Deep Silver last week released the latest installment of the Saints Row series (which is also a reboot of the franchise), Saints Row. Powered by Volition’s internal engine, now is the time to benchmark it and see how it performs on the PC platform.
For this PC performance analysis we used an Intel i9 9900K with 16GB DDR4 at 3800Mhz, AMD’s Radeon RX580, RX Vega 64, RX 6900XT, NVIDIA’s GTX980Ti, RTX 2080Ti and RTX 3080. We also used Windows 10 64-bit, the GeForce 516.94 and the Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 22.8.2 drivers.
Volition has added plenty of graphics settings to adjust. PC gamers can customize the quality of Textures, Shadows, Water, Effects, Global Illumination and more. The game also comes with a Field of View slider and supports Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion. However, Saints Row does not currently have an AI scaling technique. According to an slide from AMDalthough a future patch will add support for AMD FSR 2.0.
Saints Row does not have a built-in benchmark tool. As such, and for our testing, we used the desert area right after the game’s prologue mission. That area turned out to be one of the most taxing areas we could find, so consider the following benchmarks as stress tests. We also lowered our resolution to 800×600 for our CPU benchmarks (so we could avoid any GPU bottlenecks).
To find out how the game scales on multiple CPU threads, we simulated a dual-core, a quad-core, and a hexa-core CPU. And, surprisingly, the game doesn’t require a high-end CPU to enjoy high frame rates. Even our simulated dual-core system (without Hyper-Threading) was able to deliver over 90 fps on high settings.
While Saints Row has few CPU requirements, it is very heavy on its GPU requirements. For gaming at 1080p/Ultra settings, our top three GPUs were able to deliver a consistent 60fps experience.
At 1440p/Ultra, our NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080Ti couldn’t provide a consistent 60fps experience. As for 4K/Ultra, no GPU came close to a 60fps experience. And that without even using the game’s Ray Tracing effects.
Fortunately, players can significantly improve performance by adjusting the game’s graphics settings. Dropping our settings to High allowed us to get a 50fps experience on our RTX3080 at 4K. And by lowering our settings to Medium, we were able to get a consistent 60fps experience at that resolution.
Before we go any further, we need to mention some technical issues we encountered. For starters, the game currently suffers from numerous unoptimized scenes. For example, take the following screenshot. This scene, even at 800×600 (and that’s on high settings, not even Ultra) emphasized our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. Honestly, we got 158fps, but that’s at 800×600 and high settings. We also experienced some annoying flickering issues and witnessed some flickering shadows on the ground. Speaking of shadows, there are MAJOR pop-in shadow issues even on Ultra settings. Ultra Shadows also have a huge achievement hit, so we recommend lowering them to High.
As mentioned, Saints Row supports Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion. And to our surprise, these Ray Tracing effects are not that heavy. Not only that, they can also significantly improve the graphics of the game. Below are some comparison screenshots between the ray-traced version (left) and the rasterized version (right). The last comparison, in particular, shows how RT AO can significantly improve the game’s visuals.
Also fascinating here is the impressive performance of the AMD Radeon RX 6900XT when enabling these RT effects. Contrary to what happens in other games, Saints Row’s RT AO seems to run slightly faster on AMD’s 6900XT than on NVIDIA’s RTX3080. This might be the first time we’ve seen something like this.
Graphically, Saints Row feels like a mixed bag. On the one hand, the game has some great lighting and global lighting effects. Not only that, but there are also tons of destructible objects (FINALLY). The game also compiles shaders before starting a mission, which means it doesn’t suffer from stuttering issues. And luckily, the Ray Tracing effects aren’t that demanding, so we highly recommend turning them on. However, Saints Row has big and laughable physics bugs (for example, you can literally destroy a truck with a… bike), the character models are dated and the environments feel lifeless.
All in all, Saints Row is currently in an average state. The game suffers from some unoptimized scenes and Volition will have to fix a lot of things through some post-launch updates. The mouse controls also felt weird, so I don’t really know what’s going on with the K&M controls. And while the game doesn’t require a high-end CPU, the visuals don’t justify the high GPU requirements!
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