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Low Settings Are Playable; High Details Are Demanding

Benchmarked: How Well Does Watch Dogs Run On your PC?
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Watch Dogs is a surprisingly demanding game, particularly when you consider the console hardware it's also running on. But at its most entry-level detail settings and a 1280x720 resolution, you can get by with a Radeon R7 240 or GeForce GT 630 GDDR5. At 1920x1080, you want a GeForce GTX 650 or Radeon R7 250X to keep your nose above 30 FPS. But a Radeon R7 260X or GeForce GTX 750 Ti is going to save you from a lot of the stuttering we observed.

Step up to the highest detail levels, though, and you'll want a Radeon R9 270 or GeForce GTX 760 to run at 1080p. At any resolution higher than that, shoot for high-end hardware like the Radeon R9 290 or GeForce GTX 780. Indeed, the best experience we had was with Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan overclocked to achieve performance similar to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti.

Even with the Ultra detail preset enabled, which you'd think would shift the workload toward graphics, a strong host processor is surprisingly critical. While the Core i3-3220 and FX-4170 only mustered a 24 FPS minimum, the FX-6300 almost hit 30. The FX-8350 and Core i5-3550 managed a more tolerable 37-88 FPS, and Intel's Core i7-3960X lead by not dropping under 51 FPS.

Of course, you can mitigate the performance hit by lowering your detail settings, bringing frame rates back up, but that somewhat defeats the purpose of gaming on a PC. Make sure you have an FX-6000-series CPU at minimum to enjoy Watch Dogs at higher graphics quality settings, but a Core i5 or FX-8000 would be much better. The publisher recommends a Core i7 for the best possible performance, and we have to agree.

As for the game itself, Watch Dogs is a little bit of GTA with a hearty helping of Deus Ex and a dash of Far Cry 3. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's any better than those titles, but if you're into the sandbox genre, I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy. The PC build sells for $60 on Amazon, and Nvidia bundles it with certain GeForce cards.

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  • 28 Hide
    tomfreak , May 28, 2014 2:35 AM
    If u dont have 780ti, 780, just show us stock Titan speed, Why would u rather show us Titan OCed speed than showing Titan stock speed & all that without showing 290X OCed speed? Infact an OCed Titan does not represent a 780Ti, because it has 6GB VRAM. Vram is a big deal in watchdog. So ur Oced titan does not look like 780ti nor a real titan.
  • 24 Hide
    Patrick Tobin , May 28, 2014 2:25 AM
    Most 780Ti cards come with 3GB of ram, the Titan has 6GB. This is an unfair comparison as the Titan has more than ample VRAM. Get a real 780Ti or do not label it as such. HardOCP just did the same tests and the 290X destroyed the 780 since the FSAA + Ultra textures started causing swapping since it was pushing past 3GB.
  • 17 Hide
    chimera201 , May 28, 2014 3:10 AM
    We need more variety of CPUs
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    coolcole01 , May 28, 2014 12:03 AM
    Running on my system with ultra and highest settings and fxaa it is pretty steady at 60-70 fps with weird drops randomly almost perfectly to 30 then up to 60 almost like adaptive sync is on, Currently playing it withe the texture at high and hba0+ and smaa and its a pretty rock steady 60fps with vsync still with the random drops.
  • 0 Hide
    coolcole01 , May 28, 2014 12:03 AM
    definitely does not like to run up the vram
  • 16 Hide
    edwinjr , May 28, 2014 1:15 AM
    why no core i5 3570k in the cpu benchmark section?
    the most popular gaming cpu in the world.
  • 7 Hide
    chimera201 , May 28, 2014 1:31 AM
    So a Core i5 is enough compared to Ubisoft's recommended system requirement of i7 3770
  • 24 Hide
    Patrick Tobin , May 28, 2014 2:25 AM
    Most 780Ti cards come with 3GB of ram, the Titan has 6GB. This is an unfair comparison as the Titan has more than ample VRAM. Get a real 780Ti or do not label it as such. HardOCP just did the same tests and the 290X destroyed the 780 since the FSAA + Ultra textures started causing swapping since it was pushing past 3GB.
  • 28 Hide
    tomfreak , May 28, 2014 2:35 AM
    If u dont have 780ti, 780, just show us stock Titan speed, Why would u rather show us Titan OCed speed than showing Titan stock speed & all that without showing 290X OCed speed? Infact an OCed Titan does not represent a 780Ti, because it has 6GB VRAM. Vram is a big deal in watchdog. So ur Oced titan does not look like 780ti nor a real titan.
  • 8 Hide
    AndrewJacksonZA , May 28, 2014 2:43 AM
    Hi Don

    Please could you include tests at 4K resolution, and also please use a real 780Ti and also a 295X2? Can you not ask another lab to do it, or get one shipped to you please?

    +1 also on what @Patrick Tobin said.

    I can appreciate that you might've spent a lot of time on this review, and we'd really appreciate you doing the final bit of this review. I know that not a lot of gamers currently game at 4K, but I am definitely interested in it please.

    Thank you!
  • 1 Hide
    Lee Yong Quan , May 28, 2014 2:45 AM
    why doesnt you have the high detail setting? and would a 7790 1gb perform the same as 260x 2gb in medium texture? if not which is better
  • 17 Hide
    chimera201 , May 28, 2014 3:10 AM
    We need more variety of CPUs
  • 0 Hide
    icepick314 , May 28, 2014 3:34 AM
    anyone know if Watch Dogs have SLI profile?

    does the game utilize SLI or Crossfire setup on PC?
  • 5 Hide
    That_Guy88 , May 28, 2014 3:53 AM
    I usually use toms as my definitive sit for performance benchmarks but the lack of variety in both cpus and gpus here is really disappointing, especially for this being the first "next gen" game
  • 3 Hide
    rolli59 , May 28, 2014 3:55 AM
    This needs to be redone to see if it actually needs 8 thread capable CPU so I5 and I7 on a lga 1150/1155 should have been included!
    Techspot did include those and no difference between I5 and I7 not even lga2011 hexa core!
  • 2 Hide
    ubercake , May 28, 2014 4:02 AM
    2GB or more VRAM is required when running at MSAA x8 (this requirement appears when you turn on the MSAA).
    The game looks beautiful.
  • 2 Hide
    wtfxxxgp , May 28, 2014 4:06 AM
    You guys are being a bit unnecessary regarding the inclusion of the Titan OC'd to simulate the 780Ti - he simply used what he HAD. I think the choice to use medium textures renders the 6GB VRAM vs 3GB VRAM mostly moot. This was just to give us an indication, why do people have to get so darned technical all the time? You guys should really try to wrap your head around the various scenarios to be tested and the time it takes to be done before you give the Authors grief about "limited this and limited that". The game looks good, thanks for the brief review
  • 3 Hide
    Empyah , May 28, 2014 4:12 AM
    First you put the R9 290X(CATA 14.6?) without OC against the Titan with OC,
    and then the FX-8350 against a freaking i7-3960X and NO OTHER intel CPU. [edited for language]
    For freak sakes i am really trying to follow you as a serios tech-site without bias,
    please do not make it any freaking harder for me.
  • 5 Hide
    Memnarchon , May 28, 2014 4:49 AM
    Why no core i5 4670K nor i7 4770K at benchmarks? :o 

    edit: Actually someone did some nice tests for CPUS:

    CPU performance with GTX 780
    CPU performance with R9 290X
  • 1 Hide
    TheMentalist , May 28, 2014 4:51 AM
    I wanted to know how a 770/760 4gb edition performs on this, the 760 already performs great on 1080p though
  • 6 Hide
    Onus , May 28, 2014 4:54 AM
    I would have liked to have seen more CPUs tested, in particular three that are widely discussed and recommended in the forums, the i5-4670K (or i5-3570K), FX-6300, and 760K.
    I hope there is a followup article, focusing on some specific details. These include VRAM limitations, and more tweaking to see which settings changes most affect not only raw FPS but also smoothness. It looks like some settings lead to a very distracting experience, and it would be nice to know what those are.
    Edit: Thanks, Don, for adding the FX-6300 and i5-3550; those are useful numbers to have. Here is one title where the FX clearly beats the i3, so core count must matter.

  • 5 Hide
    somebodyspecial , May 28, 2014 5:27 AM
    Take a look at the links the OP gave with 780 vs. 290x. 290x lost. Not sure what all the whining is about. 290x has more ram than a 780 right? Who cares above this res when only 2% are using over 1080p?

    Claiming something wins where 98% of us NEVER play is ridiculous. You want to know who wins in 98% of users cases. Those fps are too low for me anyway, as barely breaking 30fps min is not enough. You will see dips even on AMD while playing. They're only showing a snapshot here. They dropped textures to high at hardocp (the 2nd test) and NV won. So yeah if you want to push things to where we probably wouldn't enjoy it, AMD wins. Yay. But if you play at 1080p, the links above show NV winning. I think FAR more people are worried about 1080p. Having said that, this game would laugh at my PC...ROFL.
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