Watch_Dogs PC GeForce performance evaluation
Watch_Dogs is probably the most hyped new game of the year. Destructoid called it one of the “most wanted games of 2014″, CNET said it was “one of the most anticipated games in recent memory”, and MTV said it’s one of the “Can’t-Miss Video Games of 2014″ – before anyone has even played it. Well, we have been playing Watch_Dogs since Saturday morning, and it definitely lives up to the hype! The game is so engrossing and so fun that this editor is very late with the full review, having played far longer than originally intended. Even though we are barely over ten hours into the main campaign, it is in the solid “8 plus” category.
It seems that UbiSoft has taken the very best elements of the Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag gameplay and mechanics, and tossed out the boring bits and what doesn’t work. The result is a fast-paced huge open world game with a great story, superb voice acting, awesome music, and car chases to delight the most jaded gamers. Everything comes together – including multiplayer and singleplayer – and it just works!
However, we will give you the full review of the game later this week which will also include more detailed performance analysis and IQ (image quality) comparison between, FXAA, temporal SMAA, 4xMSAA, and 2xTXAA. This short performance evaluation will focus on GeForce cards as AMD has promised a new driver today which is supposed to increase performance significantly over the current driver set, and we will update this evaluation.
We are going to test the GTX 780 Ti/GTX 770/GTX 760/GTX 680 and GTX 680 SLI (GTX 690). You will note that the 2GB cards are unable to run Ultra Textures without significant issues, and they default to High.
ABT has been hosting Nvidia’s Watch_Dogs banners for the past month. To qualify for a free digital copy of Watch_Dogs, you will need to buy one of the following GeForce cards: GTX TITAN, 780 Ti, 780, 770, 760, 690, 680, 670, 660 Ti or 660–powered graphics cards. Nvidia believes that the best gaming experience is on GeForce since Watch_Dogs features Nvidia’s GameWorks, and especially TXAA and HBAO+ technology for a highly interactive and immersive experience.
In Watch_Dogs, all major cities are networked, monitored and controlled by complex operating systems called the Central Operating System (ctOS) which controls Chicago’s technology and holds information on all of the city’s residents.
You play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and thug who is on the hunt for those who hurt his family. You will be able to monitor, hack and manipulate everything connected to the ctOS network. As Aiden, you can access and control security cameras, download personal information about your targets, control traffic lights and public transportation, cause blackouts, and far more.
It may sound a bit complex, but the game presents it to the player without handholding, and the player is naturally drawn into the Watch_Dogs‘ dark underworld of hackers. Best of all, the game is fun, and especially the car chases bring some genuine laugh out loud moments. However, we will cover the story in the full review, later on this week.
Let’s first look at our hardware and software testbed:
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7-4770K (reference 3.5GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 3.7GHz; overclocked to 4.0GHz; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
- ECS GANK Domination Z87H3-A2X motherboard (Intel Z87 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x) supplied by ECS
- 16 GB DDR3 HyperX Kingston “Beast” RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz; supplied by Kingston)
- GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB (reference clocks), supplied by Nvidia
- GeForce GTX TITAN, 6GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
- GeForce GTX 770, 2GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
- Nvidia GTX 680, 2 GB reference design and clocks, supplied by Nvidia
- Nvidia GTX 690 at GTX 680 SLI speeds; 2 GB (effective, per GPU) reference design and clocks, supplied by Nvidia
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius.
- 2TB GB Toshiba 7200.10 hard drive
- Thermaltake ToughPower 775W power supply unit supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro watercooler, supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
- Philips DVD SATA writer
- HP LP3065 2560×1600 thirty inch LCD.
Test Configuration – Software
- Watch_Dogs, digital reviewer’s copy; Supplied by UbiSoft/Nvidia
- NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 337.88. High Quality; Single-display Performance mode; Prefer Maximum Performance. Shader Cache on.
- Windows 7 64-bit; very latest updates
- EVGA PrecisionX 4.21 overclocking and monitoring software; temperature and power targets set to maximum.
- Latest DirectX
- All games are patched to their latest versions.
- vsync is forced off in the control panels.
- Varying AA enabled as noted – FXAA, Temporal SMAA, 4xMSAA, 2xTXAA
- All results show average frame rates; 3GB/6GB vRAM-enabled cards benched with Ultra textures, and 2GB vRAM cards tested with High textures
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Windows 7 64, DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
- Latest version of Fraps
The Settings and Performance
All settings are completely maxed out – Ultra where available. This setting is “Custom” since HBAO+ is not enabled by default Ultra. All 2GB cards are restricted to “High” textures. It is possible to enable Ultra textures on a 2GB card only after a 3GB or 6GB card was tested previously; otherwise Ultra is grayed-out.If you try to run high textures on a 2GB card – or set AA setting too high – there will be issues that include slowdowns and visible artifacting. The 3GB vRAM-equipped GTX 780 Ti had serious chugging and artifacting issues at 2560×1600 with 4xAA, and to a lesser extent at 2xTXAA; issues that the 6GB vRAM-equipped TITAN did not experience.
The Main Summary Chart
The only variables are the levels of Anti-Aliasing. No AA is not really a good option. FXAA provides a lower level of AA that eliminates some of the jaggies as the expense of a slight blur, but does nothing for texture crawling and shimmering. Temporal SMAA gives the gamer a slightly better experience than FXAA with a slightly greater performance hit, but temporal Aliasing is still noticeable.
2xMSAA is a waste of processing power as it barely provides any relief from the jaggies while giving a higher performance hit than Temporal SMAA. 4xMSAA does provide a better experience than either FXAA or SMAA, but it still does not address the shimmering and crawling that 2xTXAA provides.
Our best playing experiences were enjoyed by using 2xTXAA with a GTX 780 Ti at 1920×1080, and with Temporal SMAA at 2560×1600 . The slight TXAA blur adds to the cinematic effect and eliminates much of the irritating crawling and shimmering. 4xTXAA looks best, but it is below ‘borderline’ acceptable for performance at 1920×1080 with a single-GPU GTX videocard.
Watch_Dogs is an extraordinary game that has surprised and delighted this editor who is only just over ten hours into an engrossing main story. Already, he has played chess successfully to gain ‘focus’, been involved in many exciting high speed car chases, as well as high-speed boating to escape the helicopter; and is still learning the complexity of this rather deep but fun game. We are looking forward to completing it, and we will bring you a full performance and IQ evaluation later this week – before we finish the game!
Watch_Dogs is Recommended as the best game of the year, so far, and it is deserving of a solid 8 – without completing it, or even considering its extensive multiplayer options. –Buy it!!
The GeForce GTX and Watch_Dogs bundle is available from leading e-tailers including Newegg, Amazon.com, TigerDirect, NCIX and add-in card vendors.
If you want to get Watch_Dogs free by buying it together with a GeForce video card as a bundle, a full list of participating partners is available at: www.GeForce.com/GetWatchDogs or click on one of the ad banners. And definitely check out ABT forums for the best tech discussions anywhere.