Game Benchmarks

Regardless of how its mechanics pan-out, Star Citizen is slated to claim the throne as one of the most graphically intense PC games in recent history. This is something we discussed with CIG's Chris Roberts back when the Kickstarter was still running, diving into the graphics technology and the team's intent to fully utilize all tools available to them.

We've been trying to perform frequent benchmarks of Star Citizen as the game progresses. This progress monitor comes with a massive disclaimer, though, and is something we'll revisit shortly: The game isn't finished.

The recent launch of the GTX 980 Ti, R9 Fury X, and AMD 300 series cards almost demands a revisit to Star Citizen's video card performance. This graphics benchmark looks at GPU performance in Star Citizen's 1.1.3 build, testing framerates at various settings and resolutions.

The launch of the Witcher 3 introduced a couple of game graphics options that aren't very commonly available in settings menus. Photographers may be familiar with the likes of chromatic aberration and vignetting, but not many games have offered these items for tweaking in the past.

We recently benchmarked The Witcher 3 for GPU performance and remarked that the game was horridly optimized, taking the opportunity expand on the graphics settings in a limited fashion. Since this posting, CD Projekt Red has released a new game patch (1.03) that drastically improves PC performance on various video cards; AMD is expected to release a Catalyst 15.5 beta driver update that focuses on the Witcher in the near future.

This Witcher 3 optimization guide defines the best graphics settings for improving FPS in the game, seeking to explain each option in greater depth. We independently benchmarked various game settings on a Titan X (to eliminate bottlenecking on the hardware) and took a graphics settings comparison video, found below. Although screenshots can get some of the job done, a comparison video is critical for a game like The Witcher; CD Projekt Red's newest RPG makes heavy use of temporal filters, which means that the filters make the most impact over time (seen through movement, which isn't conveyed in a screenshot). We'd encourage checking out the video for just a few comparisons of the many options.

During the GTA V craze, we posted a texture resolution comparison that showcased the drastic change in game visuals from texture settings. The GTA content also revealed VRAM consumption and the effectively non-existent impact on framerates by the texture setting. The Witcher 3 has a similar “texture quality” setting in its game graphics options, something we briefly mentioned in our Witcher 3 GPU benchmark.

This Witcher 3 ($60) texture quality comparison shows screenshots with settings at Ultra, High, Normal, and Low using a 4K resolution. We also measured the maximum VRAM consumption for each setting in the game, hoping to determine whether VRAM-limited devices could benefit from dropping texture quality. Finally, in-game FPS was measured as a means to determine the “cost” of higher quality textures.

Benchmarking the Witcher 3 proved to be more cumbersome than any game we've ever benchmarked. CD Projekt Red's game doesn't front the tremendously overwhelming assortment of options that GTA V does – all of which we tested, by the way – but it was still a time-consuming piece of software to analyze. This is largely due to optimization issues across the board, but we'll dive into that momentarily.

In this Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt PC benchmark, we compare the FPS of graphics cards at varied settings (1080p, 1440p, 4K) to uncover achievable framerates. Among others, we tested SLI GTX 980s, a Titan X, GTX 960s, last-gen cards, and AMD's R9 290X, 285, and 270X. Game settings were tweaked in methodology for the most fair comparison (below), but primarily checked for FPS at 1080p (ultra, medium, low), 1440p (ultra, medium), and 4K (ultra, medium).

That's a big matrix.

Let's get started.

A week of benchmarking behind us, we've now tested most major aspects of Rockstar's new GTA V PC release. We've elected to adopt the game into our test methodology for future component reviews, given its wide performance demands and load balancing between the CPU and GPU. This final GTA V benchmark looks at CPU bottlenecking at various resolutions and settings; we pit the 3570K, 4790K, FX-8320E, FX-8370E, FX-9690, G3258, and Athlon 760K against one another.

The selection casts a wide net for core count and price points, hopefully illustrating where CPU bottlenecks may appear in playing GTA V.

GTA V shipped alongside an onslaught of graphics settings – none of which offer tool-tips – that can vastly control the fluidity of gameplay. In our recent and comprehensive GTA V benchmark, we tested multiple video cards for FPS at simple “max” and “high” settings, fluctuating resolution between 1080, 1440, and 4K along the way. That content now behind us, we took the opportunity to objectively benchmark various graphics settings for performance differences, then took a few screenshots for comparison of those settings.

This GTA V optimization guide assists in choosing the best graphics settings for frame-limited video cards, explaining the options along the way.

It's finally here.

Grand Theft Auto V took its time to migrate to PC, and from our preliminary overview and testing, it seems like the wait was worthwhile. GTA V's PC port exhibits unique PC features, like a VRAM consumption slider indicative of the maximum VRAM requirement of the current settings. The port also added first-person mode, complete with new 3D models and animations for the characters' arms, phone, guns, and what-have-you. As you'll find out in our benchmark results below, the game is also incredibly well-optimized across most graphics card configurations, something we can't say has been true for most games in recent history.

These things take time, and RockStar certainly took as much of that as it needed.

Using a suite of video cards spanning the Titan X, SLI GTX 980s, R9 290X and 270Xs, GTX 960s, 750 Ti cards, and more, we benchmarked GTA V in an intensive test. This GTA V PC benchmark compares FPS of various graphics cards at maximum settings in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.

This article makes no intentions to comment on gameplay value.

We're revisiting our Evolve benchmark, now that the game has fully launched and (some) drivers have been updated. Our previous Evolve bench tested the game's beta, but disclaimed heavily that the beta meant a lack of driver support and software-side optimization. The return benchmark uses much of the same methodology and represents the same game as previously, so this article will be a bit shorter in length.

In Left 4 Dead-like form, Evolve reintroduces the concept of monster vs. humans multiplayer gameplay with high-fidelity graphics. 2K's soon-to-be released “Evolve” has already been analyzed by us a few times, but now we're returning to specifically benchmark the game's PC FPS performance. 

This Evolve GPU FPS benchmark tests the game on Very High (max) and Medium settings, pitting some of the best graphics cards against one another. On our Evolve graphics bench, we tested the GTX 980 vs. the GTX 780, 770, 750 Ti, & R9 290X vs. the R9 285, 270X, R7 250X, & HD 7850. Once we got past the FPS limitations (resolved easily, as explained in an upcoming guide), testing Evolve was fairly easy and unrestrictive.

NOTE: This game is in BETA. Although it is near completion, results could be significantly improved prior to launch as GPU manufacturers move to finalize drivers specific to Evolve. The same is true as 2K continues to implement optimization patches.

Elite: Dangerous is one of the best-optimized games we've tested this year, right up there with GRID: Autosport. The game is a member of the impending cluster of space sim and space-flight combat games actively being developed. Like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous comes from the designers of a game that's decades-old, 1984's “Elite.”

With Elite: Dangerous' official launch, we've put the game on our GPU bench to test the FPS on various graphics card configurations, including an R7 250X, 270X, GTX 750 Ti, GTX 980, and more. In addition to our usual video settings tests, we ran Elite: Dangerous using AMD's VSR and nVidia's DSR (super resolution) to render output at 4K. These tests are representative of performance yield on a true 4K display. Our crash fix guide may be useful to those who are experiencing issues running Elite: Dangerous.

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