Plays 'Bloody' Well on Mid-Range Hardware
It appears as though id Software has done a good job of not just making Doom look great, but also play well on a range of hardware. The game's potential can be fully realized at the mainstream 1080p resolution using rather modest system hardware. Previous-gen hardware plays well, and even the 4 year old Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 680 provided decent performance.
Those rocking a $200 GTX 960 or R9 380 won’t have anything to worry about and these cards are even playable at 1440p, which was a real surprise. Those that have taken the step to the ever popular 1440p resolution can achieve very smooth lag free performance with a Radeon R9 290 or GTX 780 Ti.
For ultimate performance the GTX 970 is the weapon of choice, as it never dipped below 60fps. It will be interesting to see if AMD can get their Radeon R9 390 and 390X up to speed in this title in the coming days.
Actually, on that note there is one issue with Doom and it could go a long way in explaining why the game runs poorly on AMD hardware at launch. Some keen enthusiasts noticed that the game uses the latest OpenGL 4.5 version when running a GeForce graphics card, but it reverts back to the much older 4.3 version with a Radeon graphics card.
Apparently this wasn’t the case in the open Beta, so the plot thickens. A few days ago id Software's lead renderer programmer Tiago Sousa was quizzed regarding the issue and he said "looks like ultra settings ( beta was a mix of medium ), particularly shadows ( and couple other things ) - AMD working on it." We assume by this he meant there's an issue with Radeons when using the Ultra quality settings, though we found it reverting when using high, medium and low settings as well. Interestingly he also says AMD is working on it, suggesting this is merely an AMD driver issue.
Moving past the OpenGL version controversy, we were surprised by the relaxed CPU requirements.
We saw strong performance gains with the GTX 980 Ti on the Core i7-6700K when bumping up the frequency. Even the lowly Pentium G3258 impressed with highly playable performance out of the box and the ability to match AMD's FX-9590 once overclocked. Although we didn’t notice any stuttering when gaming with the dual-core Pentium processor, it is worth mentioning that CPU utilization sat between 90 – 100%, whereas the Core i3 processors were more around 70% and the Core i7s just 50% or less. The AMD FX-9590 appeared to sit around the 50% range as well.
Note however CPU performance could be quite different in the multiplayer portion of the game and this is something we haven't and possibly won't be able to accurately test for obvious reasons. But even if it is considerably more taxing, Doom seems designed to play bloody well on mid-range hardware. Kudos to id for great hardware optimization across the board.