CSGO update brings big graphics improvements with texture streaming

Nick J. May 14, 2020

Valve's latest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update has added a setting for texture streaming, a process that has the potential to boost performance in Counter-Strike by a massive amount.

Texture streaming allows textures to be called up from a user's hard drive only when they're needed, freeing valuable memory and ultimately boosting performance by a serious amount.

Even on powerful machines, texture streaming makes a massive difference in FPS, especially on newer maps that have traditionally struggled on older PCs. Even on PCs geared towards high performance, gains of 10-20 FPS were common as textures were loaded and unloaded as needed.

The technology isn't new, and it's definitely not the update many were hoping for. After several reports that Counter-Strike's long-awaited Source 2 port would be available on the day the patch released, many were understandably excited when a patch for Valve's first-person shooter appeared last night. At only 20MB in size, though, it definitely didn't contain a port to a brand new engine. But besides the addition of texture streaming to the client, however, there wasn't much else contained in the patch.

What is texture streaming, and what does it mean for CSGO?

Texture streaming could be the precursor to more new settings especially come that deal with either enhanced shaders or larger textures. By instituting a way for PCs to transfer textures and shaders with less of impact to performance, Valve has opened the door for more updates to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to support higher resolution textures and graphical updates that put less of a strain on a user's computer and its ability to handle a graphical update to a game that hasn't seen a complete visual overhaul since updated player models were introduced.

Some players forget that before Agents were introduced with CSGO's Shattered Web operation, a series of updates completely retextured Counter-Strike's classic T and CT models and brought them into the 21st century. Look at the difference between the models before the updates and after.

CSGO update doesn't bring Source 2

While not the Source 2 update that the entire Counter-Strike community is so excited about, Valve's new texture streaming option lays the groundwork for more improvements to CSGO in the future.

Players can test out Valve's new texture streaming beta option by right-clicking Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in their Steam Library, clicking Properties, navigating to the "Betas" tab at the top and selecting "texture streaming beta" from the drop-down menu. After the update downloads, the new streaming option is found in the game's video settings. It's turned off by default, do players who want to check it out have to enable the new option by hand.