Total War: WARHAMMER was a strategy game that really disappointed us with its underwhelming performance in DX12 back in 2016. Naturally, we were expecting better things from its successor, however it appears that the game suffers from both single-thread CPU issues, as well as underwhelming DX12 performance on both NVIDIA’s and AMD’s graphics cards.
For this PC Performance Analysis, we used an Intel i7 4930K (overclocked at 4.2Ghz) with 8GB RAM, AMD’s Radeon RX580, NVIDIA’s GTX980Ti and GTX690, Windows 10 64-bit and the latest version of the GeForce and Catalyst drivers. While NVIDIA has added an SLI profile for this title on its latest driver, Total War: WARHAMMER 2 suffers from severe flickering when SLI is enabled. As such, we strongly suggest running it in Single-GPU mode until NVIDIA and Creative Assembly fix these issues.
Creative Assembly has included a wealth amount of graphics settings to tweak. PC gamers can adjust the quality of Textures, Shadows, VFX, Trees, Units, Depth of Field, Screen Space Reflections, Fog, Anti-Aliasing, Texture Filtering, Water, Grass, Terrain, Building, Unit Size and Porthole. PC gamers can also enable/disable Vignette, Proximity Fading and SSAO, and they can adjust the percentage of their resolution scale and UI scale.
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In order to find out how the game performs on a variety of CPUs, we simulated a dual-core and a quad-core CPU. Thankfully, and contrary to the first Total War: WARHAMMER game, Creative Assembly has included two benchmarks that are representative of the in-game performance. Moreover, and in order to avoid any possible GPU limitation, we lowered our resolution to 720p for our CPU tests.
As we’ve already said, Total War: WARHAMMER 2 appears to be suffering from single-thread issues. While the game scales on more than four CPU cores during battles, it mainly uses one CPU core/thread during its campaign map overview. As such, our NVIDIA GTX980Ti was underused in the second benchmark.
Normally, and given the fact that DX12 can offer better multi-thread functionalities, you’d expect this issue to be addressed under DX12. However, that’s not the case. Not only that, but NVIDIA’s GPU performed worse in DX12 than in DX11. Ironically, and as you can see in the following images, the game scaled and utilised our extra CPU cores more efficiently in DX11 (left) than in DX12 (right).
Despite these CPU and DX12 issues, we are happy to report that both our six-core and our simulated quad-core systems were able to offer a constant 60fps experience in DX11. Our simulated dual-core system, on the other hand, was unable to offer an acceptable experience due to severe stuttering. Total War: WARHAMMER 2 is also one of those games that did not see any performance improvement at all – even on our simulated dual-core system – by enabling Hyper Threading.
Total War: WARHAMMER 2, like pretty much all latest titles, can be described as a GPU-bound title. Our GTX980Ti was able to offer an almost constant 60fps experience on Ultra settings at 1080p in DX11. In DX12 the second benchmark ran horribly with the framerate frequently dropping below 50fps. Therefore, NVIDIA users should simply stick with DX11. But what about AMD’s GPU? Surely DX12 should be performing better on the red team, right? Well, we only saw a 2fps improvement when we moved from DX11 to DX12. So yeah, not that of a big difference to be honest. Total War: WARHAMMER 2 isn’t a title that can showcase what DX12 can do, which is kind of disappointing. Last but not least, and while the game scaled on our GTX690 in DX11, we experienced flickering issues when SLI was enabled. In DX12 there is no multi-GPU support, meaning that our GTX690 performed similarly to the GTX680.
Total War: WARHAMMER 2 comes with four presets: Low, Medium, High and Ultra. However, and even on Low settings at 1080p, our GTX690 in Single-GPU mode was unable to offer a 60fps experience. Also, owners of AMD’s Radeon RX580 (or equivalent GPUs) will have to drop their settings to High in order to hit an almost constant 60fps experience.
All in all, and while the game does not appear to scale well on old graphics cards, it runs fine on mid-tier and high-end GPUs. Despite its single-thread CPU issues and the underwhelming DX12 performance, Total War: WARHAMMER 2 can be perfectly enjoyed on modern systems in DX11. However, we expected something a bit more from this title, especially since Creative Assembly initially experimented with DX12 in the first Total War: WARHAMMER game. Yes, the majority of owners with an Intel Core quad-core and a GPU equivalent to the GTX980Ti will not encounter any performance issues on Ultra settings, however the game can significantly benefit from some post-release performance/optimization patches.
John is the founder and Editor in Chief at DSOGaming. He is a PC gaming fan and highly supports the modding and indie communities. Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a die-hard PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved – and still does – the 16-bit consoles, and considers SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won him over consoles. That was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a higher degree thesis on the “The Evolution of PC graphics cards.”