Cyberpunk 2077 Performance Review and Optimisation Guide
Published: 13th December 2020 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Conclusion - How to Optimise Cyberpunk 2077 for your PC
Cyberpunk 2077 was probably the most hyped game of 2020, if not the past decade. CD Projekt Red had a project which pushed the capabilities of current-generation hardware past their limits and has successfully given every PC gamers a great excuse to upgrade their systems.
A lot of games have been called the "New Crysis" in 2020, and Cyberpunk 2077 is the game that has truly earned that title. The gameplay gives players plenty of options when dealing with objectives, like Crysis, and was clearly developed with future generations of graphics hardware in mind.
PC gamers will be upgrading their systems with Cyberpunk in mind for years to come, especially if the PC version benefits from the game's planned next-generation console upgrades.
Developed with Next-Gen in mind
While Cyberpunk 2077 runs on last-generation consoles, it does so with visuals which sit far below the game's PC version and with framerates which don't even come close to a stable 30 FPS. With this in mind, PC gamers will require beefy rigs to power through Cyberpunk 2077 at the game's highest settings.
Nvidia has driven its hands deep into the development of Cyberpunk 2077, convincing CD Projekt Red to add Ray Tracing to an already demanding PC title. Beyond that, Cyberpunk 2077 has been developed with Nvidia's Turing and Ampere graphics architectures in mind, allowing Nvidia's latest hardware to power past their older Pascal (or older) counterparts.
For context, look at our 1080p, 1440p and 4K benchmarks. Here, Nvidia's RTX 2060 offers similar performance to a GTX 1080 Ti. It wasn't long ago that PC gamers were complaining that the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Super offered GTX 1080 Ti-like performance levels. Now an RTX 2060 can deliver GTX 1080 Ti performance levels, and DLSS can extend that lead.
CPU Performance and Optimisation
Night City can hard on anyone, especially if you are a CPU. With high NPC counts and dense environments, it makes sense that Cyberpunk 2077 is hard on both CPU and graphics hardware.
With our Ryzen 9 3950X, we saw performance gains when we ran the game on more CPU cores until we were running Cyberpunk 2077 on an 8-core 16-thread setup. Even at its full core count with Precision Boost Overdrive enabled, our Ryzen 9 3950X didn't keep Cyberpunk 2077 above 60 FPS at all times. While future game updates may improve Ryzen performance, there is an option for PC gamers to boost their CPU performance outside of a hardware upgrade; Crowd Density.
Within Cyberpunk 2077's Gameplay settings, as detailed on page 4 of this analysis, a setting called Crowd Density can be used to increase Cyberpunk 2077's CPU performance and framerate stability. This will make 60+ FPS framerates much more achievable within the more demanding areas of Nigh City. Even at Medium density levels, Night City can feature large crowds, so don't consider that settings change a huge downgrade.
On pages 8 and 9 of this analysis, we discussed the settings which could deliver the largest performance enhancements within Cyberpunk 2077, concluding that Ambient Occlusion, Volumetric Fog, Screen Space Reflections had the largest impact on framerate. With our optimised settings (as seen on page 9), we achieved a 33.2% performance gain over Cyberpunk 2077's Ultra Preset with a minimal loss in graphical quality, that said, this won't be enough to get most hardware running at over 60 FPS.
For Nvidia RTX users, DLSS is your best avenue towards increased performance. With similar and arguably better levels of image quality as the game's native TAA presentation, DLSS' balanced mode delivered RTX 3070 users a 90% performance gain at 4K. Thanks to DLSS alone, it can be said that Cyberpunk 2077 runs best on Nvidia RTX graphics cards.
While Cyberpunk 2077's graphical options menu states that Ray tracing is available on DXR compatible hardware, Ray Tracing is an Nvidia RTX-only feature at launch. Even Nvidia's other DXR enabled graphics cards, like DXR-enabled GTX 10 series and GTX 16 series graphics cards, lack support for DXR ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077, making ray tracing exclusive to a tiny section of the PC market.
In addition to this, Cyberpunk 2077's Ray Tracing graphics presets are tied to Nvidia's DLSS feature, automatically setting DLSS to Auto when activated. That said, RTX GPU users would be foolish not to use DLSS within Cyberpunk 2077. With Ray Tracing and DLSS enabled, Nvidia users can often achieve higher performance levels than Cyberpunk 2077 at Ultra settings without DLSS.
Cyberpunk 2077 may be patched to support additional DXR compliant graphics cards in the future. Still, without a DLSS-like feature from Radeon, it is hard to see AMD catching up to Nvidia's ray tracing performance anytime soon.
Once again, DLSS shines as a killer feature from team Geforce. The performance benefits alone should make DLSS a must-enable feature for all Nvidia RTX users in Cyberpunk 2077, with DLSS' Quality and Balanced settings offering visuals which are arguably better than Cyberpunk 2077's stock TAA presentation.
Cyberpunk 2077's TAA is on the blurry side, giving DLSS a performance advantage and a sharpness advantage in many instances. That said, DLSS can introduce minor aliasing within some areas of Cyberpunk 2077, especially at its higher performance settings. Given the hardware demands of Cyberpunk 2077, this minor downside is worth it if you are looking for higher framerates or wish to enable ray tracing.
In Cyberpunk 2077, DLSS is a feature that's too good to ignore. AMD urgently needs an answer to DLSS, as you can be sure that Nvidia's trying to push DLSS into every upcoming AAA PC games that they can.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an incredible game, and CD Projekt Red's vision demands strong PC hardware. With ray tracing enabled, Cyberpunk 2077 is truly a next-generation experience, but those visuals come at a huge hardware cost. Cyberpunk 2077 will fuel a lot of PC upgrades in 2021 and beyond, and that is because the game is hugely demanding on PC.
Those with older PC hardware will struggle to run Cyberpunk 2077 with high framerates, and even some relatively modern PCs will struggle. That's the cost of progress, though there is a chance the Cyberpunk's PC performance will improve with future patches and GPU driver updates.
Cyberpunk 2077 is the new Crysis, and most PC gamers should expect to play the game at lower setting than they are used to, or prepare to upgrade their systems.
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