RAGE 2 PC Core Scaling and Graphics Cards Performance Explored

May 20, 2019
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The original RAGE was a game I still have mixed memories of, mostly because of the horrid texture loading system in IDTech 5 that simply broke my experience in the game. It wasn't a bad game by any stretch, but didn't really hold me very long. But, RAGE 2 is sporing Avalanche Studios Apex Engine running on the Vulkan API, my attention was held with that announcement.  If you're looking for a review of the game itself our very own Nathan Birch has already put pen to paper on that one so feel here to follow on over to our full review of RAGE 2. Here, we're going to go down the string of performance metrics and see just how well, or poorly, RAGE 2 runs on a variety of hardware configurations.

Testing Methodology

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Testing a game like RAGE 2 carries the usual drawbacks of any open world game that is missing a built in benchmark and has a decent variety of locations, elements, and complexity.  Due to this I had to play the game for a little while and observe frame rates and find a place that was a bit of the middle of the road in terms of difficulty to run in regards to the rest of the game.  First off was selecting a preset to run with and as usual we went with the Ultra preset but found the game has a variable resolution scaler enabled by default, we did disable that.  There is an option for Dynamic Reflections and we did opt to leave that one enabled for our testing.

Our course is rather simple and starts at the entry of Gunbarrel and follow a path that leads to City Hall where I end just after I reach the first landing on the stairs.  There is no combat along this path but there are plenty of NPCs running around.  I found it to be a little bit harder on the frames than in underground sewers or even in the open world while driving around, so this should be on the low end of frame rates to expect.

Being a Vulkan title tools like FRAPS are useless, and there are issues with MSI Afterburner and RTSS running properly so we relied on OCAT for extracting the performance data and used our in house tool for finding the AVG FPS, 1% Lows and .1% Low results for graphing.

Game Settings

SettingUsed
Graphics PresetUltra
Field of View85
Motion BlurOn
Chromatic AberrationOn
Resolution ScaleManual
Automatic Resolution ScaleOFF
Anisotropic Terrain FilteringOn
Geometric DetailsUltra
Global IlluminationOn
Depth of FieldOn
SSAOUltra
Anti-AliasingFXAA+TAA
Player Self ShadowsOn
Dynamic ReflectionsOn
Shadow ResolutionUltra
Shadow LightsUltra
Shading QualityHigh
Soft ParticlesOn

Test System

ComponentsZ370
CPUIntel Core i9-9900k @ 5GHz
Memory 16GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 3200
MotherboardEVGA Z370 Classified K
StorageCrucial P1 1TB NVMe SSD
PSUCooler Master V1200 Platinum

Graphics Cards Tested

GPUArchitectureCore Count
Clock SpeedMemory Capacity
Memory Speed
NVIDIA RTX 2080tiTuring43521350/163511GB GDDR614Gbps
NVIDIA RTX 2080 FETuring29441515/18008GB GDDR614Gbps
NVIDIA RTX 2070 FETuring23041410/17108GB GDDR614Gbps
NVIDIA RTX 2060 FETuring19041365/1686GB GDDR614Gbps
ZOTAC Gaming GTX 1660Turing14081530/17856GB GDDR58Gbps
NVIDIA GTX 1080 FEPascal
25601607/17338GB GDDR5X10Gbps
NVIDIA GTX 1070 FEPascal
19201506/16838GB GDDR58Gbps
NVIDIA GTX 1060 FE 6GBPascal
1280
1506/17086GB GDDR58Gbps
XLR8 GTX 1060 3GBPascal11521506/17083GB GDDR58Gbps
AMD RX Vega 64 Vega 1040961247/15468GB HBM2945Mbps
AMD RX Vega 56Vega 1035841156/14718GB HBM2800Mbs
MSI RX 580 Armor 8GB Polaris 20230413668GB GDDR58Gbps
Sapphire Nitro+ RX 570 4GBPolaris 20204813404GB GDDR57Gbps

Drivers Used

Drivers 
Radeon Settings 19.5.1
GeForce430.64

Preset Scaling At 4K

Testing preset performance is a good way to see how the game scales by simply adjusting the presets rather than individual settings for a quick idea. While we did all our testing below you can see that this is a title that scales up greatly in performance as you drop the preset setting.

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In RAGE 2 we don't see much move in performance until we drop down to Medium, while playing there doesn't appear to be much noticeable change when going down to this level.  Dropping down to Low does however result in a rather noticeable draw distance reduction and pop-in becomes annoyingly noticeable, even when in towns.

Intel Core Scaling Performance

While this test won’t tell just how many cores and threads the game will and can use it does show how the game performs as you move up in cores and threads available.  In a recent change I have decided to move the Core i9-9900K down to a more reasonable 3.5GHz all core clock speed to be a bit more of an Average Joe speed for the lower core and thread count configurations and it takes away the ability for the core speed to overshadow core/thread count limitations.  These were tested at the 1080p settings that we tested the rest of the results with.

I had honestly expected a game like RAGE 2 that takes place out in the open world to be pretty hungry for CPU resources, but it simply does not appear to be the case.  There was a noticeable improvement going from a 4 core without Hyper-Threading to one that does, but if you're on a mid range GPU you would likely see no difference.  Once again we have another title on our hands where a Dual Core CPU need not apply, and once again I'm okay with this.

Graphics Card Results

1080p

Charging off into the mainstream 1920x1080 realm we see pretty solid performance across the board requiring little tweaking to maintain over 60fps among most modern mainstream cards.  Radeon cards are showing their strength in the Vulkan API with the RX 570 powering above the 1060 series Pascal based cards and the RX Vega 56 taking the lead over the GTX 1080.  These lower level APIs show Turings architectural benefits over Pascal with the RTX 2060 besting the GTX 1080 as well. As we move through the other resolutions we'll see a similar story unfold.

1440p

At QHD 2560x1440 we see the squeeze applied already with the performance dropping significantly across the board, and if you've got lower VRAM capacities then get ready to start dropping settings fast if you want to maintain smooth frame rates.  I was a bit taken back by the impact at 1440p in RAGE 2.

4K

Well, it's easy to see that UHD 4K isn't friendly to anyone and with the lack of mGPU support it won't be a very smooth experience unless you have a RTX 2080Ti, I would imagine that a Radeon VII would be showing off a bit in RAGE 2 at this resolution, but without one in hand I can't confirm that with certainty.

Conclusion

RAGE 2 has come with Vulkan powering the Apex Engine and it has delivered.  There are concerns for those who are using Pascal and are seeing lower than expected performance, but I wouldn't be too concerned as the performance is still offering a smooth experience if you're willing to tweak settings down a bit in some places.  Radeon cards are performing well across the board which is to be expected in Vulkan which is a welcome sight for the Red Team.  Turing picks up performance here as well thanks to it's updated pipeline and shows it offers more than just ray tracing and tensor core benefits.  As far as CPUs go, so long as you're packing a true quad core or better you'll be in good shape.  All around the performance is good and the world is open for a wild ride, but if you're looking to go past 1080p be prepared to bring some power.

Products mentioned in this post

GTX 1080
GTX 1080
USD 820
Intel Core i9-9900K
Intel Core i9-9900K
USD 471.99
Radeon VII
Radeon VII
USD 871.16

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