GTA V At 4K 60 FPS Is Attainable With a $500 Graphics Solution
It's been a little over two days since GTA V launched on PC and already the hotly anticipated title has broken several records. On day one the game sold over one million digital copies on Steam alone. And frankly this isn't an entirely surprising figure. After all the game was anticipated to sell more than a million copies before launch.
This phenomenal success can be attributed to several facets, fun gameplay, varied content, enjoyable story and beautiful visuals. In this particular piece we're slightly more interested in GTA V's graphics. More precisely, what it takes to play GTA V at 4K 60 FPS with the highest settings.
GTA V At 4K 60 FPS Is Attainable With a $660 Graphics Solution, 1080P 60FPS Only Requires a $200 GPU
Day one driver updates for the game have been launched by both Nvidia and AMD and the general consensus is that the game is both beautiful and well optimized. If you're wondering how beautiful GTA V could be at 4K is you can find out right here.
GTA V doesn't just look more beautiful at 4K because of the higher resolution. As is evident with slightly older games, simply running the game at 4K compared to lets say 2560x1440 doesn't instantly make it look substantially better. You have more pixels on the screen, but if the game's own textures and models aren't of a high enough quality to leverage the higher resolution, the visual improvement ends up being only marginal. Distanced objects will look slightly sharper and aliasing ( jagged edges ) will subside.
However if the game's assets include very highly detailed textures and models then the perceivable improvement in visual quality will be more significant as you scale up the resolution ladder. You may even notice details at 4K that you'd otherwise miss with lower resolutions. And in the case of GTA V, the game does include 4K textures and there's more than enough detail in the game's models and geometry that it does end up making quite a difference at 4K.
The real question is, what does it take to enjoy GTA V at 4K 60 FPS with the highest possible settings ? Now that the game has been out for a couple of days and we, among other hardware reviewers, have had the chance to finally get some time with the game, the unanimous conclusion so far is that apart from a 60Hz 4K monitor, you will need a $500-$660 dual-GPU graphics solution for a smooth average of 60 frames per second at 4K. For $660 that is two R9 290X cards, an R9 295X2 or two GTX 970 cards. Or for $160 less two R9 290 cards with a bit of an overclock. Although there's a catch with the dual GTX 970 solution that we'll come to later.
This is with all the settings set to their absolute maximum all be it with MSAA disabled. Although at 4K it should be noted that you'd be hard pressed to actually notice any aliasing to begin with. We're talking about four times the resolution of 1080p so the need for MSAA at 4K is nearly no existent and it's certainly not worth the performance trade off.
For 30 FPS at the same settings you'll only need to spend half as much, as one R9 290X is all you'll need. And for 60FPS at 1080p all you'll really need is a $200 graphics card like an R9 280 3GB. But one thing that's become clearly evident with GTA V is that the game really needs a healthy pool of video memory. At 1080P we've seen memory utilization easily go over 2.5GB and even reach 3GB, an other publications are reporting the same findings. So it seems sweet-spot 2GB cards like the GTX 960 and R9 285 don't make a lot of sense for this game.
At 4K, VRAM usage hovers around 3.8GB and can even exceed 4GB with anti aliasing enabled. Which is why the GTX 970 with its two segment memory architecture (3.5GB + slower 0.5GB) can struggle with visual stuttering as that last 0.5GB segment is accessed even with MSAA disabled. We've already published a graphics card buyer's guide a couple of weeks ago and our recommendations for GTA V match what we had outlined before.
I have no doubt that with a couple more patches and drivers the game will run even better. Even though the game performance in its current state is fairly good for what you get in return in terms of perceivable visual quality. And that's quite an achievement for a vast open world game.
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