It's been nearly two decades, but I can still remember wreaking havoc in the original Grand Theft Auto and GTA 2 like it was yesterday. Both games were a blast but Rockstar really blew our minds when it shifted from bird's-eye visuals to a fully 3D game engine and environment with GTA III in 2001, allowing players to experience open world mayhem across Liberty City from a third-person perspective.

Having found a winning formula, Rockstar followed up with two more crime simulators: Vice City arrived a year later and then San Andreas two years after that, both of which were powered by Criterion's RenderWare engine (like GTA III) while 2008's GTA IV is more of a true successor with larger gameplay changes and graphics based on Rockstar's own engine (RAGE).

Rockstar has made many improvements to the PC version, including increased resolution and graphical detail, denser traffic, greater draw distances, upgraded AI, new wildlife, and advanced weather and damage effects.

Naturally, the PC version of GTA IV was delayed from spring to holiday 2008, though it shipped with enhanced features such as traffic density control, draw distance configurations, a replay editor, a customizable radio station for your own music, and 32 player online sessions instead of 16 player.

Now seven years after GTA IV's arrival, fans have been craving for the next installment, which landed some 18 months ago on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as you're undoubtedly aware of thanks to the game's $265 million development and marketing budget. After watching GTA V ship for current-gen consoles last November, PC gamers are finally getting their chance to play in Rockstar's latest sandbox this week.

On the upside, Rockstar has made many improvements to the PC version, including increased resolution and graphical detail, denser traffic, greater draw distances, upgraded AI, new wildlife, and advanced weather and damage effects.

Though it sounds great on paper, some of previous Rockstar ports have disappointed -- including GTA IV -- though Max Payne 3 was pretty special and we wound up spending a lot of time benchmarking new GPUs with that game. So far GTA V looks to be a well-executed port truly optimized for PC, but we'll have a better notion of this after some tests.

Testing Methodology

We used the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers on 26 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations covering most price ranges. Our test rig was outfitted with the Intel Core i7-5960X to remove CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores. For testing we didn't use Fraps and instead relied on the built-in benchmark.

To use the benchmark tool in GTA V, simply launch the game and navigate to the "graphics" menu. Then press the "tab" key to initiate the benchmark sequence. NOTE: You need to run through the first "Franklin" mission in the Story Mode of the game for the benchmark to operate properly.

All told we ran the benchmark over 350 times. It's been a long week ;).

Make sure to set the graphics options you want to use before launching the benchmark. The sequence will follow five unique scenes in the world of Los Santos simulating a wide array of actual gameplay scenarios. The benchmark will track performance and output results in the following location: "My Documents\Rockstar Games\GTA V\benchmarks"

Rather than take the result from just one of the five scenes we took the average frame rate from all five scenes. However, as the world in GTA V is always changing, the tests are never exactly the same, the traffic density changes quite a bit on each run. Therefore we ran each test three times and took the average.

All told we ran the benchmark over 350 times. It's been a long week ;).

GTA V was tested at three resolutions, 1920x1080, 2560x1600 and 3840x2160. We tested using the normal textures and the very high textures. Additionally the game was also tested using FXAA and MSAAx4, as well as the advanced graphics settings.

Texture Quality set to 'Normal'

Texture Quality set to 'Very High'

Advanced Graphics Enabled

MSAAx4 Enabled

Test System Specs

  • Intel Core i7-5960X (3.00GHz)
  • x4 4GB Kingston Predator DDR4-2400 (CAS 12-13-13-24)
  • Asrock X99 Extreme6 (Intel X99)
  • Silverstone Strider Series (700w)
  • Crucial MX200 1TB (SATA 6Gb/s)
  • Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X (4096MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon R9 290 (4096MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon R9 285 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon R9 280X (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 270X (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 270 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon R7 265 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7970 GHz (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7850 (2048MB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X (12288MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 (4096MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 (3584+512MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 (2048MB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan (6144MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 (2048MB)
  • Palit GeForce GTX 760 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 (2048MB)
  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
  • Nvidia GeForce 350.12 WHQL
  • AMD Catalyst 15.4 Beta