Whoops. I mean't to say try delete it lol. I'm not saying everyone who has that in their settings file should delete it. I mentioned it, because having it in the file, can cause the exact issues you've reported from removing it (ironically).Wait, what does this do?
I have a gtx 980, so I thought even though I match the 980 profile...it's pretty much fully unlocked and not restricted by anything. But I tried to remove that line to see what it does, and my FPS drops about 15 fps. Also the game looks super sharpened...even though in my user.settings the SharpenAmount is set to 0. Also my file is read only to ensure nothing changes when I load up the game.
When I add back the hwpreset line, fps goes back to what it was, and game doesn't look sharpened anymore.
Sooo what does this actually do? What does this line actually change? Do you know the details?
It's a value for determining either a: if you've selected a graphical preset from the GUI menu (low, med, high, ultra). OR b: if your card is in a predefined list of GPUs inside the 'performance.xml' file. (i personally delete any cards inside of the tags inside of that, just in case) but I'm not 'recommending' that. I just personally do it.
I can only speculate that it ensures adherence to a graphical preset. If this is defined, it supersedes any personal graphical changes you make(that are included in the preset), and it will stick to that defined preset.
When I spotted it first, I noticed that it causes my settings to be forced to preset values when it's in my config. So I removed it long ago, and didn't look back. But you reported the exact opposite for you? lol. I'm assuming to went to your user.settings.BAK file after it, or something.