Traditionally NVIDIA GPUs have struggled in DirectX12 based games. The most glaring example was the Ashes of the Singularity debacle where GeForce cards lost frames when the DX12 API along with asynchronous compute was enabled. It really hurt NVIDIA, and enabled AMD to regain a significant part of the market share, after taking a good beating at the hands of the 900 series, Maxwell cards. However, it seems like the company has gotten the DX12 performance in order. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one such case.
The PC port of Shadow of the Tomb Raider was developed by Nixxes, the same studio that ported the older Tomb Raider games to PC. Just like it’s predecessor, Shadow is an NVIDIA sponsored title on PC, and comes loaded with a slew of PC specific enhancements like HBAO+ and improved global illumination. Generally, AMD hardware has suffered in such titles, but this franchise is an exception where both manufacturers’ GPUs seem to perform similarly.
While we don’t have a performance optimization guide ready at the moment, fret not we’ll have it up as soon as possible. We’ve been sifting through the game using both the DirectX11 and 12 APIs, and we can gladly say that the latter provides a healthy performance boost in almost all graphics cards, even the older NVIDIA Maxwell cards. So NVIDIA haters take that!
The game is very well optimized and to run it at 1080p Ultra you only need a GeForce GTX 970, although a 1060 will undoubtedly provide better performance, the former should suffice too. Both AMD and NVIDIA cards show respectable gains with DX12, but team green seems to have a better time.
Things get a bit hairy at 1440p, and you need at least a GeForce GTX 1070 or 980 Ti for ideal performance. A 1060 should also get 30+ frame rates, but it won’t be enough if you’re used to the 60 FPS mark. Dialing down the details to medium-high should get the job done though.
At 4K, all the GPUs get routed except the beefy GTX 1080 Ti. The 1080 and 1070 Ti barely manage around 35 FPS using DX11 which gets pushed to 37 using DX12. Here, you can see that GeForce cards seem to be NVIDIA GPUs Get FPS Boost in Shadow of the Tomb Raider with DX12 performing NVIDIA GPUs Get FPS Boost in Shadow of the Tomb Raider with DX12 better in DX12 than Radeon.
Moving on to VRAM consumption, DX12 also does wonders especially in case of NVIDIA graphics cards. AMD hardware does see a bit of improvement, but not as much as GeForce cards. This is especially helpful in case of the 4GB cards where DX12 reduces the usage by around 400MBs allowing them to leverage the ultra textures.
Even the CPU performance is much better when using the DX12 API. The AMD Ryzen CPUs gain the most when DX12 is enabled, but older Intel CPUs also see a healthy boost. DX12 achieves this by using all the CPU cores (DX11 used only one) to send drawcalls and reducing the CPU overhead.
However, while using DX12 RAM usage increases abnormally especially in case of the lower end 4GB cards. Looks like the engine is offloading as much data onto the system RAM to reduce the VRAM usage and avoid bottlenecks.
It’s good to see both newer and older hardware finally seeing noticeable improvements in performance when using DX12. It makes you think all that hype about DX12 bringing about an evolution in PC gaming wasn’t all a hoax. Hopefully, more games will start to see such boosts with the newer API. Kudos to Nixxes for doing such a good job on the PC port of Shadow of the Tomb Raider.