Though city building PC games like Cities: Skylines look like their system requirements are low, users often find they need to increase their FPS. Though this genre of games doesn’t always look graphically impressive, you must remember how many objects are on the screen simultaneously. Cities contain numerous static and moving parts, and these titles must simulate everything at once. Plus, they must let players make changes on the fly or even zoom out to see a city or cities on one or multiple screens. Thus, any performance boost can make a big difference. With that in mind, let’s jump into how to increase FPS in Cities: Skylines.
1. Upgrade the drivers for your graphics card (GPU)
Though the game undoubtedly taxes your CPU and RAM (more on that below), the performance of your graphics card makes a distinction between poor, acceptable, and even superb performance. Thus, to make Cities: Skylines run better on your PC, open your NVIDIA Control Panel or AMD Radeon software, see the version, and check for updates.
If you don’t see the expected FPS gain, many gamers suggest using free software such as “DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller)” to erase any traces. Then, you can head over to the NVIDIA Drivers or AMD Drivers & Support pages, depending on your graphics card. After you select the model and your operating system version, proceed to download and run the installation. After it finishes, restart your computer and check if you managed to raise the performance of Cities: Skylines.
2. Increase Cities: Skylines FPS by reducing RAM load
Whoever desires to improve performance in Cities: Skylines will notice the official minimum requirement of 4 GB of RAM no longer makes sense. You require at least 8 GB to enjoy the base game. When you install a few mods and begin adding the plethora of DLCs, you need 16 GB of RAM and above to play normally. If you’ve done that, here are two crucial RAM-related tips to boost FPS in Cities: Skylines:
Remove unnecessary processes and run Cities: Skylines as a high priority
This is a standard step that truly goes a long way for the aforementioned reasons. Here’s what to do:
- Press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete key combination on your keyboard and select Task Manager. You can also right-click the Start menu/taskbar and pick Task Manager.
- Find Cities: Skylines under the “Processes” tab and right-click on it.
- Select Go to details.
- Right-click on the .exe file and select Set priority → High.
- Now, take the time to go through the “Processes” and “Details” tabs and kill any application you don’t need for the game. For instance, Origin, Discord, NVIDIA GeForce Experience, Fraps, web browsers, and so on.
Increase your Windows page file size
Page size is a handy feature of Windows that transfers excess processes that can’t fit into RAM into a separate memory, often called “page file”, “virtual memory” or “swap file”. It’s enabled from the get-go, but you may need to increase it, especially if you added more RAM in the meantime or if your operating system set it too low. It’s best if you have an SSD or an NVMe SSD (essentially, a drive with fast writing and reading speed) because it will use your storage as if it were RAM. Now:
- Open the Start menu and search for “advanced system settings” and click View advanced system settings.
- Click on Settings… under “Performance”.
- Switch to the Advanced tab.
- Click on Change… under Virtual memory.
- Click on Custom size.
- Enter the same minimum and maximum size in MB and click on Set.
Note. The number depends on your system partition size, free space, and how heavy your RAM is burdened. If you can afford it, gamers suggest putting about 1.5-2x of your RAM if it’s 8 GB or lower. If it’s 16 GB, use a lower number, such as ~1x the RAM e.g., 16000 MB as the game will rarely exceed it unless you have a ton of DLCs.
Disable unused Cities: Skylines DLCs
Another frequent cause of crashes, poor performance and long loading time is the presence of too many DLCs, many of which you may not even utilize. Thus, you can open Steam, right-click on the game in the library, then select Properties… Switch to the DLC tab and disable those you no longer employ in-game. If you encounter problems, there’s a chance a mod or in-game asset depends on them, so play around a bit.
3. Tweak in-game settings for the Cities game
Unsurprisingly, you can disable everything or set it to the lowest possible setting. Since that likely won’t be an enjoyable experience, we suggest you boot the game, go to System Settings, and then head to:
- Display resolution. First, try putting the native resolution of your monitor, and select Don’t sync under “V-Sync”. If needed, reduce the resolution while keeping the aspect ratio and try both Windowed and Full Screen under “Display Mode”.
- Preferences: Try disabling “Color Correction Override”, “Depth of Field Type”, and “Film Grain” options.
- Quality settings: Reduce or turn off “Shadows”, “Anisotropic Filtering”, and “Anti-Aliasing”. If you need to squeeze a bit more performance, set “Level of Detail” to Medium and “Texture Quality” to Low.
After making changes, click the green Apply button.
4. Install Cities: Skylines mods to increase FPS
The biggest difficulty with this game is that the game engine used to build it, Unity, is years old. Further, instead of building new entries from scratch, developers only kept adding DLCs. Therefore, even if you had the latest CPU, the game simply cannot utilize all its cores. Thankfully, knowledgeable players partly solved the issues via free game mods on the Steam Workshop platform.
Note. We aren’t affiliated with any mods and are merely listing examples that received praise from the community.
Use performance booster mods
These are community-created mods that promise an FPS boost between 5 and 20%. They speed up the asset and DLC element loading, reduce CPU, GPU, and RAM usage, and boost asset loading and optimization. The four best-known examples are Mini FPS Booster and FPS Booster, both by Krzychu1245 and Tree Anarchy and Prop Anarchy released by Quistar. All come with extensive explanations and installation instructions.
Employ loading time reduction mods
These mods are “quality of life improvements”. They’ll boost asset loading by optimizing the loading queue, using cache for asset thumbnails and graphics, compressing duplicate textures, employing prefab skipping to stop unused textures and DLCs from opening, and disabling features that needlessly consume resources. Two noted representatives are Load Order Mod by kian.zarrin and Loading Screen Mod by Klyte45.