Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is finally here, bringing us an all new COD experience filled with lots of adrenaline-fueled excitement. Thankfully, it doesn't seem that demanding depending on your hardware and graphics settings, giving us a wide range of customizability when optimizing our performance to graphical quality ratio.

But which individual graphics settings are the most demanding and will Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War run on low end PC hardware? Which graphics options will impact frame rates the most? And which ones will we be able to turn all the way without much FPS cost? Let's take a look...

In this article we will look at which COD Black Ops Cold War graphics settings are the best to turn all the way up to Ultra and which ones can get us a little FPS boost for no real visual loss when we turn them off or down. We've compiled a list below of the most demanding graphics options in the game, so you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked against a minimum graphics setting used as our baseline benchmark for COD Black Ops Cold War. From there we see which graphics options have the highest performance impact on our hardware for the least visual improvement, and then we will see which options can be turned up to max and deliver the best visual improvement in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War then you can check out our Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War PC system requirements

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the  graphics card - which is close to the recommended GPU for COD Black Ops Cold War - as well as an  processor, and 16GB of DDR4 memory. Unfortunately Black Ops Cold War does not include an in-game benchmarking tool, so to standardize the benchmark tests we ran through a multiplayer match against AI bots, running through various locales and shooting a couple bad guys along the way. We found this run to be pretty representative of the multiplayer experience in Call of Duty: BOCW, when considering graphics options compared to other graphics options and their relative performance impact.

If you see any significant discrepancy/difference between our tests and your own PC performance then please do share your findings in the comments below.

There's a lot of graphics settings available in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, so we went through the 18 graphics options listed and tested each one in turn, recording the average frame rates for each and then comparing them to a baseline FPS that was recorded with all the graphics options either turned off or to their lowest settings.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for COD Black Ops Cold War Frame Rates achieved when all the graphics settings are either on their lowest setting or turned OFF.

COD Black Ops Cold War Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further to the right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is.

What are the most demanding graphics options in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War?

As you can see in the graphics options performance breakdown graph above, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War has quite a few demanding graphics settings, but on their own they don't seem to affect FPS all that much.

This is because Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War seems to be more dependent on VRAM, so if you're looking to increase your FPS in-game then you should try turning down settings that are affecting your available video memory the most first by looking at the VRAM usage table below.

This means that turning up an individual graphics option on its own to the Maximum quality setting won't impact frame rate that much. But combining it with other graphics settings that affect VRAM the performance will result in a performance impact that will be greater than the sum of its parts.

This is shown more clearly in our PC performance benchmarks article, where the Radeon R9 380 GPU managed to achieve a decent FPS up to a certain point, but as soon as the VRAM usage exceeded the available video memory on the graphics card then the frame rate dropped to a staggeringly low sub-10fps.

Aside from that though, looking at the graph above we can still discern which graphics settings will impact frame rate the most. The most demanding graphics option in COD Black Ops Cold War is clearly the Anti-Aliasing Quality at a 6.91% FPS drop.

Following close behind is Ambient Occlusion Quality at 5.67%, Screen Space Reflection at 5.59%, Texture Quality at 5.51%, and finally Shadow Quality at 5.43% FPS cost. Model Quality is the next one at 4.04% followed by both Motion Blur Quality and Dynamic Shadows at 3.34% and 3.03% respectively.

The rest of the graphics settings don't make a huge performance impact, like Subsurface Scattering at 1.94%, Special Effects Quality at 1.48%, Weapon Shadow at 1.24%, Order Independent Transparency at 1.16%, and Volumetric Lighting, Special Effects Shadows, and Object View Distance all at 0.7%, 0.54%, and 0.47% respectively.

What about ray tracing?

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War does include some of the latest ray tracing graphics settings. However, since these are much bigger heavy hitters in terms of FPS performance costs, we have dedicated a separate graph and section for them at the bottom of this article to more equally compare them against each other.

Assassins Creed Valhalla graphics settings VRAM usage at 1080p resolution with graphics options set to Ultra or turned On:

Graphics setting Effect on VRAM VRAM usage (MB)
Texture Quality High 1792
Model Quality Variable 128
Special Effects Quality - 0
Screen Space Reflection Low 6
Object View Distance - 0
Volumetric Lighting Low 2
Shadow Quality Medium 268
Dynamic Shadows - 0
Special Effects Shadows - 0
Weapon Shadow - 0
Anti-Aliasing Quality Medium 269
Ambient Occlusion Quality Low 4
Motion Blur Quality Low 7
Subsurface Scattering - 0
Order Independent Transparency High 189
Ray Tracing Sun Shadows High* 808
Ray Tracing Local Shadows High* 899
Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion High* 820

*Unspecified in-game but clearly major VRAM impactors, so we've added our own classifications for them.

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Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War

There's a pretty good amount of graphics settings available in COD Black Ops Cold War, which will allow us to greatly customize our experience in-game with the right balance of FPS performance and graphical quality.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think are the best Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...

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Texture Quality

Texture Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Texture Quality graphics option Lowest compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Texture Quality 121.7 96.9 157.9 74.9 64.9

Texture Quality option range: Lowest/Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Texture Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Adjust the quality of the resolution for textures used in the game. If HD Game Textures & Models are downloaded, setting Texture Quality to Ultra will use the HD assets.

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Model Quality

Model Quality High setting performance impact

Model Quality graphics option Low compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Model Quality 123.6 101.4 157.9 82.9 61.1

Model Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Model Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Adjust the smoothness of the models in the environment. A higher quality will result in a higher number of shapes. If the HD Game Textures & Models are downloaded, setting Model Quality to High will use the HD assets.

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Special Effects Quality

Special Effects Quality High setting performance impact

Special Effects Quality graphics option Medium compared to High 

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Special Effects Quality 126.9 105.8 161.6 83.2 70.8

Special Effects Quality option range: Medium/High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Special Effects Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Adjust the quality of the resolution used for special effects (such as fire). Tweaking this setting during a match will have no effect. Changes will only apply in the next match.

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Screen Space Reflection

Screen Space Reflection High setting performance impact

Screen Space Reflection graphics option Disabled compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Screen Space Reflection 121.6 69.5 163 73.5 6.7

Screen Space Reflection option range: Disabled/Low/High

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Screen Space Reflection setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Screen Space Reflection will allow seeing a real reflection of in-game graphics when looking at a certain angle on some reflective surfaces.

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Object View Distance

Object View Distance High setting performance impact

Object View Distance graphics option Low compared to High 

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Object View Distance 128.2 105.8 166.7 83.7 75.8

Object View Distance option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Object View Distance setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Adjust the distance at which small objects can be seen. Seeing less objects gives better performance.

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Volumetric Lighting

Volumetric Lighting High setting performance impact

Volumetric Lighting graphics option Low compared to High

 

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Volumetric Lighting 127.9 98.9 164.8 91.3 84

Volumetric Lighting option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Volumetric Lighting setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Affects the quality of sunbeam and lightbeam effects.

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Shadow Quality

Shadow Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Shadow Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Shadow Quality 121.8 95.4 158.9 81.4 75.4

Shadow Quality option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Shadow Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Defines the resolution and filtering for all the in-game shadows.

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Dynamic Shadows

Dynamic Shadows All setting performance impact

Dynamic Shadows graphics option Disabled compared to All

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Dynamic Shadows 124.9 99.6 157.6 91 84.1

Dynamic Shadows option range: Disabled/Self Only/All

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Dynamic Shadows setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Allow dynamic objects to cast shadows.

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Special Effects Shadows

Special Effects Shadows Enabled setting performance impact

Special Effects Shadows graphics option Disabled compared to Enabled

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Special Effects Shadows 128.1 106.6 171.6 96 88.8

Special Effects Shadows option range: Disabled/Enabled

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Special Effects Shadows setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Choose if special effects and particles should have shadows.

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Weapon Shadow

Weapon Shadow Enabled setting performance impact

Weapon Shadow graphics option Disabled compared to Enabled

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Weapon Shadow 127.2 105.3 166.2 95.4 83.1

Weapon Shadow option range: Disabled/Enabled

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Weapon Shadow setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Enable or disable shadows on your weapon.

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Anti-Aliasing Quality

Anti-Aliasing Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Anti-Aliasing Quality graphics option Disabled compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Anti-Aliasing Quality 119.9 94.4 148.4 86.8 79.2

Anti-Aliasing Quality option range: Disabled/Lowest/Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Anti-Aliasing Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Jagged edges on curved lines and diagonals are smoothed out. The Anti-Aliasing is locked on Filmic SMAA T2x when raytracing setting is enabled.

Anti-Aliasing Quality settings:

  • Lowest: FXAA
  • Low: SMAA 1x
  • Medium: Filmic SMAA 1x
  • High: SMAA T2x
  • Ultra: Filmic SMAA T2x

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Ambient Occlusion Quality

Ambient Occlusion Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Ambient Occlusion Quality graphics option Disabled compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Ambient Occlusion Quality 121.5 102.9 148.2 91.4 84.6

Ambient Occlusion Quality option range: Disabled/Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Ambient Occlusion Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Creates soft shadows that can intersect with each other.

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Motion Blur Quality

Motion Blur Quality High setting performance impact

Motion Blur Quality graphics option Disabled compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Motion Blur Quality 124.5 102.6 157.9 92.6 85.8

Motion Blur option range: Disabled/Self Only/Enabled

Motion Blur Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Motion Blur Quality setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Adds a blur effect when the camera or objects are moving rapidly, and adjusts the quality of the motion blur.

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Subsurface Scattering

Subsurface Scattering Enabled setting performance impact

Subsurface Scattering graphics option Disabled compared to Enabled

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Subsurface Scattering 126.3 111.5 170.6 97.9 89.8

Subsurface Scattering option range: Disabled/Enabled

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Subsurface Scattering setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Simulates light that's absorbed and diffused when passing through different materials. Enable Subsurface Scattering for more realistic rendering of human faces.

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Order Independent Transparency

Order Independent Transparency High setting performance impact

Order Independent Transparency graphics option Disabled compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Order Independent Transparency 127.3 106.9 157.5 94.9 83

Order Independent Transparency option range: Disabled/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Order Independent Transparency setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Higher quality will increase the amount of transparent effects and objects that are sorted when looking through them. This helps to get a good feeling of depth when looking through these objects.

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Ray tracing

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War includes some of the latest ray tracing technology like ray traced sun shadows, local shadows, and ambient occlusion. Whilst they all look great and significantly increase the quality of lighting in the game, how demanding is each ray tracing setting and which one is the most impactful on FPS?

As you can see in the FPS performance cost graph above, both Ray Tracing Sun Shadows and Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion are very demanding, reducing FPS by 74.61% for Sun Shadows and 78.88% for Ambient Occlusion.

Of course, this is all based on a GTX 1060 which would be using the software-based version of the ray tracing tech. RTX cards on the other hand will be able to handle the ray tracing effects a little better thanks to their dedicated RT cores, but will still impact FPS quite significantly.

If you do want to use ray tracing in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, it is recommended to use DLSS as well to get the right performance, or use a much more powerful graphics card like the RTX 3080 which is the recommended GPU for 4K Ultra graphics with ray tracing enabled.

It is also worth noting that when any ray tracing graphics settings is enabled, Anti-Aliasing Quality is automatically set to Ultra quality.

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Ray Tracing Sun Shadows

Ray Tracing Sun Shadows Ultra setting performance impact

Ray Tracing Sun Shadows graphics option Disabled compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Ray Tracing Sun Shadows 32.7 15.7 51.5 14.6 13.6

Ray Tracing Sun Shadows option range: Disabled/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Ray Tracing Sun Shadows setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Enable ray tracing for life-like sun shadows. This increases fidelity of the shadows casted by the sun.

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Ray Tracing Local Shadows

Ray Tracing Local Shadows Ultra setting performance impact

Ray Tracing Local Shadows graphics option Disabled compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Ray Tracing Local Shadows 90.6 46.5 112.4 45.3 41.5

Ray Tracing Local Shadows option range: Disabled/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Ray Tracing Local Shadows setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Enable ray tracing for life-like local shadows. This increases fidelity of the shadows casted by dynamic objects.

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Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion

Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion Ultra setting performance impact

Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion graphics option Disabled compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 128.8 99.8 163.8 82.5 71.6
Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion 27.2 20.8 32.8 20.5 18.9

Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion option range: Disabled/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion setting do in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War? Enable ray tracing for life-like ambient occlusion. This creates soft shadows of great quality that can intersect with each other. When this setting is enabled, it replaces the Ambient Occlusion Quality setting.

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Conclusion

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War does not have a huge amount of very impactful and demanding graphics settings. Whilst there are a few that do impact FPS, it is not by much.

However, COD Black Ops Cold War is also very dependent on available VRAM, and so when these graphics settings are combined with each other, eventually the FPS performance impact is much greater than the sum of its parts.

If you want to get the best performance out of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, the first settings you should look at turning down are the ones with the most significant impact on VRAM usage. Taking your total video memory usage down out of the red in-game will significantly increase performance to a suitable state.

Aside from that though, there are a few settings that will also impact FPS a bit and should also be considered for turning down when trying to increase your frame rate. These include Anti-Aliasing Quality, Ambient Occlusion Quality, Screen Space Reflection, Texture Quality, and Shadow Quality.

Ray Tracing is, unsurprisingly, a major FPS impactor dropping FPS by up to nearly 80%. In order to enable these graphics settings and get a decent performance, you should either use a high end GPU like the RTX 3080 or use DLSS at lower resolutions.

Overall, there's a decent selection of graphics settings and quality adjustments in COD Black Ops Cold War that will allow for adjusting our performance and quality for the optimal balance. But VRAM usage should be considered first before any percent FPS impact.

So that's it for the best multiplayer graphics options in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, now we're handing it over to you guys. What graphics settings do you immediately turn all the way up for little FPS cost? And which ones do you turn all the way down for a massive FPS increase? Let us know!