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Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Analysis

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GTX 980 Performance:

Since the GTX 980 has 4 GB of VRAM, I would have started at the Very High preset, but I felt like pushing things, like I did with the GTX 770, so I selected the Ultra settings, keeping the textures at High, and tried it out. To my surprise, it handled the settings quite well. Except for textures and Shadows, which I will talk about in a moment, these are the same settings I use with the GTX 1080, and the game was playable at over 30 FPS, I would estimate. It is for this reason I skipped testing with the GTX 1070 because that extra data point, literally squeezed in between the GTX 980 and GTX 1080 I feel would not offer much insight. I will also return to this comment later, but in the GTX 1080 section.

When I chose the settings for the GTX 980, I knew to select the Ultra preset and make a few changes, including textures and my personal-preference options (Depth of Field, Motion Blur, HBAO+, etc.). One setting I did not notice and should have changed was for Shadows. The game offers a number of choices there, and under the Ultra preset, it is set to Ultra. The thing is there are two options above Ultra, and while I did think to experiment with them on the GTX 1080, I completely forgot about them on the GTX 980.

These two higher options are PCSS and HFTS, which are Percentage Closer Soft Shadows and Hybrid Frustrum Traced Shadows. What PCSS does is soften the edges of shadows based on distance from the blocking object, like what happens in reality. Several other games support this and similar technologies already, and I do like the look, so it would be my preference to run with this on and is completely my mistake for missing it on the GTX 980. What HFTS does is apply a form of ray tracing called frustrum tracing that is meant to be less resource hungry and also adds in some of the PCSS technology to create more accurate shadows that also soften based on distance. It is possible the GTX 980 would have been able to handle PCSS, but I strongly doubt it would have been successful with HFTS because (spoiler) the GTX 1080 was not liking that option. So with that, how about we actually get to that GPU?



GTX 1080 Performance:

If you read the GTX 980 section then you already know that I was running the GTX 1080 at nearly the highest settings, because I explain the GTX 980 was just a little below that and offering quite playable performance. The two differences from the GTX 980 settings are the Ultra textures and the use of PCSS for shadows, which is also different from the Ultra preset. I did try using the higher HFTS option for shadows, but it quite noticeably hit performance and did so more than I was willing to tolerate, so I went back to PCSS.

Something else I mentioned in the previous section was that I was skipping the GTX 1070 in these tests, because I felt it would not provide valuable information. This is because I was only getting around 40 FPS with this GPU, so with the GTX 980 coming in at around 30 FPS, I would estimate, there are pretty tight upper and lower bounds for the GTX 1070. Now, to be fair and honest to these GPUs, I suspect my CPU is holding them back and that with a more powerful processor the difference would be more significant, making it worthwhile to find the GTX 1070's exact position.


  1. Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Analysis - Introduction and GTX 770
  2. Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Analysis - GTX 980 and GTX 1080
  3. Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Analysis - Conclusion
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