Dark Souls III is arguably the biggest game to launch this month and with few other major releases there probably isn’t much of an argument to be had, especially since the main competition wound up being a steaming pile (Quantum Break).
As with Dark Souls II, the third iteration has made its way to PC as a port from console, albeit with bonuses for the master race including enhanced graphics, better performance and higher resolutions.
Using the engine from developer FromSoftware’s Bloodborne, Dark Souls III looks quite impressive but you can certainly tell this is a console port after a few seconds in the menu system. The tweakable options are decent though the game gives no real explanation of what you are enabling. For example, anti-aliasing can only be turned on or off.
The one real gripe we have however is the frame cap. That’s right, Dark Souls III has a 60fps cap and there doesn’t appear to be a way to circumvent it. Although the game plays fine when maxed out at 60fps, frame caps rarely sit well with the PC gaming community.
The good news for now is that most PC gamers along with professional reviewers seem to be giving Dark Souls III two thumbs up. PC Gamer awarded it a score of 94 out of a possible 100, while in TechSpot’s Product Finder that tracks reviews across the web, it’s got a metascore of 87 out of 100.
As you might expect from a game that has a frame rate cap, Dark Souls III doesn’t include a built-in benchmark. Therefore, we will be using Fraps to record minimum and average frame rates of over 30 different graphics cards at three popular resolutions.
For testing the quality settings have been set to the ‘Max’ preset which sees every option set to its highest value. The game has been tested at 1080p, 1440p and 4K using the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers. This means the AMD Crimson Edition 16.4.1 Hotfix and GeForce Game Ready 364.73 drivers were used.
The benchmark pass was kept simple: we recorded 70 seconds of gameplay from the start of the first level, we took the same path each time and we simply ran past any enemies.
Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7-6700K (4.00GHz)
- 4GBx2 Kingston Predator DDR4-2400
- Asrock Z170 Extreme7+ (Intel Z170)
- Silverstone Strider 700w PSU
- Crucial MX200 1TB
- Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Nvidia GeForce 364.73 WHQL
- AMD Crimson Edition 16.4.1 Hotfix
- Radeon R9 Fury X (4096MB)
- Radeon R9 Nano (4096MB)
- Radeon R9 390X (8192MB)
- Radeon R9 390 (8192MB)
- Radeon R9 380X (4096MB)
- Radeon R9 380 (2048MB)
- Radeon R9 290X (4096MB)
- Radeon R9 290 (4096MB)
- Radeon R9 285 (2048MB)
- Radeon R9 280X (3072MB)
- Radeon R9 280 (3072MB)
- Radeon R9 270X (2048MB)
- Radeon R9 270 (2048MB)
- Radeon HD 7970 GHz (3072MB)
- Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
- Radeon HD 7950 Boost (3072MB)
- Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
- Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX Titan (6144MB)
- GeForce GTX 980 Ti (6144MB)
- GeForce GTX 980 (4096MB)
- GeForce GTX 970 (4096MB)
- GeForce GTX 960 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 950 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 780 Ti (3072MB)
- GeForce GTX 780 (3072MB)
- GeForce GTX 770 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 760 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 750 Ti (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
- GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048MB)
To max out the 60fps cap at 1080p with not only the average frame rate but also the minimum, gamers will want a R9 290/390 or GTX 970/780 Ti. Falling just short was the older GTX 770, 780 and Titan along with the more mid-range R9 380.
Those wanting to keep their minimums above 40fps will only require an old HD 7950 Boost or GTX 680. Meanwhile, more recently released graphics cards such as the R9 280 or GTX 960 will do nicely as well.
At the low end, for a 30fps minimum or greater PC gamers will get by with the R7 370 or GTX 950 — not bad given the quality settings used.
Those wanting to game at 1440p while maintaining 60fps will require some serious firepower with the GTX 980 or R9 Fury. For a minimum of 40fps or greater, the R9 290X/390X or GTX 970 is required but it was still encouraging to see older generation graphics cards such as the HD 7970 keeping a minimum frame rate above 30fps.
The 60fps cap becomes irrelevant at 4K as here even the GTX 980 Ti drops to just 36fps with a 41fps average. Crossfire isn’t working currently but 4K gamers can extract more performance using SLI.
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Steven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.