Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance and IQ Preview

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is released, we take a look at performance and image quality. We will compare performance between GTX 1080, GTX 1070, GTX 1060, Radeon RX 480, and Radeon RX 470. We will also look at image quality and talk about our experiences with each video card and what is playable in DE:MD.


We have been waiting for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for five years. Ever since we finished playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution in 2012 we have been awaiting a sequel. The sequel and direct successor following from Human Revolution is here, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and has been released to gamers.

This game takes place two years after Deus Ex: Human Revolution and follows Adam Jensen on another epic journey touching at the heart of human augmentation and advancement. Besides the story, the game has been heavily upgraded using new modern 3D technologies to bring an even more immersive experience.

We can definitely feel that the depth of this game has improved since the last one visually speaking. In addition to the improved graphics the world is more vibrant, there is more world clutter, and movement, and the entire world seems more "alive" than the previous game. All of this liveliness comes with a cost of course, that is a demand on your GPU.

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Today we are going to take a look at performance and image quality in this preview article. This is just a preview, this is not our full evaluation of the game nor is it our full performance or image quality comparison. That will come after we have had a chance to play the game through and see what it takes to play this game from start to finish.

In the meantime, we have been actively testing performance and image quality in the last 24 hours that this game has been released. We can bring you initial performance comparisons between video cards and look at some image quality options like AA to figure out what is best to be used while you play. We can then talk about our experiences playing the game so far on each video card and what settings and resolutions are playable.

Graphics Settings

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided uses the proprietary and newly created DAWN Engine from Eidos Montreal. This new engine supports advanced features such as tessellation, subsurface scattering, cloth physics, ambient occlusion, contact hardening shadows, parallax occlusion mapping, volumetric lighting, screenspace reflections, and chromatic aberration.

In addition, there will be a patch coming in the future that brings DX12 API support to the game. The reported date for this is for the week of September 5th according to the Deus Ex team, which is about 2 weeks from the launch. When DX12 API support is released we will compare it with current DX11 performance and find out how much of an improvement it makes on each GPU. For now, the game works just fine on all video cards in DX11.

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The first option screen you have is under the Display Options. At the top you will see DirectX 12 is currently grayed out, but will be added in a couple of weeks. Take note of the Fullscreen and Exclusive Fullscreen options. We have noticed that using Exclusive Fullscreen gives us a performance boost in the game improving performance, as much as 10% at 1080p on the Radeon RX 480. We have a graph on the following pages that shows you the performance advantage. If you want the best performance, make sure you check "Exclusive Fullscreen" if you can, you must might be surprised at receiving a "free" performance boost.

Otherwise, the settings on this menu are resolution, 2X MSAA, 4X MSAA and 8X MSAA along with VSYNC setting. This game does support MSAA, but it takes a very big performance impact. Instead, there is Temporal AA which you can turn on from the Graphics Options you will see below, we think it looks better than MSAA and does not take a big hit on performance. We will have screenshots to compare as well.

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Under the Graphics Options there is a "Preset" drop down box. This allows you to set a preset settings of "Low," "Medium," "High," "Very High," and "Ultra." Unlike other games in the past, when you set "Ultra" mode in this game it actually does set all the graphics options up to the highest values, except for Anisotropic Filtering. The Anisotropic Filtering option is only at 8X AF under "Ultra." You can manually increase this setting to 16X AF if you want. In our experience we did not notice a big performance difference between 8X and 16X AF in this game, so you should be fine using the higher setting. We don’t know why enabling "Ultra" doesn’t just go ahead and set the highest AF setting.

You will notice the Temporal Anti-Aliasing option that can be check boxed. This is automatically enabled at "High," "Very High," and "Ultra" settings. This is a shader based AA method, but uses a temporal algorithm to remove jaggies. It does a very good job at removing jaggies on everything, including alpha textures with minimal performance cost. If nothing else, make sure this is enabled else your game will be very aliased. This option is preferred over using MSAA.

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As you are setting your settings you will see this warning window pop up a lot. This occurs if you try to set 1440p resolution or higher, try to set "Very High" preset or "Ultra" preset modes, try to turn on 2X MSAA or higher, or try and turn texture quality at "Very High" or "Ultra." We have early indication in our testing that this game may be sensitive to VRAM capacity. We will talk about that in the conclusion.

For all of our testing in this preview we are going to use the "Ultra" preset. That means the highest in-game settings are turned on, and 8X AF is the default setting with Temporal AA and NO MSAA.