GTA V Gameplay And Performance Review: The PC Version Rules

GTA V Graphics Engine and Benchmarks

Another area that Rockstar Games wanted to make sure it didn’t drop the ball on was graphics. Lately, the PC platform has seen a few ports where the games weren’t properly optimized or the graphics updated to take advantage of a user’s system resources. With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar assured PC gamers that the game can be played in resolutions up to 4K and even higher, while maintaining good frame rates.

So what are the results? First, let's look at the visuals.

Small GTA V 008

From a graphics standpoint, GTA V looks great. From its massive skyscrapers of Los Santos, to the open landscape of Blaine County, it all just looks fantastic. We were especially impressed at the panoramic views we saw of Los Santos at sunset, sunrise, and at night. The scenery is rich, vibrant, and expansive.

Individual objects and structures looked great as well. The various vehicles in the game are impressive and show various degrees of damage or wear quite nicely. We noticed that garments and different flora would sway in the wind and the water effects were nicely done, with reasonably natural looking flow.

To put it simply, GTA V is visually appealing and impressive given the scope of the game. It might not be quite "cutting-edge," but it's certainly not too shabby at all.

Small GTA V 009

Of course, the game’s large scope also means it requires a fairly strong system to run it and, in this case, we ran GTA V’s ingame benchmark tool on both high-end and mid-range PCs with both AMD and NVIDIA cards. What is really helpful, when trying to figure out how to set up your graphical settings, is an indicator at the top of the main control panel showing the amount of memory frame usage that will be utilized with your current settings, which will allow players to tinker around for an optimized experience.

Testing On A High-End System

The high-end rig used for the tests featured an Intel Core i7-4960X 3.6GHz CPU and 32GB RAM running on Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit. For the GPUs, which had the latest drivers installed, we ran the game on an AMD Radeon R9 290X, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti, and 2 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780Ti in SLI.

Small GTA V 010
That may, or may not, be blood on the back of my car.

For the in-game benchmark test, we focused on the final pass of the test and took the results from that, since we felt this was the most GPU intensive pass of the test. This involved the camera following a jet across the landscape before transitioning to a vehicle in Los Santos, during the day, where there is plenty of traffic and pedestrians walking around. It turned into a car chase with law enforcement following, and shooting at the vehicle, with the test ending in a fiery explosion. Perfect...

HighEnd 1920 NoAA

HighEnd 2560 NoAA

As you can see from the graphs, these strong GPUs had no trouble staying above 60FPS, at max graphics quality, when anti-aliasing was turned off while playing the game at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600 resolution. At 1920x1080, the AMD Radeon R9 290X averaged 76.6 FPS, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780 Ti clocked in at 93.52 FPS, and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti X2 at 86.79 FPS.

However, at lower res, there was an obvious anomaly with NVIDIA's multi-GPU configuration, with the single card setup proving faster. At the higher 2560 resolution, the SLI setup ended up faster as it should be didn't scale quite as high as expected either. NVIDIA has a little driver tweaking to do still obviously.

HighEnd 1920 4XAA

HighEnd 2560 4XAA

But when multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA) was turned on, the results took a significant drop for two of the GPUs. At 1920x1080 resolution, the AMD Radeon R9 290X’s FPS averaged dropped to 67.79 FPS and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti dropped to 53.37 FPS. Meanwhile, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti X2 seemed to be mostly unaffected staying around 85.57 FPS. When tested at 2560x1600 resolution, all three GPUs saw a dip in the numbers too. The AMD Radeon R9 290X averaged at 44.52 FPS, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 46.07 FPS, and even the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti X2 experienced a drop to 75.37 FPS. Regardless, all card still maintain playable frame rates at these settings and the NVIDIA SLI setup scaled much better here.

Testing On A More Midrange Setup

For the mid-range rig, it featured an AMD Pheom II X4 965 processor and 16GB of RAM while using an AMD Radeon R9 280 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 for our GPU engines. We played the game on very high settings, though only at MSAA X2 using the same pass for the in-game benchmark test.

Midrange 1280 noAA

Midrange 1920 noAA

When it comes to the results for the mid-range PC, unfortunately it doesn’t come near the 60 FPS mark that some users might be hoping for, and in fact, the game seems CPU bound, as evidenced by the minimal change in framerates. However, in every test, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 outperformed the AMD Radeon R9 280 with roughly a 10 FPS difference when it came to the average FPS. At 1920x1080 resolution with no AA, the AMD Radeon R9 280 scored 34.6 FPS while the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 clocked in at a higher average of 44.7 FPS.

Midrange 1920 MSAAx2

Midrange 1280 MSAAx2

Overall, the gap between the two cards is not surprising given the difference in price and specs between the AMD Radeon R9 280 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 and the CPU limitation on the mid-range system remains evident. Thankfully, the game still looked great and we've spent over 50 hours playing the game so far on this mid-range hardware - all selfishly of course, for you, dear reader and would-be GTA V gamer.

Related content