Nixxes Software, the game studio that created Rise of the Tomb Raider, has released a new patch for the game that enables support for DirectX 12, making it one of the first games to make use of the recent API. The company said that DX12 increases performance of the game by sharing the workload across multiple CPU threads. Nixxes said, “The majority of the DirectX 11 related work is happening on a single core.”
With DX12, because it offers lower-level hardware access, that workload can be spread across all available cores, which should give processors like AMD's 8-core FX series and Intel's Core i7 an additional performance gain.
In addition to DX12, the new Rise of the Tomb Raider patch adds VXAO support, which is a newly announced Nvidia GameWorks technology. Nvidia said VXAO “is the highest quality Ambient Occlusion solution available in PC games today.” VXAO voxelizes the scene to achieve “superior image quality, smoother response to camera motion, finer details and greater accuracy than screen-space solutions.”
We ran some quick spot tests with an Asus GL551-J gaming laptop to see how DX12 improves performance. The system we tested features an Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 16 GB of DDR3 memory and a GTX960m GPU. We tested the game with FXAA on and the visuals set to the medium preset. Tests were performed at the native Full-HD resolution.
In DirectX 11, the in-game benchmark returned an overall score of 36.37 FPS. During the Mountain Peak scene, it averaged 42.96 FPS, in Syria the average FPS was 31.05, and in the Geothermal Valley it managed 34.20FPS.
With DX12 enabled, the overall score decreased to 34.12 FPS, Mountain Peak averaged 39.62 FPS, Syria scored 29.51 FPS and Geothermal Valley returned 32.10 FPS. We noticed moderate performance decreases across the board. At one point, the frame rate dipped to below 1 FPS, and the screen was visibly choppy. These results were mirrored by a desktop system we tested quickly to rule out system-related problems.
We haven't the chance to do a proper deep dive, but based on our results today, it would seem there's more work to be done before the kinks are worked out of DX12 support.
DirectX 12 support may make the game run better (or not) on your system, but Nvidia said VXAO technology is very taxing on your GPU. The company said the process is “complex and computationally heavy” and recommends Maxwell GPUs for their geometry shader capabilities.
The Rise of the Tomb Raider patch is available today through Steam and will hit the Windows store in the near future. To make use of VXAO, you will need the latest Nvidia Game Ready WHQL driver, version 354.61.
Update March 11, 4:49pm PT: The original story incorrectly stated we saw increases, when in fact, we saw decreases in performance.