Red Dead Redemption 2 was launched a year after debuting on consoles on PC and is still a big release that deserves a detailed benchmark analysis, similar to how we did this year for other titles like Borderlands 3 where we compared over 60 GPUs, Metro, Exodus and most recently Fornite Chapter 2. Unfortunately, these plans went out of the window when we discovered how difficult it would be to benchmark this game.
RDR 2 has a number of quick presets that allow you to easily configure your system with a slider. The quality presets offer a range of settings with half a dozen performance modes, seven balanced profiles and seven quality presets. It all sounds good, but the problem is that these settings don't use a static configuration. Rather, each of the 30+ options of the preset is dynamically configured depending on the graphics card used. For example, the mid-balanced preset with an RTX 2080 Ti could mostly use ultra settings, but only medium with an RTX 2070 Super … it was everywhere.
For accurate benchmarking, we had to manually configure each graphics setting every time we changed a graphics card or display driver. Otherwise, all settings have been reset to their default settings. To give you a timely test, we decided to limit the number of GPUs, although we still have over 20 of them for this function.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has a good built-in benchmark. However, we didn't use it for two reasons: First, it runs much longer than necessary. A test of more than 5 minutes is an exaggeration if you run it three times per GPU per resolution. We also found a bug where every second or third run fails, especially after a resolution change that forces us to close the game and start over. As initial reports show, Red Dead Redemption 2 is not without its bugs on PC, and updating all drivers to the latest versions is one of Rockstar's first suggestions.
That's why we test in-game performance using Colter billing. The performance in this section appears to mimic that of the benchmark, so the numbers should be almost the same. In terms of quality settings, we manually set each option to "High" using the DX12 API, as it runs much more smoothly than Vulkan on both Radeon and GeForce GPUs. If frame drops and stuttering occur with Vulkan, we recommend using DX12.
Our GPU test bench was used as usual with a Core i9-9900K overclocked to 5 GHz and 16 GB DDR4-3400 memory. The latest AMD and Nvidia drivers were used, which were tested with 1080p, 1440p and 4K.
From 1080p we can see that the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in our test using the high quality settings is always suitable for over 100 fps. This isn't an amazing performance at 1080p considering how powerful the 2080 Ti is.
We get a real feel for how challenging this game is when we look at the GTX 1080 and 1660 Ti, both of which struggle to beat 60 fps – 60 fps at 1080p – that's crazy about GPUs of this caliber. In addition, the GTX 1060 6 GB was delayed with these down-selected quality settings and the RX 570 was marginally playable.
Ideally, you want an RTX 2060 or Vega 56, which is a big challenge for 1080p games. You may have noticed how well the Radeon GPUs work. The RX 580 destroyed the GTX 1060 and basically corresponds to the 1070. Vega 56 beat the GTX 1080 without any problems, while the RX 5700 corresponded to the RTX 2070 Super. Then we have the 5700 XT at the level of the RTX 2080, so a great result here for AMD.
Nvidia made it clear that Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn't support ray tracing after people were misled on Twitter. We address this because when you look at the 1440p results, you'll be forgiven for having DXR enabled.
For an average of only 60 fps, you need something like Vega 64, RTX 2060 Super or RTX 2070. These are brutal GPU requirements for 1440p games with quality settings down.
Finally we have 4K results and good luck playing this game with this resolution without the RTX 2080 Ti. Even then we couldn't get an average of 60 fps, but for this style of play it was still very playable and most will probably get around 40 fps be satisfied. On a more personal level, I would personally prefer at least 60 fps to fully enjoy them, so I would drop to 1440p with a high-end GPU.
Currently, AMD seems to be doing very well compared to the Nvidia competition, and it is possible that the GeForce GPUs will experience an increase in performance through a new driver revision. We just have to wait and see.
The results may vary slightly depending on the quality settings and the section of the game used for testing, but overall we found that the margins are fairly consistent in the first hour of the game. There will undoubtedly be some settings that Radeon or GeForce GPUs prefer, and we recommend using DirectX 12 over Vulkan.
As already mentioned, you cannot use the preset slider to compare the quality levels on your system with others, as possible standard recommendations for different GPUs are activated using the slider. You must therefore check the settings against the settings.
How demanding Red Dead Redemption 2 is and whether these claims can be justified is difficult to assess. We expect some performance improvements in the future, although the game overall looks fantastic and is extremely detailed. We don't welcome late PC launches, but Rockstar has a good record supporting blockbuster releases. Even years later, GTA V is almost always on PC and has a loyal fan base. We'll see how RDR 2 develops.
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 2080 Super on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 2070 Super on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 2060 Super on Amazon
- AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT on Amazon
- AMD Radeon RX 5700 on Amazon
- GeForce GTX 1660 Super on Amazon
- AMD Ryzen 9 3900X at Amazon
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600 on Amazon