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

Control Review: GeForce RTX 2070 And 2080 Super And Conclusion

hanging out
"What are you doing this weekend?" "Oh not much. Probably just hanging out."

With any graphics card faster than the GeForce RTX 2060, there's absolutely no reason to test lower ray tracing or anti-aliasing settings with this game title. Those represent compromises we just refuse to make with a $500 or $700 graphics card. Instead, we pushed Control even harder. Here, we're testing with just High settings for ray tracing at both 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 (4K) resolution to see if we can make these high-end GPUs beg for mercy. 

Control Performance with RTX 2070 Super
1440p and 4K testing
With the GeForce RTX 2070 Super's higher $500 price tag, we expected this card to pump out frames much quicker than the $350 RTX 2060. The most important thing to us is that the more expensive graphics card would unlock better performance at a higher resolution. That could just mean 1080p native instead of DLSS, but we're hoping for acceptable 1440p performance as well. Let's see how it did.
rtx2070super performance summary 3res
Looks like we went two for two in our hopes. Setting the resolution to 1080p with High ray tracing yielded good performance, averaging 55 frames per second. High ray tracing at 1440p is generally above 30 fps, but just barely. If you're not willing to compromise on performance at 1440p, turning the ray-traced eye candy down to Medium will get keep you well above 30 at all times, and average nearly 50 frames per second. For the GeForce RTX 2070 Super, this is a good compromise, though we'd probably stick to 1080p to get the most out of the game. Let's see how the frame times turned out. 

rtx2070super medrt 1440p

rtx2070super highrt 1440p

We hate to sound like a broken record, but once again there's nothing to get overly excited about except for consistency. Delivering frames at a regular interval is the most important part of making a relatively low frame rate playable, and time after time, Control and our GeForce RTX 2070 Super prove that they're up to the task. 

Control Performance with RTX 2080 Super
1440p and 4K testing
This might be the data point some of you have been eagerly waiting for: how does the GeForce RTX 2080 Super handle Control's fancy rendering effects? The higher-end Super cards have a couple of use cases: high resolution gaming and high frame rate performance. To try to get a handle on the latter, we checked out 1440p and 4K again, but also turned DLSS back on with high ray tracing to see how fast the game could go while still looking great. 
rtx2080super performance summary

Across the board, we see roughly 15% higher frame rates from the RTX 2080 Super than we did with the 2070 variant. That's not enough to make ray tracing playable at 4K, which lines up with our ray tracing experience with other titles. 1440p is about twice as fast as 4K here, just like it was for the RTX 2070 Super. We suspect you'll need a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti to play Control at 4K with all of the ray tracing eye candy intact. On the other hand, returning to DLSS gave us 70 frames per second with all the settings turned to the max, so folks that have monitors with higher refresh rates should gain something from them. Since Control is not an online twitchy shooter, we didn't feel the need to go for max fps by turning off ray tracing. 

rtx2080super mediumrt 4k
rtx2080super highrt 4k

Even at the highest possible settings for the game—even with DSR (Dynamic Super Resolution) enabling higher resolutions, Control maxes out rendering at 2160p—there are no nasty frame lag surprises waiting for us. The frame times are higher than we'd like at both ray tracing settings, but the relative consistency means that you could probably get through the game (at least with Medium ray tracing) at the highest supported resolution with your $700 graphics card. We'd rather opt for 1440p, though. 

Summarizing GeForce RTX 2070 Super and 2080 Super Frame Times
Converting to frames per second (higher is better)
As before, let's take a look at how the frame times are distributed for each of the charts above. 

Frame Rage Percentages 2080S 4K Medium 2080S 4K High 2070S 1440p Med 2070S 1440p High
% > 60 fps 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
% between 45 and 60 fps 0.00 0.00 73.73 0.00
% between 30 and 45 fps 5.32 0.00 26.27 96.90
% < 30 fps 94.68 100.00 0.00 3.10

This really drives home the point about skipping 4K in Control. The game occasionally surpasses 30 frames per second with our GeForce RTX 2080 Super on Medium. The $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super has no problem with 1440p at Medium ray tracing, but High is a bit of a challenge. It's worth mentioning that we assembled frame times for every single test, but only showed the most strenuous ones in this review. To that end, we calculated that the 2080 Super didn't dip below 30 frames per second even once at 1440p with High ray tracing and got above 45 frames per second around 5% of the time. The other frames all fell in the 30 to 45 range, and that's pretty smooth for all this eye candy and this style of game play.

climbing motion blur
Up you go!

Control performance with Nvidia's GeForce RTX series
If you've been reading along with us and didn't just skip to the end you've seen a common thread through this game. First of all, Remedy did a masterful job of creating an engrossing world that looks outstanding with all of the hardware-assisted ray tracing effects turned on. The fact that it's fun to play and that the plot is interesting (no spoilers!) will keep you coming back for more. The best part is that even the entry-level GeForce RTX 2060 can pump out some respectable frame rates thanks to NVIDIA's DLSS AI-assisted anti-aliasing technique. If you own a Turing graphics card, Control is a tour de force for all the ray-tracing support Microsoft recently baked into Windows 10 with DXR. The best part is that those frames are delivered smoothly at all times. We detected nary a hiccup with any of the three cards we tested today on our midrange test-bed PC. 

This seems like a lot of effort just to watch the Bears lose again.

In the past, some naysayers may have tried to dismiss NVIDIA's GeForce RTX advanced features as a marketing gimmick, but it's clear that developers are going to use these effects in interesting ways that add immersion and significantly improve the overall game play experience. If Control causes us to lament anything, it's that ray tracing isn't available from more than one GPU vendor. If you don't own a ray tracing-capable graphics card, the game looks great with all of its traditional rendering effects, and performance scales pretty well. However, for those of you who have a GeForce RTX graphics card, our verdict is simple: you simply must check out Control.

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