BabelTechReviews received a reviewer’s copy of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) last week, and began playing it two days later, after downloading all 60GB and nearly 500MB in total patches. This editor has spent the good part of a week playing the main story and looking for a great place to analyse IQ and performance. Here are our impressions of it, including a mini-performance and IQ evaluation using ShadowPlay video, Fraps, and seven Nvidia top GeForce video cards that each have at least 3GB of vRAM.

GTA5 2015-04-22 10-42-59-03We are primarily testing with Nvidia cards up to 4K resolution, and focusing particularly on AA (Anti-Aliasing), including MFAA (Multi Frame Samples Anti-aliasing), as we will especially focus on the game in motion – using ShadowPlay to capture different IQ settings that affect aliasing.  GTA V is a game with a lot of visible aliasing, and especially temporal aliasing that results in shimmering and crawling with the camera in motion.

Motion Blur is enabled by default, and even at its lowest setting which we picked, it is quite obvious.  We also picked completely maxed-out and mostly “ultra” settings at 1920×1080, 2560×1600, and at 3840×2160, to differentiate the PC experience from the console.  2GB vRAM-equipped cards need not apply at these demanding settings.  The GTX 770/2GB and even the GTX 690 dual-GPU card cannot run GTA V at even Very High settings without severe chugging and hitching, artifacting, and late texture loading, although frame rates might otherwise be OK if the disk did not need to be accessed.

Here are the cards that we tested with:

  • GTX TITAN-X/12GB
  • GTX 980/4GB & GTX 980 SLI
  • GTX 970/4GB
  • GTX 780 Ti/3GB
  • GTX TITAN/6GB
  • GTX 780/3GB

Unlike with playing the earlier games in the series, we were more drawn immediately into GTA V.  Although this editor is not a big fan of the series, it appears that GTA V combines the very best of the San Andreas games with the GTA series into an amazing open world game that appears to surpass Watch_Dogs in every way.

One thing that is immediately stands out is the incredible detail and huge scope of the game’s setting.  Literally hundreds of NPCs move about their world in a normal manner.  Driving is improved over the earlier games in the series, and the graphics are spectacular for this type of game.  The characters are not as detailed or as real as in Crysis 3 or Ryse, but the world is far more ambitious than either of these CryEngine games, and GTA V succeeds brilliantly

There are no screenshots nor videos that really do this game justice.  You have to experience GTA V for yourself as a player to appreciate its scope, much as you do a movie or a play; and not from viewing clips on a tablet, nor from watching Youtube gameplay videos.  This mini-evaluation is not going to focus on the story, however, as we did not finish the game.  Instead, we are going to look at changing anti-aliasing settings and their effect on IQ and performance of GTA V.  We only played some of the single player missions and did not look at online multiplayer.  The game world is huge and there is a lot to do.

Bugs, Graphics and Performance

There appear to be few bugs and only rare crashes to desktop from playing and benching for more than a couple of dozen hours.  Rockstar has released a couple of patches, including one this morning, that have addressed some issues.  GTA V requires a higher frame rate than the “usual 30fps” to feel fluid, and AA is the first setting that is usually turned down.

This game uses several of Nvidia’s GameWorks features for PC including PCSS (Percentage-Closer Soft Shadows), MFAA, DSR and TXAA.  GTA V also uses AMD features including CHS (Contact Harding Shadows) with is similar to PCSS, but with a sharper shadow that some prefer although it is less realistic.  GTA V is a true next-generation open world game which is very demanding.  Using a GTX 980 we could manage Ultra settings on everything – but only up to 2560×1600!  It took a TITAN X or GTX 980 SLI to have a good experience at 3840×2160, and even then we were mostly limited to FXAA.  All of our screenshots and ShadowPlay video are taken at 1920×1080.

Performance

GTA5 2015-04-22 10-37-59-67We played GTA V at maximum details with 6 top Nvidia graphics cards using Core i7-4790K at 4.0GHz where all 4 cores turbo to 4.4GHZ, a EVGA Z97+, and 16GB of Kingston HyperX RAM at 2133MHz.

All of the in-game settings were maxed completely out (except as noted; Motion Blur low; Softest Shadows; Grass, Very High, and 2xMSAA Reflections) with these variables – 2x and 4xMSAA, FXAA, TXAA, 4x-and 8xMFAA, and 0xAA (no AA).

On the next page, we will introduce image quality and AA used and later we will give performance results as well as IQ screen shot comparisons for each setting as well as a ShadowPlay video comparing these settings in motion.

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