The VRAM Issue

Here’s the rub that we found with this game, the graphics settings are locked into the available VRAM capacity on your video card.  That means that you cannot force a quality setting that is above what the game says it will require.  The result is that even if your GPU is technically fast enough to run at a certain quality level, you may not be able to go any higher than a specific setting regardless, because of your VRAM capacity on the video card.

We found that 8GB video cards have the most flexibility and are able to run at “Ultra Nightmare” at 1080p, 1440p and even 4K.  It is video cards with 6GB or 4GB of VRAM that suffer the most in the allowed quality settings we can go up to at a certain resolution.

In the screenshots above we have a 6GB video card installed.  You can see that trying to enable “Nightmare” quality or “Ultra Nightmare” setting will not allow us to set it.  It is using 6258MB out of 6128MB available on the video card for Nightmare setting.  That very small difference keeps us from being able to run at “Nightmare” settings on any 6GB video card at 1080p. 

The end result is that the highest quality setting we can enable at 1080p on a 6GB video card is just “Ultra” quality.

It gets even worse on a 4GB video card.  On the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB video card above you can see that we cannot enable “Ultra” quality, it is in red, and this means it won’t allow us to apply it. 

Though, at “High” setting the game actually does allow us to apply, just barely.  It is right at 4080MB, and in red, but we were still allowed to have the setting applied.  This was also the same on the 4GB GTX 1650 SUPER, “High” was the highest setting we could enable at 1080p.

The end result came down to this:

4GB Video Cards6GB Video Cards8GB Video Cards
1440p – “Medium”
1080p – “High”
1440p – “Ultra”
1080p – “Ultra”
4K – “Ultra Nightmare”
1440p – “Ultra Nightmare
1080p – “Ultra Nightmare

Our Testing

This means for our testing we are limited by VRAM capacity.  In that case, it makes the most sense to compare the video cards by VRAM capacity against each other at the highest settings they could run at per their VRAM capacity.  We wanted to just blast through the review testing every card at “Ultra Nightmare” but that obviously was not going to work. 

We basically ran each card at the highest setting we could, and are comparing them by that.  We also have some unique comparisons involved, because a video card like the 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT opens up interesting possibilities that the faster 6GB cards can’t even do.

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  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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