Conclusion

A game many have been waiting for, DOOM Eternal has finally been released.  This is a direct sequel to the 2016 DOOM, which was very fun.  Carrying in the same tradition this game brings familiar playstyle, old school feelings, and a very impressively optimized gaming engine. 

Based on the new id Tech 7 game engine this thing is fully backed by the Vulkan API with no OpenGL for a change.  That’s a big change really, and speaking of big changes id Tech 7 has some big ones over id Tech 6.  The very first thing we feel from this game is how well optimized and smooth it plays.  The graphics performance is great, it is able to pack large areas, lots of demons, blood and guts everywhere, high-resolution textures and geometric detail and does it while smiling. 

We are very impressed with the level of performance out of this game.  The only downside for us is that we can’t really use this game in future video card reviews because it already performs so well and doesn’t require so much.  We need graphically challenging games that we can compare video cards with and determine the best bang for the buck.  With this game, you don’t really need a high-end or enthusiast-level video card to actually enjoy the game.  As we’ve found, it’s actually more about the VRAM capacity than the GPU.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s start by looking back at the comparisons.

AMD vs NVIDIA Comparison

The first comparison that everyone is probably curious about is how NVIDIA and AMD video cards compare in performance in this game.  If two video cards are of similar pricing, then which one do you go for to get the most from this game?

We started out by looking at performance-based on VRAM capacity.  In the 8GB+ department, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti came out on top, to no surprise.  What was a surprise is that so did every NVIDIA GPU.  Even the GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER beat AMD’s fastest in this game, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT.  What’s more, the Radeon RX 5700 XT had a hard time at 4K.  The GeForce RTX 2080 FE did a lot better. 

The same pattern continued when we looked toward 6GB video cards.  When the VRAM capacity was bottlenecked at 1440p “Ultra” settings the Radeon RX 5600 XT, GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660 SUPER all performed the same.  But when we lowered the resolution to 1080p or the game settings, the comparable NVIDIA GPUs took off and offered higher performance than the trailing Radeon RX 5600 XT.  And this was with all video cards having a factory overclock.

The trend continued at 4GB, in VRAM restrained settings they were closer, but the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER was still ahead of the Radeon RX 5500 XT.  When we lowered the settings to “Medium” the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER skyrocketed over the Radeon RX 5500 XT

In the big question NVIDIA or AMD, it appears that for this game the equivalent priced NVIDIA GPUs comparable to AMD are faster.  So if you want the best bang for the buck, chose your budget, and lean toward an NVIDIA GPU if you want the highest FPS, or you play in 4K.

Gameplay Experience

As for the actual highest playable settings and gameplay experience, then that one is a bit more complex.  While NVIDIA GPUs are faster than their AMD counterparts here, you don’t necessarily need an expensive video card to enjoy this game. We found that performance is still great in this game on the lower-end to mid-range GPUs.  You don’t need the RTX 2080 Ti, unless you are playing in 4K.  When it comes down to it, many of the lower-end video cards provided playable performance.  It’s best if we organize this by resolution.

4K

If you are playing this game at 4K then no doubt the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti will be your best bet.  You will be able to max out this game at “Ultra Nightmare” settings at 4K with over 100FPS.  Second to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti would be a GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (not tested here today) which would provide performance faster than the GeForce RTX 2080 FE shown today.  That might allow “Nightmare” or “Ultra Nightmare” playable settings at 4K.  The GeForce RTX 2080 FE we tested did quite well, and certainly a lot faster than the Radeon RX 5700 XT.

1440p

To play at 1440p you really don’t need a RTX 2080 Ti, or 2080 SUPER or even 2080.  Nope, all you need is a GeForce RTX 2070 (not shown here today) or an RTX 2070 SUPER.  The AMD Radeon RX 5700 is also good. With the 8GB on board you will enjoy a great 1440p experience.

1080p

This one is really easy, the Radeon RX 5500 XT with 8GB is actually probably a better buy than a Radeon RX 5600 XT or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or GTX 1660 SUPER.  With 8GB on board the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB has the potential to play “Ultra Nightmare” setting with no trouble, and playable performance.  You could decrease the quality if you wanted, but the facts are, you can achieve a hiver playable setting on an 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT versus the (by GPU) faster Radeon RX 5600 XT. 

VRAM Capacity

This game behaves extremely positive to greater VRAM capacity on your video card.  Not only does the game perform better, but the quality settings are locked into the total value of VRAM capacity on your video card.  You physically cannot apply a quality setting preset that exceeds your video cards capacity. 

This is rather annoying because we physically have GPUs here that are fast enough for “Ultra Nightmare” but can’t run it simply because they don’t have enough VRAM.  The game won’t allow you to even try it out.  This means cards like the Radeon RX 5600 XT and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti have the GPU performance to run higher settings but are being artificially held back. If DOOM Eternal is your jam, you’re going to want an 8GB video card for the best experience.

Final Points

This game is fun, shoot and let the good times roll.  We do like well-optimized games, and it doesn’t get any better than this.  This game is highly optimized and that means it performs well on low-end and mid-range video cards.  The only reason for a high-end video card would be for 4K gaming. 

If you are playing at 1440p we recommend a Radeon RX 5700 or GeForce RTX 2070/SUPER, whichever has the lower price go for it, it will provide the same experience.  At 1080p we might actually suggest you look at factory overclocked 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT’s to allow the highest settings.  If you want something faster, then the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER or 1660 Ti will do well, but you will be limited on graphics settings.  We recommend staying away from 4GB video cards for this game.

If you can do it, aim for “Ultra Nightmare” settings and a high resolution, at least 1440p.  You’ll have a very enjoyable gameplay experience if you can manage this.  The game graphics look good, but in our limited time playing they seem about on par with what we’ve seen in Wolfenstein 2 and Youngblood.  We were hoping there would be something released like a high-resolution texture pack to really bring the textures to an unprecedented level, the engine is optimized enough that it could handle it well.  That’s something we’d like to see at any rate.  One thing is for sure, the Vulkan API is a win, and more games need to use it. 

We hope this performance review has helped someone out there in their gaming experience with DOOM Eternal.  Check out our performance run-through in the video below that we used to gather all the data testing within this review. 

Discussion

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6 Comments

  1. I would like to add that this game looks excellent with chunky pixels from Integer Scaling, although setting it up in 1080p requires a custom 960×540 resolution.

    Once you get it going, it sort of looks like old pre-rendered CG video from the early 2000’s – except obviously quite a bit better.
    You’ll likely have to disable resolution scaling though, as your CPU+RAM is likely to become the bottleneck at half – or even one third for 3×3 pixels at 4k – the resolution you’d normally be playing at.

  2. So where does my 1080ti land? Somewhere around the 2080FE?

    The idtech engine is really pretty amazing that it does so well even on medium grade hardware.

    Not sure I’ll be in a hurry to get this game though, I get motion sickness from fast moving games. The 2016 Doom hurt me badly, I couldn’t finish it.

  3. So where does my 1080ti land? Somewhere around the 2080FE?

    That sounds about right.

    From what I’ve seen, the 1080 Ti at 1440p with Ultra Nightmare settings will run the game firmly in the 100s. I’d like to test it myself with my own 1080 Ti, but my highest resolution display is 1200p. Normally I would try it with nVidia DSR, but for the past few months and last several driver versions, DSR and Vulkan games haven’t gotten along on my system. If I try to use DSR in any Vulkan game it usually BSODs the system, and names an nVidia driver file. This still occurs on driver version 442.74. Saw it happen with Doom 64 this past weekend (on Vulkan, I didn’t try D3D11). Luckily Doom Eternal did not do that for me, but it would only display a black screen. So right now I am stuck at 1200p where I am CPU-limited. I’ve some testing between the 1080 Ti and my friend’s 5700XT, where the 1080 Ti turns in stronger numbers, as expected. He was running Doom Eternal at 1440p with max settings on the 5700 XT with framerates ranging from the low 100s to the high 100s. So I would assume similar but better results for the 1080 Ti at 1440p. My best guess anyways.

    Thanks for the article Brent, great job as always. Really interesting to see the difference between Ultra, Nightmare, and Ultra Nightmare settings was just a few fps. I think we can all agree that id Software really ****ing hit it outta the park again. Glad to see pure Vulkan implementation. Really appreciate the wealth of settings the game offers, and not just for graphics. Wish I could see this game in HDR.

  4. Great review as always. Glad to see VRAM being put to good use. I know this is a GPU review but I’d love to see CPU scaling. I swear I don’t dip below 200 on 1440p using the 3950x. It shows extremely good core utilization. Also I’ve been running folding at home *while* playing and still getting over my 120hz refresh. It’s insanely optimized.
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