Wolfenstein: Youngblood PC Performance Review
Published: 28th July 2019 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Wolfenstein: Youngblood acts as a pseudo-sequel to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, both in terms of plot and technological makeup. The Vulkan API powers this game using the latest iteration of the id Tech 6 engine, giving the technology its last hurrah before we move to DOOM Eternal's new id Tech 7 engine.
The benefits of Youngblood's use of the Vulkan API are numerous. For starters, it offers users support for multiple OS', enabling this game to run on Windows 7 and newer OS', unlike DirectX 12, which only works on Windows 10 (in most cases). Secondly, this API enables Wolfenstin's developers to make better use of both CPU and GPU resources. The game utilises advanced features like Asynchronous compute, and Nvidia Adaptive Shading to be utilised. Multi-threading has also been simplified to make better use of modern processors, as we can see on page 5.
CPU-wise, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a relatively easy title to run. On consoles, this game targets 60FPS (with the Nintendo Switch being an exception). This means that 60FPS framerates are possible on the low clocked Jaguar CPU cores that power the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. With this in mind, it is easy to see why this game can achieve 60+ FPS framerates on as little as a dual-core, quad-thread processor configuration. That said, we recommend using a capable quad-core or higher, as this limits potential framerate judder under heavy loads.
Using our 4GHz i7-6850K, stable framerates of over 170FPS were possible at 1080p on an RTX 2080 Ti under Wolfenstein's Mein Leben! settings. Youngblood benefits from high core counts, though the game remains CPU limited at 1080p with an RTX 2080 Ti. Higher framerates could be possible with a more capable processor.
For the most part, Wolfenstein: Youngblood players will be GPU limited, with VRAM being a major point of contention for the title. 4GB of video memory is listed within the game's PC system requirements, and we can see why. For Mein Leben! settings, Wolfenstein Youngblood can use up to 6GB of VRAM at 1440p and over 5GB at 1080p. 8GB of VRAM will be more than enough to run Mein Leben! settings at 4K, but at this resolution most PCs will be limited by GPU compute, not VRAM.
For the past few years, AMD's R9 380 and Nvidia's GTX 960 have acted as crucial parts of our game testing lineup. These 2GB graphics cards offer 2GB of VRAM, representing PC gamers who have not upgraded their systems in a while. With Wolfenstein: Youngblood we see these old cards pushed past their limits, with page 11 of this review showcasing how far this game muse be pushed back to achieve steady framerates, especially on the AMD R9 380.
At 1080p low settings, our 2GB graphics cards were not up to the task of playing Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Judging from using the same settings on other graphics cards we believe that 3GB GPU users will have a much better time playing the game, but as it stands, 2GB of VRAM isn't enough to play Wolfenstein: Youngblood at anything close to 1080p. The era of 2GB graphics cards is officially over.
Outside of VRAM requirements, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a breeze to play on modern graphics hardware. At 1080p the game is able to be played at Mein Leben!, the game's highest preset, at over 60FPS with graphics cards such as the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB or AMD's Radeon RX 580 with room to spare. Crank things up to 1440p, and the same settings will be playable at 60+ FPS on a GTX 1080 or an RX Vega 56.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a title that seems to make great use of the latest graphics architectures, with Nvidia's Turing-powered graphics cards storming past their Pascal-series competitors. Typically, Nvidia's RTX 2060 offers similar performance to a GTX 1080, often less, but in this case, the RTX 2060 can storm past it. When comparing AMD's Radeon Polaris and Vega series graphics cards to Pascal, team Radeon has a clear lead, but Turing changes things.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood showcases the benefits of Nvidia's Turing graphics architecture and its support for concurrent execution of both integer and floating-point operations. Sadly, our game testing guru doesn't have access to AMD Navi RX 5700 series for testing, though Radeon's latest graphics architecture may see similar performance benefits.
If we move things up to 4K, we can see that Wolfenstein: Youngblood is one of the few games where 4K 60FPS is relatively achievable using the game's highest preset. Our RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition can deliver a minimum framerate of over 85FPS, while our RTX 2060 can provide an average framerate of over 60FPS. Not bad for a modern AAA. On many occasions, our RTX 2080 Ti can sit at over 120FPS, an almost unheard of framerate at 4K, at least in recent titles.
Settings-wise, Wolfenstein Youngblood offers plenty of options for PC gamers to tinker with. Sadly, this does not translate to vast levels of performance scaling with the move from Main Leben! to Low settings resulting in a mere 44% increase in minimum framerate performance on our GTX 1060 graphics card at 1440p. While this is a significant change, it is arguable that more performance scaling should be possible. That said, those that need more performance scaling can always use Wolfenstein: Youngblood's resolution scaling options, which can reduce the game's internal framerate to deliver increased performance.
One option which we would like to see expanded on is Wolfenstein: Youngblood's resolution scaling, which offers an "adaptive" option which should dynamically reduce the game's internal resolution to deliver increased performance levels. Sadly, this feature does not work well, and players are unable to specify a framerate target to aim for. We would like to see this option expanded to become more similar to what is available in RAGE 2. In RAGE 2, a framerate target and minimum resolution scale can be set. This solution is better than what is available in Wolfenstein: Youngblood, at least in our experience. Both games are Bethesda titles that have had id Software work on their engines, so such a change should be possible, at least for future releases.
One of Wolfenstein: Youngblood's major add-ons is the addition of Nvidia Adaptive Shading (NAS). This feature is designed to increase game performance by reducing the shading rate in areas of the screen where higher shading rates of shading don't matter, offering greater GPU performance without any major performance downsides. With our RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, we found that NAS was able to deliver notable performance improvements at 1440p and 4K, with 1080p yielding no performance improvements, likely because the game is already CPU-limited. Strangely, our RTX 2060 graphics card produced marginal performance changes. We may look more in-depth into Nvidia Adaptive Shading at a later date.
Nvidia Adaptive Shading is a feature that is coming to DirectX 12 in the form of Content Adaptive Shading (CAS), a feature that's supported on Nvidia Turing and Intel Gen11 and newer graphics cards. This feature is likely to become a major factor in future DirectX 12 titles. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a Vulkan title, and as such is used Nvidia Adaptive Shading with what's likely to be an Nvidia specific Vulkan API extension.
Judging from today's GPU performance in Wolfenstein: Youngblood, it seems clear that the game has performance headroom for some additional graphical features, at least on high-end hardware. Machine Games and Nvidia has already confirmed that RTX raytracing support is coming to the game in the future. Thanks to the high performance of Nvidia's RTX hardware, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is one of the few cases where it's arguable that the game has enough performance headroom to deliver both hybrid raytracing and high-performance levels. With the RTX 2080 Ti offering average framerates of over 120FPS at 4K, there is some clear performance headroom to fit some raytraced effects into the game.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood runs well on PC and in some respects sits on the cutting-edge of gaming technology. The game pushes GPUs by using more VRAM than most other titles. It makes expert use of the Vulkan API to deliver stellar CPU/GPU performance. Nvidia's Turing architecture is extremely well utilised through the use of Nvidia Adaptive Shading and the utilisation of the architecture's concurrent integer and floating-point pipelines. It is hard to argue that Wolfenstein: Youngblood isn't a technical showcase, and that will become truer in time with the addition of Nvidia's RTX raytracing.
Machine Games has delivered another solid-performance PC release, cementing the id Tech 6 engine as one of the best in the business. This leaves us excited for DOOM: Eternal the first game to utilise the new id Tech 7 engine, which is due to deliver more impressive visuals and unheard-of levels of hardware efficiency. DOOM: Eternal is also set to feature raytracing, though at this time Nvidia has not revealed the game as an RTX partnered title.
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