Features PC

Grand Theft Auto 5 PC performance impressions

Tested with
AMD HD7970 4GB
Intel Core i7-3770 CPU 3.40 Ghz

GTA 5 has finally arrived on the PC after a painfully long wait and numerous delays. We already know the game itself is good, but how does Rockstar’s final version of the game stack up? Worry not, tech heads, I have good news.

The graphical setting menu is the first port of call for all PC users, and it doesn’t disappoint. Rockstar has included a meaty list of settings to allow for a wealth of customization options. General configurations are in attendance such as DX10-11 choices, FXAA filtering, distance scaling and texture quality, but more resource heavy options have been made available.

Nvidia and AMD specific soft shadowing allows both sides of the video-card conflict to enjoy their own purpose-optimized features. I noticed a very small performance drop when using AMD’s variant, but no more than can be expected from soft shadowing, which can cause some serious VRAM hogging on lower end cards. The options menu includes a very welcome VRAM scale which will inform you when you are going over your card’s limits, but won’t alter your settings without permission.

Performance dipped as the distance rendering bias was increased, most notably deeper into the map. What may be running a 60FPS+ by the shore will very likely take a hit upon reaching the crowded areas of GTA 5’s sandbox. Traffic and crowd density can be adjusted to reduce the resource load. However, with tessellation, ambient occlusion and most settings at the maximum excluding distance rendering bias and MSAA, the game kept to a comfortable 49-67FPS range, with an average of 56FPS.

With the common occurrence of launch day woes for PC releases, GTA 5 is thankfully very well optimized for higher end machines, and thanks to the detailed options menu, scaling the setting to allow lower power set ups to play with few hitches is an easy task.

During my time in the early hours of the story mode I noticed relatively few issues, however enabling MSAA would cause visual artifacting on the bottom right of my screen. This caused me some panic as it showed signs of a classic AMD meltdown, but after removing MSAA the issue vanished and hasn’t returned. Some door and window textures decided not to load in during a single player mission and I saw minor texture stretching at points, but this were uncommon. Other concerns regard the frame rate in certain circumstances. During a particularly frantic police chased cause by a disagreement between a pedestrian and my Hummer’s bonnet the frame-rate dropped to sub-30FPS when i entered the city. While understandable due to the city’s density, it was certainly jarring.

Loading times are unfortunately on the long side, but this is mitigated by the fact that in-game loading is quite fast. Upon launching the story mode or multiplayer from the menu on a Toshiba 1TB HD the loading can be up to 2 minutes, but after this time drops to a few seconds.

But how does the game look? Wonderful! GTA 5’s upgrade is instantly noticeable when compared to the original release and even the latest console remaster. Character models use new skins shaders to great effect, enhancing the already impressively crafted population. New particle effects, foliage and a drastically increased draw distance make GTA 5 at treat for the eye. The added bonus of playing in 60FPS makes the game feel significantly less clunky and easier to control, while adjustable FOV the first person camera ensures its useful instead of inhibiting. That said, I still used an FOV modifier to increase the default 68 to 80 so that I felt less confined.

To revel in the glory of its visual splendor, Rockstar has also included a video editor similar to its past variant in GTA 4, allowing users to compile and share their favorite moments or take a cinematic screenshot of a particularity nice vista. The editor is straightforward and allows for a variety of dynamic camera angles, speed adjustments and more. If you just can’t let that triple back-flip into an 80 year-old go to waste, this is the feature for you.

As PC ports go, Rockstar has achieved the same success they enjoyed with Max Payne 3. GTA 5 runs well, looks great and has only a few minor hiccups. This is the definitive edition of GTA; the wait was worth it.

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