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Performance Issues

Disabling Sound Downloads for Source Games

First, if you do not have an autoexec.cfg file you will need to create one.

1. Open Notepad, Start > Programs > Accessories > Notepad

2. Enter "cl_downloadfilter nosounds" without the quotes in your Notepad file

3. Select Save As, from the File menu, choose All Files, and name the file autoexec.cfg

4. Save this file to your CFG folder, in the gamefolder of the game you are using

This will disable all sound downloads in Source based games.


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Installing a Custom Spray for Source Games

First you need a valid image file. This can be either a .jpg, .bmp, .tga, or .vtf file.

Once you have your image saved somewhere, go to Options > Multiplayer. Then look under "Spraypaint image", and push the "Import Spray..." button. Browse to where your image is located and hit open.

You should now see your custom spray in the window, which means it's ready to be used.

Setting a spray only takes affect when you join a server, so if you change a spray while in game, you will have to disconnect and rejoin for your new spray to be used.

Sprays are not available in single-player games.


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Right-handed and Left-handed Models

Team Fortress 2

To switch to left-handed models in Team Fortress 2, please use this process:
  • Launch Team Fortress 2.
  • Go to Options and then to the Multiplayer tab
  • Click Advanced
  • Check the box next to "Flip viewmodels"


Gold Source games (Counter-Strike, Half-Life)

If you cannot switch your weapon to the right-hand, please go to your advanced video options and change the renderer to either OpenGL or Direct3D. The software renderer does not support right-handed models.

You can select left or right-handed models by typing the following command into the Console:

  • To use your left-hand: cl_righthand 0
  • To use your right-hand: cl_righthand 1

To permanently use left-handed models, you may create a userconfig.cfg file with the cl_righthand 0 command. Please follow these instructions to create a userconfig.cfg file:

  1. Locate the subfolder in your game folder that holds the config.cfg file
    For example, you can find the config.cfg file for Counter-Strike at [Steam installation directory]\steamapps\[your Steam account name]\counter-strike\cstrike\config.cfg
  2. Create a new text file in that directory called userconfig.cfg
  3. Open the file with Notepad and enter cl_righthand 1 (to use the right-handed model) or cl_righthand 0 (to use the left-handed model)
  4. Save the file
  5. Launch the game to test the userconfig.cfg settings


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Setting Client Rates


Client rate settings are useful in troubleshooting lag and poor multiplayer performance. Please see the Troubleshooting Lag topic for further recommendations.

Steam Download Speed

If you notice connection problems during Steam downloads, or want to limit how much bandwidth steam can use, go to the Limit downloads to the following bandwidth drop-down menu in the Download tab in your Steam client's settings pane. You can find it in Steam's File > Settings menu.

Note that the rates listed here are in kilobytes and megabytes a second, while most Internet connections are rated in bits per second.


Game Server Browser Ping Rate

If you have connection problems when you open the Steam server browser, try turning the Game server browser: max pings / minute setting to the minimum, then re-test the issue. If that resolves the problem you are seeing, try testing at higher rates until you find the highest rate that doesn't cause a problem.


In-game Rate

Most connections work well with the default rate, cl_updaterate, and cl_cmdrate settings. Most servers prevent changing your in-game rate settings.

Default Settings vary between games, but the following is a safe baseline for most broadband connections:

  • rate 30000
  • cl_updaterate 20
  • cl_cmdrate 30


Test Script

You may try this test rate settings script to see what different settings do, but the default settings are the best for most internet connection types.


Download this rate.cfg file and put it in your game folder, then add the line exec rate.cfg to your userconfig.cfg file:



Download rate.cfg

56K modems are usually best set to a rate between 3500 to 5000 - you may need to edit some of the rate settings to find the best range for performance.

Once you have loaded the rate.cfg test script you can execute the following commands in the developer's console to determine which rate offers the best performance:

  • rates - see all the current settings
  • dslow - only useful for minimal testing, probably not playable
  • vslow
  • slow
  • norm - default settings
  • fast
  • vfast
  • lfast - LAN and high-speed connections only

You may also use the F2 key to cycle around to all the settings.


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Setting Game Launch Options

Game launch options can be used to change game settings before running the game. Launch options allow the user to supercede internal settings of the game. This is an effective means to recover from incompatible video settings and well as troubleshooting a wide range of issues.

This topic covers setting game launch options from Steam's Library. Launch options may also be set by creating a game shortcut and Setting Steam Launch Options for the shortcut.


Set Launch Options

  1. Right-click on the game title under the Library in Steam and select Properties.
  2. Under the General tab click the Set launch options... button.
  3. Enter the launch options you wish to apply (be sure to separate each code with a space) and click OK.
  4. Close the game's Properties window and launch the game.


Common Launch Options

These launch options apply to Goldsrc and Source engine games only. They do not apply to most third party games.

Please refer to this list of Valve titles for titles that support these launch options

Many Console Commands can function as a launch option by adding a "+" in front of the console command, but some cannot be used in this fashion. The most common launch options are listed below.

  • -autoconfig - Restores video and performance settings to default for the current hardware detected. Ignores settings inside any .cfg files until this parameter is removed.
  • -dev - Enables developer mode. Also disables the automatic loading of menu background maps and stops the quit dialog from appearing on exit.
  • -condebug - Logs all console output into the console.log text file.
  • -console - Starts the game with the developer console enabled.
  • -toconsole - Starts the engine directly in the console, unless a map is specified with +map.
  • -dxlevel <level> - Forces a specific DirectX version when launching the game. This is useful if your graphics hardware is older, and gets significantly better performance in an earlier version of DirectX. Below are the most common modes used:
    • -dxlevel 80
    • -dxlevel 81
    • -dxlevel 90
    • -dxlevel 95
    • -dxlevel 98


      Our games no longer support DirectX 7 as a launch option. Using this can cause crashes. If you are using -dxlevel 70 make sure to remove it from your launch options.

  • -fullscreen - Forces the engine to start in fullscreen mode.
  • -windowed or -sw - Forces the engine to start in windowed mode.
  • -16bpp or -32bpp - Forces the selected color mode (bit depth). GoldSource only
  • -w <width> - Forces the engine to start with resolution set to <width>.
  • -h <height> - Forces the engine to start with resolution set to <height>. This launch option does not need to be set in the presence of -w. The width value with determine the height automatically.
  • -refresh <rate> - Force a specific refresh rate.
  • -heapsize <kilobytes> - Specifies the heapsize (in kilobytes) which the game will use.
  • -nocrashdialog - Suppresses some memory could not be read unhandled errors.
  • -novid or -novideo - When loading a game with this parameter, the intro Valve video will not play.
  • -lv Enables some low violence options in Left 4 Dead.
  • -sillygibs Enables low violence for Team Fortress 2

Launch Options to Adjust Detail Levels and Graphic Rendering

  • +r_rootlod # - Adjusts Model Detail where # is 0 for high, 1 is medium, and 2 for low
  • +mat_picmip # - Adjusts Texture Detail where # is 0 for high, 1 is medium, and 2 for low
  • +mat_reducefillrate # - Adjusts Shader Detail where # is 0 for high and 1 for low
  • +r_waterforceexpensive # - Adjusts Water Detail where # is 0 for low and 1 for high
  • +r_waterforcereflectentities # - Adjusts Water Reflectiveness where # is 0 for low and 1 for high
  • +r_shadowrendertotexture # - Adjusts Shadow Detail where # is 0 for low and 1 for high
  • +mat_colorcorrection # - Adjusts Color Correction where # is 0 for low and 1 for high
  • Filtering Modes:
    • +mat_trilinear 0 - Use Bilinear Mode (least system-intensive)
    • +mat_trilinear 1 - Use Trilinear Mode (more system-intensive)
    • +mat_forceaniso # - Use Trilinear Mode (where # is 2, 4, 8, or 16 - higher levels of filtering require more system resources)
  • +mat_hdr_level # - Adjusts High Dynamic Range lighting effects where # is 0 for "off" (requires least resources) and 2 for "full"

Launch Options for RAGE

  • +r_swapInterval # - Forces V-Sync to be on or off, # is 0 for off and 1 for on
  • +vt_maxPPF # - Adjusts GPU Transcode to improve texture streaming performance where # is 8 for processors with 2 or 4 cores, 16 is processors with 6 or more cores
  • +vt_pageImageSizeUnique 8192 - Increases texture data stored in video memory
  • +vt_pageImageSizeUniqueDiffuseOnly 8192 - Increases texture data stored in video memory
  • +vt_pageImageSizeUniqueDiffuseOnly2 8192 - Increases texture data stored in video memory


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Sound skips or stutters


If you are encountering very long loading times in addition to sound skipping or stuttering, the issue may be related to game cache file fragmentation (if your cache files are split up over different locations on your hard drive, loading sounds and maps will take significantly longer than it would if the data were stored in the same place).

Please see the Defragmenting Game Cache Files topic if you are encountering long loading times and sound skipping or stuttering.

Stuttering or skipping audio may be caused by a variety of issues including:

  • Your system has outdated video drivers
  • Running graphics detail levels beyond what your hardware can support
  • Fragmented game cache files
  • Your system has outdated audio drivers
  • There is a corrupted installation of DirectX on your system


Updating Drivers

Confirm that your sound and video drivers are updated - see the FAQ linked below for full instructions:

Updating Drivers


Optimize Video Settings

From the startup splash screen for the game, select Options or Settings then Video and click on Advanced Settings.

  1. Lower or disable your Anti-aliasing setting (Many cards should default to no Anti-aliasing)
  2. Lower your Video Resolution one level
  3. Lower your Texture one setting
  4. Set the Shadow and Shader Detail to Low
  5. Turn on Vertical Sync.

If these recommendations do not improve performance, please see the Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode topic for extended troubleshooting and optimization recommendations.


Reinstall DirectX

If the issue cannot be resolved by lowering your video detail and texture settings, please see the Checking DirectX Settings topic for a link to download and reinstall DirectX.


Advanced Settings


Changing system resources can result in your computer not functioning properly. It is very important to record your original settings in the event that you must restore them. If you do not feel comfortable editing settings in the system BIOS, please contact your system manufacturer for assistance.


PCI Latency Timings

In some rare cases, the PCI Latency is a setting that can affect your system in such a way that you may experience "stuttering" or a looping sound crash while playing the game. There are various ways to go about adjusting your PCI latency timings to troubleshoot the issue. Please follow the directions included in the example below:

PCI Latency Tool provided by

Enable HPET

If the issue still cannot be resolved, you may be able to resolve the issue by going into your BIOS and enabling HPET (High Precision Event Timer).


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