The Division struggles on the world’s most popular GPUs

3 min read

The Division and the struggles on PC

Nvidia really hit it out of the park with the GTX 970 when it launched, and it became a sales phenomenon despite some issues. It’s such a popular card that it’s Steam’s most used GPU right now, claiming a massive 5% of their entire user base. That’s nothing to scoff at, so it’s interesting to see The Division struggle to maintain performance on essentially their biggest target.

Analysing details from the recently closed beta, Digital Foundry pitted the GTX 970 and AMDs R9 390 against each other to see who came out on top. The R9 390 is already better on paper (being AMD’s answer to the 970 almost a year later), so it’s no surprise that it comes out ahead. But a whole 20 frames ahead on some instances? That’s a bit of a shocker. Here’s how the game fares on both Ultra and High settings.

As you can see, both cards fail to achieve a locked 60FPS on either of the presets (which is a little disheartening), with an overclock to the GTX 970 required to keep things stable just at High. What is interesting is the disparity between the 970 and R9 390 at stock, which shows a huge gap in performance especially in more closed off areas. The R9 390 is certainly the faster card, but it theoretically shouldn’t be that much faster. Seems there’s still some heavy optimisation needed on Nvidia’s side.

Ramping up the game to ultra settings, and moving on to an i7 4790K paired with GTX 970 and R9 390, two observations are clear: firstly, we’re looking at minimum frame-rates on both cards in 35fps territory, but the AMD hardware shows a clear advantage over Nvidia in engine-driven cut-scenes and lower detail locations. This can rise to anything up to 15-20fps. It’s a remarkable advantage, and one that is sustained for much of the run of play in the beta, since most of the action occurs indoors. The advantage is even more noteworthy in that Nvidia released a game-ready driver for the beta, whereas AMD didn’t – we used the most recent 16.1 Radeon Crimson hotfix driver for our testing.

And truth be told, the beta only really gives an early indication of performance overall. These last few weeks are spent deep in optimisation and bug squashing, so it’s likely that the performance exhibited here on both AMD and Nvidia cards could vastly improve by the time launch day rolls around. That’ll also include new drivers from both teams which will further improve the situation (well, more often than not).

Read  Next-generation consoles are still at least two years away, says Ubisoft

So yes, some of the most popular cards on the market might start showing their age in terms of maxing out games at 1080p, but I think we’re still a while away from calling them obsolete.

Last Updated: February 5, 2016

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • I seriously hope this launches way more optimised. 30FPS on 970 and 9390???

    Prepare yourselves for another Arkham Knight level disaster

    • Also this game is seriously CPU hungry O.o

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        My octa-core is ready………….after XCOM 2

        • You home yet? or still at work

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Still stuck at work. Wanted to sneak out, but our SAP production server decided to pull a dick move

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Nope, not even close. I bow to no thing.

            Still stuck here, but not for long

        • Kevin Dorland

          As long as it’s clocked at 4+ghz you’ll be fine 😀 Otherwise it’s not really optimized THAT well… Which CPU do you have though? :$

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            I’ve got a cooling problem at the moment in my house, it seems as if my house fans are failing one after the other (house is 13 years old, so I guess that is understandable.

            I’m not overclocking at the moment, I guess that is what I’m trying to say.

            These damn constant heat waves are also not helping things

  • Set my 144hz screen to 120hz and pushed the game on ultra and my 980 ti was maxed out at 100% around 78fps

    • PestControl

      Also had everything on ultra on my 780 Ti. Didn’t check the FPS, however gameplay was very smooth and couldn’t really notice any hiccups.

      • I had a few graphical flickering after opening and closing the map, apart from that all went well

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Are you running it off an SSD?

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      Yeah when I was testing it too I managed a locked 60FPS at 21:9 aspect, but just barely

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Heh. You said Ubisoft & optimise.

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      LOL janee, epic fail

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Could it not be explained by even the 4gb R9 390 having more memory than the 970? trollol

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      Hahahaha, NEVER TOO SOON

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    Hello Ubisoft

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    The divvvvviiiisssssssssssssssssssssssssssiiiiiiioooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnn

  • chimera_85

    My 960 is gonna kak

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Well these are on ultra settings, so depending on what you’re Willington sacrifice, you could still get away with 60fps…

      • chimera_85

        Yeah true hey

  • Darren Peach

    Kinda reminds me why the pc platform is not Ideal anymore. Instesd of enjoying the game, You end up worrying about marginal frame rates.

    • Joe

      That’s a choice you make, not a problem with the platform.

      • Darren Peach

        Each to his own.

  • Joe

    Ran the beta on my 980ti at 1440p – Used high settings and got between 68-100fps, so about an average of 80fps.

    For those who struggled; two things had a huge impact on performance:

    1) Vsync – before the beta even opened, the devs said this was a bug that reduced performance

    2) Volumetric fog – for some reason, despite not really reducing fidelity, turning this down increased fps greatly

    I think you can be pretty sure it will improve by launch.

    • Darren Peach

      Volumetric fog is one of the very heavy resource hogs.

  • VampyreSquirrel

    I noticed one thing while playing this game… and that is… my PC has only ever gotten hot while playing this game, I could feel the extra heat coming out of the case. BUT I was running the Beta at Full settings at 1080p with no noticeable drops in frames.

    Edit: This is on a i7 6600 and a GTX970

  • Dane

    Yesterday I owned a gaming PC. Today it’s just a porn storage device.

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