Graphics Card Reviews

Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega 64 Limited Edition

Vega 64 Done Right

« Test Setup & Synthetic Benchmarks | Real World Gameplay Testing: High Settings »

Real World Gameplay Testing: Max Settings

When recording scores for the games, I made sure I was working with the latest non-beta graphics driver, and all games were updated to their latest versions before I began testing. Each gameplay test was conducted at least three times, then the frame rates were averaged to determine the score. All benchmarks here were performed at resolutions of 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, using the maximum presets. Many of these games feature in-game benchmarks, but I relied instead on a custom run that’s more representative of actual gameplay.

DirectX 11 Tests

To achieve all of these scores, I ran the games in the DirectX 11 mode, even if a DirectX 12 mode was available. I used FRAPS to record average, maximum, and minimum frame rates at each resolution.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War is an action RPG game based on the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s the sequel to Monolith’s successful Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor game and the events of the game take place after The Hobbit but before the Lord of the Rings. The game builds upon the nemesis system that made the first game such a surprise hit, and it’s just brutal to PC hardware.

Watch Dogs 2 is Ubisoft’s attempt to apply its highly refined open-world formula to a GTA-style 3rd-person action game. The game features stunning visuals and stars a cast of misfit hacker anarchists as they rise up against an oppressive government and invasive corporations. It’s also running Ubisoft’s in-house Disrupt engine, which really takes advantage of today’s top hardware.

Grand Theft Auto V is a game from Rockstar that’s as impressive to look at as it is fun to play. It is easily the oldest game in our testing suite, but its enduring popularity and unrelenting ability to hammer hardware guarantees it a place among our tests for at least a little while longer.


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is CD Projekt Red’s expansive RPG starring Geralt of Rivia, a mutated -but still ruggedly handsome- witcher who is seeking Ciri, his all-but-officially adopted daughter as she flees the dangerous and deadly Wild Hunt. This game has been out since 2015, but it still puts a lot of stress on modern GPUs.

Battlefield 1 takes you back to World War I where players can experience the brutality of war from several different perspectives. The game features a ground-based FPS combat section, tank battles, and dogfighting with biplanes. We only tested this game in its native DX 11 mode, despite its DX 12 support.

Overwatch is a squad-based combat shooter that pits two teams of six against one another. Players select from one of several heroes, and although it looks pretty on even the most modest gaming hardware, its overwhelming popularity among gamers and eSports fanatics has forced our hand.

DirectX 12/ Vulkan Tests

These tests were run to illustrate how this graphics card handles games built to run on the most up-to-date APIs, DirectX 12 and Vulkan. Of all the games we tested, these tended to be the prettiest, however, the next-gen APIs are meant to allow the developers get closer to the metal, meaning they can access more of the hardware’s raw horsepower. These results, with the exception of Sniper Elite 4, were recorded using PresentMon and OCAT (Open Capture and Analysis Tool), which yields average frame rates, average frame times (in milliseconds), and 99th percentile frame times (in milliseconds).

DOOM uses id Software’s Tech 6 engine and was released in 2016. The game is a reboot of the old classic and features fast and furious action. Doom launched as an OpenGL 4.5 game, but it was later patched to use the Vulkan API. Doom was tested using the Vulkan API only.

HITMAN (2016) is the latest chapter in the Hitman franchise. The graphics engine used is Glacier 2, which has now been updated to support DirectX 12. We encountered a strange phenomenon when benchmarking this game where the 1080p and 1440p scores were nearly identical, despite hours of retesting and troubleshooting. The 4K result showed a predictable drop in framerates, however, so these scores are still worth comparing. Also, HITMAN’s minimum framerates were very low, but this did not translate to choppy or poor visuals during gameplay.


Rise of the Tomb Raider is a 3rd-person action adventure game released in 2015 as a sequel to the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. Crystal Dynamics relied on a refined version of the Foundation Engine when developing the game and Square Enix is the publisher. We’ll never get tired watching Lara Croft skin bunnies.

Sniper Elite 4 is a third-person tactical shooter with optional stealth elements. The events of the game take place in 1943, in Italy. It’s the only game in our series of DirectX 12 games that can report scores with FRAPS, even though there’s no overlay. Here I recorded the average, maximum, and minimum frame rates, as I did with the DX 11 games.

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