In 2018, the third part of the revived Tomb Raider series was released. The new adventures of Lara Croft unfolded against the backdrop of dense jungles and ancient Mayan buildings. Once again, the engine was improved and right from the start the game received support for DirectX 12. Shadow of the Tomb Raider threatened to become the first game with effects based on ray tracing, but the corresponding update has not yet been released. The game is constantly featured in our latest video card reviews. In this article, we decided to conduct a comprehensive comparison of different models using different versions of DirectX.
The game is based on the Foundation Engine, which traditionally pleases with excellent detailing of large levels. Since the scene has shifted to the hot tropics, there is now more vegetation, it looks more alive, trembles in the wind and casts shadows. The complex structure of the landscape is combined with textured relief surfaces. Tessellation is actively used to give additional volume to uneven surfaces.
At the same high level of detail of the characters. Lara’s dynamic hair is recreated using PureHair technology.
Volumetric lighting looks great, especially when dense rays make their way through dense thickets. Although, due to sudden changes in illumination in the dark jungle, visibility is sharply reduced. It turns out atmospheric, but the manufacturability of the picture is lost behind the feeling of gray darkness.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs in DirectX 11 or DirectX 12 environments. At the moment, these modes do not offer any visual difference, the difference is only in performance. If trace-based shadows or reflections are added, they will work in DirectX 12.
Solutions from the top, middle and budget segments, including new generation models and old video cards, will take part in comparative testing. Top models are tested only in high resolutions.
The new generation of NVIDIA is represented by the reference GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card.
The ASUS DUAL-RTX2080-O8G graphics card replaces the GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition.
The flagship of the old generation is present — the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
Two versions of the GeForce RTX 2070 will take part in testing. This is a frequency analogue of the Founders Edition version represented by ASUS DUAL-RTX2070-O8G.
The simplest GeForce RTX 2070 is represented by the MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Armor 8G.
From AMD’s side, the only high-end option is the reference design Radeon RX Vega 64.
The full list of participants is below:
All video adapters were brought to standard frequencies to match the reference options. The participants have been tested at nominal and overclocked.
The test bench configuration is as follows:
- processor: Intel Core i7-6950X (email@example.com GHz);
- cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (two NF-A15 PWM fans, 140 mm, 1300 rpm);
- motherboard: MSI X99S MPower (Intel X99);
- memory: G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ (4×8 GB, DDR4-3200, CL14-14-14-35);
- system drive: Kingston SSDNow KC400 (256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s);
- secondary drive: WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX (3 TB, SATA 6Gb/s, 5400 rpm);
- power supply: Seasonic SS-750KM (750 W);
- monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
- operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
- Radeon driver: AMD Adrenalin Edition 18.10.2 and 126.96.36.199;
- GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 416.34 and 417.71.
For tests, a built-in benchmark was used, which was run six to seven times.
Let’s start with a resolution of 1920×1080. First, let’s check the capabilities of budget video cards at high quality settings, then it will use the maximum graphics quality profile.
In all cases, TAA anti-aliasing, offered by default, is active.
A serious performance difference between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, which significantly affects the difference between direct competitors. The GeForce GTX 1060 is faster in the old API, but the Radeon RX 580 leads in DirectX 12. And for AMD solutions, the acceleration when moving to DirectX 12 is most noticeable, for the GeForce GTX 1060 it is minimal. For the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, the results remain approximately the same, and simpler video cards only lose performance. At the same time, the GeForce GTX 960 or Radeon R9 270X do not pull out high quality in any mode, but they should cope with medium settings in DirectX 11.
Against the backdrop of low results for budget video cards, we will only compare more powerful solutions with Ultra-graphics.
Familiar situation. In DirectX 11, the GeForce GTX 1060 is in first place, and the video adapter is inferior to the Radeon RX 580 in DirectX 12, although overclocking minimizes the difference between them. All participants get a speedup in the new API, but AMD has a more significant one. Loading video memory at these settings can reach 6 GB.
Next, let’s compare the solutions of the older price segment in high resolutions 2560×1440 and 3840×2160.
Very indicative results in DirectX 11, when almost all video cards hit the same minimum fps. By all indications, performance is limited here by the processor, but this factor is leveled when switching to DirectX 12. In the second mode, the Radeon RX Vega 64 slightly outperforms the GeForce GTX 1080. Faster than these GeForce RTX 2070 video adapters. The old flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is slightly inferior to the GeForce RTX 2080 Founders edition. The results of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti can be safely called impressive, the gap from the GeForce RTX 2080 is at the level of 22-28%.
At maximum graphics load in 4K, the difference in different DirectX is small, and the processor no longer acts as a performance limiter even for the most powerful video cards. Only the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti shows a comfortable fps level at Ultra settings. The results of the GeForce RTX 2080 are 27-28% lower, after a slight adjustment of the settings you can comfortably play with this video adapter. The transition to DirectX 12 in our case mainly provides an increase in the minimum fps. The video memory load can be up to 7.5 GB.
Let’s talk a little about advanced settings. In the launcher menu, when you select the Ultra-quality profile, not all parameters are set to the maximum possible value. The user can additionally increase anisotropic filtering up to 16x, select the maximum quality of shadows, contact shadows and increase the detail parameter. Several anti-aliasing modes are also available: SMAA, TAA, SMAA T2x, SMAA 4x. We tested the effect of these settings on the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Below are the results in 4K with the highest possible quality selected, in the standard Ultra mode and with various anti-aliasing.
Increasing the settings above the usual Ultra mode eats up 2-4% of the performance. The results with SMAA and TAA are the same, SMAA T2x is a little harder, but a serious drop in fps is only with SMAA 4x anti-aliasing. Subjectively, we would recommend SMAA, with this anti-aliasing the picture is a bit sharper with similar performance. Although the actual differences are minimal.
You can evaluate the visual difference in the quality of anti-aliasing from the screenshots below. The first picture is presented in the original resolution, the next one shows a comparison of enlarged fragments.
As additional visual materials, we present two videos. This is a comparison of GeForce GTX 1060, Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 590 at 1920×1080:
And Shadow of the Tomb Raider demo in 4K on GeForce RTX 2080 Ti:
The key takeaway from testing is the advantage DirectX 12 has over DirectX 11. You’ll get better performance with the new API. But if we are talking about weak budget video cards with a small amount of memory, then DirectX 11 remains the best option. Interestingly, in Battlefield V and Resident Evil 2 on our test configuration we get higher fps in DirectX 11, although these games may show some advantage of DirectX 12 on weaker processors. And Shadow of the Tomb Raider clearly demonstrates that the weak point in DirectX 11 is the Intel Core i7-6950X processor, which is clearly seen in conjunction with top-end video cards. And only DirectX 12 provides maximum return and best performance in this game.
It is normal to play in Full HD at maximum settings on the Radeon RX 580, GeForce GTX 1060 or with newer solutions of this class. For a resolution of 2560×1440, video cards of the Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1080 level or modern analogues are required. The requirements for 4K are very high, you can not do without the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. But if you do not chase the maximum settings, then the GeForce RTX 2080 will allow you to play at the maximum resolution.