The third part of the game series The Witcher 3 became one of the best RPGs of the last decade, elevating the stern and sarcastic Geralt to the pantheon of the main game heroes of all time. And the noisy streets of Novigrad, gloomy swamps of Velen, harsh landscapes of Skellige and sunny Toussaint will forever remain in the memory of gamers. This is one of those games that evokes a pleasant nostalgia and a desire to dive into the vortex of virtual adventures again. This year, CD Projekt RED promises to release an updated next-gen version with improved graphics, which will be a good reason to take out the silver sword again. In anticipation of this event, we decided to talk about performance in the original version.
Back in 2015, we conducted a detailed analysis of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, examining the specifics of graphics settings and their impact on overall performance. Since then, several generations of video cards have changed, and many gamers have switched to high-resolution monitors. It is interesting to see what modern video cards are capable of in this game in such modes.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt still pleases with a pleasant picture thanks to a good design and bright effects. The project is based on REDengine 3 engines with DirectX 11 API support. Among the technical features, it is worth noting the implementation of high-quality background shading using NVIDIA HBAO+. And NVIDIA HairWorks technology provides high-quality visualization of the hero’s hair and animal fur.
You can improve the graphics with the help of custom modifications. The modification The Witcher 3 HD Reworked Project, which adds high-resolution textures, needs a mandatory mention. According to rumors, the author of this project is collaborating with CD Projekt RED in working on the next-gen version, and his work may be included in a future update.
We will conduct comparative testing with standard graphics without modifications in 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 formats.
15 video cards were used in the testing:
All models were tuned to standard frequencies, including the flagship ASUS TUF-RTX3080TI-O12G-GAMING and ASUS TUF-RTX3090-O24G-GAMING.
This test is a compilation of results from our reviews last year, so different participants were tested with different driver versions. Considering the age of the game, this is not critical for the final results, the impact of the drivers will be minimal.
Full technical specifications of video cards are given in the table.
|Video adapter||GeForce RTX 3090||GeForce RTX 3080 Ti||GeForce RTX 3080||GeForce RTX 3070 Ti||GeForce RTX 3070||GeForce RTX 3060||GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE||GeForce RTX 2070 Super||Radeon RX 6900 XT||Radeon RX 6800 XT||Radeon RX 6800||Radeon RX 6700 XT||Radeon RX 6600 XT||Radeon RX 6600||Radeon RX 5700 XT|
|Core||GA102||GA102||GA102||GA104||GA104||GA106||TU102||TU104||Navi 21||Navi 21||Navi 21||Navi 22||Navi 23||Navi 23||Navi 10|
|Number of transistors, million pcs.||28000||28000||28000||17400||17400||13250||18600||13600||26800||26800||26800||17200||11060||11060||10300|
|Core area, sq. mm||627||627||627||392||392||276||754||545||520||520||520||335||237||237||251|
|Number of stream processors||10496||10240||8704||6144||5888||3584||4352||2560||5120||4608||3840||2560||2048||1792||2560|
|The number of tensor kernels||328||320||272||192||184||112||544||320||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|The number of RT cores||82||80||68||48||46||28||68||40||80||72||60||40||32||28||—|
|Number of texture blocks||328||320||320||192||184||112||272||160||320||288||240||160||128||112||160|
|Number of ROP blocks||112||112||96||96||96||48||88||64||128||128||96||64||64||64||64|
|Base core frequency, MHz||1395||1365||1440||1575||1500||1320||1350||1605||1825||1825||1700||2321||2064||1626||1605|
|Game Clock frequency, MHz||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||2015||2015||1815||2424||2359||2044||1755|
|Boost frequency, MHz||1695||1665||1710||1770||1725||1777||1635||1770||2250||2250||2105||2581||2589||2491||1905|
|Memory bus, bit||384||384||320||256||256||192||352||256||256||256||256||192||128||128||256|
|Memory frequency, MHz||19500||19000||19000||19000||14000||15000||14000||14000||16000||16000||16000||16000||16000||14000||14000|
|Memory capacity, GB||24||12||10||8||8||12||11||8||16||16||16||12||8||8||8|
|Supported version of DirectX||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)||12 Ultimate (12_2)|
|Interface||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 3.0||PCI-E 3.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0||8x PCI-E 4.0||8x PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 4.0|
|Energy consumption, Vt||350||350||320||290||220||170||260||215||300||300||250||230||160||132||225|
Further, the graphs for GeForce show the full frequency range — from base to peak Boost value, Radeon — the range from Game Clock to peak Boost value.
The configuration of the test bench is as follows:
- processor: Intel Core i9-9900K;
- cooling system: be quiet! Silent Loop 280 mm;
- motherboard: Asus Rog Maximus XI Formula;
- memory: Kingston HyperX HX434C16FB3K2/32 (DDR4-3466 @ 3600);
- system disk: Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB;
- additional drive #1: Kingston A2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- additional drive #2: Kingston KC2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- case: Antec NX800;
- power supply unit: Antec HCG850 Gold;
- monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27 «);
- OS Windows 10 Pro x64;
- AMD Radeon Adrenalin Edition driver 21.10.2/21.7.1/21.3.2;
- driver for NVIDIA GeForce 496.13/466.17/496.13/466.11.
Testing was carried out during a road trip to the village of Bely Sad.
It’s the ultimate quality with all the extra effects including HairWorks.
For 1440p format, GeForce RTX 3060 and Radeon RX 6600 XT are enough. With HairWorks active, performance can suffer in some scenes with hair or when fighting a monster that has a lot of wool. But for complete comfort, a video card of a slightly higher level will be enough. In the older segment, it is worth paying attention to the identical results of GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and Radeon RX 6800, while GeForce RTX 3080 is slightly inferior to Radeon RX 6900 XT.
GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and Radeon RX 6800 cope well with 4K, while GeForce RTX 2080 Ti lags behind them. The red flagship Radeon RX 6900 XT retains its advantage over the GeForce RTX 3080, but is inferior to the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and GeForce RTX 3090. The latter show almost identical results. At maximum resolution, 4 GB of video memory is enough for the game.
Modern video cards cope well with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. GeForce RTX 3060 and Radeon RX 6600 XT video cards are enough for a comfortable immersion in the game world at maximum graphics settings with a resolution of 2560×1440. GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and Radeon RX 6800 allow you to comfortably play in 4K, but if you lower the settings a little, then GeForce RTX 3070 and Radeon RX 6700 XT can handle the game. In the top segment, NVIDIA solutions confidently lead, but their market value is also significantly higher.
After updating the game to the next-gen version, you can expect a general decrease in performance. And if the developers transfer the game to the new DirectX 12 API, it will seriously affect the old graphics solution. Recently, we often see remasters of questionable quality, like Alan Wake Remastered, where the visual improvements clearly do not justify the drop in performance and launch problems on older graphics cards. We hope that CD Projekt RED will carefully approach the optimization of the new version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The updated «Witcher» does not have an exact release date, it is known that the company planned to release a corresponding update this year.