Recently, Creative Assembly has pleased strategy fans with the second part of Total War: Warhammer. The game continues the traditions of the Total War series, combining action on the global map with massive battles. But now everything takes place in the Warhammer universe, and instead of a historically authentic environment, we are immersed in a world of magic and confrontation between fantasy races. Total War always delivers great graphics, and Warhammer 2 is no exception. The game looks great, but the system requirements are high. Let’s find out which video cards will allow you to play Total War: Warhammer II at high and maximum graphics quality. At the same time, we will compare performance in DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 to determine the optimal mode.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Most of the time we spend on a large global map. The picture is replete with details and nuances. Despite a certain circuitry, even in the zoom mode, the image pleases the eye.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

During the battles, we move to separate combat locations, where we control our troops in real time. The game has a lot of different cards with their own unique style. And here Total War shows a level of graphics unattainable for other strategies, delighting with beautiful panoramas and spectacular battles that can be viewed up close, studying from different angles.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer IITesting in Total War: Warhammer II

Total War: Warhammer II is also one of the most technologically advanced games, supporting DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. However, the first part could not show any advantages of DirectX 12. Therefore, it is interesting whether the developers have achieved any advantages in the new game. To do this, we will compare video cards in different DirectX with the same graphics settings.

The testing will involve solutions from the top, middle and budget segments, including new generation models and old video cards.

The list of participants is as follows:

All video adapters were brought to standard frequencies to match the reference solutions of their series. The Radeon RX Vega 64 was only tested with stock BIOS in normal balanced mode (default settings). The Radeon R9 270X replaces the predecessor Radeon HD 7870. All members tested at nominal and overclocked. Some exception was made for top models, which were tested in certain modes only at standard frequencies.

  • The test bench configuration is as follows:
  • processor: Intel Core i7-6950X (3.0@4.1 GHz);
  • cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (two NF-A15 PWM fans, 140 mm, 1300 rpm);
  • motherboard: MSI X99S MPower (Intel X99);
  • memory: G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ (4×8 GB, DDR4-3200, CL14-14-14-35);
  • system drive: Kingston SSDNow KC400 (256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s);
  • secondary drive: Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 (1 TB, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm);
  • power supply: Seasonic SS-750KM (750 W);
  • monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
  • operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
  • GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 387.92 and GeForce 388.13;
  • Radeon driver: AMD Crimson Edition 17.9.3 and Crimson Edition 17.11.2.

For the first time, the game offers two benchmarks that simulate the load in different game modes. One test recreates the combat scene, the second offers a flight over the global map. They are shown in the videos.

Additionally, the MSI Afterburner utility is used to control the minimum fps.

Let’s start by examining the results at the default maximum quality settings. Their configuration is shown below.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

These are not the highest settings, but they suggest the optimal combination of parameters for a beautiful picture. In comparison, with Ultra-graphics, we can do without budget models, since they cannot provide acceptable performance.

Below are the results in DirectX 11.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Based on the results of two tests, it can be noted that the most significant fps drops are possible on the global map. This is especially noticeable on the Radeon RX Vega 64. The AMD flagship loses to the GeForce GTX 1080, and the Radeon RX 580 is noticeably weaker than the GeForce GTX 1060 and even the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Without overclocking, the performance of the Radeon RX 480/580 can be unacceptably low for the demanding gamer. The video memory load in the first benchmark is 2.8-2.9 GB, on the global map it can exceed 3.7-3.8 GB.

Now let’s compare video cards in DirectX 12. It turned out that this mode cannot be activated on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Also, overclocking tests for older video cards have not been carried out.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

The results are mixed. All of AMD’s next generation video adapters show a slight performance increase in the first benchmark. However, there is a serious drop in fps on the global map, low GPU load is noticeable. The difference in the two modes is so big that the benefits of DirectX 12 seem highly questionable. After switching to the new API, NVIDIA video adapters show a drop in performance in all modes. In the first benchmark, all GeForces are worse than their competitors, in the second they are better. Video memory usage increases by an average of 100 MB.

I would like to find out how simpler graphic solutions will cope with the game. You obviously need to lower the settings here. The high quality mode is selected with additional fixation of textures at the same level. This caveat is necessary due to the fact that the game can change the quality of textures differently for video cards with a small amount of memory.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

In comparison with high quality, mid-range video cards are also added, but without overclocking.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

If the GeForce GTX 1060 and GeForce GTX 780 Ti had parity in Ultra mode, here we see the clear advantages of the new video adapter. The Radeon RX 480/580 are outperformed by the competition in both tests. Among budget solutions, the GeForce GTX 960 has good results; with overclocking, one can even talk about a comfortable gaming process. The GeForce GTX 1050 is faster than the GeForce GTX 950, but its predecessor beats the newcomer a little after overclocking. The weakest positions are in the younger Radeons. In the tail of the Radeon RX 560 rating with a core frequency of up to 1196 MHz, the older version of the Radeon RX 560 is at the level of the Radeon R9 270X.

Switch to DirectX 12 mode.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Radeon RX 480/580 and Radeon RX 560 improve results in the combat benchmark, but traditionally lose performance on the global map. All NVIDIA solutions degrade performance in all modes. Due to such changes, the GeForce GTX 1050 is weaker than the Radeon RX 560, and the gap between the GeForce GTX 960 and the AMD competitor is minimal.

Let’s move on to the performance of older video adapters in heavier modes and higher resolutions.

Let’s compare Radeon RX Vega 64, GeForce GTX 1080, GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at 1920×1080 resolution with graphics settings above Ultra-level. Additionally, we turn on the extreme quality of shadows, the effect of depth of field, reflections and anti-aliasing MSAA 4x. In this comparison, we will limit ourselves to tests at face value and only in DirectX 11.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

On the GeForce GTX 1080, the performance drop is 15-24% compared to the usual Ultra mode. Radeon RX Vega 64 has a 60-80% performance drop.

Let’s compare the performance at 2560×1440 with normal Ultra quality settings.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1080 adequately cope with this resolution, the NVIDIA representative is slightly faster. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has a gap of more than 35% over the GeForce GTX 1080, which is quite a lot. Such a difference may be due to a different driver — the flagship was tested later with other software. The video memory load in the first test is just over 3 GB, on the global card it is over 4.3 GB.

Along the way, testing was carried out in DirectX 12, but since the main trends have already been noted above, we limited ourselves to the results only at standard frequencies.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

In the first test, the Radeon RX Vega 64 improves its performance, while older GeForce GTX lose performance. In the benchmark on the global map, the drop is noticeable for everyone, the gap between video cards is also decreasing — pay attention to the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and its minimum fps. The reason for this is the uneven loading of the GPU, which is noticeable with DirectX 12. It seems that we ran into some features of the engine, when the potential of video cards is no longer fully revealed. Therefore, testing with overclocking here would no longer be of practical use.

We conclude the article with tests of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at 3840×2160. Previous results have shown that the Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1080 are no longer stretched at such a resolution, and DirectX 11 is the optimal mode.

Testing in Total War: Warhammer II

The reference version of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti shows 37-47 fps, which is not bad. Non-reference options can provide a couple more extra fps, and with overclocking, they will easily give out more than 50 fps. Loading video memory when navigating on the global map reaches 5 GB.

conclusions

Total War: Warhammer II is a beautiful strategy game with high system requirements. This is one of the few games in 2017 that offers support for DirectX 12. But will you get any benefits from this mode? Owners of a new series of Radeons based on Polaris or Vega chips can really count on a slight acceleration during battles. However, performance on the global map, where the player spends more time, drops sharply. If we talk about solutions from NVIDIA, they demonstrate a drop in performance in all modes. As a result, DirectX 12 loses its practical meaning. Perhaps, as the game is updated, the situation somehow changes, but for now we recommend using DirectX 11 on any video cards.

To enjoy the maximum graphics quality in Full HD, you need graphics cards like the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580. It’s nice to note that the old flagship GeForce GTX 780 Ti looks strong against the background of the GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD competitors. If you like to play with high-quality MSAA anti-aliasing, then you need to count on the GeForce GTX 1080 or GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. With high graphics settings, the GeForce GTX 960 can handle decently, you can expect slightly better performance from the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The Radeon RX Vega 64 loses to the GeForce GTX 1080, although in some conditions it can provide better performance in DirectX 12. Once again, we can talk about some AMD potential that will not find its application. Happy owners of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti can play at standard Ultra graphics settings up to 4K resolution.

In the near future we will study the performance of video cards in Wolfenstein II The New Colossus, Assassin’s Creed Origins and other new games. Stay with us, there are many interesting things ahead!

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