First, tweak UT2003's main graphics settings through the menu system.

With UT2003 released, many Unreal fans are wondering whether their machines will be able to cope with the extra detail and other fancy stuff that's included in the game. However, fear not. If you have a 600MHz or faster processor, 256Mb or more RAM and any GeForce2 or higher level graphics card, there's no reason why you won't be able to squeeze around 30fps out of UT2003 with respectable levels of detail. It's a case of knowing what to switch on and what to leave off. Hopefully this tutorial will help you to score a few more frames per second to play with. Let's start with the easy bits -- resolution and color depth, both found in the Video section of the UT2003 settings menu. Use your own common sense when it comes to resolution. If you just can't get a reasonable frame rate out of one resolution, switch down. Try cranking up the resolution until you find the right balance of speed and detail. On a regular 17 inch monitor, you won't want to go much higher than 1024x768. As for color depth, if you're running UT2003 on a 1GHz or slower machine with a GeForce2 or slower graphics card, try 16-bit mode. There's really not a great deal of noticeable difference between the two. So if you're getting a crappy frame rate, try 16-bit mode and I'll bet the only difference you'll notice will be the extra frames per second. On a GeForce3 or higher card, you should try using 32-bit mode for extra visual quality. UT2003's Settings -> Details menu contains three main detail options -- Texture Detail, World Detail and Character Detail. First, texture detail controls... yes, the detail of the textures in the game. World detail controls general level detail and particle effects and finally character detail will effect player models and weapons Increasing it will add subtle areas of detail... for example, trees in the background of Antalus. You'll gain at least 5-10fps by keeping this setting on medium. Finally there's physics detail, which controls the detail in the game's Karma physics system. I'd recommend keeping this on 'low' to improve performance on low-end machines, 'medium' on 1GHz+ machines, and if you own a 1.8GHz or faster machine, try 'high' to enjoy everything that UT2003's physics system has to offer. Here's a quick quick guide on what's enabled at the three different settings.

  • Low: Ragdoll effects only.
  • Medium: Ragdoll effects and water ripples.
  • High: Full karma effects, including dynamic particles.

There's no reason why anyone running a 700MHz machine with a GeForce2 or GeForce DDR-based card or faster shouldn't be able to start off their UT2003 tweaking efforts with these three settings at 'medium'. If you have a slower card (such as a GeForce2 MX or original non-DDR GeForce card), you might want to try using 'low' in a few of these settings, but never use 'lower' or 'lowest' -- you won't notice an increase in frame rate, in fact, it may even drop. Believe it or not, these settings don't have a huge impact on performance compared to other settings. If you have a GeForce3 Ti500 or higher card, set texture detail to 'high' to start off with, and increase this later if you like. In a firefight, there's really not much difference at all between 'high' and 'highest'. Here's a quick rundown of the other options in the 'details' section.

  • Character Shadows: If you have a high-end machine (1.5GHz or higher with a high-end GeForce3 or higher), you might want to try enabling this effect, which gives player models shadows. Not recommended for slower machines.

  • Dynamic Lightning: Gun flashes, light given off by an exploding rocket -- they're all forms of dynamic lightning. If you're using a particularly slow system (under 700MHz with a low-end GeForce2), you'll want to leave this disabled to improve performance. Otherwise, leave it enabled.

  • Detail Textures: Think of this as a 'boost' to UT2003's texture detail. If you've cranked up Texture Detail as high as it'll go and want more, enable this. We really don't recommend this on anything but high-end machines (1.5GHz+) with a GeForce4-level graphics card.

  • Projectors/Decals: Enables decals (marks on walls) and other projected effects such as the glowing mark the shock rifle's primary fire leaves on walls and shadows cast by trees in DM-Antalus. Disabling Projectors will disable Decals too, but you should disable this option if you're running the game on a slow system and need the extra fps.

  • Coronas: Enables coronas, which aren't too much of a speed drain, so leave them enabled.

  • Decal Stay: Choose the length of time that in-game decals (marks on walls) stay for. The longer they stay, the greater the potential slowdown.

  • Trilinear Filtering: Enables trilinear filtering, which doesn't make a great deal of noticeable difference. Disable it if you're looking to improve your frame rate.

  • Foliage: Enables in-game foliage (grass, etc.). Most of the time you'll want to keep this enabled, however if you're running a sub-1GHz machine with a GeForce2 level card, you might want to try disabling this to gain a few more fps.
Next, we tweak some additional settings through the UT2003.ini file.

Now that we've done all we can through UT2003's menu system, it's time to get our hands dirty. Open up the file UT2003.ini in your UT2003/System directory. Remember that if you screw up your UT2003.ini, just delete it and UT will generate a new one for you when you start the game up again. If you're using Direct3D (the default for Windows), search for...


If you're using OpenGL (the default for Linux), search for...


And the result -- DM-Antalus, high detail, high frame rate!

You'll see a bunch of options underneath the text, most set to either True or False. Most of these options can be edited through UT2003's menu system, however there are a few that can only be edited through the UT2003.ini file. To enable an option, set it to True, or set it to False to disable it.

  • ReduceMouseLag: Reduces mouse lag in the menus, but also lowers in-game frame rates. Disable it.

  • UseHardwareTL: Unless you have a pre-GeForce card that doesn't support Hardware Transform & Lighting, this option should be enabled.

  • UseHardwareVS: Enables Hardware Vertex Shaders. This option should only be enabled on GeForce3 or above cards.

  • UseTripleBuffering: According to this option 'allocates a third frame buffer, which can improve performance by allowing the graphics card to render at the same time that the 3D application performs other tasks'. Put simply, enable this if you have 32 or more Mb of video RAM for a performance increase of up to 10/15fps.

  • UseCubemaps: Enables Cube Maps, which improves the appearance of water in UT2003. Disabling it will bring a marginal increase in performance, but also cause the game to use less complex forms of reflection for in-game water.

  • Use16BitTextures: If you're running UT2003 in 16-bit mode, you might as well go all the way and enable this option too. It forces the game to use 16-bit textures, rather than the default 32-bit ones. If you're running UT2003 in 16-bit color mode anyway, the only difference you'll notice will be a slight increase in framerate.

  • UseCompressedLightmaps: If you have 128Mb of video RAM, set this to False to decrease loading times. If not, you'd best leave this option enabled.

  • DesiredRefreshRate: Sets your desired in-game refresh rate (in Hz), which will also be your maximum frame rate if you have UseVSync enabled. You should crank this up as far as your monitor will allow (usually 75 or 85 for higher resolutions, but UT will default to 60Hz if you set an invalid DesiredRefreshRate). To see which refresh rates your monitor supports, visit the manufacturer's website.

  • UseVSync: The main downside to this option is that it caps your maximum frame rate as your refresh rate (set in the 'DesiredRefreshRate' option), however unless you're benchmarking, it shouldn't make a great deal of difference (there's no noticable difference between anything over 60fps, really). In fact, enabling both Triple Buffering and VSync has been known to increase frame rates.

To track your frame rate in-game in UT2003, type 'stat fps' at the console. Hopefully with these tweaks you'll be able to squeeze a few more frames out of UT2003, even on the humblest of systems. If you have any questions, or additions you'd like to make to this guide, just click the comments link below! Last Updated: 09-Oct-2002