Age of Empires 4 graphics optimization guide - most important graphics settings benchmarked

Written by Chad Norton on Tue, Nov 2, 2021 2:32 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

It is time for the Age of Empires, as the latest entry in the fan-favorite series just launched on PC. Although the game isn't very demanding and will get good performance out of most modern hardware, but what if you want to squeeze a few extra frames out? What are the most demanding graphics settings? And how much FPS can we gain by turning them off or low?

In this article we will take a look at which Age of Empires 4 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 Age of Empires 4 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 Age of Empires IV. 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 AOE4.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Age of Empires 4 then you can check out our Age of Empires 4 PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various Age of Empires 4 PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

Age of Empires 4 PC system requirements

Age of Empires 4 PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card - which is close to the recommended GPU for Age of Empires IV - an Intel Core i7-10700K processor, and 16GB of DDR4 memory. We also ran the tests at 1440p as we can get more accurate results relative to each other, since at 1080p the GTX 1060 can achieve over 100fps which makes it harder to distinguish between the most demanding graphics options.

To standardize the benchmark tests we started up one of the early levels of the game during a big battle with 2 factions fighting against each other. Since most of your time in Age of Empires 4 will be spent in much calmer scenarios, we felt it was good to see what the most demanding moments would be like so you don't get caught off guard with dropped frames.

Additionally, since AOE4 includes a Min Spec Mode that can significantly improve performance by changing the Image Quality setting down to Low (and also prevents other options from going any higher), we chose to test the difference between Medium and High graphics settings for that setting specifically, and subsequently left it at Medium for the other options (it is also impossible to compare other settings in Min Spec Mode, again because it prevents other options from being raised higher).

If you see any significant discrepancy/difference between the benchmark tool FPS and actual FPS returned then please do share your findings in the comments below.

There's only a handful of graphics settings available in AOE IV, so we went through the 7 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.

Age of Empires 4 baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for Age of Empires 4 Frame Rates achieved when all AOE 4's graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9

Age of Empires 4 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 Age of Empires 4?

As you can see in the FPS performance graph above, there aren't actually a whole lot of settings available in Age of Empires 4, and most of them won't actually affect your FPS all that much. However, there are still some settings worth pointing out which are certainly the most demanding.

The first of which is Anti-Aliasing with a 15.83% FPS performance cost. However, since this result was at 1440p, you can expect the FPS cost to be lower at 1080p and higher at 4K resolutions. But either way it is still the most demanding graphics option by a long mile.

Following that is Geometry Detail at a 6.09% FPS performance cost, with Texture Detail and and Shadow Quality not far behind at a 5.28% FPS performance cost each. Then there's Animation QUality at 3.38% and Physics at 3.25%. FInally, we have Image Quality at a measly 0.68% FPS performance cost.

Apart from that though, there isn't much else to mention. As we said there are not many graphics options available in AOE4, which luckily means there isn't a huge difference between Medium and High quality settings. If you want to enable Min Spec Mode though (that comes with a lot of limitations), you will need to turn the Image Quality setting down to "Low".

Age of Empires 4 All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Age of Empires 4

There are only a few graphics settings available in Age of Empires 4 in order for us to customize our FPS and get the right balance of FPS performance and visual 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 Age of Empires 4 graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...


Image Quality

Image Quality High setting performance impact

Image Quality graphics option Medium compared to High

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Image Quality 73.4

Image Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Image Quality setting do in Age of Empires 4? Adjusts the overall image quality.

Games saved in a higher setting will become invalid when this is set to a lower setting.


Animation Quality

Animation Quality High setting performance impact

Animation Quality graphics option Low compared to High

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Animation Quality 71.4

Animation Quality option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Animation Quality setting do in Age of Empires 4? Adjusts the quality of animations used.


Shadow Quality

Shadow Quality High setting performance impact

Shadow Quality graphics option Off compared to High

compare_1635862371_low.jpg compare_1635862371_high.jpg
Age of Empires 4 Shadow Quality

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

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Shadow Quality 70

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

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Shadow Quality setting do in Age of Empires 4? Controls overall shadow quality for units and buildings.


Texture Detail

Texture Detail High setting performance impact

Texture Detail graphics option Low compared to High

compare_1635862653_low.jpg compare_1635862653_high.jpg
Age of Empires 4 Texture Detail

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

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Texture Detail 70

Texture Detail option range: Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Texture Detail setting do in Age of Empires 4? Controls the resolution of textures in the game. Higher settings will improve image detail and clarity but require a higher performance computer. High quality is targeted for 4K, Medium quality is for 1080, and Low is for lower memory systems.

Notes: You need at least 8GB RAM for High


Geometry Detail

Geometry Detail Maximum setting performance impact

Geometry Detail graphics option Low compared to Maximum

compare_1635862807_low.jpg compare_1635862807_high.jpg
Age of Empires 4 Geometry Detail

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

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Geometry Detail 69.4

Geometry Detail option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra/Maximum

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Geometry Detail setting do in Age of Empires 4? Adjusts the geometry level of detail.



Anti-Aliasing High setting performance impact

Anti-Aliasing graphics option Off compared to High

compare_1635862514_low.jpg compare_1635862514_high.jpg
Age of Empires 4 Anti-Aliasing

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

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Anti-Aliasing 62.2

Anti-Aliasing option range: Off/Low/High

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Anti-Aliasing setting do in Age of Empires 4? Smooths out jagged edges in the game at the cost of performance.



Physics Ultra setting performance impact

Physics graphics option Low compared to Ultra

Age of Empires 4 Avg FPS
Baseline 73.9
Physics 71.5

Physics option range: Low/High

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Physics setting do in Age of Empires 4? Adjusts the Physics level of detail.



Age of Empires 4 graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Looking over all the results above we can see that Age of Empires 4 does not have a huge selection of graphics settings to choose from, and an even smaller difference between the Low and Ultra of each in terms of performance cost and image quality.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't any settings worth mentioning, such as Anti-Aliasing which is the most demanding graphics option at a 15.83% FPS performance cost. However, this was at 1440p resolution, and so the FPS cost will be smaller at 1080p, and higher at 4K.

Following on from that is Geometry Detail at a 6.09% FPS performance cost, and Texture Detail and Shadow Quality coming in close behind at 5.28% FPS cost each. Then there's ANimation QUality at 3.38%, and Physics by 3.25%. Lastly we have Image Quality at a 0.68% FPS performance cost.

The Image Quality setting is surprising, given how between Low and Medium settings can mean an improvement of around 100fps, but between Medium and High the difference is negligible. The Physics setting is also more likely to be more tacing during siege moments where a lot more physics-based objects will be present.

Another note is the Shadow Quality setting, which is deceptive in its naming. For instance, in the 'off' setting you would probably expect the shadows to disappear, but instead they are just at their lowest quality, not completely removed like when enabling Min Spec Mode.

Furthermore, many graphics settings will require a complete game restart in order to properly take effect, even if the game doesn't prompt you (which it usually does). So if you change any graphics settings you may want to restart your game to notice any actual effects.

And that's it for the most important graphics options in Age of Empires 4! As always we're now passing it onto you guys! We would love to hear your thoughts on what graphics settings you turn all the way up in Age of Empires IV for little to no performance impact, and which options you turn down to get some extra frames so we can all benefit from better performance and image quality in this gorgeous looking and highly anticipated game!

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senior admin badge
22:12 Nov-08-2021

game works fine at 3440x1440 on 1080 Ti here :)


Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
0% No [1 votes]