After the early performance issues people had during the closed beta, NVIDIA and id came out and blew everyone away during the GTX 1080 launch with footage of DOOM running on the fancy new Vulkan render.
And then DOOM launched. It ran amazingly well — but Vulkan support was nowhere to be seen. But now it has arrived, and it's a bit great.
First things first: if you want to use Vulkan, you'll have to go to the advanced video options. You'll see a new option at the top, where you can select either the OpenGL 4.5 or Vulkan renderer.
Once you've done that, you'll get a warning box saying the game has to restart and that there might be a lengthy wait when the game relaunches. Mine only took a few seconds, but your experience may vary.
From there, it's a case of getting a nice bump in FPS. Precisely how much improvement depends on your settings, resolution and, more importantly, what card you're using.
I haven't had the time to do an extensive set of benchmarks, but here's the difference Vulkan makes to a GeForce GTX 1080 at 1080p on the Ultra setting (same methodology as our previous benchmarks):
Those on AMD cards, however, will reportedly enjoy a far better bump. AMD has been bragging of substantial performance gains. But rather than re-type the fine print, here's a handy graph with the figures that the GPU manufacturer is sending around to the media:
It's worth remembering that we don't know the precise scenario or methodology AMD used to produce these figures, so take them with a grain of salt. But my own tests with the RX 480 and the R9 390X found that both cards were capable of running DOOM at around 60fps in 1440p. If even half of the gains under Vulkan gains are replicated in these instances, that's a nice amount of headroom gamers have just gotten for free.
But while more fps is all well and good, it's worth remembering that solid Vulkan support — and even DirectX 12 to some extend — is pretty thin on the ground. And there are even instances like The Talos Principle where games run faster under the older DirectX 11, mainly because developers are still getting to grips with the new programming interfaces.
Nevertheless it's a good sign in the years ahead. And it's also a good sign for AMD owners, particularly those who only want to spend $200 or $300 on a GPU.