Watch Dogs PC Performance Thread

Discussion in 'Game Tweaks and Modifications' started by Plissken, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    This thread is dedicated to sharing the performance we're getting from the game and collecting some data in order to better understand why the infamous stuttering problem that some people're having is caused.

    I'll start with my values.

    My specs: i7 4790, Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Trix O/C 4 GB VRAM, 12 GB DDR3 RAM.

    Here's a video of the performance in one of the most stutter causing parts of the map: http://goo.gl/R7nH0Y

    In this video, the game runs maxed out at 1080p, anti-aliasing set to Temporal SMAA, using ultra textures thanks to Maldo's Texture Hack v3. It's capped at 30 frames per second in order not to have occasional stuttering caused by fps drops, as the game's frame rate is extremely jumpy and it goes unstable especially while you drive around the city.

    Here are some of the values I've monitored while playing the game:

    1080p/TSMAA/Ultra Settings/Textures on High

    Maximum VRAM Usage: 2.6 GB

    Maximum RAM Usage: 3.7 GB


    * * * *

    1080p/TSMAA/Ultra Settings/Textures on Ultra

    Maximum VRAM Usage: 3.3 GB

    Maximum RAM Usage: 4 GB

    I'm using AMD's 14.6 RC2 drivers, and Ubisoft's 1.3 patch. Some users reported that 1.3 patch caused more stuttering for them, in my experience it seems like did not affect the performance at all.

    ---------------------

    Let's get back to the most important question: how did I get rid of the stuttering?

    Mods can't do much about the performance as I believe the game should be further optimized by Ubisoft themselves. If anything, the engine tweaks that came with the mods made my performance even poorer so I don't use them. The problem solver for me was upgrading my old CPU (i5 2500) to i7 4790. Right after the upgrade, without tweaking anything, the stuttering issue was gone for me.

    But the strange part is that some people with similar configs report that they cannot get rid of the stuttering whatever they do. It makes me conclude that the game acts differently on every config for some weird reason. I have a friend working at a very high profile gaming company, and he said that when they tried the game at their office, it worked differently on every config with similar specs. He says the game runs fine on his own computer at home, but not at work with similar configurations.

    So what's the issue with the game's poor performance on PC?

    I believe the issue might be VRAM here. As noted by the values I've provided above, the game actually uses more than 3 gigs of VRAM when it's set to ultra, even though it's stated in the in-game graphics menu that you're required to have 3 GB VRAM in order to get the game running maxed out. That might be a bit far from truth, and the cause of the stuttering might be the shortage of VRAM as I believe the game is designed to benefit from the unified memory of next-gen consoles (PS4 having 8 gigs of VRAM). I believe that's the point where people who spend their money on graphics cards with 4 gigs of VRAM get their money's worth.

    Keep in mind that the game is highly CPU dependent as well. Jonathan Morin, the creative director of the game states that you have to have a CPU with a passmark score of 9.000-10.000 in order not to have a CPU bottleneck when you have a high-end GPU. The source of that statement can be found in the following link: http://goo.gl/0WPwTL

    VRAM issue is further evidenced by the following video: http://goo.gl/cFPeM3

    So that's it, guys. Let's share performance so that we might be able to help people. How is the game running on your rig, what did you do to get rid of the stuttering, or is it still plaguing your game? What might be the possible cause, and what would you suggest in order to get it to work better?

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  2. Sinji

    Sinji Active Member

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    Good initiative and post.

    My PC specs are on the left.

    I run one single 290X with driver 14.4. My i5 4670k is overclocked to 4.5Ghz core and 4.0Ghz uncore.

    Settings are 1080p, temporal SMAA, Ultra Settings, Textures on Ultra, framebuffer at 3. Vsync OFF - this is very important, because with it on, stutters will occur

    Using Lunayah's tweaks without any stutters. I get 40-60 fps with the most extreme dips to just above 30 fps.

    Vanilla is stuttering like hell for me when racing through the middle of the city.
     
  3. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    Thank you for the contribution, Sinji.

    In my experience, Kad or TW or anybody else's engine tweaks make my game work poorer. So I pick some of the effects they use and merge them as a mixture of my preference, without the engine tweaks and use it that way.

    Have you guys compared 14.4 drivers to 14.6 RC1-2, which one of the drivers gives you the best performance?

    My framebuffer's set to 2, I think I've read somewhere that it helps the stuttering if you set it to 1. I don't know the reason, though. Let's not forget about the -disablepagefilecheck command that you can add to the game's shortcut, some users report that it helps stuttering when you enable the game to use more system RAM that way.

    As a sidenote, you can check your CPU's passmark score and see if you're above or below the required marks in the following site: http://www.cpubenchmark.net
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  4. gozunz

    gozunz Member

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    *Waits for Guru3D to release benchmarks with new patch*

    What i really dont get here, is to my knowledge, they worked with Nvidia quite alot, yet most nvidia cards are 2-3gb cards, so why would they do this?!

    Would be interested in seeing you report on video memory usage after the patch as well :)
     

  5. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    gozunz,

    Yeah, the game is an Nvidia Gameworks title and yet Nvidia is stingy with video memory on most of their GPUs. After testing Watch_Dogs and seeing the results with the VRAM usage I wouldn't suggest anyone who wants to upgrade their GPU to buy one with a VRAM below 4 GBs. At this day and age, 4 GB is a must, even though some argued that it was "plenty" and not necessary. Well, Watch_Dogs is here to prove you otherwise and I'm quite sure it won't be the last example.

    AlRayes_BRN,

    To my knowledge, I'm afraid there's no Kad beta 0.3 + Maldo Shutter Fix v3 available right now. The only way to get it is to download TW 0.8 integrated archive, unpack it to get Maldo's textures and carefully merge it with Kad's latest mod. I've tried to contact Maldo at several occasions and suggested him to provide a separate download for the latest version of his stutter fix, or even start its own thread with no answer yet.

    In the meantime, here's a quick video from my game showing the improved rain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rpbATJIiUg
     
  6. Cru_N_cher

    Cru_N_cher Master Guru

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    Yeah one of the best rain implementations since remember me :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  7. nanogenesis

    nanogenesis Maha Guru

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    Oh boy, I'd love someone with 6Gb VRAM to check this out with the mods and report their usage.

    Also how do you think they ran it at E3 2012? They did run it on a PC. Special optimized build for PCs which was even downgraded in quality and memory management model?

    Also during E3 2012 were 4Gb GTX-680s out?

    Hypothesis:
    Isn't haswell double everything? Like double cache speed and bus speed? My theory is that the game is constantly streaming data, and hence needs a very high bus speed to not stutter. I have my uncore frequency at 4.4ghz, and the game vanilla on ultra never stuttered on me unless I did a very long drive and then turned around. And probably high frequency ram with low latency helps as well? Needs to be tested.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  8. Spoonie

    Spoonie Member

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    I have 2x titans and I still get a tonne of stuttering. I believe it got worse with the 340 drivers, and perhaps in the Ubisoft patch. I can't nail it down exactly, but it is either terrible or ****. I've tried absoutely everything, from all the mods to all the different settings. Yes, downgrading to lower settings makes it better - I noticed with everything on ultra when it stutters it drops 20+fps for 1-2secs.

    The smoothest I've been able to get it, was no AA, High textures, no AO, high shadows/reflections/water - the stutter is still there, but it's like a micro-second, so playable. BUT I'm not playing like that - I should murder this game, and before the patch/driver I never really noticed the stutter, so it's really frustrating.
     
  9. gozunz

    gozunz Member

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    Reports on Ubisoft forums of even worse performance with the patch making it unplayable, haha. :3eyes:
     
  10. Grestorn

    Grestorn Member Guru

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    Did you try to disable SLI?
     

  11. Spoonie

    Spoonie Member

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    I played in window mode - which disables Sli, and it still stuttered. Short of totally disabling in nvidia control, or unplugging a card - I haven't done that...IF I had to do that to play this game I'd uninstall it forever.:bang:
     
  12. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    Would be great. I don't think there would be such a big difference performance-wise, as I believe game uses 3.5 GBs of VRAM at max. 4 GB should be enough for this game.

    Nobody knows on what kind of a config they ran E3 2012 demo, or even the E3 2013 demo which was first presented as the PS4 gameplay but later on confirmed to be running on a high-end PC. They never mentioned the specs, unfortunately. But they went on record saying that the Nvidia Showcase video, which is in fact a recent one, was running on i7 3930K with a GTX Titan.

    You're probably spot-on with that. Requiring a CPU with a passmark score of 10.000 is quite demanding, not to mention those CPUs are the absolute highest-end consumer products that your money can buy.

    Spoonie,

    That's interesting. You should be able to run the game as smooth as you could. I actually have no idea what to recommend you as you have a spec that meets the requirements easily.

    Have you tried Ubisoft's 1.3 patch? How does it perform for you?
     
  13. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    AnkH_82,

    As I stated above, I did disable some of the things from Kad's mod. I'm only using their libraries, not engine tweaks as they make my game unstable. By that I mean I'm not using their xml files that configurate the game's engine, which can be found in dat/fat files. And even without them, .lib files (libraries) can change the way the game looks. You don't actually need additional engine tweaks, but to get the full experience as intended by the modders it's suggested that you keep the dat/fat files intact.

    My process involves kind of a different method from other people merging files. Here's what I did:

    - Downloaded TW 0.8 integrated mod.
    - Ran config tool and let it create the dat/fat files. (Important note: you have to put Texture Hack option to on in order to get Maldo's textures).
    - Unpacked the dat/fat files with Disrupt Unpacker.
    - Extracted the "graphics" folder, which contains Maldo's textures.
    - Created a new folder, that's the base for the mixture. Pasted graphics folder inside.
    - Unpacked Ubisoft's official 1.3 dat/fat files.
    - Copied and pasted everything inside the folder to my newly created base folder. It's going to ask you if you'd like to overwrite two texture files, say yes to that and move on.
    - Unpacked Kad's v5 beta 3.
    - Copied some of the libraries inside the "generated" folder into mine. Depens on which effects you want in the game.
    - Copied everything except engine tweaks, which is located in settings folder. When asked if I wanted to overwrite I chose no, in order not to mess Maldo's textures up.
    - Especially copied windy city folder from Kad's mod.
    - Copied Kad's engineconfig.xml and pasted inside mine as well. Changed TOD to 30, set time to 14:00. The last two steps are important to get the wind effect running in the game.
    - Downloaded TW 0.8 modified by BassMafioso with his own DOF. Unpacked it and got the cameracontext.lib file.
    - Pasted it into my own "generated" folder.
    - Packed my folder using Disrupt again. At the end of the process you will be getting a 1.5 GB dat/fat file.

    As much as I can remember, that was it.

    By this method you will be creating a mod variation which includes:

    From Kad: Environment lighting, colorgrading, improved rain and splashes (includes density increase, more splashes, additionally rendered splashes on cars and the character, dynamic reactions to light sources), dynamic reflections, better fog/smoke, improved particles, wind tweaks (always windy now, and thus) more dynamic cloth physics, dynamic clouds/sky, E3 bloom.

    From Boss: Boss's bokeh DOF values

    From Maldo: Stutter-free ultra textures.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  14. Spoonie

    Spoonie Member

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    Ok, So went back to the drawing board with this - and this is what I tried
    (Everything was with Sli titans using 340.43 @ 1920x1080):

    1. Vanilla + Ultra textures/MSAA x8/Ultra settings (no mods and no 1.03 patch) - the game would stutter for 1-2secs at every intersection, running and driving. If I start with no AA + ultra, the game would stutter, then I changed in-game to MSAAx8, run the game for a bit, then reduce my Ultra settings (Shadows/reflections/Water + turn AO off) the game didn't stutter. I would run it for a bit, then turn all those settings back up to ultra +HBAO-high and still no stutter. I thought this was strange, but I would drive from starting area to the city, and the stutter would return - I'd repeat the process and the stutter would disappear.

    Then I turned down the textures to high, and the stutter is 99% gone (without return) - but the game looks like crap, and doesn't run that great with AO on.

    Total Success: 90%


    2. Vanilla + patch (no mods) - the stuttering is worse, and the above process didn't work. I have found that something with the ubi patch and 340.43 drivers doesnt jive (i've rolled back the drivers to discover this).

    Total Success: 30%


    3. TheWorse mod 0.8 (includs - maldos/tree/ubi patch fix): Had pretty good success with this, but again, I still had to repeat the process above to get the game to run 99% stutter free. Game looks good - I tried with and without headlights, used Maldos texture hack. I thought the trees moved a little too much in this mod, but mostly it was good - but if I remember correctly - I still had to repeat the first process (MsAAx8 +/- ultra etc), so it wasn't perfect

    Total Success: 95%


    4. TheWorsemod 'Enhanced reality' V2 - So this mod has pretty much eliminated all (touch wood) stuttering for me AND I don't have to change anything, or continually swap settings in-game. I have the textures set to high (as directed in the instructions) I'm using the allocated xml file, and temporal smaa (also instructed) and BAM it all works. I even went back to playing it @ 5760x1080 and its working well. My frames take a hit at that resolution, but surprisingly for how good it looks now, it runs super smooth. I have actually had the textures enabled to Ultra using this mod (mistakenly) but it still worked, but there was a micro-stutter still present, on high, its all good.

    Total Success: 99.9%


    Even though the last mod has seemingly fixed my game, I am still very cautious. I've had the game almost fixed before, only to return to a stuttering mess when I exit and then return to the game. So I will keep reporting back about this. I was so close to deleting this game forever out of my memory - and by all means that can still be on the cards, but right now it finally seems like I might be able to play it.

    TL;DR - For me the Ubisoft patch made the game worse when using Nvidia 340.43 beta drivers. Now this could also be the drivers themselves somewhat.

    Also I found that after enabling MSAAx8 and then fiddling with ultra/high settings (in-game), the game would run stutter free until I reached a new 'zone', then I would have to repeat the process - I could also change the AA to whatever I liked after it went stutter free, and return the settings to ultra. For the most part, ultra textures cause dramas it seems, so using the mods to gain the ultra look, but on "high" settings seems to be the only way to go for me at the moment.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  15. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    Nice findings, Spoonie.

    I'm starting to think that there might be a memory leak issue with the game, which might explain why it starts stuttering after a while in your experience. Maybe it realocates the resources when you change in-game settings- and then repeats itself as you keep playing.

    Yet you have plenty of system RAM and VRAM, and this shouldn't have been happening.
     

  16. poet666d

    poet666d New Member

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    They've since confirmed the patch was only aimed at fixing the savegame loading 90% error which was stopping people play.
    (plus a cool fix for a pretty unique gamer :) )

    The patch for performance issues is yet to come.
     
  17. Spoonie

    Spoonie Member

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    Your guess is as good as mine. The fact that ultra textures seems to make the game unplayable, while high with a few tweaks fixes most issues is interesting. I don't know enough about anything to know anything :p
     
  18. OcTane

    OcTane Member

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    my performance of the game for watch dogs is **** i hav maxed out crysis 3 and was playing around 35 to 40 fps while this game sucks on 30fps max on high i dont get it what is wrong with the game???
     
  19. Plissken

    Plissken Member Guru

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    There are two main issues with the game as far as I can tell.

    1. The game is a CPU monster. In order to max it out you need to have i7 4770/AMD FX-8350 and above, which are the best processors available right now.

    2. There is a constant texture streaming going on with the game, therefore it requires you to have 4 gigs of VRAM to be able to play the game without stutters. Theoretically 3 gigs would be enough but in practice I've discovered that the game actually uses more VRAM than the recommended specs has, reacing almost 3.5 GB as the you keep playing the game.

    In your experience I'd say you're suffering from both, your GPU should be able to play the game at high but your processor is most probably bottlenecking you.

    Why can you play Crysis 3 at max settings but not Watch_Dogs? Well, that's Ubisoft's master optimization for you.
     
  20. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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    Its not vram fault otherwise something like Titan with 6gb vram wouldn't have the same issue.
     

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