Devil May Cry 5 - Denuvo Performance Impact
Published: 11th March 2019 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Conclusion - Should we be worried about Denuvo in DMC5?
If you frequent Reddit and other large message boards, you will often find a lot of PC gamers talking about Denuvo. Topics of discussions include its potential performance impact, its inclusion in the latest game releases and whether or not its most recent iteration of the technology has been cracked. You do not have to look very far to find conversations about Denuvo, but what's lacking from the discussion is concrete information.
With Capcom's Denuvo mishap during Devil May Cry 5's launch, we were given an unexpected opportunity to look at the game without the technology, which has allowed us to judge the technology's impact on game's performance. Playing the game on an SSD, we can say that Denuvo had a limited effect on loading times, with loading screens taking relatively little time when starting new levels, moving into the character upgrade menu or starting new cutscenes. On solid state storage Devil May Cry 5 is relatively seamless, with load times taking a few short seconds at a time. Six-second loading screens aren't exactly difficult to stomach.
When it comes to the performance impact of Denuvo, we have highlighted why it is essential to benchmark several locations of a game, and why a little extra variety and due diligence is important when analysing any specific technology. In our first testing area, we found that any performance changes were well within the margin of error for gameplay, but our following two testing sequences showcased a notable performance impact. That said, Denuvo's impact on performance remained minimal.
In our second test area, we found that removing Denuvo offered us a 3.47% increase in 1% minimum framerates, while our framerate average saw a 3.66% performance boost. In our third test scene, which focused on fast level traversal and larger amounts of asset streaming and storage access, noting a 4.2% boost in 1% minimum framerates and a 3.4% boost in average framerate.
Our data left us with two takeaways, first that the performance impact of Denuvo is largely scene-dependent, and secondly that the performance impact of Denuvo on Devil May Cry 5 is minimal. In all test area, Devil May Cry 5 was running well over 100FPS, making the small differences in framerate practically impossible to notice in gameplay.
If we were using a faster processor, rather than our 4GHz Broadwell-E based i7-6800K CPU, we would likely see a smaller performance impact from Denuvo. There are two ways to look at results, concern at the fact that we could see framerate dips as high as 4.2% when Denuvo is active, or dismiss these results because framerates were all in excess of 100FPS and that the difference Denovo made is practically impossible to notice in real gameplay. Changing from DirectX 12 to DirectX 11 can have a larger performance impact.
When it comes to Devil May Cry 5's PC performance, there are two factors that we would like to make a note of. First, that the game's partially online nature can cause a lot of performance variance. In many levels, the roles of non-player characters (Nero, Dante or V depending on the level) can be taken by other players. These online players can often be seen fighting in areas of the map that are inaccessible to the local player, acting as a means by which players can see how each character's story intersects with the others.
What these online players are doing can impact game performance, especially if a large battle is visible on-screen. This could introduce a level of performance variance that some may assume is Denuvo when benchmarking Devil May Cry 5.
Another factor that can drastically impact Devil May Cry 5's performance is which version of DirectX the game is running on, with both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 being available. This option is not selectable in-game and is automatically chosen by the application, though it can be manually changed editing a game file called DMC5config. Using the Devil May Cry 5's Denuvo-less exe may switch the game's default DirectX mode, which did happen during our initial testing.
In some cases, the performance impact of DirectX11/12 might be getting blamed on Denuvo. For this reason, all of our performance testing was conducted using Devil May Cry 5's DirectX 12 mode.
Does Denuvo have a performance impact? Yes, but it won't matter to most gamers. Devil May Cry 5 leans more on graphics cards than CPUs, especially in its most demanding sections. In Devil May Cry 5, Denuvo shouldn't be a major concern for PC gamers, especially for those who are using modern gaming CPUs.
Over the past few days, there have been a lot of claims of Denuvo making a 20+ FPS impact on Devil May Cry 5's performance, but so far we have seen no evidence of this. Yes, we have seen a performance impact, but the difference has averaged to less than 5% in all test cases. This difference was at 1080p on an RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card, with the performance differences all but disappearing at higher resolutions.
Should you worry about Denuvo's performance impact on Devil May Cry 5? Probably not, but if you are concerned you can probably still find the Denuvo-free exe for the game online. That said, a difference of less than 5% isn't worth worrying about, especially when the game is primarily GPU limited. Nobody should be playing this game at 1080p on an RTX 2080 Ti.
Just to be 100% clear, we dislike Denuvo as much as the next guy. In most of our game performance reviews, we suffer at least one Denuvo related lockout, denying us access to the games we pay for for 24 hours at a time. Lockout and any performance losses can be considered punishments for purchasing games legitimately, which is not how this industry should function. We would like to see Denuvo go the way of the dodo, along with its added online requirements for single player PC games.
You can join the discussion on Denuvo's performance impact on Devil May Cry 5's PC version on the OC3D Forums.