Draw distance is a computer graphics term, defined as the maximum distance of objects in a three dimensional scene that are drawn by the rendering engine. Polygons that lie behind the draw distance won't be drawn to the screen.
As the draw distance increases more distant polygons need to be drawn onto the screen that would regularly be clipped. This requires more computing power; the graphic quality and realism of the scene will increase as draw distance increases, but the overall performance (frames per second) will decrease. Many games and applications will allow users to manually set the draw distance to balance performance and visuals.
In the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV, the player has the option to set both the draw distance (the physical distance of buildings, cars and road spawning in, and the overall outline of basic polygons) and the detail distance (the distance at which smaller details, such as peds, smaller props, quality of drawing, and other drawn-on features on polygons). This feature returns to the PC version of GTA V.