Those hoping to run Evolve with maximum eye candy should get by with relatively modest hardware when playing at 1366x768, and while 1080p will require more oomph, you can rely on the recommended GTX 760 to get the job done decently enough with 48fps. If you want perfectly smooth performance at 1080p we'd suggest the GTX 960 or R9 285.
It's interesting to note that the GTX 970 and GTX 980 topped our graph at this resolution with the former being 2fps faster than the R9 290X and the latter being 11fps faster. However, it's a different story at 2560x1600 where the R9 290X beat the GTX 980 by 2fps -- hardly a deathblow but surely not what Nvidia wants to see from its flagship.
The biggest surprise may be that the GTX 970 dropped to 44fps at 2560x1600, only 3fps faster than the HD 7970 GHz Edition. While the GTX 970 was just 10% slower than the GTX 980 at 1080p, it's 20% slower at 2560x1600. If it were 10% slower at 2560x160 instead, the GTX 970 would have been on par with the GTX 780 Ti, which is what we'd expect to see.
It was recently exposed that the GTX 970's memory configuration has a 3584MB primary partition with a smaller 512MB partition. This significantly reduces performance once more than 3.5GB of VRAM is required and this would typically occur at 4K resolutions but it appeared at 2560x1600 in Evolve, which called for up to 4074MB of VRAM in our testing.
That said, the GTX 780 Ti only has a 3GB VRAM buffer yet it was much faster than the GTX 970. We aren't sure why that is. What we can say is that you'll need some serious horsepower at 2560x1600 or higher, and although the GTX 980 and R9 290X can deliver playable performance at 2560x1600, you'll definitely want to double up for 4K.
CPU-wise, gamers are best looked after by the Core i5 range, with pricier Core i7 models offering mild boosts in Evolve. The game only really taps four threads so having eight doesn't matter. The AMD FX range suffers a bit here and although it wasn't slow the FX-8350 could only match the i3-4130, while it was 11% slower than the Core i5-3470. The older Phenom II range showed its age in Evolve and incredibly the Pentium G3220 was able to match the Phenom II X6 1100T with 66fps -- 24% slower than the Core i5-3470.
From a driver perspective, the latest GeForce 347.52 WHQL release worked fine but the GeForce Experience software was crashing for much of our testing. Nvidia is aware of the issue and is working to fix it. Oddly, we had to open and then let the software crash before testing or the frame rate was much lower than it should have been with the GeForce cards.
On AMD's side, the Catalyst Omega 14.12 WHQL drivers from December didn't run much smoother. For reasons still unknown to us, we occasionally had to reboot Evolve to restore performance on the Radeons. We're not sure if the bug is on AMD's side or if it's just a problem with the game itself -- perhaps yet another patch is in order.
Until the next one, you can check out more PC gaming benchmark tests here, including GTA V, Far Cry 4, Homeworld Remastered, Dying Light and more.