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Quake 4 Tweak Guide

[Page 10] Conclusion

That brings this guide almost to its conclusion. Below is some more information which you might find useful, along with my concluding thoughts.

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I'm Lazy, Make Quake 4 Better for Me Now!

This guide is long, and yes it is boring at times, but if you're really interested in getting the absolute best performance out of Quake 4 on your system, you really do need to read the guide. Why? So you can understand what the different settings actually do, and how to use them correctly. The most important reasons for this are firstly only you can decide the balance between image quality and performance, and how much to tradeoff for the other; secondly if something goes wrong or there's a graphical glitch, if you don't bother to read through the command variables you've changed you won't know which one is causing the problem. However, I realize that some people still don't care, and want a pre-made configuration file to save them the trouble. Alright, well if you really can't be convinced to take some time to make your own config file and/or apply your own tweaks, you can try the following:

For Nvidia graphics card owners, try Quak4 - a configuration utility for Quake 4 which gives you a nice GUI to select/unselect/edit some of the options covered in this guide. It also comes with pre-made configs for particular Nvidia graphics cards.

For all graphics card owners, the UpsetChaps Quake 4 Guide has customized configurations which you can insert into your autoexec.cfg file based on the amount of graphics memory you have and a rough approximation of FPS vs Visual Quality.

I won't be personally offended if you use the above methods rather than relying on my guide! However I still would recommend you refer to this guide for descriptions of what the various settings do - that way you can at least troubleshoot any problems you have and refine your config file by adding or removing certain settings.

Quake 4 and Dual Core CPUs

Since I have an X2 4400+ Dual Core CPU, I thought once again that I'd do my own basic test to see if Quake 4 is a multi-threaded "dual-core optimized" game. There are already some well-documented Quake 4 single-core vs. dual-core CPU tests such as this one. However to test out whether Quake 4 is multi-threaded I did my usual trick of launching Task Manager, setting it to the Performance tab so that the two CPU usage graphs are visible, and then launching Quake 4 and playing through a bit of combat against some AI in the game to stimulate CPU usage.

The results are a bit surprising: both CPU charts show 70-80% CPU usage each, indicating that the Doom 3 engine is indeed multi-threading. However as the CPU usage comparisons around the web show, the dual core CPUs perform around the same as their similarly-clocked single-core counterparts, except at lower resolutions. Perhaps it is at lower resolutions that the minor benefits of this multi-threading can be seen, because that is where the CPU overtakes the graphics card in the performance stakes.

Regardless, once again we can see that having a dual core CPU is not a necessity or of any real benefit to gaming as such. Not that I regret purchasing my X2, as it has other benefits, and still games faster than most Intel and many AMD single-core CPUs. But it is not yet the era of true dual-core optimizations in games. You might want to save on a dual core CPU and instead spend the money on an SLI configuration for a real boost in FPS.

Update: As of the 1.2 Patch, Quake 4 performance is improved on dual core and HyperThreading-based CPUs. If you have such a system, I recommend installing the latest patch - see page 4 of the guide for more details.

Disable Startup/Menu Movies

If you want to skip the introductory movies each time Quake 4 loads, there is a simple method for doing this. Go to the icon you use for launching Quake 4 (or Quake 4 Multiplayer), right-click on it and select Properties. In the Properties box which opens, find the Target line and add a space then "+disconnect" (without quotes) to the end of it. For example:

""C:\Program Files\id Software\Quake 4\Quake4.exe" +disconnect

Now when you launch the game with this icon, the intro movies are skipped every time.

Quake 4 Benchmark

The Doom 3 engine on which Quake 4 is based is a highly advanced OpenGL based game engine. As such, it is a great tool for benchmarking your system for OpenGL performance, as well as running benchmarks to compare your Quake 4 framerates against other people with similar machines for example. To use Quake 4 as a benchmark, start the game and open the game's console (See Advanced Tweaking section). From here you can launch custom demos (pre-recorded game sequences), at the end of which a set of figures showing your average framerate over the length of the demo.

However unlike Doom 3, Quake 4 doesn't have any built-in demos you can use, so you will have to create your own first before benchmarking, or you can download a good custom demo made by from this torrent link (50MB). Note, you'll need BitTorrent to download the file. Once downloaded, place the demo file in the \id Software\Quake 4\q4base\demos directory - create the directory if you have to.

If you want to record your own timedemo, load up a particularly challenging stretch of the game, then open the console and type "recorddemo demoname" (without quotes). E.g: recorddemo trialrun will start recording a demo called trailrun.demo in your \Quake 4\q4base\demos\ directory. Type "stoprecording" (without quotes) to stop recording this demo at any time.

Now, to run your custom demo (or any custom demo), go to your in-game console (See Advanced Tweaking section for details) and type "timedemo demoname" in the console. Wait for the run to finish and note the results, then you can compare them with others online. If you want to run the timedemo in a loop (as a stress test for example), see these instructions.

Note, to record, playback and benchmark demos recorded while on a multiplayer server, see the recordNetDemo, stopNetDemo, playNetDemo and playNetTimeDemo commands on the previous page of this guide using similar instructions as those detailed above. You can download a custom multiplayer demo from here (using Bittorrent) if you haven't made one yourself.

Update: If you want a much easier way of benchmarking Quake 4, try the HardwareOC Quake 4 Benchmark program along with this Registration Utility. It includes a built-in demo, so all you need to do is download it and run it.

Update 2: More details on how to use the netdemo functionality in Quake4 to better benchmark under 'real world' conditions is provided here.

Taking Screenshots

Taking screenshots in Quake 4 is quite easy - simply press the F12 key and a screenshot is placed in your \Quake 4\q4base\screenshots\ directory. However this screenshot is quite large and in .tga format. If you want to use other methods for taking screenshots, try these:

  • Use the PRINT SCREEN key during a game to place a single screenshot into memory, and once you exit Quake 4 you can paste the last screenshot taken into a paint/photo editing program and modify or save it in any format you like from there.
  • Use the screenshotJpeg command in the Quake 4 console, and instead of taking a .tga format screenshot it takes one in .jpg format and places it in your screenshots folder.
  • Use a free utility like Fraps. Fraps can take as many screenshots as you like during gameplay, and stores them in high-quality .bmp format in the directory of your choice.
  • Use a utility called Hypersnap DX, which will meet any and all of your screenshot needs for any game, but requires paid registration to enable full functionality.

  • I personally recommend either Fraps or Hypersnap DX if you want to take a lot of Quake 4 screenshots, however the built-in screenshot functionality is fine for most people.


    Well here we are, the Quake 4 Tweak Guide has come to a close. I would really appreciate constructive feedback on this guide, so let me know what you think. If you have additional tips, tweaks and resources which you think will help other Quake 4 players, I will gladly add them into the guide so we can all share in them. Please keep in mind that I can't offer any tech support.

    Links and Credits

    The following sites, guides and articles are useful for further Quake 4 research and reading:

    Quake 4 Official Site

    RavenGames Quake 4 Site

    RavenGames Quake 4 Forums


    GameSpot Quake 4 Cheat Codes

    UpsetChaps Quake 4 Guide

    Make sure to check back on this guide regularly as I will keep it updated with the latest information on Quake 4.

    Until next time, take care!