Final Fantasy XV graphics performance: Will it kill my GPU?

Final Fantasy XV combat

PC games usually fall into two camps when it comes to recommended specifications. There’s the ‘Yes, you’ll probably be fine’ category, and the ‘SWEET LORD CRYSIS 3 IS ABOUT TO MAKE MY PC MELT’ bracket. Final Fantasy XV, the anime boyband stag do roadtrip JRPG, almost certainly falls into the latter, so I got together a bunch of graphics cards to see how they fared against the almighty Square Enix behemoth.

Now this is by no means a complete list of all today’s available or indeed best graphics cards (yet, anyway), but it should hopefully paint a reasonable picture of what you can expect to get out of it if you’re not quite sure whether your PC’s up to the task. And who could blame you, when the recommended graphics card is a chuffing 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480?

So here’s how this is going to work. Right now, I’ve tested four graphics cards, which you can jump to below, but I’ll be adding more to this list as and when I get hold of them. I’ve also tested each one at 1920×1080, 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 (4K) on a variety of different graphics settings, both with and without Nvidia’s fancy Turf Effects, Hair Works, ShadowLibs and power-hungry VXAO effects (more on what all these mean below), all with the aim of getting a smooth 60fps with the fewest number of compromises.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Nvidia’s GameWorks gubbins, here’s a quick rundown of what each one actually does.

Final Fantasy XV Turf Effects

Turf Effects: One of the best effects you want to try and include, Turf Effects makes Final Fantasy XV’s luscious grass fields a lot more realistic. Rigid tufts suddenly transform into swaying fields of green that bend and yield as you trudge through them, and delivers one of the most immediate and obvious improvements over its console brethren.

HairWorks: Nvidia’s floaty hair tech has been employed in many games over the years, but normally you only see it applied to the lavish locks of the protagonist. In Final Fantasy XV, monsters have been given the HairWorks treatment as well, turning rough, shorn-looking creatures into majestic fluff beasts. Another effect you definitely want to try and include if you can.

Final Fantasy XV Hairworks

Shadow Libs: As its name implies, this is all to do with the game’s lighting. It’s not as fancy as the game’s ambient occlusion (below) effects, but this lets characters cast much more accurate, detailed shadows on the ground. Again, a nice effect if you can manage it, and one that doesn’t eat up too many frames over and above Turf Effects and HairWorks.

Voxel Ambient Occlusion (VXAO): The most demanding setting of the lot, VXAO makes shadows appear much more natural and realistic, adding a greater sense of depth perception to any given scene. I found this didn’t make a particularly noticeable impact when playing about with its various settings, and given it eats the highest number of frames out of the four, you can definitely get away with leaving this switched off.

Without further ado, then, click below to skip to the results for each graphics card:

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Ti
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970

18 Comments

  1. Nelyeth says:

    So, I’d guess my 1080 would give me around 45 fps most of the time at 2560×1440 if I wanted to turn on Turf and Hairworks. Eh, at least it works, but I feel something akin to existential dread knowing my baby isn’t as futureproof as I thought it’d be when I bought it.

    Also, may I suggest you go into more details concerning FPS at 1920×1080? 60fps is good and all, but some of us have a 75, 120 or even 144Hz screen, so it would be nice knowing exactly how well the beefiest GPU fare (from what I have read, FFXV doesn’t have a FPS cap, but if it has, disregard my request). Thank you!

  2. Nucas says:

    [mentions modest cards like the 1060 and 480, then promptly ignores them to test high end fare]

    “I imagine, however, that a lot of people won’t necessarily have GTX 10-series graphics cards yet, especially given the state of today’s prices.”
    yeah, why would anyone be using these? i mean they only launched nearly two years ago.
    it’s not like the 1060 and 1050ti account for *25%* of steam hardware survey respondents or anything.

    • Werthead says:

      Yup. Have a 6GB 1060 here and was hoping to see what they thought. I know the game will run and pretty well, but I was hoping to see what extra odds and ends I could get away with, given I game at 1080p.

      • avsky says:

        I have a 1060 3GB Mini and it runs ~surprisingly~ well on that little card with most settings on High. I’ve only got TRAM set to Average (High causes stuttering), Shadows on Average but I also have Hairworks and VXAO turned ON and I’m still hovering around 57-60FPS.

        With the hi-res texture enabled pack it drops to about 45FPS.

      • Kaladin says:

        Have a Zotak 1060 AMP 6GB, Runs pretty well on 1080p aslong as you have VXAO, HairWorks and geomapping turned off and textures to high (textures look weirdly over detailed on Characters at the highest on 1080p so your better off with just High). Get about 55-60+ (sometimes dip to 40s on very heavy combat scenes with vsync) with every other settings at Max

  3. Cei says:

    Might help to know the rest of the computer specs? SSD? How much RAM? Fancy new CPU or an older one?

    • RTRubinas says:

      I’ve been playing it at 1920×1080 on a GTX 980 with an i5 3570K overclocked to 4.4 GHz and this game maxes out both my CPU and my GPU. The game runs fine on an old 5400 rpm 2.5 inch HDD that I pulled from a laptop, though the initial loading takes nearly a minute. It uses just under 9 gigs of my DDR3 RAM. Graphics settings on high, with hair effects turned on, I get between 55-70 fps, with the game usually settling around 63-65fps. Turning up any more graphics options becomes too much for my available GPU memory and I begin to get visual artifacts.

  4. racccoon says:

    This is the first time ever in a history of PC building yes from its very birth, that I/some have been unable to stretch forward and build a new PC & be able to carry on a passion for PC gaming & custom building.
    It is quiet a sad moment when your hobby of PC building has be undermined by data miners for greed.
    It is a shame that I am not alone with this as well I could understand if it due to poverty, & it is a shame it has come to this that capital gain gamblers have beaten the PC industry down & totally destroyed what was a enjoyment for a dedicated PC hobbyist. Now a stagnant player melting within a new abyss!

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      I blame libertarian free-market fundamentalists… they would happily sell their own grandmother and gladly send the Earth hurtling into the Sun if it meant that their selfish greed could be facilitated without having to pay any taxes to fix the mess they create for the rest of us.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      The current situation is becoming an existential threat to enthusiast pc gaming. It’s bullshit.

    • iainl says:

      It’s not easy. But keep an eye on the sites and it’s possible – I snagged a 6GB GTX 1060 at the sensible price of £270 from Amazon on Thursday. The stock levels are just a bit rubbish.

  5. boundless08 says:

    I think I may need to upgrade my FX-6350 and 270x soonish if I ever wish to go on tour with the boys *weeps in low framerate*

    • SBLux says:

      Maybe if you weeped lower resolution tears your framerate would improve?

  6. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    I played the demo of this game perfectly well on my 2013 iMac with its 4th gen i7 and GTX 780M graphics chip, 32Gb RAM and SSD… got a steady 30fps at 1080p with the hair thing turned on and most of the other settings turned to medium or high. The grass effects took a chunk off that so I didn’t bother. You don’t need the latest and greatest to be able to play a new game, as long as you don’t mind dialling down the settings a bit. Yes, I know the minimum that hardcore gamers find acceptable these days is 60fps, but half that is perfectly playable – as long as it’s a stable steady frame rate I’m happy as Leisure Suit Larry.

    (Having said that, my iMac cost the original purchaser over £4K when he bought it new… the idiot. I paid £1K for it, which is about the same price as a new GTX 1080, and anyone who pays that for just a graphics card is also an idiot).

  7. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    On another point, can anyone tell me if this game gets prettier? I mean, apart from the pretty boys. The only other FF game I played was FFXIII on PS3, and that was indeed an imaginatively colourful spectacle of fantastical finality. From what I’ve seen so far FFXV just looks like it’s set in a romanticised alternate American Midwest. What’s the point of all that graphicaltwatfuckery if you are just going to waste it making a lovely game about lovely boys set in a boring – albeit photorealistic – field of grass?

    • Avioto says:

      I see it more as a mix between a realistic world and the traditional FF world. There are definitely spectacular sights to see and good looking set pieces in the story that are far from realistic. I’m only 22 hours in though.

    • teije says:

      “All that graphicaltwatfuckery” – awesome phrase. You should be in marketing.

  8. mpk says:

    I have a 2Gb 1050. The game runs fine at 30fps. Admittedly I’ve not gone too far into it, as I’m old and poor in terms of spare time, but it’s playable and shiny and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

    Isn’t it?