Deus Ex: Mankind Divided DX12 Performance Review

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has received official DX12 support in the retail release. We will take the newest AMD and NVIDIA video cards and compare DX12 versus DX11 performance. We will also pit AMD versus NVIDIA in DX11 and DX12 and find out how it all compares in the latest version of this game.

Introduction

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was released in the summer months this year on August 23rd, 2016. This game is the natural successor and sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution game which was released in 2012. Since this new game’s release we have been hot on its trail, playing through it and using it in video card evaluations. Before reading further check out our Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance and IQ Preview.

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In our preview we looked at preliminary video card performance at the time of launch as well as some image quality analysis. We used five different video cards in that preview and compared their performance under DX11 which was the default, and only API, at the time of game launch. A lot of time has passed since August 23rd, and many patches have been released since that time for this game. At the time of launch the game version was v1.0 build 524.6. As it stands right now the current patched version is now v1.11 build 616.0.


Patches and DX12 Support

Along the patching journey since August 23rd something very interesting was brewing with each patch, and that is DX12 support. It was only two and a half weeks later on September 8th that patch number 5 was released, this was v1.4 build 545.4_P5. This patch introduced Beta DX12 API support in the game for the first time. In order to activate it you had to specifically tell Steam you are ok with downloading and using the Beta Preview version of the game. Therefore, this was not an official retail release of DX12 support, it was at the time just in Beta testing, and not finalized yet.

With every patch since then new DX12 Beta improvements were made all the way up to the official DX12 patch came to the game on October 18th, 2016. With patch v1.10 build 592.1 DX12 support officially came to the game without having to download or use the Beta version. This meant everyone could not toggle DX12 in the game using the retail version of the game. It took exactly eight weeks (2 months) for official DX12 support to hit this game, but at least it finally did.

We had very much been looking forward to DX12 API support coming to this game. We however wanted to give this game with DX12 every chance we could to prove to us why we need DX12. Therefore we waited, we waited to use DX12 in testing until the official retail release of DX12 had landed in this game. Once the official release landed we then began using it and testing it and figuring out all the quirks. At the same time we kept playing through the game to find better areas to do intensive GPU gameplay run-throughs so we could use the game better for evaluations.

In that time after the official DX12 patch there were indeed more patches released that further tweaked DX12 in this game. We are now sitting at one month after the official DX12 release. We feel we have given this game time to mature its DX12 support and performance. In that time there have also been several new driver updates on both sides. We are now at a time period where we have given this game, and drivers, time to mature in these areas. We are now going to test and see how DX12 compares to DX11 in this game once and for all.

Settings

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When you launch the game the first thing that pops up is the Display Options menu. This is where you toggle DX12, or not. When you check mark DX12 it gives a warning message that says it can perform better on some systems with DX12, but then it says it will not be beneficial on all systems. You pretty much have a 50/50 chance of DX12 positively affecting you. You also have a 50/50 chance it can negatively affect your performance. You simply won’t know, until you try. We tried, and that is what this article today is about.

Note in our settings we have Fullscreen and Exclusive Fullscreen enabled. We found that Exclusive Fullscreen does improve performance when its present. For most of our comparisons today we will be using the "Ultra" preset. The "Ultra" preset turns on everything in the game at the highest values. It however does not turn on Anisotropic Filtering at level 16X, only 8X. Therefore we have manually turned up that setting to 16X AF in all the tests. We feel if DX12 is going to improve the performance of any 3D rendering technique we must have them all turned on in this game so it can show it. However, on a couple of the slower cards we did have to use the "High" preset instead, just because it was too slow at "Ultra" settings on the lower-end cards.

Our Goal and How We Tested

The goal is simple, the first thing we want to find out is if DX12 is faster than DX11 or not on every video card. Therefore we compare DX12 to DX11 on the same video card at different resolutions and see how it stacks up. That’s the first three pages in the article. Those three pages will tell us how each of the seven video cards being tested treats DX12. All seven video cards are tested there.

Then, following those pages the next two compare NVIDIA and AMD directly at DX11 and then DX12. Naturally we can only use the cards that compare best, so for that comparison we pit the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480, AMD Radeon RX 470, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and AMD Radeon RX 460 against each other at DX11 and DX12.

Finally the next to the last page will show you the VRAM capacity usage on the GeForce GTX 1080 and AMD Radeon RX 480 at different resolutions. We compare between DX11 and DX12 and find out how much VRAM this game eats in both APIs, from 4K to 1080p.

All the video cards we are using are reference specification from AMD and NVIDIA.

The test system is the same from our preview article. We are using the latest drivers. For all NVIDIA GPUs we are using GeForce 375.86 WHQL. For all AMD GPUs we are using Crimson Edition 16.11.4 Hotfix. Remember, we are now three months from the game’s launch, so AMD and NVIDIA should have had plenty of time to optimize performance. That’s a lot of driver releases since the game was launched.