Counter-Strike is the most popular shooter game in the world, and it has been for quite some time. Despite the fact that CS:GO has been out for over ten years, the game was still reaching new player records in its final year, and just when people thought that the hype around Counter-Strike couldn’t get any bigger, Valve announced CS2.
We’ve been playing a ton of CS2’s beta, and when we managed to pick our jaws up off of the floor we got to work to figure out what the best settings and options for Counter-Strike 2 are.
Given the fact that CS2 is brand new and there isn’t an active pro scene yet, this guide will be based on our own findings. Over the course of the game’s beta and eventual release, we will add statistics on the CS2 settings that the pros are using just like we do in our other guides, so stay tuned for that.
Just one final note before we proceed: the game is in beta right now, and contrary to what most developers do (where a ‘beta test’ is basically a glorified public demo) it’s actually a beta. This means that there are bugs present in the game, and that changes can and will be made between updates that can greatly influence the performance of the game. We’ll keep this guide updated at all times so that you can be sure that this is the best resource to get your game running smoothly.
Update 15th of September 2023:
Added Texture Filtering settings
In their most recent patch, Valve has added a new graphic option (‘Texture Filtering Settings’). This has now been tested and added to the guide.
For more info, see Release Notes for 9/14/2023
Best CS2 Video Settings
CS2 Video Settings
- Color Mode: Use Computer Monitor here, it’s the best for color accuracy
- Aspect Ratio: This depends on the resolution you’re going for (and whether you want black bars to the side or you want the image to be stretched if you’re using a custom res) but if you’re not using a custom resolution, use your monitor’s native aspect ratio.
- Resolution: We recommend using your monitor’s native resolution. If you’re really lacking for frames or you want to try the pro approach by changing your res, you can always lower the resolution. The lower your resolution, the higher the framerate gains will be, generally speaking.
- Display Mode: Use fullscreen here.
- Refresh Rate: Use your monitor’s native refresh rate.
- Boost Player Contrast: This makes player models stand out a little more. We recommend enabling this.
- Wait for Vertical Sync: V-Sync can cause input lag, so disable this.
- Multisampling Anti-Aliasing Mode: This doesn’t have a tremendous effect on performance, but we recommend 2x MSAA, as turning this off will make the game look rather jagged.
- Global Shadow Quality: Set this to high. Some player shadows don’t appear on lower settings, and not seeing those shadows will put you at a tremendous disadvantage.
- Model/Texture Detail: We set this to medium because at low, things such as blood splatters can sometimes get blurry. If you’re a skins fan, you might want to set it to high or very high, since anything lower causes intricate details on certain skins (such as drawings) to become blurred right now.
- Texture Filtering Mode: This has a rather limited effect on framerates (~10 frames between the highest and lowest setting) or visuals, but Anisotropic 4x feels best to us. Some users have reported a laggy feeling when using bilinear or trilinear, so we recommend going with Anisotropic 4x.
- Shader Detail: This is merely an eye-candy setting, so we set it to low. If you’re a fan of pretty effects (such as the Doppler finishes) interacting with the light then you should set it to high though, as it’ll make the effects prettier.
- Particle Detail: Set this to low, as it’s an eye-candy setting that’ll make particles (explosions etc.) look more realistic at higher settings. Turning it down even makes it easier to see through smokes and other particles, so setting this to low can give you a minor competitive advantage.
- Ambient Occlusion: Enabling this causes quite a big performance hit, so we would suggest leaving it off. Ambient occlusion is a shading and rendering technique that’s used to calculate how different objects react to ambient lighting, so it does nothing for your competitive performance. It does impact some shadows, but those won’t influence your gameplay experience, as the player shadows are influenced by the Global Shadow Quality setting.
- High Dynamic Range: In our testing, we didn’t notice a big difference between different settings here. If you’re a competitive player we’d suggest setting this to performance, as you don’t need the increased quality that HDR offers for gameplay.
- FidelityFX Super Resolution: This basically renders the game at a lower resolution and upscales certain sections of the image, but it makes the game look extremely blurry and grainy to the point where it’s distracting to us, so we’d recommend disabling this.
- NVIDIA Reflex Low Latency: NVIDIA Reflex lowers your overall system latency, so we would recommend going for Enabled + Boost here. The effectiveness of this setting depends on whether your CPU or GPU is the ‘bottleneck’ in your PC, so feel free to experiment with this a bit. Important: in the open beta, some users have also reported that disabling Reflex causes the game to feel smoother, so we’d recommend playing around with this setting a bit.
Make sure that your drivers are up to date when playing/testing CS2. It’s also a good idea to add ‘-high‘ to the launch options of the game, as this will launch the game in high priority mode. You can do this by right clicking the game in Steam, and then clicking ‘Properties‘ -> ‘General‘.
Best CS2 Resolution
One peculiarity in the professional Counter-Strike scene when you compare it to other pro shooter landscapes is the fact that a ton of different resolutions are being used by the pros. Some pros like to use a stretched resolution because it makes the character models appear wider, which in turn can make them seem easier to hit, for example. Other pros use lower resolutions for framerate reasons: less pixels to render means less stress on your GPU and PC, which in turn means a higher framerate count, and we all know that frames win games.
In case you were wondering: yes, using lower resolutions in CS2 boosts your framerate and no, using lower resolutions doesn’t cause any issues. If you are someone who was using a custom resolution for CS:GO, you can keep doing so in CS2. If you’re new to the game, however, we would just recommend you to go for whatever resolution your monitor is. This will give you a crisp and clean image, which can also help with identifying targets that are further away. We would only recommend you to lower your resolution if you really can’t reach your desired framerate target.
Best Refresh Rate for CS2
If you want to be even a little bit competitive, you will need a monitor that’s capable of displaying at least 144 frames per second. The advantages of using high refresh rate monitors are so tremendous that they really cannot be ignored if you want to be the best player you can be. Using a regular 60Hz setup will handicap you severely if you’re playing against players who do have a faster monitor and even if you’re not, you will not be playing to your full potential if you’re on a 60Hz monitor.
This is all clearly explained in our detailed article, but it’s very simple: the higher the refresh rate of your monitor, the smoother your game will look and feel, and the lower your input latency will be. Investing in a high refresh rate monitor is thus a must for competitive gamers.
In CS:GO, the competitive standard for a monitor’s refresh rate has moved towards 360 frames per second, and while it’s true that there are diminishing returns with higher framerate steps, we would recommend at least a 240Hz monitor if you’re serious about playing at your highest potential.
- Make sure to have a system that can produce enough frames to saturate your monitor. It makes no sense to go for a 360Hz monitor if your PC’s framerate is lower than 120FPS.
- Once you have a high refresh rate monitor, make sure you enable it in Windows. Do this by right clicking on your desktop, and then clicking ‘Display Settings’ -> ‘Advanced display settings’. Choose the correct refresh rate in that window.
Best Mouse Settings for CS2
Mouse sensitivity is the exact same in CS2 as it is in CS:GO, so you can just port your CS:GO sensitivity over to the game and be on your way without having to relearn a new sensitivity system or having to bother with sensitivity calculators.
Given the fact that CS2 will be the same game at its core (yes, there are a ton of changes made to the game, but the basic ‘aiming style’ remains the same; it hasn’t suddenly turned into a twitch shooter or anything like that) we can reasonably assume that most pros and regular players will want to stick to their CS:GO sens, so we’re basing this section on the values we see in CS:GO.
In order to compare your actual sensitivity with that of another Counter-Strike 2 player without having to account for different hardware settings, we use something that’s called eDPI. You can very easily calculate your own eDPI by multiplying your mouse’s DPI level (you can find this in the software or in your manual) with your ingame sens in CS2.
While we know that sensitivity is something personal, it’s also true that there are upper and lower limits. A ton of casual gamers have an eDPI that’s way higher than what the pros are using, and that will indisputably handicap you. Reddit user /u/JALbert had a fantastic explanation on this topic that we can’t resist sharing:
If you think about your opponent’s head hitbox as roughly a circle, that means there’s a corresponding circle of area on your mousepad you need to put the sensor on to have your crosshair on their head. The lower your sensitivity, the bigger the target area is for you to hit. It’s like making the basketball hoop bigger.
Since area for that head circle equals pi*r^2, cutting your sensitivity in half means that you’re doubling r, and in turn quadrupling the size of the target area on your mousepad. If you’re seeing that your eDPI is 5x the pros, you’re aiming for a spot 25x smaller.
Obviously going too low on sensitivity makes flicks slower and turning around more difficult, so there’s a balance. But lower sensitivity makes aim way more forgiving in terms of hitting a target.-/u/JALbert
If you’re noticing that your eDPI is a whole lot higher than what the pros are using, you might want to consider lowering your eDPI.
Facts about eDPI:
The median eDPI of CS pros is 830, which means that they have to move their mouse ~47 centimeters in order to perform a 360 degree turn in the game.
AWPers have a higher average EDPI (1006) when compared to riflers (851).
Best DPI for CS2
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, and it basically tells you how ‘sensitive’ your mouse is at a hardware level. The more dots per inch a mouse measures, the more the movement your mouse will report to your PC, and the further your cursor will travel.
A lot of gaming mouse manufacturers used to advertise insanely high DPI counts for their mice as if that was the key to making big plays (which also might be the reason that some of the more casual players are playing at very high sensitivities) but luckily that’s less the case these days.
There is absolutely no need to go for super high DPI counts. More does not equal better in this case. In fact, the vast majority of pros are using DPI levels of 3200 and lower, with 400, 800, and 1600 being the most commonly used DPI levels.
Most Used DPI Levels in Pro CS
Zoom Sensitivity Multiplier in CS2
This setting influences how fast you aim while using scoped rifles such as the Scout and AWP. It’s a good idea to play around with this setting even if you’re not a sniper, since there will be situations where you have to use a sniper in order to get yourself out of a tough spot: imagine picking up an enemy AWP after getting a cheeky frag on an eco round and not being able to work with it.
The default setting here is 1, and a ton of players seem to stick with that, so we’d also recommend this.
Your mouse’s polling rate (often called ‘report rate) determines how often your mouse sends its information (position counts, registered clicks, scrolls, …) to your PC. This is expressed in Hertz. Higher is mostly considered to be better here, but extremely high polling rates can cause stability issues in certain games and are more taxing on your system. We’d recommend a polling rate of either 1000Hz or 4000Hz if you have a mouse that can go that high.
Best CS2 Keyboard Settings
Assuming that you have a mechanical keyboard that you’re happy with (you can also check out our gaming keyboard guide) configuring your CS2 keyboard settings will mostly come down to personal preference.
However, if there’s one thing that we would definitely recommend then it’s to bind all grenades to separate keys that are easy to reach. If you’re getting pushed by three enemy players and you want to throw a quick HE grenade in order to slow them down then you really don’t want to spend your time scrolling through a bunch of options before throwing your grenade, as this might mean that you’re dead before you even get to throw the grenade.
Given the fact that CS2 has revamped their grenade system so that jump throws are now consistent and always reliable, there’s no need to create a jump throw bind.
Best CS2 Audio Settings
Provided you have a good headset (or a good pair of headphones or IEMs) there’s not a lot to tune in CS2 when it comes to your audio. We cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of sound in this game, though. You can and will win a ton of duels if your sound is dialed in, so investing in a proper audio solution and configuring it correctly (make sure to turn off all virtual surround sound processing features) makes a world of difference. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a top tier pair of headphones: there are a ton of options out there that’ll work great for gaming that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Just don’t play on a subpar set of speakers or a pair of earbuds with bad positional audio or something like that.
As for the actual sound settings: we would recommend turning off all music if you’re a competitive player, except for the ten second warning volume. The music in CS2 can make you feel hyped, but it can also hide valuable information about your enemies’ whereabouts, and if you’re all about winning it’s best to turn off all distractions. The reason for leaving the ten second warning volume on is so that you can judge whether or not there’s still time to defuse based on the sound. If you don’t have a kit, for example, and you hear the ten second warning song then you’ll know that defusing isn’t an option anymore. We do recommend turning it down a little: if you turn the ten second warning all the way up it’ll drown out important sound such as footsteps.
What is the circle on the radar in CS2?
The circle around your position in CS2 indicates how far the sounds that you’re making (footsteps, shooting, …) can be heard on the map. This can be handy to decide when it’s time to start walking if you’re flanking or what not.
Take care of your ears
Unless you’re playing in an extremely noisy environment (and even then we’d suggest an audio option with better sound proofing) there’s really no need to turn the volume up to the max. It’s important to set the volume high enough so that you also hear important sound cues that are off in the distance, but that almost never means ‘turn it up to the max’.
On top of possibly causing hearing damage over the long term, having the volume up too high might also lead to jumpscares when you suddenly hear an opponent to your left, for example. If you get spooked, your mouse might jump, which means you might miss a kill.
Best CS2 Radar Settings
It’s a known fact that communication in online games isn’t always as precise and reliable as it should be, and a lot of those headaches can be rectified by zooming our your map.
In CS2, there’s a lot of important information that appears on the radar. You can see enemies that have been spotted by your teammates, the location of the bomb if it’s been spotted, and the exact spot where a teammate died. All of this can be round-winning info, and teammates aren’t always as capable with their callouts, so in the interest of having the best possible overview of the map and what’s going on in said map you will want to see most of it.
In short: zoom out your map, and maybe consider making it a bit bigger on your HUD as well. This will give you access to crucial information that you otherwise might not spot if you’re playing with the default radar.
Best CS2 Crosshair Settings
The default crosshair in CS2 is a lot more usable than the one we had in CS:GO, so in essence there’s nothing wrong with using the default crosshair, but we find that most players will want to customize their crosshair either way. What you like really does depend on your personal preferences, but it’s important to make sure that your crosshair is visible on all backgrounds.
As a kind of ‘starting crosshair’ we found the following values to be a good point of entry:
Good to know
In CS2, there’s a new crosshair feature that’s called ‘Follow Recoil’. This basically means that your crosshair will follow the recoil compensation pattern of the gun: if you need to compensate to the left, for example, your crosshair will drift off to the left. In essence, this is a built in crosshair trainer.
If you’re new to the game and/or you’re mastering a new weapon, it can be a good idea to turn this feature on. Even experienced players might get something out of this, so feel free to experiment with this setting a little.
Best Settings and Options for CS2 – Conclusion
Valve have added a ton of QoL updates to CS2 (and who knows what’s still to come) so CS2 doesn’t require as much tinkering in order to get it to a playable state as its predecessor did, but it’s always a good idea to really get your settings configured correctly before heading out to climb the competitive ladder.
CS2 is of course in beta right now, so none of what you see in this guide is set in stone. This guide is a work in progress and will be updated constantly in order to reflect changes to the game, so stay tuned if you want to get the heads up on what the best competitive settings for CS2 are.
If you’re looking for more resources, check out our other Counter-Strike 2 guides: