Devolver Digital has just released the latest part in the Serious Sam series, Serious Sam 4, on Steam. Powered by the Serious Engine, Serious Sam 4 is one of the few games that supports both the DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs. As such, it’s time now to benchmark it and see how it performs on the PC platform.
For this PC Performance Analysis, we used an Intel i9 9900K with 16GB of DDR4 at 3600Mhz, AMD’s Radeon RX580 and RX Vega 64, NVIDIA’s RTX 2080Ti, GTX980Ti and GTX690. We also used Windows 10 64-bit, the GeForce driver 456.38 and the Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.9.1 drivers. NVIDIA has not added any SLI profile for this game, meaning that our GTX690 performed similarly to a single GTX680.
Croteam has added A LOT of graphics settings to tweak. And when I say a lot, I mean… A LOT. There is an option for enabling MSAA, resolution rendering options, Field of View slider, as well as individual settings for CPU and GPU. Unfortunately, the game does not feature any window to showcase in action what these effects do, though it does have a description for each one of them.
While Serious Sam 4 does not feature any benchmark tool, the game allows you to create your own benchmark. For both our CPU and GPU tests, we’ve benchmarked the opening level. This level features a lot of enemies on screen, and was among the most demanding scenarios we’ve experienced. We also did not experience any performance differences between Vulkan and DirectX 12. Thus, we’ve decided to stick with DX12 for our benchmarks.
In order to find out how the game scales on multiple CPU threads, we simulated a dual-core, a quad-core and a hexa-core CPU. And, when we initially tested the game, we were really disappointed by its CPU scaling. Thankfully, Croteam has issued a massive 37GB day-1 update that significantly improves CPU performance. However, you will need at least a quad-core CPU in order to play the game with 60fps. Our simulated dual-core system was simply unable to come close to a 60fps experience at 1280×720 on Ultra settings. On the other hand, our other systems had no trouble at all running the game. What’s also interesting here is the performance gains we witnessed when we enabled Hyper Threading, even on our hexa-core system. If your CPU supports Hyper Threading, we highly recommend enabling it for this particular game.
Thanks to these latest CPU improvements, we can safely say that Serious Sam 4 is a GPU-bound game. And from the looks of it, you will need a really high-end GPU in order to play it on Ultra settings, even at 1080p. At 1080p/Ultra, the only GPU that was able to offer a smooth gaming experience was the RTX2080Ti. While Croteam recommends an AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, that particular GPU was able to push a minimum of 41fps and an average of 52fps at 1080p/Ultra. So yeah, not exactly the performance I’d expect from a “recommended” GPU (unless of course the game’s PC recommended requirements are for gaming with 30fps). Not only that, but Serious Sam 4 is another game in which the Vega 64 performs poorly.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080Ti was also able to provide a constant 60fps experience at 2560×1440. As for 4K/Ultra, this particular GPU was able to push a minimum of 44fps and an average of 65fps. Since there are drops below 50fps, we suggest sticking with 1440p or using a custom 4K resolution.
Graphics-wise, Serious Sam 4 is a mixed bag. The in-game graphics look – for the most part – great, with some nice textures and effects here and there. You can dismember all the enemies, and there is limited environmental destructibility. However, the cut-scenes look awful and perform poorly. It feels like some cut-scenes have wrong shading effects, something that makes them feel worse than even Serious Sam 3. Not only that, but the indoor environments look mediocre. There is also a lot of pop-in, even on Ultra settings. Thankfully, you can minimize it, though you will still experience some distant pop-ins. We also experienced some flickering and visual artifacts. And, to be honest, for what is being displayed here, the game should be running better.
In conclusion, Serious Sam 4 performs pretty good on NVIDIA’s Turing architecture. The game also appears to be scaling great on multi-core CPUs. However, performance on every other graphics card, whether it’s AMD’s or NVIDIA’s older architectures, is underwhelming. Furthermore, the game’s graphics may disappoint some PC gamers, especially since they are not that much better than Serious Sam 3; a game that came out nine whole years ago. To be honest, this game is a mess so we advice you to wait until – and if – Croteam fixes it.