Performance Tips

Performance in Age of Empires 3 is affected by both your computer's hardware and various settings you can control within the game. Here are some tips for improving performance.

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Many components affect the performance of your hardware, but the most critical are your processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and graphics card. If you wish to do so, upgrading your hardware is possible on many systems. You can contact your system manufacturer for assistance with this.

If you have only 256 megabytes of memory, adding more memory is often possible and is most likely to give you a noticeable performance improvement. Upgrading your video card is often possible as well. This may increase performance, allow more advanced effects, or both. Upgrading your CPU is sometimes possible as well, and if possible this will improve your performance.

You should consider shutting down any applications you are not actively using while running the game. These applications compete for the same system resources the game requires to run, so shutting them down may allow the game to run more smoothly.

In addition to compromising the security of your system, spyware and viruses may also use your system resources, causing other applications to run more slowly than they could otherwise. There are a variety of anti-virus and anti-spyware programs that can assist you in detecting and removing these problems.


The options screen within the game allows you to customize your experience. Some of these options will increase performance on lower settings, but will provide improved visuals or audio on higher settings. You can adjust these to find the right balance for your system.

  • Screen Resolution - Choosing lower screen resolutions can often result in better performance. Whether this affects the performance on your system is most affected by the speed of your graphics card and your shader and shadow settings.
  • Windowed Mode - Checking this option allows you play the game in a window, but can result in reduced performance.
  • Bit Depth - Choosing 32 for bit depth will give you improved color fidelity and allow all available graphics settings, but can reduce performance, especially on slower video cards.
  • VSync - Enabling this option reduces visual "tearing" which can often be visible when scrolling. Disabling this option, however, may increase performance.
  • Anti-alias Quality - Setting this option to Low or High will reduce the jaggy appearance around the edges of objects. Depending on your graphics card, however, enabling this may cause a decrease in performance. In some cases this can be quite severe. Setting this option to Off will provide the best performance.
  • Shader Quality - Higher settings for this option will provide more realistic lighting effects, improved water appearance, and overall greater detail. Lower settings will provide increased performance. The possible settings are Low, Medium, High, and Very High, though not all of these will be available on some systems. The low setting provides the best performance on most systems but at the lowest rendering quality. Medium increases quality but may reduce performance. High and Very High produce the most realistic results, but can decrease performance. Depending on your specific hardware, the Very High setting may provide better performance than the High setting.
  • Shadow Quality - Depending on your system capabilities and Shader Quality setting, you will have anywhere between two and four settings available for Shadow Quality. Off will provide no shadows. On or Low will provide simple shadows under most units. High and Very High provide the most realistic shadows but require capable hardware and will likely reduce performance.
  • Water Reflections - Enabling this option will generate reflections of game objects in the water when using the High or Very High shader settings. Disabling this option may improve performance. It has no effect if you are using the Low or Medium shader settings.
  • Bloom Effect - Enabling this option enhances bright areas of the world with a visible bloom of light, but may reduce performance. This option has no effect on Low or Medium shader settings.
  • High-poly Models - This setting controls the number of polygons used to render the in-game objects. Enabling this option will allow the game to display in greater detail but may reduce performance.
  • Terrain Detail Objects - Enabling this option adds detail to the terrain such as small rocks and plants. Disabling it may increase performance.
  • Particle Quality - Setting this to Low will provide the best performance, while the Normal setting provides more realistic particle effects such as smoke and splashes.
  • Tracer Effects - Enabling this option will cause a tracer effect to appear when various unit types fire their weapons. Disabling it may increase performance.
  • Footprints - When enabled, certain units will leave footprints on certain terrains. Disabling this may increase performance.
  • Terrain Texture Quality - This setting controls the resolution of textures used to render the terrain. Setting this to high will provide more detail on the terrain, while setting it Low may increase performance, especially on systems with minimum system memory or video cards.
  • Model Texture Quality -- This setting controls the resolution of textures used to render objects in the game. Setting this to high will provide more detail on these objects, while setting it Low may increase performance, especially on systems with minimum system memory or video cards.
  • Texture Filter Quality - Setting this option to High will create crisper detail, but may reduce performance. Setting it to Low may increase performance but the rendered scene will appear blurrier.
  • Equalizer Effects - Enabling this option causes off-screen sounds to have special effects processing to make them sound more realistic. Disabling this may improve performance, however.
  • Music - Disabling this option may increase performance but you will no longer be able to hear the in-game music.
  • Camera Zoom - There are four settings for this option: Near, Normal, Far, and Very Far. Higher settings allow the in-game camera to move further from the battlefield, but may reduce performance.
  • Number of players - Games with fewer players will generally provide better performance than those with large numbers of players.