With the arrival of the next console generation, it’s inevitable that the hardware requirements for PC software will rise as graphical quality and complexity increases. The baseline is reset with the arrival of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and we wanted to get an outline of what kind of PC graphics kit is required to match or even exceed console hardware. To do this, we broke down the visual make-up of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, matching PS5 and PC in terms of quality settings – getting a good grip on optimised settings in the process, where we measure the bang for the buck of every preset and suggest the most optimal settings for PC users.
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that we may well see very different results for very different games. In assessing Watch Dogs Legion, I came to the conclusion that Xbox Series X could be matched by a PC running an Nvidia RTX 2060 Super – mostly owing to the onerous demands of ray tracing, an area where GeForce hardware has a clear advantage. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we see something very different. First of all, the game doesn’t seem to run that well on Nvidia kit, and there’s no RT in use, nullifying a key GeForce advantage. Meanwhile, AMD seems to fare significantly better. By our reckoning a Radeon RX 5700XT should get very close to the PS5 experience.
It’s worth pointing out that some of this comparison work is theoretical as there are no like-for-like settings between consoles and PC. For example, the dynamic resolution scaling system is very different. PS5 spends most of its time between 1440p and 1728p in our pixel count measurements, with many areas and cutscenes locked to 1440p. PC is different – bizarrely perhaps, the anti-aliasing system is also the DRS system, with the adaptive setting giving between 85 per cent to 100 per cent of resolution on each axis, according to load. Put simply, PC has a lower DRS window. So to get an idea of relative performance between PC and consoles, I used an area of the game that drops beneath 60fps on PlayStation 5, and does so while rendering at 1440p resolution.