The Division 2 PC Performance Review
Published: 18th March 2019 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Massive Entertainment's The Division 2 showcases part of a significant shift that is happening in the PC gaming landscape, with the adoption of modern graphical APIs coming due to the need for increased CPU performance, rather than the need to squeeze more juice out of your graphics card.
This is a trend that we first noticed in 2018's Shadow of the Tomb Raider (See our Full PC Performance Analysis Here), where we found that one of the primary benefits of DirectX 12 came on the CPU front. With today's CPU hardware, single-threaded performance isn't increasing at the same rate it once had. IPC increases are not shipping fast enough, and clock speeds are starting to hit a wall, with node transitions taking longer with each generation.
With this in mind, game developers have started to make smarter use of the hardware that is available today, optimising their engines to make practical use of six or more CPU cores, taking as much weight off their game's primary thread as possible. To accomplish this, game developers are shifting to the DirectX 12 API with a focus on multi-threaded performance, and moving forward we expect DirectX 12 to become a more primary focus of AAA developers. Yes, GPU performance gains can be had under DirectX 12, but the benefits on the CPUs side can often be more significant and impactful on games.
Looking at pages six and seven, we can see the clear benefits of DirectX 12 over DirectX 11 in the majority of test cases, with the only exception being our lowly R9 380 and GTX 960 graphics cards (see page 12), who see a net performance loss due to what appears to be VRAM-based limitations.
Our advice for the majority of PC gamers is to run The Division 2 using DirectX 12, though we will note that the game did offer better performance in some CPU limited scenarios when using a quad-core, non-hyperthreaded CPU setup. Anyone with more cores or threads, or uses Radeon graphics cards should use DirectX 12 in this game.
When it comes to VRAM, users of 4GB graphics cards shouldn't have issues at 1080p, with 6GB (or more) being ideal for 1440p while 8GB is perfect for 4K. At Ultra HD resolutions, we found VRAM usage of over 7GB during gameplay, showcasing how Massive Entertainment has created their game with modern graphics hardware in mind, making full use of the resources available to GPUs that are designed with such a high resolution in mind.
Users of graphics cards with 2GB of VRAM will struggle with this game, with the game's lower presets being required for a playable gaming experience. That said, the game is playable using the right settings, revealing an incredible amount of scalability within The Division 2.
If you want a 1080p 60+ FPS experience, the ideal graphics cards for the job are AMD's Radeon RX 580 and Nvidia's Geforce GTX 1060 at High settings, with higher-end GPUs like the R Vega 56 and GTX 1070 being required for 1080p 60+ at Ultra settings.
Moving on to 1440p, we recommend Nvidia's RTX 2070 and AMD's Radeon RX Vega 56 for 60+ FPS gameplay at Ultra and the RX Vega 56 and RTX 2060 for 1440p 60+ FPS framerates using The Division 2's High preset. High settings offer a great balance between performance and graphical quality, though Ultra is useful for those who want to push things to the next level.
At 4K, even Nvidia's RTX 2080 Ti requires settings reductions to achieve 4K 60FPS framerates. For this GPU the game's High preset is enough to get the game running at 60+ FPS, but lower-cost 4K offerings like the RTX 2080 and Radeon VII will require more significant settings adjustments for such a high framerate. For these GPUs, we recommend 4K High settings and a tweaked resolution scale to offer a Faux-K gaming experience.
Our only problem with the PC version of The Division 2 is a short pauses/hitches that occasionally happens in-game. These pauses occurred under both DirectX 12 and DirectX 11 on both AMD and Nvidia graphics hardware. This issue was rare and did not have a significant impact on our gaming experience, though it is a problem which Ubisoft should address.
With this performance review, we managed to compare many of Nvidia Pascal and Turing GPUs offerings, where we noted that Turing stormed past their Pascal counterparts, with the RTX 2070 easily surpassing the GTX 1080 while the RTX 2080 bested the GTX 1080 Ti in all test cases. AMD's Radeon graphics cards also offer compelling performance levels, with the Radeon RX Vega 56 often besting the RTX 2060 while the RX 580 bested Nvidia GTX 1060 in most test cases.
With The Division 2, Massive Entertainment has offered PC gamers with incredible levels of scalability and high levels of optimisation for the latest gaming hardware. On PC, it is hard to fault The Division 2, as it delivers everything that we should expect, even if they use ultra-wide resolutions or multi-monitor setups.
As the third and final release of AMD's "Raise the Game Fully Loaded" game bundle, The Division 2 caps off the company's latest round of gaming partnerships with a bag. All three games are incredibly well made for PC, showcasing how useful AMD can be as a hardware partner and how focused the developers of each game are on the PC platform as a whole.
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