Performance Tweaks

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This article relates to performance issues for players. For performance information for mappers, see Performance: Essential Must-Knows

Show FPS

First, you can check how many FPS are achieved by opening the console with Ctrl+Alt+~ (tilde, ^ on German keyboards) and type:

com_showFPS 1

Show Position

To identify the locations where problems are found, use these two cvars to render the positions as an overlay display while playing.

Open the console with Ctrl+Alt+~ (tilde, ^ on German keyboards) and type:

g_showviewpos 1

con_noPrint 0  

Stop Time

Moving and Thinking can impact performance in unexpected ways.
When comparing graphical settings it might be best to "Stop Time" so that the entire scene is frozen
and the FPS changes due to graphics options can be more easily compared.
Open the console with Ctrl+Alt+~ (tilde, ^ on German keyboards) and type:

g_stopTime 1

Optimizing the OS performance

All OS Variants: File Permissions

Make sure your darkmod folder is located in a non-protected location.

On Windows, "Program Files" is protected and will cause problems saving any settings or installing Fan Missions.

On Linux, you should consider creating your darkmod directory under your /home/<username>/ folder to avoid permission issues.

Linux UEFI Secure Boot

With Secure Boot enabled in the BIOS, most Linux distros will fallback to (slow) open drivers
and wont have access to most hardware acceleration features. Disable Secure Boot for the best performance.

Stop running programs in the background

Programs running in the background might either eat up memory that is needed for Doom 3 The Dark Mod, and thus cause swapping to the hard disk, or they might consume CPU time or other resources.

This can cause either general slowdowns or hickups during game play.

Ensure that Programs are the main priority in the OS

To begin the process, type sysdm.cpl in Run box (Windows + R) and hit Enter to open the System Properties.

Select the Advanced tab and under Performance, Click the left mouse button click on Settings.

In the Performance Options box, select the Advanced Tab again.

You will see a section Processor Scheduling

Choose "Programs" then Click the left mouse button click Apply.

White-list TheDarkMod.exe in Security Software

Make sure that Windows Defender or Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, etc aren't constantly scanning or interacting

with TheDarkMod.exe. Add it to your security white-list.

Windows 10 Granular Security Options

With new attacks like Meltdown and Spectre, Windows 10 has added CPU architecture specific security fixes.
Many of these have performance impacts. The impact is mostly on Storage access so loading times would
normally be the only casualty of these changes. Still, it's possible that these protections might interfere
with The Dark Mod in other ways.

Please review:

and disable the security options you feel are excessive.

Priority and Affinity

Note 1: As of The Dark Mod 2.08 Frontend Acceleration, defaults to 2 threads. When configuring affinity you should
ensure that at least 2 cores ( preferably 3 ) are allocated to TDM. If you increase the jobs_numThreads value
you should correspondingly increase the number of cores available in process affinity.

Note 2: Linux generally does a good job of ensuring that other applications or processes are not impacting
game performance ( or really any foreground application performance ).
Managing affinity and\or priority usually has little to no effect in Linux unless you knowingly have lots of other heavy applications running.

Set TheDarkMod to High Priority

  • Launch TheDarkMod

(Note: Do not start a mission or test map yet. If the 3D render is initialized it will take a long time to exit fullscreen and return to it.)

  • Alt + Enter to exit fullscreen
  • Ctrl + Alt + Del to open your Task Manager
  • Click the right mouse button Right-click on TheDarkMod.exe the choose "Go to Details"
  • (On the details\processes pane) Click the right mouse button Right-click on TheDarkMod.exe and mouse-over Set Priority and choose High
  • Alt + Enter to return to fullscreen

You can also edit your Desktop shortcut to start in High priority:

  • Click the right mouse button Right-click your Desktop shortcut to TheDarkMod and select Properties
  • On the Shortcut Tab enter the following into the "Target:" field

cmd.exe /c start "TheDarkMod" /High "C:\darkmod\TheDarkMod.exe"

(Assuming you installed into C:\darkmod)

  • Then Click the left mouse button click the Change Icon button and browse for the Darkmod.ico icon in your darkmod install path
  • Click the left mouse button Click Apply
Linux Priority

You can launch TDM with a very high priority via the "nice" command:

sudo nice --18 su -c /home/user/darkmod/thedarkmod.x64 username

There are two dashes in the above command. The first dash just tells the command that we are passing a parameter,
the second dash indicates a "negative priority number". Confusingly, the larger the negative number the higher
the priority with a maximum value of -20. Conversely the higher the positive integer, the lower the program priority!
For the sake of responsiveness, it is probably best to avoid the top or bottom if the priority range.
Also, note that the command must run as sudo to use negative priority and it's best to use "su -c program username"
so that it is run as "you" (replace username with your username) rather than root so you don't end up with root owned files.
See the visudo change in Linux Combined Example for details on how to run as sudo without a password

Example to launch with lower priority ( lowest possible value 19 ):

nice -10 /home/user/darkmod/thedarkmod.x64

You can also change the priority of TDM while it is running via "renice" and "pidof"

renice -n --18 -p $(pidof thedarkmod.x64)

Set TheDarkMod Affinity

If you have a limited number of cores or heavy background tasks are always consuming the default cores, you can set The Dark Mod to run on a specific core via "affinity"

  • Launch TheDarkMod
  • Alt + Enter to exit fullscreen

(Note: Do not start a mission or test map yet. If the 3D render is initialized it will take a long time to exit fullscreen and return to it.)

  • Ctrl + Alt + Del to open your Task Manager
  • Click the Performance Tab and look at the CPU display to see which cores are the least busy
  • (On Windows 10, click the "Open Resource Monitor" link and then click the CPU tab and expand the right pane)
  • Close the Resource Monitor and click the Processes Tab in Task Manager
  • Click the right mouse button Right-click on TheDarkMod.exe the choose "Go to Details"
  • (On the details\processes pane) Click the right mouse button Right-click on TheDarkMod.exe
  • Mouse-over then click "Set Affinity" and uncheck cores you want to prevent TDM from using
  • Alt + Enter to return to fullscreen

As with Priority you can set Affinity in your shortcut.

Example Target:

cmd.exe /c start "TheDarkMod" /affinity 1 "C:\darkmod\TheDarkMod.exe"

The affinity number is not matched to the number in your performance screen. For example "Core 0" in Task Manager is affinity 1. The values are in Hex but are converted from binary where 1 represents an active core and 0 is disabled in a descending order.

For example: Binary 1110 means Core 3, 2, and 1 are enabled while Core 0 is disabled. Converting from Binary to Hex gives you /affinty E. This is a useful config if the majority of your processes are running on Core 0. FE for an 8 core chip would accomplish the same result.

Another useful option is 0101 /affinity 5 which will select core 0 and 2 which are "real" cores in a Hyperthreading environment.

  • Core 0 is 1
  • Core 1 is 2
  • Core 2 is 4
  • Core 3 is 8
  • Core 4 is 10
  • Core 5 is 20
  • Core 6 is 40
  • Core 7 is 80
  • Core 8 is 100
  • Core 9 is 200
  • Core 10 is 400
  • Core 11 is 800

Again, the core number does not exclude hyperthread cores so if you have an 8 Core \ 16 thread CPU you must count all real and hyperthread virtual cores when setting affinity.

Linux Affinity

Modern Linux operating systems will list cores with a list starting with 0, so ( for example ) the top core number in an 8 core CPU will be 7.

You can identify cores and whether the cores are hyperthread ( HT ) cores via:

lscpu -e


    0   0    0      0    0:0:0:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    1   0    0      1    1:1:1:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    2   0    0      2    2:2:2:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    3   0    0      3    3:3:3:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    4   0    0      0    0:0:0:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    5   0    0      1    1:1:1:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    6   0    0      2    2:2:2:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000
    7   0    0      3    3:3:3:0       yes    4100.0000 400.0000

The CPU number above is what the OS recognizes when using affinity commands, the core number is actual core number. So in the above results, CPU's 4 to 7 are hyperthreading cores whereas cores 0 to 3 are real cores.

To pin TDM to specific cores, you can change the launch options to:

taskset -c 1,2,3 /path/to/thedarkmod.x64

The above example forces TDM to run on real cores 1, 2, and 3. You may use a dash to specify a range of cores (1-3) or even mix both syntax forms ( 1-3,6 ).

You can also change the core of a running TDM instance by using pidof to auto-locate the PID of the running process:

taskset -cp 1,2,3 $(pidof thedarkmod.x64)

More advanced users may wish to "cpuset" to create a new logical group of cores and caches (etc) then assign TDM to run under
the new CPU Set

And (of course) you can instead use taskset to move other non-critical processes to other cores or HT cores.

Combined Example

You can include both priority and affinity switches in your shortcut

C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c start "TheDarkMod" /High /affinity 5 "C:\darkmod\TheDarkMod.exe" +set r_softShadowsRadius 2.5 +r_useEntityCulling 1

Start TheDarkMod with high priority on Cores 0 and 2 (real cores) and add two launch cvars ( See Conventions).

As you can see, you can make a huge launch string but once you go past 2 or 3 cvars it's best to

use Darkmod.cfg unless you wish to make multiple launchers for testing (etc).

Linux Combined Example

In Linux nice and taskset cannot be invoked at the same time to launch an application.
You can launch TDM and use taskset to change the running process and likewise use renice to change priority
To launch with both priority and affinity at once, you can use "schedtool"
You will first need to use visudo to allow schedtool to run in sudo without a password
visudo will open an editor where you may add the following to the bottom of the file

%sudo ALL = ( ALL ) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/schedtool,/usr/bin/nice

Then simply edit the "command field" for the properties page of your Darkmod launcher icon as follows:

sudo schedtool -R -p 50 -a 1,2,3,5,6,7 -e nice --17 su -c "/home/user/darkmod/thedarkmod.x64 +set r_shadows 1 +r_ssao 0" username

In the above example, priority (-p ) is set to -50 ( highest is -99 aka realtime ) and affinity ( -a ) is set to use real cores 2 to 4 and corresponding HT cores ).
Setting any application to -99 ( realtime ) priority is unsafe because it may be hard to exit or may lockup the OS trying to request resources.
schedtool has a "-n" flag for the nice value but it only supports positive nice values so we added the nice invoke after the "-e" ( execute flag ) and
made sure to su ( switch user ) to run thedarkmod.x64 as "username" ( eg whatever your username is ).
Finally, for good measure we have set shadows to stencil ( 1 ) and SSAO off ( 0 ) using standard Doom 3 style launch options for example syntax

Process Management Note

You can also either "End Task" on processes that you know you don't need or set them to "below normal" or "low" priority.

Moving these low priority processes to a different core via affinity is also an option.

Some processes, such as OneDrive.exe (which is integrated into the OS) will keep restarting so it's best to set these to "low priority"

If you are unsure what a process does, do not change it until you've researched the process.

Disable Desktop Effects

(If you are willing to sacrifice you desktop visual behavior and effects for better TDM performance. Note: This can be reverted.)

To begin the process, type sysdm.cpl in Run box (Windows + R) and hit Enter to open the System Properties.

Select the Advanced tab and under Performance, Click the left mouse button click on Settings.

In the Performance Options box, select the Visual Effects tab.

Check "Adjust for Best Performance" then click Apply.

Driver Considerations

(IdTech4) The Dark Mod is based on OpenGL 2.0. GPU manufacturers have largely ignored

issues with this older specification so a number of workarounds have been compiled

by the community to attend to erroneous behaviors or poor performance.

Intel ( new 2.09 )

Some Intel drivers do not perform well with persistent mapping enabled.
In 2.09 there is a special persistent mapping mode that works better for this hardware.
You must disable standard persistent mapping to use this mode.

r_gpuBufferNonpersistentUpdateMode "1"

r_usePersistentMapping 0

(AMD\ATI) Disable Catalyst AI

2018: The latest Radeon Crimson and Adrenalin Drivers:

Surface Format Optimization = OFF

Disable Catalyst AI in recent AMD Drivers

(AMD\ATI) Rename the executable

Most modern drivers have built-in profiles for the executable names of commercial games.

Renaming TheDarkMod.exe to the name of a commercial OpenGL game may gain you some optimizations

or even a Crossfire profile (I believe DarkAthena.exe had one.)

Known working renames:

DarkAthena.exe (thus far the most consistent improvement)






(Nvidia) Optimus Laptop wont use your Nvidia GPU

See also: [1]

Many Laptops now have the ability to use the GPU that is built into the CPU when not "gaming".
Unfortunately, sometimes the drivers for these Laptops don't detect TDM as a "game".

The easiest solution is to create a Driver Profile for TheDarkMod.exe or TheDarkModx64.exe in your driver settings.

  • Right click Click the right mouse button anywhere on your desktop where no icon is shown
  • Left Click Click the left mouse button Nvidia Control Panel
  • Then Click on the Programs Tab
  • Click "Add" and browse for TheDarkMod.exe or TheDarkModx64.exe
  • Then scroll down the settings list and find "OpenGL Rendering GPU"
  • Then select your Nvidia GPU from the list of options

Nvidia Profiles.jpg

(Nvidia) Disable the Streamer Service

Open your run dialog (Windows + R) or command prompt and type services.msc

On the Extended Tab locate "Nvidia Streamer Network Service"

Click the right mouse button Right-click it and choose "Stop"

Once the service is stopped, Click the right mouse button right click it again and choose Properties

On the General Tab set Startup Type = Disabled then Click the left mouse button click Apply.

Do the same for "Nvidia Streamer Service"

Do the same for "Nvidia Telemetry" service(s).

Note: There is a GUI option to disable streaming in the newest Geforce Experience settings page.

You would still be advised to disable the Telemetry service for extra performance.

You can also perform these steps for any services that you know can be manually started

or are not needed for your daily usage. (Obviously) Do not disable any service that you don't

recognize or know is safe to disable.


The Nvidia Streamer Service is now tied to the "Geforce Experience" "In-Game Overlay" setting.
Disabling that feature in Geforce Experience should accomplish the same as the above.

(Nvidia) Disable Threaded Optimizations

Open Nvidia Control Panel ->

Manage 3D Settings ->

Bottom half of list locate "Threaded Optimization" <-- Set to NO / Off

Also set "Multi-display/Mixed GPU acceleration" to "Single display performance mode"

This can also reduce or eliminate driver crashes or rendering anomalies.

  • Note: This might be obsolete information.
    With the latest Nvidia drivers, some users have reported that disabling Threaded Optimizations
    has significantly reduced performance. (Down from 60 to 25FPS in one case.)

Lower in-driver quality settings

AMD, Nvidia, and Intel all give users the option to lower texture quality and

also have various quality "optimization" levels for texture LOD Bias and Anisotropy (Filtering).

Try different driver versions

Sometimes updating to the latest driver version or reverting to an older version

will improve performance. Try a few revisions or ask about known good driver versions.

This applies to both GPU drivers and "Motherboard Chipset Drivers".

See also Upgrade your BIOS

Optimizing Dark Mod settings

The settings changes below generally can be changed independently of one another.

This means that if your want better settings in one aspect (such as AA) you can

try reducing quality or disabling another aspect (such as post-processing, image_downsize, v-sync, etc)


Most of the changes demonstrated in this article are via "Console variables" CVARS.

The "seta" prefix is intended to save these settings permanently so that they are retained on restart and that is what is used by Darkmod.cfg.

seta r_softShadowsRadius "2"

Temporary Testing

To temporarily test any settings, you can drop the "seta" and simply invoke the cvar and it's value (without double quotes) in the console.


Open the console with Ctrl+Alt+~ (tilde, ^ on German keyboards) and type:

r_softShadowsRadius 2

Note: Some CVAR changes in the console, such as vid_mode (resolution), r_multisamples (AA), r_swapInterval (V-Synch), image_anisotropy (AF) cannot be changed without also invoking vid_restart.

NEW: As of TDM 2.07, almost all conventional settings can be altered without restarting the engine!

See also: Toggle settings in realtime

Launch Options

You can also add the value as part of your target in your shortcut:

Example with two cvars:

  • Click the right mouse button Right click your Desktop shortcut to TheDarkMod and select Properties
  • On the Shortcut Tab enter the following into the "Target:" field

"C:\darkmod\TheDarkMod.exe" +set r_softShadowsRadius 2 1 +r_useEntityCulling 1

(Assuming you installed into C:\darkmod)

  • Then Click the left mouse button click the Change Icon button and browse for the Darkmod.ico icon in your darkmod install path
  • Click the left mouse button Click Apply

See also Set TheDarkMod to High Priority

Enable Multi-Core (new in v2.06)

In 2.06 the engine splits the Frontend and Backend into separate threads if you enable the Experimental "Multi-Core" setting in the Advanced Video settings GUI menu.

seta com_smp "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

In 2.09 this is enabled by default. The setting is no longer in the GUI.

Frontend Acceleration (new in v2.09+)

In 2.09 the engine frontend can submit models to the render backend via parallel jobs on multiple CPU cores.
This is similar to how Doom 3 BFG handles this.
Enable "Frontend Accelleration" in the Advanced Video settings GUI menu.

seta r_useParallelAddModels "1"

In TDM 2.11 this is enabled by default.

Also, you can increase the number of assigned cores:

seta jobs_numThreads "3"

( See the Affinity section above regarding cpu core management in relation to these options. )

Uncap FPS (New in v2.06)

Run one game tick per graphics frame, rather than fixed 60 ticks per second.

In 2.06 this is now a GUI option "Uncap FPS" in the Advanced Video settings GUI menu.

This not only makes the player camera move more smoothly but can also improve performance
since some drivers do not work well with the capped FPS design.

seta com_fixedTic "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Note: Uncapping FPS is crucial to a smooth performance in most Linux environments.
The default capped design appears to have some flaw for frame timing against the native Linux timer
Uncapping FPS or running TDM capped under Wine will resolve this.
Native Doom 3 builds are also impacted by this problem so it predates The Dark Mod.
The Dark Mod cannot use com_preciseTic 0 as a workaround ( some users have used this to improve Linux Doom 3 frame timing )
This mode has the additional benefit of making video playback properly sync to audio.
The Dark Mod team has worked hard to ensure that the uncapped mode is bug free at high FPS values but if you wish to
reduce the risk of high-FPS related bugs, set your Max FPS ( com_maxFPS, see below section ) to 75 or less.

Max FPS (New in 2.08 )

In 2.08 you can define the max FPS via the Max FPS setting in the Advanced Video settings GUI menu.

seta com_maxFPS "90"

in Darkmod.cfg

Lower or Disable Soft Shadows (New in v2.06)

Shadow Quality determines how many gradients ( color bands) that soft shadows use.
In the advanced videos settings menu set the Soft Shadows quality slider to low or off

seta r_softShadowsQuality = 0

in Darkmod.cfg

In the advanced videos settings menu set the Shadow Softness slider to make shadows softer without increasing the quality level

seta r_softShadowsRadius 2.0

in Darkmod.cfg

You can experiment with values between 1.5 and 3.5 or more.

Change Shadow Mode (New 2.07)

In TDM 2.07 we offer two different "Shadow Implementation" options in the GUI.

  • Maps (Shadow Maps)
  • Stencil (Stencil Shadow Volumes)

Shadow Maps can perform better in scenes with fewer but larger light sources
and less small shadow casters. Big areas + Big Lights + Shadow Maps = HIGH FPS

seta r_shadows "2"

Single Pass Shadow Maps

Rather than calculating all shadows one-at-a-time, all shadow casting is calculated in one pass for every light. THIS CAN OFFER SUBSTANTIAL PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT

seta "r_shadowMapSinglePass "1"

2.10 Issues:

  • The old backend does not work with this mode ( r_useNewBackend 0 )
  • For some users, screenshots will be missing shadows for func_static geometry if this is enabled
  • NEW: The screen-shot issue should be resolved in 2.11

Shadow Map Size

The larger the Shadow Map texture, the more detail and less artifacts you have further away
from the light center or for small objects. Conversely, smaller Shadow Map textures perform better.

seta r_shadowMapSize "384"

You can also increase this to reduce light leaks from the r_shadowMapCullFront optimization.
On balance enabling that optimization may offset the pitfalls of a bigger shadow map.
You can experiment with shadow map sizes that are slightly larger than 1024 such as 1280 or 1440.

Max Light Size

The larger the light, the more Shadow Map resolution you need (see Shadow Map Size).
There are some lights so large that Shadows will never look good without insane texture sizes. You can set a threshold to say if lights are bigger than X, use Stencil Shadows.

seta r_maxShadowMapLight "1500"

Disable Post-Processing

In the advanced video settings menu make sure post-processing is disabled

seta r_postprocess "0"

in Darkmod.cfg

OBSOLETE as of 2.08!!!

Use r_bloom 0 instead.

Lower Anti-aliasing

In the standard video settings, set AA to a lower value or 0

seta r_multiSamples "0" 

in Darkmod.cfg

Note: Nvidia's in driver FXAA anti-aliasing setting is substantially faster than the multi-samples settings in game.

Doom 3 is far less susceptible to AA artifacts so this may be an acceptable alternative especially if you are are running the game at native resolution (or nearly native).

AMD has MLAA which may also work well in the same way.

Depending on your graphics performance, it may be better to use a lower Render Scale and then use a higher AA value to retain clean edges.

Run The Dark Mod in fullscreen

Running Darkmod in windowed mode might be quite a bit slower than fullscreen mode.

One reason for this is that windowed mode is sometimes forced to V-sync. ( See Disable V-sync )

seta r_fullscreen "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

In 2.08 you can choose between Windowed, Fullscreen, and Borderless Windowed. Fullscreen is the lowest latency option.

Fullscreen Windowed in Modern Windows Versions

It has become widely recognized that v-sync is a source of input delay and forcing it for both Windowed and Fullscreen Windowed modes
is not optimal. The latest Windows versions no longer force v-sync on Fullscreen Windowed applications but if you encounter any issues
or have an older Windows release you should be able to force it off via your driver application profile settings:

If you have a Nvidia card

  • Open de Windows start menu and type: Nvidia control panel
  • Click Manage 3D settings, on the left pan
  • Under "I would like to use the following 3D settings" scroll down until you see "Vertical sync."
  • Select Vertical sync choose "Force off" or " disable" ... from the drop down.


  • Click the Start button or Windows icon.
  • Type "Catalyst control center" in the search bar.
  • Press Enter on your keyboard.
  • Click Gaming.
  • Under "3D Application Settings" scroll down to "Wait for vertical refresh."
  • Move the slider down to the side that says "Performance" so the text beneath it says Always Off.

The above won't be necessary for users with variable refresh displays and video cards with variable refresh support such as G-Sync or Freesync.

Disable V-sync

In the standard video settings, disable vsync

seta r_swapInterval "0" 

in Darkmod.cfg


Setting r_swapInterval "-1" enables "Adaptive Vsync" which only performs the sync action when you are at or above refresh rate.
This has much less performance impact.

NEWER TDM 2.10 has an Adaptive Vsync option in the Video Settings GUI

The Dark Mod has extremely variable FPS compared to modern titles due to it's substantial CPU heavy renderer.

We strongly recommend disabling V-Sync altogether or forcing variable V-sync tech such as G-Sync, Freesync, Fast-Sync or Enhanced Sync (new) in your driver settings.

Force Refresh Timing

(Related to vsync)

Some newer video cards may not properly report the refresh rate to this engine (typically digital output like DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort) This can cause lag, stutter, and uneven frame pacing.

create an autoexec.cfg in your darkmod directory and set:

seta r_displayRefresh "60"

(Obviously increase to match your available mode.)

Set Object Detail to Low

In the advanced video settings menu lower the Object detail slider below normal

seta tdm_lod_bias "0.5"

in Darkmod.cfg (see also Object_detail )

Set the ambient shading to "Faster" ( OBSOLETE in 2.09+)

Inside the settings, change the ambient rendering method to "Faster".

seta tdm_ambient_method "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

(Note: Some preliminary tests in v2.05 show that the Enhanced Ambient is now faster than the "fast" texture based Ambient.) (Note: This setting has been removed in 2.09 )

Set the interaction.vfp to "Standard" (OBSOLETE in 2.09+)

In the video settings menu, change the interaction shader to Standard. Lighting will not look as good, but you may gain a few frames per second.

seta tdm_interaction_vfp_type "0"

in Darkmod.cfg

In 2.08 this setting is

seta r_interactionProgram "0"

Reduce your resolution!

On older cards, Doom 3's TDM's render engine is very expensive for every per pixel drawn, and reducing the resolution will help the most.
For instance, at 1600x1200 the game needs to draw four times as many pixels as when running 800x600.
The result with 800x600 will not look as bad as one might think – but the frame rate improvements might make it much more playable.

If you cannot set the resolution you want in the settings menu then enter it in Darkmod.cfg.

To edit Darkmod.cfg:

  • Uninstall any current mission in the New Mission menu.
  • Close Dark Mod
  • Edit Darkmod.cfg in the darkmod folder
  • Re-install the mission.
  • Whenever you UNinstall and install another mission, these changes will migrate to those FMs as well.

(Alternatively, edit both the Darkmod.cfg in the darkmod folder AND the one in the current FM game folder, eg, fms\chalice.)

Search down for these cvars first and replace them with the values shown:

 seta r_mode "-1"
 seta r_customHeight "640"
 seta r_customWidth "480"

alternate for wide screen monitors:

16:9 ratio

seta r_mode "-1"
seta r_customwidth "1280"
seta r_customheight "720"
seta r_aspectratio "1" 

See also: Resolutions

Lower your Render Scale (New 2.07)

The new "Render Scale" slider in 2.07 allows you to reduce the internal resolution that TDM
will render to. Lowering this has a similar performance impact as lowering your resolution

seta r_fboResolution "0.85"

Note: With the r_fboResolution CVAR, you can also do the opposite...
You can ALSO render to a HIGHER THAN NATIVE resolution and the down-scaled output will look sorta like SSAA.
This is VERY expensive so we recommend going no higher than r_fboResolution 1.5.

Image Sharpening (New 2.09)

In 2.09 a new "Contrast Adaptive Sharpening" shader has been added and is enabled by default.
At the default Render Scale this simply improves the quality of textures.
When paired with lower Render Scale values it can substantially reduce the blur and make the screen look almost like full resolution!

seta r_postprocess_sharpen "1"
seta r_postprocess_sharpness "0.7"

Field of View Decrease

Note that this setting might occasionally produce odd effects such as a grabbed object seems to move a little on release.

You can get a performance improvement if you decrease the field of view. By default this is 90 degrees but you might try entering in the console:

g_fov 85


seta g_fov "85"

in Darkmod.cfg

In addition, if you are playing a mission that is too good to miss and reach a very low performance area which is almost unplayable on your machine,
you might consider setting the field of view extremely low temporarily to get you through then restore to 90 later...

g_fov 50

or bind a toggle

bind "z" "toggle g_fov 50 90";

in Darkmod.cfg so you can tap a key to go between FOV ranges.

See Toggle Settings in Realtime

Note from Fidcal: I have played comfortably on g_fov 75 and even think perhaps it makes nearby objects more realistically close so you can get right up to a table, etc.
Not noticed any problem with restricted view.

Lower Anisotropic Filtering

In the standard video settings, lower or disable AF

seta image_anisotropy "0" 

in Darkmod.cfg

Note: This has very little performance benefit for most GPU hardware.

This is also one of the few graphic settings that can be adjusted without requiring a vid_restart or restarting the engine.

NEW: In 2.09 if you change Anisotropic Filtering and have "r_useBindlessTextures 1" set (default) the game may stutter
when you return from the menu because it must rebuild all the textures.
To avoid this, set "r_useBindlessTextures 0" then restart the game and test your preferred AF mode then once you have found your
performace-to-image quality sweet spot set "r_useBindlessTextures 1" and restart TDM

NEW 2: In 2.11, bindless texture support was removed due to multiple issues with AMD drivers.
You should be able to change anisotropic filtering settings in the GUI without encountering stutters.

Slow loading times

OBSOLETE! TDM 2.10 has very fast loading times!
The only setting that might improve loading times is "seta image_preload 0"

If you find an FM is very slow to load it may be an ATI graphics card problem. One report says this was cured by turning off Catalyst AI. Also cures HDR-Lite Post-Processing Problems.

Changing the following settings to 0 will also reduce loading time, but be warned: if you have a lower-end system, poor graphics card, or low ram, you will likely notice a performance hit in-game since you will now be using uncompressed textures.

 seta image_useNormalCompression "0"
 seta image_useCompression "0"
 seta image_preload "0"

New 2.10+ cvars ( defaults ) for fast loading times:

 seta image_levelLoadParallel "1"
 seta image_useTexStorage "1"
 seta image_mipmapMode "0"

In 2.10 the RXGB normal map compression format has been replaced the higher quality RGTC format.

Note: Disabling compression may lead to Malloc errors due to memory consumption.

You may be able to compensate by setting image_downsize options or use image_downsize instead of disabling compression. Image Downsizing

See Malloc Failure Errors

The game is very slow!

If you get less than 10 FPS, or the game even stutters, please try this:

Look into your Darkmod.cfg inside your darkmod folder and check that the following settings are like shown below:

 seta image_usePrecompressedTextures "1"
 seta image_useNormalCompression "1"
 seta image_useAllFormats "1"
 seta image_useCompression "1"
 seta image_preload "1"
 seta r_useCachedDynamicModels "1"
 seta r_useShadowVertexProgram "1"
 seta r_useEntityCulling "1"

Note: r_useShadowVertexProgram no longer exists in TDM. All shadow modes use GPU vertex operations.

OBSOLETE 2.09 performance defaults

 seta r_useMultiDrawIndirect "1"
 seta r_useBindlessTextures "1"

2.11 new performance defaults ( in addition to the standard performance defaults above )

 seta r_useNewBackend "1"
 seta r_modelBvhBuild "1"
 seta com_smp "1"
 seta r_useParallelAddModels "1"
 seta com_useMinorTics "1"
 seta com_fixedTic "1"
 seta com_maxFPS "166"

Note: In 2.10 and newer you can control both the standard resolution and the "renderscale" whereas
2.09 required you to change renderscale for lower the resolution. It is still preferable to lower renderscale unless you have a CRT monitor

Frame Memory

New in TDM 2.08




Increasing frame memory may help avoid crashing or slow-down when a scene suddenly requires more resources.
If you are VRAM limited, consider lowering texture quality ( image_downsize ) or resolution scale before increasing these.

Lightgem Calculation Optimizations

Lightgem interleaved calculation

By default lightgem calculation occurs every frame. You can set lightgem calculation to happen only once
per several frames by setting tdm_lg_interleave console parameter to values higher than 1.
For example, typing:

tdm_lg_interleave 3

in console tells TDM to recalculate lightgem value every third frame.

This tweak can increase average FPS, but it often produces noticeable stuttering, especially on slow machines when your FPS is below 25 to 30FPS.

Lightgem interleave minimum FPS

In TDM 2.05 there is a new tdm_lg_interleave_min cvar that allows you to set a cutoff point for FPS below which the Lightgem Interleave optimization takes effect. It is set to 40 by default. If your FPS goes below 40 then tdm_lg_interleave returns to the default value of 1 internally to prevent stutter. Depending on your sensitivity you may wish to increase this to 50 or more.

tdm_lg_interleave_min 40

As the cost of lightgem calculation is (also) substantially lower in v2.05 and newer, you may be able to set this to 1 for most missions.

In testing, the only mission I found that suffered from "tdm_lg_interleave ( > 1) stuttering" was "Penny Dreadful 3: Erasing the Trail".
For that mission, I set tdm_lg_interleave_min to 50 to cure the stutter.
This setting can also be used to boost already high FPS values for the new unbounded FPS options ( com_FixeTic 1 ).
(eg. If you have 90FPS set tdm_lg_interleave to 7 and tdm_lg_interleave_min to 75 to attempt a push towards 120FPS)

In 2.06 with the lightgem calculated on a different thread, this can likely stay at 1 regardless of how low the FPS gets.

Weak Lightgem (Not Recommended)


seta tdm_lg_weak "1" 

in Darkmod.cfg will disable the renderer based lightgem and use a simpler math-based solution.
It's a far less accurate lightgem but may allow weaker systems to play the game as a last resort.

(Note: The cost of lightgem calculation has been substantially lowered in TDM v2.05 and newer.
This may be an obsolete option in future releases.)

Disabling standard graphics features

At the cost of some pretty severe scene quality, you can disable a number of independent graphic features

that are non-essential to play.

Image downsizing

TDM can automatically reduce texture resolution for all 3 supported texture types; diffuse,
normal (bump), and specular. Systems with very low quantities of VRAM or low memory bandwidth benefit from this change.

In Darkmod.cfg, set image_downSize to 1 and then set a limit with image_downSizeLimit, e.g., "image_downSizeLimit" "256".

seta image_downSize "1"
seta image_downSizeLimit "256"

This reduces texture memory requirements and may completely alleviate hard drive thrashing. There are similar cvars for bump and specular maps as well.

Example: Downsize Normal Maps

seta image_downSizeBump "1"
seta image_downSizeBumpLimit "256"

Example: Downsize Specular maps

seta image_downSizeSpecular "1"
seta image_downSizeSpecularLimit "64"

Disable Soft Particles

The new Soft Particle effects in v2.03 and newer use a little more GPU than the previous particles.

This is offset by the fact that v2.03 and higher don't render particles during the lightgem calculation.

Still, if you want an extra boost then set:

seta r_useSoftParticles "0"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Player Shadow

The player shadow slightly reduces performance. It has no game effect at all (not seen by AI for instance) apart from atmospheric effect so if you want to disable it enter in the console:

g_showplayershadow 0

Or, in Darkmod.cfg (see above) change the following line from "1" to "0":

seta g_showplayershadow "0"

Disable BlendLights

seta r_skipBlendLights "1" 

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Fog

seta r_skipFogLights "2" 

in Darkmod.cfg

As of 2.08 and newer there are several modes of fog disable behavior. Mode 1 only disables it for opaque objects (etc).

Disable Lip Sync

AI will not play lipsync animations

seta tdm_ai_opt_nolipsync "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Player Lantern Shadow

You may notice a drop in performance while using the player lantern.

Add "noshadows" "1" to entitydef light_lantern_moving in tdm_playertools_lantern.def and this stops the player lantern casting shadows.
This helps improve performance slightly when using the lantern.

Disable Particles

This will seriously mar your image quality. Flames, glares, and smoke will all be gone.

seta r_skipParticles "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Specular Maps

Specular gives materials their shine. This option will make all surfaces shine-free.

Note: This may not work with the Enhanced Ambient

seta r_skipSpecular "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Sky

(New in v2.05) Pitch black sky with no clouds, Moon, or stars

seta g_enablePortalSky "0"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable all Ambient Surfaces

Related to skipping particles, r_skipAmbient will get rid of any non-lit* particles
(*most particles are additive blends and don't react to light)
along with any other surfaces that don't change based on illumination (most decals, additive glowing windows, etc.).

seta r_skipAmbient "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Disable Normal Maps

The main detail attribute for textures in Doom 3 \ Darkmod is the Normal Map.

If you disable this your game will become really ugly.

seta r_skipBump "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Drop in Frame Rates when Viewing Water

Some players have reported a drastic drop in performance when an agitated water surface is in view. (This on a Radeon card.)
Try entering this in the console. It disables the water visible surface effects but at least it might let you play normally...

 seta r_skipPostProcess "1"


seta r_postprocess "0"

seta r_bloom "0"

You can also set a key-bind to toggle this instead:

bind "z" "toggle r_bloom 0 1"

See Toggle Settings in Realtime

See also Underwater performance poor

Experimental Features

These settings may offer some performance benefits with caveats \ bugs.

Shadow Map Cull Front

The default shadow map mode calculates shadows for both polygons that are on the side facing
the light (front) and the side facing away from the light (back).
This mode improves performance by only calculating the back side shadows.
This mode is almost production ready. It actually fixes or improves some visuals that the default mode produces
but it has some glaring artifacts such as light leaks where surfaces meet in corner areas.
In most missions, you will not be able to tell the difference other than the improved performance

seta r_shadowMapCullFront "1"

2.09 Single Pass Light Rendering


Similar to modern "Forward+" rendering, all lights and shadows are calculated beforehand and rendered in one pass.

seta r_shadowMapSinglePass "2"

You have probably noticed that this uses the same CVAR that single pass shadows uses.
Single Pass lighting requires Single Pass shadows.

This mode (2) does not seem to improve FPS for some Nvidia hardware.
This is probably because of the Nvidia's tiling (deferred rendering) hardware optimizations.

Use BFG style Portal Culling (new in v2.06)

If you have a system that works well with Multi-Core ( com_smp 1) then you may consider enabling r_useAnonReclaimer to reduce cache thrashing.

2.07 and newer

seta r_useAnonReclaimer "1" 


seta r_useBfgPortalCulling "1"

in Darkmod.cfg

Skip Dynamic Shadows

Only render shadows from Stationary lights. This will break missions where players might need to hide in a moving shadow.

seta r_skipDynamicShadows "1"

Lower Sound Quality

Force 22khz

2.06: Do not use this optimization. It is known to cause issues with loading missions on some OpenAL hardware:

(This is fixed in 2.07)

You can force 22khz audio processing to reduce the CPU overhead of audio processing.

Obviously, EAX effects will increase CPU load for audio so you should consider disabling

those before lowering audio quality. If normal audio plays fine but EAX causes performace,

this change might give you a boost while EAX is enabled.

seta s_force22kHz "1"

Disable EFX reverb (new 2.06)

The new EFX audio option (equivalent to EAX) has some impact on mission performance, due to additional reverb calculation by the CPU.
Disable this option for extra performance. Especially if you get big stutter or lockup events opening doors from indoor to outdoor areas. This option, disabled by default, is toggled with the main menu's "Audio/OpenAL EFX".

Turning on this option makes no performance or audio difference if the mapper didn't include an EFX file. For more about that, see Setting Reverb Data of Rooms (EAX).

Gameplay Performance Tips

If you have done everything else you can and performance is still poor then one or two things you might do in game to help:

  • Revert to 2.03 Search behavior
seta tdm_ai_search_type "1"
The new AI "hiding spot" routines in 2.04 (and newer) are more CPU intensive that 2.03's search method

  • Close all doors after you have passed through. Generally the game has to process both areas until you close the door if the doorway is still in sight.
  • Kill or KO every AI you can. You might not like to play that way but generally, AI still hog resources even out of sight (depending on how set up in the game.)
  • Avoid alerts. A dozen guards searching for you will really slow things down on a low-end machine.
  • Try to look down at the ground when moving along. Gazing up at a grand vista will slow you down. Best to do your gazing while standing still.

Compile Darkmod for your own Hardware

The Dark Mod already contains many hardware specific optimizations and can detect when your system has the needed hardware so that it can accelerate parts of the engine.
Though unlikely, it is possible that MSVC++ or GCC compilers can improve the performance of the executable further when told what hardware you have.
You can try compiling The Dark Mod yourself and add any compiler configurations that are specific to your hardware.

Darkmod Compiling Guide

For Windows \ MSVC++ you may wish to add an AVX flag:

For Linux you can add -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS=-march=native to your cmake string.


 cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE="Release" .. -DGAME_DIR=/home/user/darkmod -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=gcc-11 -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=g++-11 -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS=-march=native

Hardware Considerations

The Dark Mod 1.0 was released in 2009. The average mission designer and player of that time had a Geforce 6600GT and AMD Athlon 64 X2 2GHZ.

While some missions were playable all the way down to a P4 2.8GHZ with an FX5200, this is well below the expected audience for this project.

Current Intel integrated GPU's have better performance than the Geforce 8800 that was a high-end card in 2009. Low-power mobile chips are known to throttle under heavy load, especially when using integrated graphics.

Configure Video RAM


seta com_videoRam "128" 

to the appropriate value (in MB) for your GPU in Darkmod.cfg

Eg. A 2GB video card would have 2048 there.

seta com_videoRam "2048" 

Upgrade your BIOS

Sometimes bugs or unintended specification limits in the BIOS on an older motherboard will prevent it from allowing the CPU or GPU to meet their potential.

If your manufacturer has an updated motherboard BIOS available, consider applying it.

Last resort: Upgrade your hardware

Modern games need a lot of computing power, and while you don't need the absolutely newest hardware to play them, upgrading single components of your machine can help tremendously:

  • If you got less than 2 GByte main memory, consider upgrading your memory. This really helps to reduce swapping, which introduces quite noticeable slowdowns.
  • If you got a graphic card from NVidia older than the GF 7x00 series, consider upgrading it.
  • For comparison, see Known System Configurations to see the weakest hardware known to run current TDM versions.

Upgrading your CPU is possible in most cases but can be quite complicated

and the cost might be so high that upgrading your whole PC might be a better value.

Upgrading the hard disk will usually not help much with gaming, unless you are running out of free space.

Some users have reported that SSD has improved loading times but the bigger problem with load times

is Mip-Map generation which is CPU \ Memory bandwidth limited.

Toggle settings in realtime

With the exception of Resolution, AA, and AF settings; most of the above settings can be changed in realtime in the console or via a bind in Darkmod.cfg.

For example, you could bind both post-processing and enhanced interaction to the Z key to enable and disable them both by pressing that key

bind "z" "toggle r_postprocess 0 1; toggle tdm_interaction_vfp_type 0 1"

in Darkmod.cfg

A Warning about cm_backFaceCull

Some users have reported AI pathfinding and tread-milling issues with this enabled. While this can be the fault of poor map design or monsterclip placement,
one thing that can cause this is the performance cvar:

seta cm_backFaceCull "1"

This cvar does improve performance but it is not worth the hassle in most cases.
We recommend disabling it (cm_backFaceCull "0" ) unless you know the mission you're playing has been tested with it enabled.

Blurry Briefing and Menu Screens

  • Obsolete info. This is fixed in TDM 2.05 (and later.)

If you get blurry briefing and menu screens then in Darkmod.cfg make sure you do NOT have image_downSize 0.

Instead set it to 1. But see also Image Downsizing as there is a patch available to allow

image_downsize without making menus blurry.

Related FXAA

( 2.07+ )

If you disable in-game AA in favor of FXAA in your driver settings, text will be a little blurrier. This is a known problem with FXAA in general.

See also

| Tweakguides Doom 3

See also the FAQ.