The Division 2 Performance Review: Ubisoft Finally Makes DX12 Shine

    Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Screenshot 2019.03.13 -

    Ubisoft’s latest Tom Clancy shooter, The Division 2 is set to launch in the coming days, and we’ve been putting the PC port of the game through its paces to look for discrepancies (if any). To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised with the results. Not only is it very well optimized, but it also leverages the DX12 API quite efficiently, increasing both the CPU as well as GPU utilization, translating into better performance. Usually, only the Radeon cards tend to benefit from low-level API’s like Vulkan and DX12, but in this case, NVIDIA’s GPUs also get a significant uplift, even the older 10-series cards.


    • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
    • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
    • HDD: WD Black 4TB
    • Memory: 16 GB DDR4 HyperX RAM @ 2400MHz

    The Division 2 PC Graphics Options Explained

    Ubisoft seems to have put in a lot of effort into the PC version of The Division 2, with a ton of configurable graphics options, perhaps the most we’ve ever seen in a Ubisoft game. The options include traditional technologies like Ambient Occlusion, reflection, terrain, and water quality, in addition to spot shadows, AMD’s contact hardening shadows, as well as volumetric fog, particle control, extra streaming distance, and high-resolution sky textures.

    Most of these options are quite straightforward and don’t need an explanation, but the game does provide a brief description for each of them regardless. Contact hardening shadows get softer as you move farther away from the casting object. This is similar to NVIDIA’s PCSS Gameworks tech. Ambient occlusion controls the quality of ambient shadowing while spot shadows are the ones cast by artificial sources other than the sun. Extra streaming distance loads the far off textures into the memory, both logical and physical, thereby increasing the total memory pool.

    The Division 2 DX11 Benchmarks


    Just like its predecessor, The Division 2 runs quite well on PC. Although the game uses an updated version of the same Snowdrop engine, this time around Ubisoft collaborated with AMD and as such instead of Gameworks, there are a bunch of AMD specific DX12 improvements including asynchronous compute, support for HBM cache as well as contact hardening shadows.

    The Division 2

    You don’t need a particularly beefy setup to run the game. A GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or an RTX 2080 should suffice at 4K with a mixture of high-ultra settings. At 1440p, an RTX 2070 or even a 2060 will do just fine. Lastly for FHD, a GTX 1660 Ti or a GTX 1070 would be ideal.

    The Division 2 DX12 Benchmarks


    As already mentioned, enabling DirectX12 grants an appreciable performance boost, with NVIDIA’s rather dated GTX 1080 Ti going from 59 to 62 FPS at 4K high, and 78 to 90 at 1440p. That’s roughly a 20% FPS gain at QHD. Impressive indeed. We did a bit of checking and discovered something interesting.

    The Division 2

    Firstly, while using DX12 at 4K, the GPU usage increases to almost 100% from 90ish, but on the other hand, the CPU utilization decreased to around 50% all the way from 65-70%. On lower resolutions, however, both the processing units, especially the CPU saw a significant utilization boost of up to 20%. It went up from 72 to 90%, while the GPU utilization soared from 90 to 96%.

    Interpretation: What This means

    On thing is clear, DX12 offers better performance with both AMD and the NVIDIA 10 and 20 series cards. The GPU utilization swells up at every resolution, and this can almost certainly be attributed to asynchronous compute, one of the highlights of the low-level API. Radeon cards should see an even greater uplift with DX12 as AMD has been implementing it on a hardware level for quite some years now.

    The Division 2

    As for CPU utilization (at 4K), the processor is more laid back as the GPU does most of the heavy lifting. However, at 1440p, it kicks into gear as the frame rates spike and the latter isn’t causing any bottlenecks.

    Our Recommendations for The Division 2

    HighGTX 1060RTX 2060/GTX 1070GTX 1080 Ti/RTX 2080
    UltraGTX 1660 TiRTX 2070/GTX 1080RTX 2080 Ti

    Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has a very well developed PC port with proper DX12 implementation and dozens of graphics options to choose from. Ubisoft seems to have finally learned something after years of broken PC releases. And that is excellent news as other publishers might follow in Ubi’s footsteps too.


    Leave a Reply