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Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Analysis

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We have another performance analysis here, this time for Watch_Dogs 2, an open world game set in a virtual version of the San Francisco Bay area. It is a rather good looking game, at least on the highest settings, and also fairly new so when you read this, keep in mind that patches and driver updates could improve performance. For your reference, I did these tests and reviewed the game on version 1.06. This article only looks at how the game performed on my GTX 770, GTX 980, and GTX 1080.

As there is more to a computer than a GPU, here are my other specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • Graphics Drivers: GeForce 376.19 WHQL
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Monitor Resolution: 2048x1152

When I installed the GTX 980, my CPU's overclock got reset, but that was easy enough to fix as it is just a change to the multiplier. I am quite certain my CPU is holding back performance some, which I will talk about more later, but the game was playable across all of these cards and at nearly the highest settings the game offers. (Remember, with patches and updates we may see performance improve.)

For the testing, after selecting the settings and loading in, I just drove and ran around the world some, not following any specific path. If it seemed like there was headroom to push the settings higher, I did that, or if I just wanted to see what would happen, I turned the options up. Unfortunately I have not been able to get any FPS counter overlay to work, so all we have to go by is what I visually estimate the framerate to be. For what it is worth, whenever I have tested my eyes against counters, I come pretty close, and I can always recognize a stutter.

Also, I turned off a few options just for personal choice, and those are Depth of Field and Motion Blur. I also turned on Temporal Filtering, which locks out MSAA, and used SMAA for the post-processing AA option. Other, detail increasing options like Extra Details and Pixel Density I left at their default settings across the board.

Time to get to it then!



GTX 770 Performance:

My GTX 770 only has 2 GB of VRAM, which limits it to the High texture setting so I started it off at the High preset. Aside from the settings I mentioned in the Introduction, I also set the Ambient Occlusion method to HBAO+, which is the highest option and above the HMSSAO option that the High preset uses. I like the quality of this method and while it can be harder on performance than other methods, I am personally willing to take that hit because of how much I like the appearance.

By the way, if you want to experiment with the Ambient Occlusion setting, you will want to do so off of the main menu and not after having loaded the game. While I do not seem to recall another game that requires reloading the game for AO changes, that is the case here. (Typically I only see this requirement with textures or API changes.) Fortunately, because I selected these settings before I loaded the game, knowing some options (textures mainly) would need to be changed for the card, I should have been running on HBAO+ the entire time.

Moving onto the performance, it looked to me like at the High preset with HBAO+, the GTX 770 was able to stick around 30 FPS. The framerate did not look very stable, based on the stuttering that was also occurring, but it was nothing severe and I would consider it playable.

By the way, the High preset looks quite different from the Ultra settings I had been playing at before I started these tests. For that reason, and curiosity, I decided to pop the game up to the Very High preset, with textures still only on High, due to VRAM limitations. Surprisingly it actually ran okay, but not very well. I would guess that a more powerful CPU would help with that. Anyway, I would describe it as the Very High preset being a theoretical max for the GTX 770, but really you want to be below those settings. High was playable, which is not too bad for a card this old.


  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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