Control: A Visually Stunning Ray Traced Gem Of A Game Explored

Control Review: Graphics Performance With GeForce RTX 2060

bathroom shadow full rt
Control uses light and shadow to great effect, and with great ray-tracing effects

Test Setup
Fast, faster, and fastest

To see how well Control runs with all the graphical candy enabled, we tested a range of GeForce RTX hardware. We won't bore you with every spec, but here's the meat of our example gaming PC.

Processor Intel Core i5-9600K (6 cores, 6 threads; 4.2 GHz base, max turbo 4.9 GHz)
Memory 16 GB (2x8 GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000
Motherboard MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus
Graphics Cards MSI GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB
GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8 GB
GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8 GB
Storage Samsung 970 Evo Plus 500 GB
Operating System  Windows 10 Pro with 1903 (May, 2019) update
GeForce Driver Version 436.02

The variety of graphics cards we tested with should be sufficient to give us a feel for how much ray-tracing power you'll need so you can enjoy Control at your favorite resolution. Intel's Core i5-9600K should be enough CPU to keep the graphics cards fed, and that will help us tease out performance differences at different resolutions and with different GPUs. With the GeForce RTX 2060, we tested Control with ray tracing disabled, set to the medium preset, or set to the high preset. At the highest settings, we also turned off anti-aliasing to see if that helped. 

Control Performance with No Ray Tracing
Expressed in milliseconds per frame (lower is better)

While not perfect, the tests without ray tracing should give folks with Pascal or Navi cards an idea of performance without all the drool-worthy effects. The 99th percentile means that 99% of the time, the frame rate is at least as fast as that recorded number. 
rtx2060 nort performance summary

Across the board, we were able to get a playable frame rate at each resolution from our test system. At 1080p, you can stay above 60 frames per second at pretty much all times without ray tracing enabled. When you crank up the resolution to 1440p, the GeForce RTX 2060 had a bit harder time, but even on High we'd call staying above 40 frames per second at all times pretty playable. Let's look at frame times for 1440p on High to see if there are any hidden spikes. 

rtx2060 nort 1440p high
Rendering is smooth across the board. There aren't any huge spikes that would indicate a graphics performance problem, and the frame rates don't really waiver all that much even though we go through both bright and dimly-lit areas in our test run. 

Control Frame Times with Medium Ray Tracing
Expressed in milliseconds per frame (lower is better)

You're not reading this article to see how the game runs without any fancy effects, but it provides a nice baseline. Next we flipped the switch and turned our ray traced eye candy up to medium. 

rtx2060 medium performance summary

With DLSS at 960p, the RTX 2060's low frame rate (53.6) is within spitting distance of the average 55.5 frames per second rate of native 1080p rendering, but both were quite playable. Getting up to 1440p is a significant challenge for the vanilla RTX 2060 now, though. While Control is certainly playable at 36 frames per second, We'd personally take either the resolution hit or turn on DLSS to keep the frame rate closer to 60 at all times. From this graph we can see that turning on ray tracing introduces roughly a 20-25% performance penalty. Let's see how smooth it is. 

rtx2060 mediumrt 1440p
The frame times are a little longer than we'd like long-term at the higher QHD resolution, but again it's pretty smooth. This also exposes the first little hitch in the RTX 2060's performance, but it's a single frame that takes 77 milliseconds to hit the screen—the very definition of an outlier. This hardly implies that there's an issue with performance in the game. Let's see how Nvidia's AI-assisted anti-aliasing does.

rtx2060 mediumrt dls 960p

Just like when we looked at the summary, turning on DLSS brings some frame time relief thanks to the lower rendering requirement. With frame times siloed into a narrow band on our graph, there's nothing left to do but notice how smooth it all is.

Control Frame Times with High Ray Tracing
Expressed in milliseconds per frame (lower is better)

Let's see how we can make the weakest RTX card sweat with the High ray-tracing preset.

rtx2060 high performance summary

The biggest disappoint is how little performance there is to gain from disabling MSAA. The GeForce RTX 2060 cannot reliably hit 30 frames per second at this mix of resolution and settings regardless of AA at 1440p no matter what, but 1080p is still quite playable However, it's DLSS that again steals the show. Just like before, 960p's 99th percentile again almost hits 1080p's average frame rate. What do the frame time graphs show us? 

rtx2060 highrt 1440p
These are the most intensive tests we performed with the GeForce RTX 2060, and yes, the frame times are higher than what we consider optimal. However, at no point did the frame times get out of hand. Despite the heavy load and the fact our GeForce RTX 2060 has less VRAM than our other test participants, there's no problem delivering consistent frames, even if it's overall slower than we'd like. 

rtx2060 highrt dlss 2 3

Again, DLSS dropped the frame times back into a more optimal range without destroying the smoothness or image quality. This anti-aliasing technique performs quite well even when the card is dealing with all of the ray tracing effects, too. 

Summarizing Frame Times
Converting to frames per second (higher is better)

Having all that detail is nice, but it can be a bit much to look at. To assist, we've converted all frame times to frames per second and grouped them by fps range to show how playable each setting is. Using 60 fps as our goal and 30 frames per second as a minimum requirement, we can see what percentage of our 75-second test run stayed above various thresholds. 

Frame Rate Percentages 1440p No RT 1440p Medium RT 1440p High RT 1440p High DLSS @960p
% > 60 fps 0.19 0.00 0.00 0.00
% between 45 and 60 fps 84.36 0.21 0.00 94.70
% between 30 and 45 fps 15.45 95.877 19.082 5.297
% < 30 fps 0.00 3.911 80.918 0.000

Out of the whole lot, the only setting we consider too strenuous to reliably play is high ray tracing at 1440p. Outside of a tiny dip with Medium ray tracing, every other setting managed to avoid dropping below 30 frames per second. This is pretty playable all around. Again, the high quality DLSS setting takes the cake. Let's see how the GeForce RTX 2070 Super and 2080 Super do next.

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