a GPU like a GTX 1070/980Ti or Vega56/Fury.
For high settings you will need a GTX 1060/980 or RX 580/R9 390.
For medium settings you will need a GTX 1050TI/960 or RX 470/R9 380.
For low settings you will need a GTX 1050/950 or RX 460/R9 270X.

Depending on how much FPS you want/need this will change a little.

You can also take a look here at a benchmark:

These are the results from the 3DMark11 benchmark.

Your card should fetch at least 4500 points here for a smooth gameplay at low graphics and low resolution.
If you go with the Fire Strike 1.1 benchmark aim for at least 3000 points.

Like I said before this is only a recommendation and can change with a driver-update or an update for ARK.

Here you can change the resolution.
The resolution has the biggest impact on FPS and you need a fast GPU for 1080p.

Here you can chose different window modes like “Windowed”, “Fullscreen” and “Windowed Fullscreen”.
The use of "Windowed" and "Windowed Fullscreen" will lower the FPS and can cause FPS drops and freezing.

Here you can chose the graphic presets.

With this slider you can change the resolution scale (right side is maximum).

With 100% the game is rendered and displayed in the same resolution. If you chose a lower scale you can gain FPS but the quality will suffer.

With a lower scale the game is rendered in a lower resolution but it is displayed in your chosen resolution.

Best graphics options for ark

This results in a blurry, blocky “Minecraft”-look for the game. Here 3 pics for comparison with 100%, 75% and 50%.

This option establishes the amount of graphic memory used to render areas (tiles) of the map that you aren´t in.

Best Graphics Card for Ark Survival Evolved

In other words this option says how much stuff (textures, models,…..) the game can store in buffer (memory) for quicker loading while traveling around. This needs a lot of VRAM and RAM but reduces fps drops and lags while traveling with fast mounts.

This option is one of the more demanding ones and can cost you a lot. Start with medium here and adjust it.

Hdfc prepaid forex card balance check

You may need a restart for the full effect.

Here you can chose the distance in which the game loads areas (tiles) of the map. Areas that are not loaded in are easily spotted from mountains due to their emptiness.

This can cost a huge amount of performance.

This option smoothes the edges of objects at some performance cost.

This option controls visual quality such as bloom, depth blurring, portal distortion, character lines, light rays, and so on.

It takes some performance but the results are pretty good.

This adjust quality, intensity and abundance of most shadows.

This adjust quality, intensity and abundance of terrain specific shadows.

As in every other game shadows need a lot of performance and it is recommended to use low or medium settings.

This option controls the texture quality. On cards with more than 2 GB of VRAM you can use high/epic usually without problems.

This slider controls the amount and quality of the clouds. This costs only minor performance.

(can be overruled and disabled with –nomansky)

This slider controls the amount of stuff on the ground and the amount of grass and flowers. This cost some performance but fields and the beach don´t look so empy.

The advanced options together take a huge amount of performance but the game looks great with them (just like the devs pics).

Best graphics options for ark

Those options will be overruled and disabled with –sm4, –d3d10, –lowmemory and all the preset “Launch ARK (….)” so the game comes nowhere near “epic” with those tweaks.

High Quality Anisotropic Filtering
This filtering method is enhancing the quality of textures from certain angles. Basically, it makes things look a little smoother sometimes and costs almost no performance.
It is up to you to use it.

Some people don´t like this effect.

Controls the streaking of rapidly moving objects. It´s up to your taste but recommendation is “off”.

Activates grain filter (like film artifacts in a bad movie).

My graphic settings for decent graphic and good FPS

It´s up to your taste but recommendation is “off”.

Distance Field Ambient Occlusion
This activates soft shadows for distant objects (like SSAO). Looks good but eats a lot of performance.

Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO)
This activates soft shadows for near objects.

Like shadows this option needs a lot of performance.

This Option allows the breakdown of polygons to create finer, higher quality graphics. This is currently always disabled and can´t be activated. Maybe it´s broken, only the devs know why.

This activates the shadows for distant objects so the shadows don´t look like cut off after a few meters but it cost a lot of performance.

This enables the high quality textures for terrain material.

This enables the option for light to interact with the surface of an object and to be scattered by it (like a sunbeam in foliage).

This takes some performance but makes forests very atmospheric.

Better visual effects for rain and underwater.

Simple Distance Character Movement
Reduces the animations for far away characters and dinos.

Set ARK: Survival Evolved graphics for seamless gameplay

It reduces the CPU usage a little.

Improves the LoD a little.
Almost no impact on performance.

Extra Level Streaming Distance
Increases the number of map tiles which are loaded into the RAM.

This results in a smoother movement especially with ffast mounts.
This option increase the RAM usage!

This option alters the colors visible in the game.

Toggles Light Bloom.

Toggles Light Shafts.

Mesh Level of Detail (LOD)
With this slider you can controls the complexity of your surroundings like more foliage, more rounded stones and so on. This also controls the range for the diminishing of the LOD in the distance.

You can launch the game with a few presets which are:

Launch ARK (Low Memory 4GB)
This is recommended if you have less than 8 GB RAM.

You will miss the advanced options (those with the checkboxes) but the game runs better. Same result as the command –lowmemory.

Launch ARK (Extremely Low Memory) and Launch ARK (Extremely Low Memory, No Sound)
With only 4GB of RAM this is your way to go. This preset utilize the –sm4 command and forces the use of dx10 shader model 4. Also all advanced options are overruled and disabled.

Launch ARK (“No Sky Effects”)
The game starts without the sky effects (no clouds and fewer stars).

Same as the command -nomansky


Launch ARK (Reset Active Total Conversion)
Starts the Game without Total Conversion mods

!The use of those presets will nullify alll used commands (like -sm4)!
I guess you have encountered the phrase “use -USEALLAVAILABLECORES -sm4 -d3d10 -nomansky –lowmemory and you have no fps problems anymore”.

But what are they doing?

And why scream those people, who are using them, about bad “epic” graphic?

Most people don´t know what those commands do to the game so I will try to explain those commands here.

You can see here a picture without tweaks and a picture with the options as a baseline for comparison with the following tweaks.

All pictures below have unchanged options and only the respective tweak was used.

By the way you can use them here: Right-click on "ARK: Survival Evolved" in your steam library => Properties => General => "SET LAUNCH OPTIONS...”

If you want to use those tweaks don´t use the preset Launch Options!

Looks like the use of the commands -sm4 and -d3d10 can cause the "GPU driver crash/reset" bug.

So if you encounter this bug, give it a try and remove those commands.

no function anymore

With this command ARK gains priority access to RAM and CPU.

This could help with lags, freezes and crashes on old and slow systems.

This command disables all sky-effects and reduce the number of stars visible at night. This will gain you some fps without sacrificing much. The preset “Launch ARK (“No Sky Effects”)” utilize this command.

With this command ARK will only use shader model 4 (DX10) instead of shader model 5 (DX11).

Also all advanced options and the shadows are disabled and cannot be activated in game (even if the box is checked they are disabled). Light sources are dimmer compared with DX11 so it will be darker at night.

Sometimes the bloom effect can be blinding with this command. The preset “Launch ARK (Extremely Low Memory)” utilize this command. This gains you something like 15-20 fps but the graphic goes down quite a bit as you can see in the pic.

With this command ARK runs completely in DX10.

This command includes the –sm4 command and all his changes and downsides. Since the game runs now in dx10 you can gain up to 30 fps but the game looks not so good anymore.

In some extremely rare cases (GPU/driver combinations) this command can backfire and will reduce fps greatly.

This command reduces the used RAM to ca. 4GB, disables the advanced options, shadows and is utilized in the preset “Launch ARK (Low Memory 4GB)”.

Ark Survival Evolved - Best Graphics Settings For LOW/MEDIUM PC's!

You can gain something like 10fps with this.

With the patch 235.x the devs added the option to switch the language. You can find this option in Steam > Library > ARK > Properties > Language. You could also use the -culture command. The translations are fan based and may contain errors. To choose a language replace the XX with one of these:

As you can see most of the commands disable the advanced options and without them the game looks mostly bland even sterile sometimes.

Beside the game tweaks you can use your GPU-Driver to increase the fps by using performance settings (instead of quality). This will overrule the game options and decrease the quality of the game but will gain you some fps. In the end the choice is up to you.

You can also increase the power limit for your card.

Here’s the complete ARK: Survival Evolved graphics settings guide

This increases the temperature at which the card throttle down. The card compensate the increasd heat with a higher fan speed.

Best graphics options for ark

Keep a look at the max fan speed, maybe you must increase it.

But please remember: if you want to compare with another player you need those information:

CPU, GPU, RAM, OS, HDD/SSD, Resolution, Game Options, Advanced Options, used tweaks

If some of those information’s are missing you can´t compare your fps or graphic since all of this has an impact on the fps and graphic.

  • 13.01.2016 "ARK Survival Evolved Revisited - Benchmark" added in "Requirements"
  • 15.01.2016 added "-high" command
  • 23.01.2016 added DX12 part
  • 09.02.2016 added "-culture=XX" command (language)
  • 13.04.2016 changes in the DX12 part
  • 06.05.2016 added "Warning"
  • 19.05.2016 changes in the DX12 part
  • 07.02.2017 changes in the Avanced Options part
  • 10.09.2017 small overhaul