Ultra Graphics Settings

Hi, apologies if this has been asked before, but I can’t see it anywhere. I’ve read a lot about ultra graphics settings in zwift, but can’t even see that option (only best – 1080p). The last posts I see mentioning Ultra were earlier on this year. Has this option been dropped, or is it just not listed in Zwift due to my machine specs (MacBook Pro 13" late 2013. Intel i7 2.8Ghz 8GB Ram).

Also, if Ultra is still available, would a new Alienware Alpha R2 i3 be capable of running in that mode?


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Ultra _RESOLUTION _is not shown on machines where performance would be degraded too substantially, which would be nearly all macbooks.   Resolution choices on higher end graphics cards are 2560x1440 and even 3840x2160 (4k).   An R2 with GTX960 will expose the high and ultra resolution setting.  The older model Alienware Alpha will expose only high setting (2560x1440).

Ultra GRAPHICS is not something not available in the settings, although it too is dictated by the graphics card.  Ultra Graphics setting is decided to be used by our software.  It will use nicer lighting, nicer shadows, and additional polygons to give things more detail.  A GTX 960 will use this maximum detail setting.


Thanks Jon. Will the lowest spec Alpha run in Ultra (i3). Not sure it has a GTX 960 in it. I believe it’s a modified Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 2GB of video memory.

The 860M is much less powerful, so it only gets HIGH settings.  Runs really nicely though and has all the visual features turned on. Unless you have a 4k TV it’s probably good enough.

The nicer Alienware Alpha’s with the 960 will run at a smoother frame rate, and also support 4k mode.

Hi Jon,

In line with the current topic I’m currently looking into purchasing a new desktop for Zwift as I’ll be moving the trainer out of my home office soon. Where it’ll be hooked up to a 4K screen. I was wondering what the average performance is like with the ultra graphics and 4K resolution on a GTX 960.

Does this provide a steady 60 fps, including in group rides? Or will a GTX 1060 be better suited for that demand?

In group rides the main CPU actually comes into play, so make sure to have a nice i5 or i7 if you want to make sure you hit 60fps.

As for the 4k rendering, the GTX960 isn’t enough to consistently push that many pixels at 60fps - but it’s close.  1060 is a much safer bet.

Adding to this I am running an I7 with a GTX 970 and a 2560x1440 resolution monitor. Would there be any difference between running in Ultra and 4K mode? Generally whilst running in Ultra mode I average around 100fps.

Just to add more info from personal experience

I run an original Alpha i3 with the 860M and it looks/runs great on my 1080p TV, the frame rate varies between 30-60fps most of the time, depending where on the course I am.

It is in no way a sub par Zwift experience and I would consider it a performance sweet spot ,with the law of diminishing returns kicking in if you spend more on your hardware. Nice if you already have better hardware or can afford it but by no means required to enjoy Zwift.

BTW, not having an i5 or i7 doesn’t mean you cant enjoy group rides, I hadn’t actually noticed any detriment to my Zwift experience in a group ride with my i3 Alpha, my frame rate might be lower, though I didn’t notice, I had other things on my mind when racing in a group :slight_smile:

I was doubting if I would benefit from a faster CPU. Just did a short test with CPU and GPU load. Zwift is not CPU limited on my Zwift PC with i3 6100 CPU and GTX 1060 GPU. 

Even at 4K resolution the CPU is at 25-35% load and it seems not to be affected by display resolution.

On my GTX1060 I see a steady increase of GPU load if I crank up Zwift display resolution from 1080p to 1440p to 2160p. At 1080p the GPU is at 30-40% and at the highest resolution the GPU load is around 70-80%.

Good to know Koekkoek.  Just ordered a GTX 1060 to pair up with my amd 8350.  Can’t wait to try it out on 2160p settings.  Do you notice any lag on large group rides or races?

Not noticeable lag and in my opinion lag is no issue with Zwift i.e. even at lower frame-rates (15-20 fps) it will still work. For me anything over 30 fps is good and with the i3 and GTX1060 it will do that. See http://zwiftalizer.com/benchmarks for many Zwift tested setups.

Fast updating of power feedback and control to the trainer is more important than visualization. Then again how fast can you change power through the pedals?

Question to Jon Mayfield:


Jon, I was looking to purchase the new macbook with a Radeon Pro 460 with 4GB memory, will this unlock the Ultra settings?




In answer to the above, yes the new MacBook Pro 15" does unlock the Ultra settings

I just got an Alpha R2. Here are the specs:

6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700T (8MB Cache, up to 3.6 GHz)


16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz - 1 DIMM

256GB M.2 PCIe SSD + 1TB 7200RPM HDD


With this, can I expect good performance at 4K resolution? Right now, I am running with a spare 1080P TV, but am considering purchasing a 4K monitor.

On the Zwiftalizer benchmark site a system like yours (Alienware 6700T gtx960) is reported with 30-40 fps at 4K ultra setting. I think that framerate is sufficient for Zwift.

Thanks! I am now looking at whether I should get a true computer monitor for the 4K screen or use a TV. I am thinking that if I’m “only” getting 30-40fps at 4K, and I don’t need ultra-low response time like I would want if I was playing a FPS, that I am probably OK with a 4K TV screen. Does this sound about right?

That’s wat I did and I think most people do when they want a bigger 4K screen for Zwift.

Hi Jon, 

Could you please add the new GTX 1050 Ti to the list that unlocks 2160p and Ultra graphics? This card benchmarks a little faster than the GTX 960, which as you mentioned above will unlock the 2160p and Ultra detail.

Currently it’s only allowing 1440p and High detail.


Hi, in the end I bought an Alien Alpha i5 with the GTX960 and a second hand sony 1080p LED TV, 40". This gives a decent frame rate with suitably high definition that’s very immersive. I think the key to having an immersive experience is firstly smooth frame rate, followed closely by a large TV – the larger the better. Smooth frame rate is definitely more important than resolution. 40" is the largest I could go, since it’s in my shed! :slight_smile:

I just built myself a new workstation with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB video card to do deep learning. The nice upside is Ultra looks AWESOME! On a 2K monitor and ultra settings, it’s pretty amazing compared to the lower settings.