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I play TF2 on a craptop, and I get about 15-20 fps out of it. It's very inconsistent however, and it can jump to 60 in one sitting, then drop to 1 extremely quickly.

I know that there are a lot of particle effects within TF2 (Healing, bullets, fire, unusuals, etc.). Are there any settings in-game and modifiable by configs that can give me the minimum particles needed to run TF2, yet somehow increasing performance?

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Have you tried using a maxframes config, such as Chris' configs or TF2mate? –  Schism Feb 23 '13 at 20:13
I've tried using those, they only marginally inrease my fps. I was only aware that the config got rid of certain things (made textures worse, got rid of useless details, etc.) –  DISREGARD MODS ACQUIRE REP Feb 23 '13 at 22:12
Is this the settings decided by the game itself? –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 26 '13 at 11:44
Techinically yes. –  DISREGARD MODS ACQUIRE REP Feb 26 '13 at 18:27
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To my knowledge there is no in-game way to alter particle systems aside from disabling those marked as weather (this is in advanced options). You need to create or find/download particle effect mods (which may or may not work on servers of various sv_pure settings) that reduce particle count/complexity.

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