Bonus: The Impact of Nvidia GameWorks
As mentioned, Square Enix incorporated Nvidia GameWorks features into its Luminous Studio engine, including Voxel Ambient Occlusion, HairWorks, ShadowWorks, Turf Effects, and Nvidia Flow. How do those extras affect performance, and what do they add visually?
Graphics Card Selection
To test the impact of GameWorks, we dropped in some higher-end graphics cards. We're using tests from the same benchmark sequence, but with the Very High preset selected, with and without each feature enabled. Here is the list of cards reserved for this part:
If you want, it's also possible to turn these features on with AMD cards. Only ShadowLibs (ShadowWorks) refused to be activated on our Radeon RX 580.
Graphics & Rendering Settings
Performance at 1080p – Very High
Since we could not activate ShadowLibs on our Radeon RX 580, we split our testing into three categories: Very High settings, Very High settings with all Nvidia options activated except for ShadowLibs, and Very High with all Nvidia options activated (VXAO, HairWorks, ShadowLibs, and Turf Effects).
Of course there is a performance hit associated with each graphics option. While enabling GameWorks features on Nvidia cards imparts a reasonable drop in minimum and average frame rates, the impact is unsurprisingly more severe on Radeon cards.
A Radeon RX Vega 64 roughly matches a GeForce GTX 1070 Ti at Very High settings without GameWorks' influence. Turning those features on causes the Radeon card's performance to hit a similar level as Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 6GB with minimum frame rates that struggle to stay over 30. As far as the Radeon RX 580 goes, GameWorks features fall outside of its reach.
In other words, if you really want to see this game's best visuals, you're going to want a GeForce GTX 1070 Ti at least. And that's only at 1920x1080!
Let's take a look at how processor usage is affected by GameWorks. For this, we revisit the Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1070 Ti comparison since they demonstrate similar performance at Very High quality settings.
Without Nvidia's additions, utilization is a little higher than what we saw from our lower-end graphics cards. This makes sense, given that the frame rates we're looking at are higher.
Once the GameWorks features are turned on, processor utilization rises on the GeForce card (but with homogeneous CPU core usage). On the Radeon RX Vega 64, CPU utilization drops. These options cause the GPU to struggle, but don't seem to affect host processing.
System and Video Memory Utilization
There's nothing surprising about our memory utilization results. Activating GameWorks has practically no impact on RAM usage.
GDDR5 use goes up about 200MB on the GeForce card, though, while AMD's Radeon RX Vega 64 goes from 6.7GB to completely maxed out.