Half Life 2 & Source Engine Tweak Guide
[Page 2] Essential Optimization
Before getting into any game-specific settings and tweaks, this section covers the obligatory system optimization information I include in all my guides. If you've followed this advice recently, you can skip this section.
Many people report problems with this game and in almost all cases these are due to general system issues and not the game itself. With that in mind I strongly urge you to take some time and follow the advice below if you truly want this game, and indeed every other game you own, to run at its fastest and most trouble-free.
The place to start is with the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. It is the complete system optimization guide for Windows users. Designed for novice and advanced users alike, it is written in plain English to help you genuinely understand all aspects of Windows and your PC. The guide covers every major topic, from the correct installation of Windows and critical drivers and software, through to recommendations for every significant setting and feature, all the major performance and convenience tweaks and customizations, as well as detailed troubleshooting advice. There are also links to a range of reliable free applications which can enhance your system and give you viable alternatives to purchasing commercial software. There are separate versions available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
If you've ever wondered what common graphics and display settings like FPS, VSync, Refresh Rate, Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering are, and how they really work, then check out my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide for all the details in an easy to understand format. The guide also gives you a rundown on exactly how a game goes from a being a set of files on your hard drive to a 3D image on your screen, including relevant performance tips.
Finally, if you run an ATI or Nvidia graphics card, I have written two comprehensive guides which you should check out: the ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide and the Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide. These guides cover absolutely everything about the latest graphics drivers, how to set them up correctly, as well as advanced tweaking, overclocking and benchmarking tips. They're a must-read for configuring your graphics card correctly.
The above information really will serve you well in the long run, not just in this game. If you don't optimize your system and keep everything updated and maintained correctly you will keep running into "mysterious" problems time and time again. Do yourself a favor and when you get a chance spend an afternoon or two optimizing your machine the right way with the guides above.
The next section goes into more detail about specific troubleshooting tips which address common performance issues with the game.