Today we're comparing Just Cause 4 to a shipload of different GPUs to see if your graphics card can handle this brand new title and to find a suitable upgrade option if necessary.
Just Cause 4 uses the Avalanche's Apex game engine, although it's a newer updated version that offers various and extreme weather effects like snowstorms, sandstorms, tornadoes and more. The game engine has also improved physics-based rendering, a new animation system, and refined AI so that NPCs can attack more intelligently and be more threatening.
It all sounds great, but unfortunately the game has received mixed to average ratings in the few days it was released. The reasons given are that the user interface is terrible, the graphics are not impressive and the performance is worst. In the short amount of time we had to go through it, although it can be a bit chunky at times, the game seems to be a lot of fun and we are interested in seeing more. But to enjoy it, we use an RTX 2080 Ti with 1440p as this is necessary to keep above 60 fps at all times. Yes it is so bad.
If you have a GTX 1060, RX 580 or worse, this game will upset you. We invite you to test at the starting point, jump into a car and drive it from the bridge into the jungle. The test takes 60 seconds and provides an accurate picture of the performance you can expect.
We have played the game to the point where you request reinforcements as the fighting NPCs put more strain on the system. It includes 1080p, 1440p and 4K results for a wide range of graphics cards. We also have some additional tests at 1080p with new and old graphics cards with medium quality settings.
The benchmark test bench consisted of a Core i7-8700K with 5 GHz and 16 GB DDR4-3400 memory. The driver 417.22 was used for the GeForce GPUs and the driver Radeon Adrenalin 184.108.40.206 for AMD. Let's get to the results.
When all the graphics settings are at their maximum, the game doesn't look particularly good. Nevertheless, a GTX 980 does not display an average of 60 fps at 1080p. This also applies to the Fury X. Those with older mid-range options such as the GTX 970 and R9 390 can enjoy frame dips until the mid-1930s. If you have a GTX 960 or R9 380, good luck.
With a view to the current generation GPUs, we have a few more options that could keep the frame rates above 60 fps. The GTX 1060 6 GB and the RX 580 8 GB did not reach an average of 60 fps, although the Radeon GPU came very close.
High-end models like Vega 64 and the GTX 1080 could not keep the frame rate above 60 fps in our test either. Ideally, you would want an RTX 2070 or better to play at 1080p. It's like DXR is activated (funny but not funny).
1440p is basically out of the question for previous generation GPUs. The Fury X and GTX 980 Ti struggled with average frame rates in the mid-1940s. So if you play at 1440p, you need an RTX 2080 Ti to keep above 60 fps at all times, while the 2080 and 1080 Ti are good for around 55 fps at a 1% low. Lower price models like the GTX 1060 and RX 580 are basically a depreciation here, so I can't wait to see the 4K results.
Honestly, we couldn't expect a difference after the 1080p and 1440p results. The RTX 2080 Ti is fine here because it's not great, but it's playable. It's pretty crazy that we see Assassin's Creed Odyssey-like performance in a game that doesn't look nearly as good, and Odyssey has been beaten up for poor optimization.
What if you set all settings to medium, disable SSAO and change the anti-aliasing method to FXAA?
Managing settings and reducing the visual effect to medium increases performance by about 30%. However, this is not enough for most of these older GPUs. The popular GTX 750 Ti only averaged 27 fps at 1080p, with the quality settings greatly reduced. Even the current generation GTX 1050 was pretty horrible with regular drops below 30 fps.
The RX 570, the R9 390 and the GTX 970 could not always keep the frame rates above 60 fps with the lower settings. Finally, the GeForce GTX 580 (circa 2010) had to be removed from the test because it had massive graphic artifacts in this title.
We can understand why players are upset. In many ways, Just Cause 4 appears to be a downgrade from 3-year-old Just Cause 3. Character models and animation details appear to be largely the same, while the surroundings look a little better in some areas, but not in others, and some are much worse.
The water effects or their lack are so bad in Just Cause 4. Surely this has to be a mistake, I mean, it's really ridiculous how bad the water looks. Only Cause 3 was astonishing in comparison, since boats created guards, there were waves, waves and so on. The explosions don't look that good in our opinion either, they lack the details of the previous title. The only impressive aspect is the weather system, some of the effects are quite good.
To make matters worse, the performance shows that the game isn't properly optimized. We cannot directly compare performance between 3rd and 4th rates in the Just Cause series, but on average we would say that with settings identical to Just Cause 3, you will achieve 40-50% better performance.
Compared to modern titles, the performance is similar to what we observed in Assassins Creed Odyssey, and we have classified this title as not optimized and it looks much better. Technically, Just Cause 4 appears to be a mess at launch. The developer is already trying to solve some of the main problems seen in this post. However, with less than a week since its release, it's clear that the game could have taken more quality assurance time before it ships to gamers. It's a real shame because the game itself seems decent and a lot of fun.
The poor performance is also not due to high CPU or memory usage. Basically, you get the same results with an older quad-core like the 7700K. As far as I know, the Ryzen 7 2700X is comparable to the Core i9-9900K. The age of the game's engine is beginning to show, as only one or two threads are heavily loaded and the rest does little work. Still, we seem to be limited to the GPU, since CPU overclocking doesn't really add performance over inventory.
For the most part, 8 GB of system memory is sufficient, and the demand for VRAM is also not that high. About 4.5 GB at 4 KB, 3.5 GB at 1440p and 3.3 GB at 1080p. If you are not a big fan of the series, we would avoid this title for the time being.