Call of Duty: Modern Warfare PC Performance Review and Optimisation Guide
Published: 28th October 2019 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Conclusion - Great performance and hints at next-gen visuals
There's a lot to talk about with this year's Call of Duty release, this soft-reboot into the Modern Warfare series. In many regards, this series entry is a return to form for the franchise; at least with regards to graphics and on PC we cannot help but be impressed with the game's performance.
Let's start with the simple bit; CPU performance. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will run well on any system with a modern gaming-grade processor. If you have a strong quad-core or better, you will have no issues running this game. This was expected, given this game's 60FPS target on consoles and the low-end AMD Jaguar CPUs therein, though it is nonetheless welcome to see this game running so well on low-end CPU setups. More information on this game's CPU performance is on page 3.
Next up let's talk DirectX 12, the exclusive graphical API of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. That's right, Call of Duty has dropped DirectX 11 support, though that does not mean that Windows 7 support has been lost. This game uses Microsoft Windows 7 DirectX 12 libraries to maintain support for Windows 7, though this means that Windows 8/8.1 support is lost.
Moving to DirectX12 exclusively is perhaps one of the reasons why Modern Warfare's PC performance is so strong, especially on AMD/Radeon hardware, though it is worth remembering that DirectX 12 is a requirement for DXR raytracing, which is featured within Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
While Modern Warfare's use of raytracing is limited, don't expect this to be another Control or Metro: Exodus, we can clearly see once again that raytracing and greatly benefit games visually. You can read more about our thoughts on Modern Warfare's use of raytracing in our dedicated RTX/DXR raytracing analysis for this game.
Settings-wise, Modern Warfare's graphics options offer relatively few features that can have a major impact on game performance. This limits how much PC gamers can increase the game's performance with settings changes alone, but it also allows the game to look great at its lowest settings. If you need a lot more performance, you may need to rely on Modern Warfare's resolution scaling options, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
What must be said here is that Modern Warfare runs great on PC. Even at maxed out (without raytracing), the game is easily able to run at 65+ FPS averages at 1080p on GPUs like the GTX 1060 and RX 580; both of which are by no means current-gen and are available very cheaply at retailers and on the used market. Crank things up to 1440p and both the RX Vega 56 and RTX 2060 can maintain averages of over 75FPS.
This is where we stumble into some unexpected news. In our benchmarks, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare favours Radeon hardware at all comparison points. The RX 580 has a significant advantage against the GTX 1060, and our PowerColor RX 5700 has a considerable performance lead over our RTX 2060 Founders Edition. Yes, we are not comparing AMD's reference design to Nvidia's model, but the lead we see here is more substantial than what could be explained away by a factory overclock. Why is this unexpected? Remember that this game is being sold with Nvidia RTX graphics cards and is getting pushed heavily by Nvidia's advertising.
What we can see with Modern Warfare is that the Call of Duty series had made a significant push in terms of its own graphics/engine tech. Changes to volumetric lighting, geometric culling and the engine's physically-based materials/lighting system all contribute to make this game performance-efficient and gorgeous. Add-in RTX/DXR raytracing support, and we can also see Infinity Ward looking to the future to see how raytracing can be used to push the graphical envelope further.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare runs great on PC, and any negative points that we have against the game are little more than nitpicks. Yes, the cinematics for the campaign stuttered at times, and yes we would have loved to have seen support for variable resolution scaling, but neither of these are huge negatives. Hopefully, we will see the game's cinematic stutters resolved with a future driver update or game patches.
You can join the discussion on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's PC performance on the OC3D Forums.