Far Cry 4 Graphics Features Performance Review

We evaluate NVIDIA GameWorks graphics options in Far Cry 4 for performance, and which causes the greatest impact for GeForce GTX 980, AMD Radeon R9 290X and even last generation's GeForce GTX 780. We wanted to know exactly what Godrays, Soft Shadows, HBAO+, Fur, and AA do to FPS performance in Far Cry 4.


Welcome to the second part of our in-depth look at Far Cry 4 performance and image quality. In our first part Far Cry 4 Video Card Performance Review we explored what it takes to enjoy Far Cry 4 on a large array of video cards from the high-end to the low-end. In that article we explored the highest playable gameplay settings best suited for each card, and also showed apples-to-apples performance graphs for a look at performance at the same settings.

Please read the first part of this series before this evaluation today. The first part goes over all the graphics settings and what those do. We are not going to rehash that info here, and because today's evaluation revolves around those graphics settings you should give that article a read first if you need to gain a bit of insight to those graphical features.

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We found out in the first part of our evaluation that Far Cry 4 is a demanding game. Sacrifices have to be made on every video card, even the GeForce GTX 980 at 1440p. We also found that the AMD Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 lag behind the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970.

However, on the mainstream video cards the tables turned. It turns out that AMD's GPUs in those segments do better compared to NVIDIA Kepler GPUs. You see, we found that NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs are struggling a bit more than expected compared to the newer Maxwell GPUs, the GTX 980 and GTX 980.

More Questions than Answers

We were left with more questions than answers after that evaluation. One of the main questions we have is what is causing the AMD Radeon R9 290X to lag behind so much in this game? Is there one or more graphics settings in this game that the AMD Radeon R9 290X has trouble rendering? Second, we are curious as to why Kepler GPUs are so much slower than Maxwell GPUs in this game. Granted, Maxwell is a newer generation, but it seems Kepler is abnormally slow, as it was a consistent trend we discovered.

Then there are the general questions we have remaining for this games graphics settings. We need to know which one causes the most performance impact, and by how much. This is needed so that we know what graphics settings to back off on in order to gain performance that you may need while playing the game.

Our Goals

In today's evaluation we are going to answer all these questions and find out how each of the unique NVIDIA GameWorks features compare in performance. We are going to test soft shadows, ambient occlusion, godrays, AA and even fur performance. You'll be surprised how much the fur setting actually affects performance, we sure were shocked.

To make all of this happen we are going to concentrate on three main video cards, and a fourth one is thrown in for one of the tests that is relevant. We will be running these tests on a reference GeForce GTX 980, XFX Radeon R9 290X DD, and GeForce GTX 780 which is a Kepler GPU. We are also going to throw in the AMD Radeon R9 285 in the godrays test because it is relevant and proves a point you need to know.

With all of these comparisons we can look at both how the quality setting affects performance on each individual card. For example, we see what performance hit turning on soft shadows makes over ultra shadows on each card. Then, we can look across both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs and find out which one takes a bigger hit in performance, and which one is more efficient with said feature.

The test setup for this evaluation matches our first evaluation exactly. The system is the same, we are using 1.6.0 patch for the game and the same drivers are installed. Again, please read that evaluation to find out all the information about this game, it goes over the graphics settings and what those do.