How to Get More FPS in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Best Settings for PC

Getting more FPS in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is very similar to other games on PC. Here are our recommendations.

Image via Activision
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Most recent Call of Duty games run fairly well on PC, and Modern Warfare 3 is no exception, though it’s a bit rougher on hardware that’s even a few years old. If high FPS is your goal, however, there are plenty of ways to increase your performance. Some of these methods will be familiar, and some might seem redundant, but all of them help you get as many frames as possible so you can have the smoothest in-game experience available. In this guide, we’ll go over how to get more FPS in MW3.

Best Settings for High FPS in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

If you’ve optimized settings for games in the past, the ways to get better FPS in Modern Warfare 3 aren’t significantly different from other games. There are a couple of more niche settings in MW3, but none that have the significant effect on performance that the most common offenders do.

Before we get to actual settings, there are two things you should do before jumping into Modern Warfare 3: update your graphics drivers and play with as few background programs as possible. I saw significant improvement going from old NVIDIA drivers to those released for the beta, so you might as well.

If you like having a live stream or other sound on in the background while you’re playing Call of Duty, just know that doing so uses up additional resources in your PC and can degrade performance.

Here are my best settings recommendations for high FPS in MW3:

  • Render Resolution: 80% at minimum, but the higher this value goes, the more GPU headroom you need.
  • Dynamic Resolution: Keep off if you have at least a 3070 or its equivalent, but turn on for lower-power GPUs.
  • Upscaling/Sharpening: DLSS, FSR, and XESS all can help with framerate, but they can also add input delay. Stick to Balanced or Quality, if you can, but moving to Performance mode can glean some additional FPS.
  • Anti-Aliasing: Use SMAA T2X.
  • VRAM Scale Target: I’d always keep this at the maximum (90) so your GPU can put most of its power into gaming.
  • Variable Rate Shading: Personal preference, but turning it on doesn’t seem to add a ton of extra performance.
  • Texture Resolution: Keep on at Normal for most cases, or High if your GPU has 8-10GB of VRAM.
  • Texture Filter Anisotropic: You can keep this on High.
  • Particle Resolution: You can put this on Normal and not see much visual quality difference, but you might gain a few frames back.
  • Bullet Impacts: These are almost purely aesthetic. Use whichever setting you prefer.
  • Persistent Effects: there’s no noticeable VRAM usage increase with this setting, and the effect is minimal in-game. Use what you prefer.
  • Shader Quality: Even with a powerful PC, I’d turn this to Medium at most.
  • On-Demand Texture Streaming: Using this setting depends on whether you have a good internet connection and have the bandwidth to continually download shaders over the internet as you play. For reference, in about two hours of play, I accumulated more than 2GB of data. If your ISP sets a monthly data cap, turn this setting off.
  • Local Texture Streaming Quality: This setting sets the texture levels of detail, meaning the higher it is, the more resources your PC will spend loading in faraway objects on large maps, degrading performance. Keep at Normal only on powerful rigs.
  • Shadow Quality: You guessed it. Turn Shadow Quality down for higher FPS. Shadows are important for situational awareness, but they don’t need to be high-def to do so. Normal is the highest I recommend for this setting.
  • Screen Space Shadows: Turn this setting off, as it does little to add to the visuals and only hurts performance.
  • Ambient Occlusion: Turn this setting off, as well.
  • Screen Space Reflections: Off
  • Static Reflection Quality: Off.
  • Tesselation: Off, for the third time.
  • Terrain Memory: Another distant object setting, you can keep this setting on Medium and be fine.
  • Volumetric Quality: Rendered clouds? Reducing FPS? Say it isn’t so. Put this setting on Low and keep it there.
  • Deferred Physics Quality: Unless you like the water in MW3 to have immersive physics, keep this setting off.
  • Weather Grid Volumes: While we can’t really test this setting in the beta, I imagine on maps like Underpass, turning it to Low or Off will do a bit for performance.
  • Water Quality: MW2 (2009) maps were not known for their masses of water, this setting can go to Default.

There are additional settings in the View tab you should also consider:

  • Field of View: Use the value that you like most. I stick to 105, as that’s about 90 from previous games, but use what works for you.
  • ADS Field of View: I turn this to Affected to keep my FOV while aimed closer to the one I have when at the hip.
  • Weapon/Vehicle FOV: As you like.
  • World and Weapon Motion Blur: Get this crap outta here. Turn it off.
  • Film Grain: Make it 0.00.

Those are my recommendations for high FPS settings in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. What you can use is bound to be different from mine, and if your rig is on the older side, don’t be afraid to turn down more settings than the levels I’ve listed here. For everyone that has a 4090 or a 7900 XTX, your experience is also bound to be vastly different. Stick around for more MW3 guides leading up to and after full release.

About the author

John Schutt

John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.