Starfield PC Performance: How Much GPU Do You Need?

Starfield — IntroductionStarfield hardly wants an introduction. The newest large RPG from Bethesda, the expectations are that it’s going to principally ship “Fallout in house,” or alternatively, “Elder Scrolls in house.” Even if that is all it offered, individuals would seemingly flock to it, however it’s alleged to be way over that. We’ll go away the reviewing of the sport to others, however we need to see the way it runs on among the greatest graphics playing cards, plus another GPUs for good measure.We have the Starfield Premium version, courtesy of AMD, which supplies us early entry for the subsequent a number of days — the total launch might be on September 6. We’re working benchmarks just like what we did with Diablo IV, and we’ll replace this text with further efficiency outcomes over the approaching days. Benchmarking takes time. What kind of {hardware} will you want, and the way does the sport look and run on a PC? Let’s discover out.Latest UpdateSept 1, 2023: We’ve completed our preliminary benchmarks, and now we have to query what number of different GPUs are value testing proper now. Performance is not nice, and whereas the sport is obtainable to play for many who bought the Premium version, we will not assist however really feel further patches and/or up to date drivers will change issues fairly a bit within the coming days. If you’ve gotten any explicit playing cards you need examined, tell us within the feedback.Note additionally that that is an AMD-promoted sport, and whereas AMD says it would not limit sport builders from supporting different tech like DLSS and XeSS, it does companion with builders to “prioritize” AMD applied sciences. The excellent news is that FSR 2 works on each GPU; the unhealthy information is that it may not look fairly nearly as good as DLSS or XeSS — not XeSS in DP4a mode, thoughts you, as that is totally different than XeSS working on Intel Arc’s XMX cores.But there’s extra to it than merely not supporting DLSS or XeSS. By default, Starfield permits some stage of upscaling on each GPU and setting. For instance, the Low and Medium presets use 50% render decision, High bumps that to 62%, and Ultra to 75%. So there’s comparatively tight integration with FSR 2, and that is nearly actually partly as a result of the sport usually wants it to hit modest framerates, even on high-end {hardware}.We’re anticipating a whole lot of curiosity in Starfield, so we plan on testing most “supported” graphics playing cards on our take a look at PC. We’re utilizing high-end {hardware}, principally as quick as you may get with a contemporary PC, although AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D would seemingly exceed it in some instances. In order to keep away from swapping drivers too many occasions, we’re beginning with AMD GPUs, then Nvidia, then Intel (which at present wants an up to date driver, so we’re holding off on that for now).Also… efficiency on non-AMD GPUs proper now may be very questionable. Based on the system necessities, we might anticipate the Nvidia GPUs to be a lot nearer to their AMD counterparts than what we’re at present seeing. Either a last-minute replace to the sport messed issues up, or Bethesda must put further effort into tuning the sport to make it run higher.(Image credit score: Bethesda)Starfield — System NecessitiesThe official Starfield system necessities include the same old minimal and advisable PC {hardware}. If you are working a PC that hasn’t been up to date since 2017, you may need some problem getting an optimum expertise, however newer {hardware} ought to hopefully be high quality. Here’s what Bethesda suggests:Minimum PC NecessitiesThe minimal specs do not look too demanding, with some attention-grabbing picks. Core i7-6800K was an Intel HEDT 6-core/12-thread half from 2016— not precisely an excellent frequent decide. AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600X in the meantime additionally sports activities a 6-core/12-thread configuration, however it’s far newer, having launched in 2018. The baseline requirement appears to be no less than a 6-core CPU, then, although we think about you possibly can go decrease for those who’re keen to place up with some stuttering.The graphics playing cards are a reasonably disparate choice. GTX 1070 Ti launched in 2017, whereas the RX 5700 got here out in 2019. According to our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, AMD’s RX 5700 runs about 25–30 % sooner than the GTX 1070 Ti, and as you will see momentarily, these suggestions are bass-ackward: You want a proportionally extra highly effective Nvidia GPU, not the opposite manner round. In both case, these are 8GB GPUs, although it appears like the sport can work high quality on 6GB playing cards no less than. (We’ll see about testing a 4GB card possibly later.)You’ll additionally want 125GB of storage, and an SSD is supposedly required. Will the sport run off a tough drive? Probably, however load occasions may very well be considerably longer, and loading new components of a map may trigger hitching. Given even 2TB SSDs will be had for beneath $100 today, it isn’t an excessive requirement in our opinion. Likewise, the 16GB of system RAM requirement must also be inside attain of most gaming PCs constructed prior to now 5 years, and possibly even longer — I’ve received a Core i7-4770K PC from 2014 that has 16GB (and it is sitting in a nook gathering mud).Worth stating is that Bethesda would not make any point out of what you possibly can anticipate from a minimum-spec PC. Will it deal with 1080p at low settings and 30 fps, or is it extra for 1080p at medium settings and 60 fps? Others should see about testing such {hardware} to seek out out, although I’ll no less than have the ability to weigh in on the GPU side.Based on early outcomes, the CPU load appears to be comparatively excessive, so lower-end processors might solely handle within the 30–60 fps vary. On the GPU aspect, the minimal advisable playing cards supply very totally different experiences proper now. The GTX 1070 Ti barely clears 30 fps at 1080p medium, however the RX 5700 places up a cushty 50+ fps on the identical settings, and even an RX 5600 XT 6GB card did high quality. Red good, inexperienced unhealthy, in different phrases.(Image credit score: Bethesda)Recommended PC NecessitiesThe advisable specs once more make no point out of what kind of settings you’ll run, or whether or not they goal 60 fps or solely 30 fps. We’d prefer it to be for 60 fps or extra at 1080p and excessive settings, however proper now it appears extra like 30-ish fps on the Nvidia card and 80-ish fps on the AMD card at 1080p extremely.The CPU necessities do not actually change all that a lot. Sure, the Ryzen 5 3600X is quicker than the 2600X, and the 10600K likewise ought to simply outpace the previous 6800K, however they’re all nonetheless 6-core/12-thread components. That may imply that decrease spec CPUs may also be high quality, and Bethesda might have largely been selecting components out of a hat, so to talk.The GPU suggestions get a big improve, this time to the RTX 2080 or RX 6800 XT. Again, the specs appear to recommend having a sooner AMD card could be useful — the 6800 XT outperforms the RTX 2080 by about 55–65 % in our GPU benchmarks. Do you actually need the sooner AMD card, or is it simply GPU names picked out of a hat? That’s what I’m right here to find out. (Spoiler: AMD’s GPU works properly, however the RTX 2080… yeah, it is a lot slower than the 6800 XT.)Everything else principally stays the identical, although now there’s point out of getting broadband web. That’s in all probability simply because downloading 125GB of knowledge over anything could be a horrible expertise. For that matter, even when you have a 100 Mbps connection, that is nonetheless going to require about three hours, best-case. Plan accordingly and begin your preload early for those who can.(Image credit score: Bethesda)Starfield — Test SetupWe’re utilizing our commonplace 2023 GPU take a look at PC, with a Core i9-13900K and all the opposite bells and whistles. We’re planning on testing Starfield on a bunch of graphics playing cards, however the boxout solely exhibits the present era GPUs. We’ll get to the others, time allowing, as a result of nothing else may presumably be occurring on September 6, proper?For this preliminary look, we’re working AMD’s newest Starfield prepared 23.8.2 drivers. Nvidia’s 537.13 drivers are additionally alleged to be sport prepared for Starfield, though they arrived August 22. We might have to retest with newer drivers on Nvidia, nonetheless, as issues proper now (which means efficiency) do not fairly look proper.We’ll be testing at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and 3840×2160 for many GPUs. For decrease spec playing cards, we’ll give 720p a shot as properly. 1080p testing will use the medium and extremely presets (or equal), whereas 1440p and 4K might be examined at extremely settings. In all instances, we’ll set decision scaling to 100% and switch off dynamic decision. We’ll additionally take a look at with FSR 2 at 66% scaling whereas working at 4K, no less than for playing cards the place which may make sense. (Scaling at decrease resolutions needs to be related.)We’ll start with the 1080p outcomes and work our manner up, stopping testing on any GPU as soon as it falls beneath 30 fps. Our take a look at sequence consists of working alongside the identical route for 60 seconds within the New Atlantis spaceport, since Starfield seemingly would not have a built-in benchmark. We tried to discover a spot that was a bit extra demanding than another areas, and the massive variety of NPCs appeared to make this match. Other areas within the sport might be roughly demanding.Given Starfield is not actually a twitch sport, something above 60 fps needs to be simply high quality, and even 30 fps or extra is playable. We’re testing with a Samsung Odyssey Neo G8 32-inch monitor, which helps 4K 240Hz and each FreeSync and G-Sync, although we disable vsync and simply run with a static refresh price to maintain issues constant throughout the assorted GPUs.Starfield Graphics Card PerformanceWe’ll be updating these charts over the approaching days. If you continue to see this message, it means testing is ongoing. It’s very potential we’ll want to attend for the primary patch or two after which retest, nonetheless, as the present outcomes aren’t very promising. We’re not planning to check each potential GPU, but when there’s one you need to see, tell us within the feedback.Starfield — 1080p Medium Performance(Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware)As our first style of issues to return, anybody aware of the “typical” rankings of graphics playing cards ought to instantly discover some oddities. The RTX 4090 would not take the highest spot, although 1080p usually runs into CPU limitations in order that’s not essentially an issue. Except, the RTX 4080, RTX 4070 Ti, and so forth down the record for Nvidia all present that we’re not hitting CPU limits. The sport simply runs fairly poorly on Nvidia’s GPUs proper now.For instance, take a look at the underside of the chart. GTX 1070 Ti, the minimal advisable Nvidia card, cannot even get a gradual 30 fps — it averages 32 fps, however with 1% lows of twenty-two fps. Also, the GTX 3050 lands at simply 36 fps. There are undoubtedly video games the place that card struggles, however it’s usually video games with ray tracing enabled. Even Minecraft runs at 36 fps at native 1080p with ray tracing. For our commonplace gaming exams, the RTX 3050 averages 87 fps at 1080p medium.Look on the RTX 2080 as properly. That’s the “advisable” Nvidia card, which we might prefer to suppose would imply it will possibly simply deal with 1080p extremely, and even perhaps 1440p extremely. AMD’s “advisable” RX 6800 XT will get 104 fps at 1080p medium, so it has loads of fuel within the tank, however the RTX 2080 solely averages 49 fps. It’s really slower than the “minimal” suggestion AMD RX 5700.Clearly, there are some issues with how the sport runs proper now, no less than on Nvidia’s GPUs. In our regular rasterization take a look at suite, the RTX 2080 sometimes beats the RX 5700 by round 30%, and it is principally stage with the RX 7600. Here, it is 24% slower than the RX 7600.What if you wish to go decrease than 1080p medium? Well, no less than the GTX 1070 Ti can put up a playable results of round 51 fps at 720p low (nonetheless with 100% scaling). The RX 5700 already does simply high quality at 1080p medium, however for reference even an RX 590 delivers a playable 44 fps at 720p low.Starfield — 1080p Ultra Performance(Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware)Bumping as much as the Ultra preset, with decision scaling at 100% (fairly than the default 75%), issues go from unhealthy to worse. AMD’s RX 6800 clears 60 fps, however the RX 6700 XT comes up brief. More critically, the RTX 4070 simply barely averages greater than 60 fps, however 1% lows are at 46. Normally, at 1080p extremely in a sport that solely makes use of rasterization? The RTX 4070 sits at round 130 fps and lands simply behind the RX 6800 XT.The 6800 XT by the way is the minimal stage of GPU we might suggest for a easy 1080p extremely sans upscaling expertise. Or alternatively, proper now, the RTX 4080 is a bit sooner than the 6800 XT. Yes, it is solely 10% sooner in Starfield. In our typical rasterization exams, at 1080p extremely it is usually 30% sooner.If you are solely trying to clear 30 fps, the RX 5700 will nonetheless suffice, or the RTX 4060. Not to beat a lifeless horse, however in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, the 4060 is often 30% sooner in rasterization testing, not 5% sooner. So both Bethesda or Nvidia have about 25% value of optimizations to work on.Starfield — 1440p Ultra Performance(Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware)At 1440p extremely, the RX 6800 XT nonetheless clears 60 fps and principally matches the RTX 4070 Ti. If you need to hold minimums above 60 as properly, you’d want no less than the RX 7900 XT. Or use upscaling, which seems to be Bethesda’s suggestion, however come on: Does Starfield actually look that nice that we should always anticipate efficiency roughly according to what we see from Spider-Man: Miles Morales with all of the bells and whistles turned on?Sure, these are several types of video games, and Bethesda is not identified for making extremely tuned engines. But this might very properly signify a brand new low for the corporate.Elsewhere, the RTX 4090 lastly closes the hole with the RX 7900 XTX. Neither one can break into the triple digits, and in our commonplace rasterization benchmarks the 4090 is often about 20% sooner than AMD’s high GPU. It’s not even clear what’s inflicting the poor efficiency, as a result of Nvidia GPUs have loads of compute, and neither reminiscence bandwidth nor VRAM capability appear to be major components.If you are merely attempting to interrupt into the “playable” 30 fps vary, the RX 7600 and RTX 4060 Ti and above will suffice. Don’t be shocked if some areas within the sport carry out fairly a bit worse than we’re displaying, although, and if you do not have a potent CPU you will in all probability see a lot worse 1% lows.Starfield — 4K Ultra Performance(Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware)For native 4K extremely, solely the 2 quickest GPUs from AMD and Nvidia can break 60 fps — and for the primary time, Nvidia’s high GPU takes the lead. That’s not an excellent displaying for Starfield, contemplating that the 4090 is almost 30% sooner than the 7900 XT at 4K extremely in our commonplace benchmarks.For 30 fps, the RX 6800 will get there on common fps, however minimums are within the mid-20s. You’ll want an RTX 4070 Ti to get minimums above 30, or in all probability the RX 6950 XT may also suffice.But what for those who’re okay with some upscaling assist?Starfield — 4K Ultra 66% Upscaled Performance(Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware)The default decision scaling issue for the extremely preset is 75%, however we dropped it to 66%. That means we’re principally upscaling 1440p to 4K, which is often what you get from the “Quality” modes from FSR2, DLSS, and XeSS. But Starfield allows you to select any share between 50% (4X upscaling) and 100% (no upscaling) — good in some methods, unhealthy in others.If you lookup the web page on the 1440p native outcomes, you will see that 1440p upscaled to 4K performs very almost the identical. There’s solely a couple of 1% to five% distinction between the 2 outcomes. That’s attention-grabbing, as usually FSR2 upscaling is nearer to a 15% efficiency hit in our expertise (outdoors of CPU bottlenecks).If you do not thoughts the stuttering, the RTX 4060 technically averages over 30 fps. For simply strolling round and speaking to individuals, it is really playable, although it may be problematic in fight. More realistically, you’d need no less than the RTX 4070 or RX 6800 to get a stead 30+ fps, however then that pushes the typical framerate all the best way into the 50s.But think about this an early take a look at efficiency, as we will not assist however really feel issues are going to enhance fairly a bit within the coming months.Starfield — Settings and Image QualityImage 1 of 4(Image credit score: Bethesda)(Image credit score: Bethesda)(Image credit score: Bethesda)(Image credit score: Bethesda)Starfield presents an honest number of graphics settings to regulate, although there are some oddities. For one, there is not any full display mode. You can do borderless windowed, or windowed. If you need to play at 1080p on a 4K monitor, you will be greatest off altering your desktop decision to 1080p earlier than beginning the sport — that is what we did for our testing.Another possibility that is lacking: Anti-aliasing. FSR2 offers that, assuming it is enabled, however it’s fairly clear that Starfield makes use of some type of TAA even when FSR2 is not turned on. There’s simply no choice to disable it uncovered within the sport menus. (You can attempt hacking the StarfieldPrefs.ini file, situated in “DocumentsMy GamesStarfield” however that does not present any AA settings both.)Anyway, there are 4 graphics presets (plus customized): Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. All of these default to having some stage of upscaling, with FSR2 in addition to Dynamic Resolution turned on. For our testing above, we disabled Dynamic Resolution and set the Render Resolution Scale to 100%, until in any other case famous (ie, at 4K with 67% scaling).Image 1 of 20Ultra Preset (100% scaling) (Image credit score: Bethesda)High Preset (100% scaling) (Image credit score: Bethesda)Medium Preset (100% scaling) (Image credit score: Bethesda)Low Preset (100% scaling) (Image credit score: Bethesda)Shadow Quality Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Indirect Lighting Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Reflections Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Particle Quality Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Volumetric Lighting Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Crowd Density Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Motion Blur Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)GTAO Quality Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Grass Quality Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)Contact Shadows Low (Image credit score: Bethesda)VRS Off (Image credit score: Bethesda)Depth of Field Off (Image credit score: Bethesda)Upscaling CAS (Image credit score: Bethesda)Upscaling Off (Image credit score: Bethesda)Upscaling FSR 2 at 75% (Image credit score: Bethesda)Upscaling FSR 2 at 50% (Image credit score: Bethesda)Despite the variety of settings (twelve, not counting issues like Vsync), a whole lot of them do not impression efficiency all that a lot. Going from extremely (most) settings in every single place to low (minimal) settings in every single place, however retaining the 100% scaling, efficiency solely improved by about 35%. That was on an RX 6800. however different GPUs present related features based mostly on our testing.Going via the person settings and turning every one right down to minimal, we additionally did not see any greater than a couple of 5 % enchancment in efficiency. All twelve taken in combination make extra of a distinction, however when you have a card that may run decently at medium settings, it will possibly in all probability do extremely settings almost as properly. Or put one other manner, you possibly can flip high quality down from Ultra to Medium and solely acquire a little bit of efficiency, with a equally slight distinction in visible constancy.Visually, the largest distinction comes from turning down the Shadow Quality, GTAO Quality, and maybe Reflections and Volumetric Lighting. As for FSR 2 upscaling, there is not any query that it reduces the general sharpness a bit, even at 75%. At 50%, the artifacts and blurriness develop into very seen. That’s to not say you should not use it, however it’s undoubtedly not simply “free efficiency.”(Image credit score: Bethesda)Starfield — Initial Performance IdeasI’ve been hunkered down benchmarking Starfield, so I have not performed the sport that a lot but. What I can say is that basic impressions of the sport are okay, although the beginning is a bit sluggish—typical Bethesda RPG, then, in different phrases. Metacritic exhibits an 88 combination rating for the PC model, so critic evaluations are fairly excessive from most locations. Our sister web site, PC Gamer scored it 75, and to me, there are similarities to Mass Effect Andromeda, Cyberpunk 2077, and even No Man’s Sky — there’s an enormous sport world (universe) to discover, however up to now, I’m not feeling that compelled to take action.Performance will be high quality when you have the best high-end {hardware}. The RX 7900 XTX hums alongside at simply over 60 fps in my testing, and I’m positive there are lots of areas the place efficiency might be greater. Turn on a modest stage of upscaling with FSR 2, and you’ll break 90 fps. But for many individuals with much less, *cough*, stellar {hardware}, it will likely be a tough takeoff.Let’s additionally observe that, graphically talking, Starfield would not even look that spectacular. It’s not unhealthy, however no less than the components of the sport I’ve seen aren’t pushing new ranges of graphics constancy. Visually, you’d suppose the sport would simply be pushing properly over 100 frames per second at maxed-out settings. But that is Bethesda, who had a tough 60 fps cap in Skyrim for ages, and issues broke for those who exceeded that price. Maybe we should always simply be pleased Starfield no less than makes an attempt to let individuals benefit from 144 Hz screens for a change?(Image credit score: Bethesda)Nvidia’s RTX 4090 surpasses the RX 7900 XTX, however solely at 4K — it is principally a tie at 1440p, and AMD will get the win at 1080p. AMD acknowledged lately that it would not stop its companions from implementing competing applied sciences like DLSS. But it does have these companions prioritize AMD applied sciences and {hardware}. That’s fairly frequent for video games which can be promoted by AMD or Nvidia, however the discrepancies in efficiency between GPUs actually warrant additional scrutiny.In the 9 rasterization video games we usually use for benchmarking new GPUs, the RTX 4090 leads the 7900 XTX by 30% on common at 4K, 17% at 1440p, and 12% at 1080p. Even Borderlands 3, a sport identified to closely favor AMD GPUs — and one other sport that AMD promoted at launch — nonetheless has the 4090 beating the 7900 XTX by 13% at 1080p, 19% at 1440p, and 24% at 4K. To say that Starfield’s efficiency is an outlier proper now could be placing it mildly.Nvidia will very seemingly present additional optimizations through its drivers to convey Starfield efficiency up now that the sport has been launched. Game patches will hopefully additionally assist over the approaching weeks and months. Intel wants to repair some issues in its drivers as properly. But proper now, at each significant stage of comparability, Starfield closely favors AMD.Perhaps the optimizations for console {hardware} are simply additional helpful right here, or maybe Bethesda’s engine simply works higher with AMD GPUs. More seemingly is that the AMD partnership has resulted in poorly optimized code for non-AMD {hardware}, and Bethesda did not put a lot effort into optimizing efficiency on different GPUs. Considering about 80% of PC players run Nvidia GPUs, that is an enormous chunk of folks that simply received snubbed.If you are out there for a brand new GPU and questioning what is going to run Starfield greatest, the present reply is AMD. Shocking, we all know! Whether that may change sooner or later stays to be seen. Maybe Starfield may also get native DLSS and XeSS assist as properly, however let’s not rely these chickens till they hatch. Conveniently, if you wish to purchase a brand new AMD graphics card, you possibly can even get Starfield totally free. Happy starfaring!

Recommended For You