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Monster Hunter: World graphics performance: Carving up today's best GPUs

Dressed like a dino's dinner

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Dragon coat-making sim Monster Hunter: World is finally here, and man alive is it a beastly PC port. Things were looking a bit dicey when I first got my hands on the game a couple of weeks ago, with GPU performance hitches aplenty even on some of today’s best graphics cards, as well as strained CPU problems and frequent crashes.

Thankfully, all those kinks have been beaten out of Capcom’s rather good dino-busting adventure in the run-up to launch, and it’s now as slick as a newly-forged long sword. It still takes quite a toll on your old GPU, though, so I thought I’d chuck as many graphics cards at it as possible to see if they’re a mighty, frame-slaying Rathalos or a paralyzing little Paratoad.

This is by no means a complete run-down of every graphics card out there, but I’ll be adding more over the coming week as and when they eventually pitch up on the testing bench I’ve been fashioning out of leftover wyvern claws. I’ve also included a couple of older graphics cards from my own aging collection to see how they hold up as well.

Monster Hunter: World PC performance: The specs

As a reminder, here are Capcom’s minimum and recommended PC specs for Monster Hunter: World, with the latter aiming for a target of 30fps at 1920×1080 on High.

Minimum specs:
OS: Windows 7 – 10 (64-bit required)
Processor: Intel Core i5-4460 / AMD FX-6300
Memory: 8GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 / AMD Radeon R7 260X (VRAM 2GB)

Recommended specs:
OS: Windows 7 – 10 (64-bit required)
Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 or Intel Core i3-8350 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Memory: 8GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) / AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)

Graphics cards aside, my PC well exceeds the recommended spec, as I’ve been testing everything with an Intel Core i5-8600K clocked at 3.6GHz and 16GB of RAM, with all the latest drivers installed. To see how all the different graphics cards fared, click the links below.

Monster Hunter: World PC performance: The goal

Before you do that, though, a small word on my testing methods. The main aim here is to find the best combination of settings to achieve a smooth 60fps at 1920×1080 and 2560×1440.

While the game can technically push its frame rate as high as your high refresh rate monitor allows for thanks to its unlocked setting, I’ve found that anything beyond 60fps is a pretty big ask even for today’s beefiest graphics cards. As a result, 60fps is the prime target here. After all, with the console versions locked at 30fps, a higher frame rate is one of the chief reasons why you’d want to play Monster Hunter: World on PC as opposed to the boxes sitting underneath your TV.

You also won’t find any 4K testing here just yet. That will come in due time. Right now, the cards I’ve tested below can just about manage to run it smoothly at 1440p, let alone anything else, so unless you’ve got multiple graphics cards at your disposal, I suspect 4K is going to be beyond the reach of most single-GPU PCs.

Monster Hunter: World PC performance: The settings

For the most part, I’ve stuck to Capcom’s pre-set graphics modes: Low, Mid, High and Highest. However, there are a couple of advanced settings that have a noticeable impact on overall performance: volume rendering quality and resolution scaling.

To use the game’s official parlance, volume rendering quality ‘adjusts the rendering quality of volumetric fog’, which isn’t exactly helpful.

What it really refers to is the game’s lighting effects, covering everything from sunbeams cascading in through the cracks of its dense jungle canopies to the dust and smoke of its vast deserts and towering volcanoes. Fog plays a big part of that too, especially when you’re nosing around its dingy caves and underground monster warrens, but what this setting really boils down to is giving Monster Hunter: World’s lush environments a sense of realistic depth as you gaze out toward the horizon. When volume rendering is set as low as it can go, everything looks rather flat and horrible, so I’ve tried to keep it as high as I can where possible.

MHW’s volumetric fog set to High, producing a nice and hazy tropical atmosphere…

….and MHW’s volumetric fog turned off seconds later in the same scene, destroying any sense of ambience and making everything look slightly off.

Resolution scaling, meanwhile, ‘scales the rendering resolution quality’. Or, in plain English, will secretly adjust the resolution on the fly without you noticing too much in order to maintain a stable frame rate.

It’s a feature that’s become increasingly common in today’s more demanding games, but this is the first one I’ve seen where you can’t actually turn it off altogether. That’s not very helpful from a testing point of view, as it makes getting an accurate read on what each card can do at each resolution a bit tricky.

On the whole, though, resolution scaling is actually pretty useful. Yes, there are times when it produces a visible drop in sharpness that doesn’t look quite as nice, but for the most part I rarely noticed it was even active. As such, I’ve tested each card using its default resolution scaling option, as well as the ‘prioritise resolution’ option to see if that makes any discernible difference.

Otherwise, the rest of Monster Hunter: World’s graphics settings have been left in their default position.

Need some help fighting all those mighty prehistoric beasties? Then you should have a read of Dave’s mahussive in-depth Monster Hunter: World guide.

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Who am I?

Katharine Castle

Hardware Editor

Katharine writes about all the bits that go inside your PC so you can carry on playing all those lovely games we like talking about so much. Very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests.

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