DX12 versus DX11 Gaming Performance Video Card Review

We play latest games with DX12 support and find out which is faster, DX12 or DX11? We use the latest drivers from NVIDIA and AMD to find any advantages in this GPU focused review. We’ll get to the bottom of the question, "Should I be running this game in DX12 or DX11 in order to get the best real world gaming performance?"


DirectX 12 gaming performance has gotten off to a rough start. There’s no denying that DX12 gaming performance compared to DX11 gaming performance has been underwhelming from its introduction. When we say that we are referring to games that have both DX12 and DX11 rendering paths available for use in Windows 10. These games have either received DX12 API rendering paths via patches or had DX11 and DX12 at launch. We’ve evaluated several of these games in the past to find out if DX12 or DX11 was faster.

Today we are going to be doing a re-evaluation of sorts, a sort of roundup of all the games that have both a DX12 and DX11 rendering path. For many of these games a lot of time has passed since introduction, giving the opportunity for several game patches, as well as many new driver updates from NVIDIA and AMD. In fact, NVIDIA recently released a DX12 Performance Driver poised to improve DX12 performance in games. This marks the perfect time for us to look back at these games and determine once and for all if DX12 is finally a viable choice in these games...at least today. But certainly DX12 has had time to mature in terms of game support and driver support.

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We are going to compare performance between DX12 and DX11 in these games and find out which API rendering path is ultimately better. We are going to use NVIDIA GPUs and AMD with the latest drivers on both at 1440p and 4K. This is a GPU focused evaluation.

Our Goals

We need to be very clear on our intentions and goals for this evaluation so there is no confusion or questions as to why we didn’t do this, or did that. The scope and intention of this evaluation is to evaluate and find out the performance difference between DX12 and DX11 in the games that have the option to toggle those API rendering paths. In the past, we have tested several of these games and found DX11 to reign supreme on performance compared to DX12. In light of the NVIDIA "DX12 Performance" driver update, and AMD’s latest Crimson Re-Live Edition software drivers we wanted to re-evaluate these games and find out if things have changed.

This will help us moving forward to once and for all decide if we should be evaluating any game in DX11 or DX12 mode to represent the best performance. To this end we are going to be testing in a GPU dependent situation. We will be testing with a GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at 1440p and 4K. We will also be using AMD’s latest generation GCN architecture and best GPU with the AMD Radeon RX 480 at 1440p.

What we won’t be doing is testing 1080p, or low-end GPUs, or low-end system testing. We are not conducting a CPU-bottlenecked performance test. We are focusing on the performance differences between DX11 and DX12 in a GPU focused environment with a high-end system.

We will be using the NVIDIA DX12 Performance driver GeForce 378.78 which we have previously tested. There is a newer driver, but should not given any performance differences in the games played here today. We will also be using the latest AMD driver Crimson Re-Live Edition 17.3.2 released on 3/15. A new ReLive driver was made available yesterday, but there is nothing in the notes as to DX11 or DX12 performance increases in the games we are playing here today.

Check the next page for a complete description on the game lineup we will be using.