Counter-Strike 2

Counter-Strike 2

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NVIDIA Reflex: Lowest Latency In Counter-Strike 2
By NV_Tim and 3 collaborators
In this official guide from NVIDIA, learn what latency is, how NVIDIA Reflex reduces latency, how to consistently test & measure latency in Counter-Strike 2, and how to optimize your PC for the best experience at any graphics setting.
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What is NVIDIA Reflex?
NVIDIA Reflex [www.nvidia.com] in Counter-Strike 2 reduces system latency so your actions occur quicker, giving you a competitive edge in multiplayer matches, and making single-player titles more responsive and enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jRLXyjeao

How to turn on NVIDIA Reflex
To enable NVIDIA Reflex in Counter-Strike 2, follow these simple steps:
  1. Open the game
  2. Go to ‘Settings’
  3. Navigate to ‘Video’
  4. Navigate to ‘Advanced Video’
  5. Set ‘NVIDIA Reflex Low Latency’ to “Enabled”
Note: “Enabled + Boost” can further reduce latency at the cost of extra power usage and a slightly lower frame rate. In Counter-Strike 2, this setting is only recommended for gamers who prioritize lowest latency over highest frame rate.


What is Latency?
System Latency, often called “input lag”, is the delay between a player's action and its appearance on the screen. In games like Counter-Strike 2, even small delays can impact gameplay, making the difference between success and defeat. This delay results from the cumulative effect of several factors, including the time taken by peripherals to communicate with the PC, the PC's processing time, and the display's refresh rate. This is known as “End to End System Latency”.




Types of Latency

There are two main types of latency:
  • Network Latency: The time it takes your system to communicate with the game’s servers and services when playing online. As this cannot be controlled by the PC, and is based on the characteristics of your internet connection and your distance from the game’s servers, network latency is not measured in the system latency stat.
  • System Latency: The entire end-to-end response time within your gaming system. It starts with peripheral latency, the delay from your input device; progresses through Game and Render Latency, which covers CPU processing and GPU rendering known as PC Latency; and ends with Display latency, the time taken for the rendered frame to appear on your screen.

Latency Impact on Gameplay

Latency impacts gameplay in several ways -
  • For instance, you might click your mouse when your crosshair is over an opponent, but the shot might still miss due to cumulative latency. It causes a delay between what's happening in the game state and what players perceive on screen.
  • "Peeker’s advantage" is also influenced by system latency—when two players are the same distance from an angle with the same network ping, the player with lower system latency will spot an opponent before their opponent sees them.
  • Furthermore, high system latency can make aiming inconsistent and less predictable, especially in games that demand quick and precise movements. In short, the higher the system latency, the more the player’s view lags behind the game’s reality.

NVIDIA Reflex's Role In Reducing Latency

NVIDIA Reflex reduces latency by optimizing the rendering pipeline across the CPU and GPU, removing stalls by synchronizing each step of the pipeline. Reflex is most effective when the system is GPU-bound—or when the GPU is under high utilization—as it prevents the CPU from racing ahead of the GPU, which can cause a buildup in the render queue, increasing latency.

Reflex Off



Reflex On – Emptying Render Queue, Synchronizing CPU & GPU



Measuring Latency
In general, higher frame rates (FPS) correlate with lower system latency. However, this relationship is far from 1:1. To better understand, let’s step back and think about how we can measure our interactions with our PC.

Latency, Frame Time and Frames Per Second
Frames Per Second (FPS)
First, there is the number of pictures our display can present to us per second. That number is a throughput rate called FPS (Frames Per Second).

End to End System Latency (AKA, System Latency)
The second way is the time it takes for our actions to be reflected in one of those pictures -- a duration called End to End System Latency (typically referred to as just System Latency).

If we have a PC that can render 1000 FPS, but it takes one second for our inputs to reach the display, that would be a poor experience. Conversely, if our actions are instantaneous but our framerate is 5 FPS, that won't be a great experience either.

Additionally, we also need to consider Frame Times.

Frame Times
Frame Times, the time it takes for a frame to be rendered. Measured in milliseconds (ms), gamers ideally want frames to be delivered at similar speeds throughout the duration of play.

However, if one frame takes 6ms to render, another 16ms, and the next 29ms, the delivery of frames is visibly inconsistent.

This causes your perception of the gameplay to become inconsistent, affecting when you click your mouse or make movements. In challenging platform games, for example, you have to hit the jump button at just the right moment to cross the gap unscathed.

As you play, you gain muscle memory and train your hand-eye coordination to just know when to press the button. But if inputs are suddenly delayed, your jump may be mistimed and you fall down the hole. In a competitive shooter like Counter-Strike 2, consistent frame time delivery is even more important, affecting flick shots, sniping, and more.

For optimum gameplay, we therefore want a fast frame rate, smooth frame delivery, and low system latency.


How to Measure Latency

To ensure a responsive gaming experience, it’s crucial to measure latency and determine whether your system is running well. There are three ways to measure latency in Counter-Strike 2: GeForce Experience’s Performance Overlay[nvidia.custhelp.com], the Reflex Analyzer[www.nvidia.com], and FrameView. [www.nvidia.com]

In general, PC Latency is the most accessible metric and is the main metric that should be used when optimizing game settings, Windows settings, or any other software setting on your PC.



This metric is available in both GeForce Experience and Frameview. With GeForce Experience, enable the In-Game Overlay and hit ALT + R to view your PC Latency in game.

If you are new to measuring latency with NVIDIA Reflex Analyzer, check out our guide[www.nvidia.com] to get up to speed.

If you would like to use FrameView, here is how to get started:

  1. Download and install FrameView[www.nvidia.com]
  2. Launch FrameView (For more details, refer to the user guide[images.nvidia.com])
  3. Start Counter-Strike 2
  4. An overlay from FrameView will be visible when the FrameView app is running.
  5. The FrameView overlay will appear—note the baseline PCL with Reflex OFF
  6. Enable Reflex in-game to observe the reduction in latency

With latency results in hand, you can tweak settings on your system and measure the improvements, and identify aspects of your PC that are performing poorly. For competitive players who want the best chance at victory, testing, tweaking and upgrading are the name of the game, and the Reflex Latency Analyzer is the first tool to make this possible with complete accuracy.

Advanced Settings
For those dedicated to reducing system latency and playing Counter-Strike 2 at low settings here are some other adjustments you can make to maximize performance.

V-SYNC On or Off?

Turning V-SYNC off is a sure fire way to reduce system latency, as it causes back pressure from the display that reverberates through the entire system, increasing latency considerably. Ensure you turn it off in the NVIDIA Control Panel, and also the game itself.



However, if you have a variable refresh rate display, like an NVIDIA G-SYNC monitor[www.nvidia.com], you can get the best of both worlds: no tearing (if your FPS is below your refresh rate), and no V-SYNC latency.

For G-SYNC gamers who don’t want to tear when above the refresh rate of their monitor, keeping V-SYNC ON while using NVIDIA Reflex, will automatically cap the framerate below the refresh rate, preventing V-SYNC backpressure, eliminating tearing, and keeping latency low if you become GPU bound below the refresh rate of your display.

Note: this method will result in slightly higher latency than just letting your FPS run uncapped with NVIDIA Reflex enabled.

Activate Prefer Maximum Performance Power Management Mode

The NVIDIA graphics driver has long shipped with an option called “Power Management Mode”. This option allows gamers to choose how the GPU operates in CPU-bound scenarios. When the GPU is saturated with work, it will always run at maximum performance. However, when the GPU is not saturated with work there is an opportunity to save power by reducing GPU clocks while maintaining FPS.



Prefer Maximum Performance mode overrides the power savings features in the GPU and allows the GPU to always run at higher clocks. These higher clocks can reduce latency in CPU-bound instances at a trade off of higher power consumption. This mode is designed for gamers who want to squeeze every last microsecond of latency out of the pipeline regardless of power.

With GeForce RTX 30 and 40 Series GPUs, we are able to set this clock value higher than before, allowing the GPU to target the absolute lowest render latency possible when CPU-bound. Users with older GPUs can still turn on Prefer Maximum Performance and hold clocks to base frequencies.


Overclocking & Tuning

GeForce Experience [www.nvidia.com]includes a safe automatic overclocking feature that allows gamers to increase performance with a single click, reducing render latency. Simply press Alt+Z on your keyboard to open the GeForce Experience overlay, select “Performance”, start the benchmarking process and step away from your computer while it works.



This advanced automatic tuner scans your GPU for the maximum frequency bump at each voltage point on the curve. Once it has found and applied the perfect settings for your GPU, it also retests and maintains your tuning over time, keeping your tune stable.

Advanced users can squeeze even more performance from their GPUs with overclocking applications, though extreme overclocking can introduce instability and crashes. In contrast, GeForce Experience’s automatic tuning targets stable performance, ensuring your games keep working flawlessly.

Turn ON Windows Game Mode

Turning on Windows Game Mode[support.xbox.com] helps prioritize processes that are associated with your game. This can help reduce latency by letting the CPU stay focused on collecting your inputs and simulating the game.

To enable the feature:
  1. Press the Windows Start button, and then select Settings
  2. Choose Gaming > Game Mode
  3. Turn Game Mode On

Max Out Your Monitor’s Refresh Rate
Check to make sure your display is set to the maximum refresh rate. Higher refresh rates, measured in Hz, reduce the scanout latency.

To confirm you are running at the highest refresh rate your display can offer, open the NVIDIA Control Panel -> change resolution -> refresh rate. Set the refresh rate to the highest possible. You might have to change your resolution to the native resolution to run at the maximum refresh rate listed on the box or product page.




Turn ON Monitor Overdrive
Use a moderate amount of monitor overdrive to help improve pixel response time. We recommend starting at the first level of overdrive - for most monitors this is the “normal” setting. This setting can be configured in your monitor’s settings menu in the on screen display. However, too much overdrive can create distracting effects that will outweigh any response time benefits.

Turn ON G-Sync Esports Mode
If you have a monitor that supports G-SYNC Esports mode[www.nvidia.com], enabling this option on the monitor’s settings menu will ensure settings like variable backlight are disabled and the monitor is running at max performance - reducing display processing latency even further.

Increase your Mouse Polling Rate

Increase the polling rate of your mouse to the maximum. The polling rate is how often the USB host (your PC) asks for information from the device. For low or full speed devices, that is 1000Hz. Higher polling rate means that your mouse can deliver more frequent clicks and movements to the PC.

A low polling rate such as 125Hz adds up to 3ms of system latency on average compared to a 1000Hz polling rate! If your mouse has an adjustable polling rate, you can often find this option in your mouse’s software, or by pressing a button on the mouse.



Consider Decreasing Visual Quality
Esports professionals have always decreased graphics settings to increase player visibility and accelerate frame rates, though tournaments enforcing a specific level of visual fidelity has somewhat curbed this trend, requiring players to ‘get good’ with graphics turned up.

If you’re not practicing for the pro leagues, you can turn down graphics settings to increase frame rates, reducing latency.

Further Research On Latency
Thanks to industry-leading latency optimization, and NVIDIA Reflex, GeForce RTX GPUs deliver the lowest levels of system latency in Counter-Strike 2, increasing your competitiveness and your chance of winning.

That’s not a bold claim, it’s backed by data from KovaaK's aim challenges, 3 years of GeForce gamers using Reflex in the most competitive titles, and our own extensive research.

Let’s examine flick shots in CS:GO: in a split second you must acquire your target, flick to it, and click with incredible precision that requires millisecond accuracy. But do you ever feel like no matter what you do, your flicks aren’t consistent?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wRZqj424Fg

Aiming involves a series of sub-movements - subconscious corrections based on the current position of the crosshair relative to the target’s location. At higher latencies, this feedback loop time is increased resulting in less precision. Additionally, at higher average latencies, the latency varies more, meaning that it’s harder for your body to predict and adapt to. The end result is pretty clear - high latency means less precision.

In a study we conducted, lower latency had a large impact when measuring flick shot accuracy:



In competitive games, higher FPS and refresh rates (Hz) reduce your latency, delivering more opportunities for your inputs to end up on screen. Even small reductions in latency have an impact on flicking performance. In an Esports Research blog, the NVIDIA Research team explored the ways in which different levels of system latency affect player performance.

They found that even minor differences in system latency -- 12ms vs. 20ms, can have a significant difference in aiming performance.

In fact, the average difference in aiming task completion (the time it takes to acquire and shoot a target) between a 12ms and 20ms PCs was measured to be 182ms - that is about 22 times the system latency difference.

To put that into perspective, given the same target difficulty, in a 128 tick CS:GO server, your shots will land on target an average of 23 ticks earlier on the 12ms PC setup. Yet most gamers play on systems with 50-100ms of system latency!


So does this translate into actually being more successful in games? Being good at competitive shooters involves much more than just mechanical skill. A keen game sense and battle-hardened strategy can go a long way towards victory rather than defeat. However, looking at our data, we see a similar correlation between higher FPS (lower latency) and K/D (kill to death) ratios.



By no means does correlation mean causation. But applying the above science to this correlation, we see a lot of evidence to support the claim that higher FPS and lower system latency lead to landing shots more frequently - boosting K/D ratios.

We hope this guide helps you reduce latency in Counter-Strike 2!
Optimized Settings
For those who want to play Counter-Strike 2 with improved visual fidelity at the highest FPS possible, we recommend these settings.

1080p


1440p
Hardware Considerations
There are some hardware considerations as well when determining how to lower latency. If you've tried everything above, you could also consider a few adjustments to your setup.

Lower Latency Mouse & Keyboard
Mice and keyboards can range anywhere from 1ms of latency to ~20ms of latency! Mousespecs.org has a great list of latency measurements to help you understand the latency of your mouse. Do note though -- there are other factors than latency to consider when choosing a great mouse, such as weight, maximum polling rate, wireless support, and a style that fits your hand.

Note: your mouse sensitivity will not significantly impact the latency of the mouse. Higher DPI does not mean lower latency. Don’t be afraid to lower your DPI if you prefer lower sensitivity.

Higher Refresh Rate Monitor
In general, increasing your display refresh rate is one of the best ways to reduce display latency.

The absolute best monitors with the highest refresh rates are certified to work with NVIDIA Ultra Low Motion Blur 2[www.nvidia.com] (ULMB 2). When activated, ULMB 2 will deliver up to 2,160Hz of effective motion clarity, for the definitive competitive gaming experience.

Get the complete lowdown on these bleeding-edge gaming monitors here.[www.nvidia.com]

However, to maximize the benefits of super fast displays, your system ideally needs to deliver an equal number of frames per second.

Other Hardware
At some point, the best way to lower End to End System Latency is to upgrade to a faster GPU, CPU and RAM combo.

Using the Game and Render latencies provided by the Reflex Latency Analyzer in Counter-Strike 2, you can determine whether a CPU or GPU upgrade would be more beneficial for your current system:

  • If your Game Latency (e.g., the time it takes for the CPU to process input or changes to the world and submit a new frame to the GPU to be rendered) is high, consider picking up a faster CPU
  • If your Render Latency (e.g., The time from when the frame gets in line to be rendered to when the GPU completely renders the frame) is high, consider picking up a faster GeForce RTX GPU (Render Latency can also be measured through the GeForce Experience Alt+Z performance overlay in every game)
Translated Guides
Please find below a list of links to the translated versions of this guide. We will be adding more languages in near future.

Simplified Chinese NVIDIA Reflex Low Latency Guide:
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3048801850

Polish
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3052355709

German
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3052379882