Introduction & Graphics Cards Used
Hideo Kojima released his huge masterpiece Death Stranding on the PlayStation 4 as an exclusive in 2019, but now the PC version is here and I'm slowly putting its through its paces.
NVIDIA backed Death Stranding on the PC where Kojima Productions added DLSS 2.0 technology into the game, and it is absolute magic. The game itself is one of the strangest, most satisfying and beautiful things you'll ever play -- but graphics performance, the graphics themselves -- and most of all, DLSS 2.0 performance is what I'm here for.
I thought I'd begin my testing of Death Stranding at 8K results, so I've run Death Stranding through my normal GPU test rig. This means I'm using an Intel Core i7-8700K processor, 16GB of DDR4, and for now at least -- a few graphics cards.
Graphics Cards Used
- NVIDIA TITAN RTX (24GB GDDR6)
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB GDDR6)
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (8GB GDDR6)
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6)
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER (8GB GDDR6)
- AMD Radeon VII (16GB HBM2)
- AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB GDDR6)
Death Stranding is powered by the Decima engine, which first debuted with Killzone Shadow Fall by developer Guerrilla Games. It has since been used on PlayStation 4 games including Horizon Zero Dawn, which was also made by Guerrilla Games, and now Death Stranding over at Kojima Productions.
Hideo Kojima left Konami in a big way back in 2015, and after which went on a journey to find a new engine for his upcoming project that would later manifest into Death Stranding.
One of the first places Kojima visited was Guerrilla Games, where the developer offered a gift to the legend himself in the form of a box that had source code to the then-unnamed in-house engine -- and no contractual obligations.
Kojima was free to do what he wanted to do with the engine, which led him to working in a collaborative effort between his newly formed Kojima Productions and Guerrilla Games on the Decima engine.
Kojima wasn't happy with the then-unnamed engine at the time, and knew tht his team would need to make some big changes to adapt Decima to the beyond strange environment, and world of Death Stranding.
The collaboration between Kojima Productions and Guerrilla Games was so strong, there was an installation of a Kojima "satellite team" at Guerrilla games that would ensure the very best collaboration on Decima -- and what would turn eventually power the world of Death Stranding.
DLSS 2.0 = GPU Cheat Codes
What is DLSS?
Death Stranding is now the definitive title to showcase what NVIDIA has in its hands with DLSS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling. DLSS 2.0 deploys inside of Death Stranding, and it's pretty much like having cheat codes for your GPU.
But first, check out what NVIDIA has to show about it:
Test System Specs
I've got a new upgrade inside of my GPU test bed before my change to a next-gen test bed, where I will be preparing for NVIDIA's next-gen Ampere graphics cards (you can read more on that here) and AMD's next-gen RDNA 2 graphics cards (more on those here).
Sabrent helped out with some new storage for my GPU test beds, sending over a slew of crazy-fast Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSDs. I've got this installed into my GPU test bed as the new Games Storage drive, since games are so damn big now. Thanks to Sabrent, I've got 2TB of super-fast M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD storage now.
Anthony's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 7 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-8700K @ 5GHz (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: 16GB (2x8GB) HyperX Predator DDR4-2933 (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket Q 2TB NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2 (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: 512GB Toshiba OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: InWin 1065W
- Case: InWin X-Frame
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
8K: 7680 x 4320
Dell's impressive UP3218K is a huge 32-inch monitor with a native resolution of 7680x4320, which when sitting in front of it, feels like it's almost perfect.
This is the monitor we're using in-house at TweakTown for 8K benchmarking, and as you can see from this handy image, 1080p is super small compared to 4K - and absolutely tiny compared to 8K. Looking at the is-it-even-there resolution of 1280x720 that most console games run at (and now we're finally shifting into 1080p on consoles), 8K absolutely blows them away.
8K isn't easy -- and Death Stranding is here with its DLSS 2.0 technology to show that NVIDIA's graphics cards truly do shine when using DLSS 2.0 magic.
Death Stranding Benchmarked @ 8K
When it comes to the graphics settings for Death Stranding, I've cranked everything up to maximum and disabled Motion Blur. I've run DLSS 2.0 off, DLSS 2.0 Quality, and DLSS Performance separately.
I chose a 60-second portion of the game, running along a cliff side and ran a path of 30 seconds in one direction, and then back again for another 30 seconds.
I wanted to differentiate between benchmarking Death Stranding at 8K without DLSS 2.0 enabled, and then again with DLSS 2.0 enabled. So here are the results of the graphics cards I've used, running 7680 x 4320 in Death Stranding. Performance thoughts below that.
Starting with the NVIDIA graphics cards, we have the TITAN RTX and its 24GB of GDDR6 powering through Death Stranding at 8K without DLSS 2.0 enabled. It absolutely dominates 7680 x 4320, and actually provides good performance considering the 33 million pixels being rendered.
We have 25FPS on the TITAN RTX at 8K in Death Stranding, beating out the 21FPS on the RTX 2080 Ti and the 18FPS on the RTX 2080 SUPER. I've included the other GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2070 SUPER -- offering 16FPS and 14FPS, respectively.
AMD holds its own in Death Stranding at 8K with the Radeon RX 5700 XT beating out the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, and just 1FPS shy of the flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The Vega 20 and 16GB of HBM2 combo on the Radeon VII isn't enough to beat the RTX 2080 SUPER, with just 17FPS at 8K.
But it's when we turn DLSS 2.0 on that we see the Turing GPU architecture truly shine.
Death Stranding Benchmarked @ 8K with DLSS 2.0
Death Stranding Benchmarked @ 8K
I wanted to differentiate between benchmarking Death Stranding at 8K without DLSS 2.0 enabled, and then again with DLSS 2.0 enabled. So here are the results of the graphics cards I've used, running 7680 x 4320 in Death Stranding with NVIDIA's amazing DLSS 2.0 technology enabled. Performance thoughts below that.
The above chart has all of the NVIDIA stack of Turing-based graphics cards that I tested, including the TITAN RTX, GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, GeForce RTX 2080, and GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER.
In this chart I've got all of the results: DLSS 2.0 disabled, DLSS 2.0 set to Quality, and DLSS 2.0 set to performance.
Some separate charts in case you want to see the DLSS 2.0 in Quality and Performance mode, separately.
Would you look at that?
How can I explain this? Well, easy: it's f***ing magic.
DLSS 2.0 is magic.
NVIDIA's beyond flagship TITAN RTX melts through Death Stranding at 8K with DLSS 2.0 enabled, pushing damn decent 50FPS average. It beats out the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, but not by much -- with the RTX 2080 Ti reaching 47FPS average.
Next down on the Turing list we have the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, which loses a larger chunk of performance to the brutal resolution that is 7680 x 4320. The GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER manages 39FPS average, which is playable -- but not as playable as 47FPS (especially if you adjust some details you'll get 60FPS easy).
The rest of the cards fall to 34FPS and then below 30FPS at 8K with DLSS 2.0 -- NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER manages 30FPS at 8K which is a damn effort for that card.
Final Thoughts of Death Stranding at 8K
I'll use this last page to explain some of the things I found with testing Death Stranding at 7680 x 4320, or the magical 8K resolution. Before wrapping up my 40 hours of playing around with and tinkering with Hideo Kojima's masterpiece, Death Stranding.
I watched the VRAM consumption on all of my cards when testing and thought I'd include these benchmark metrics as it gives us a good look at what kind of VRAM we need for 8K gaming since it feels like it's right around the corner with these next-gen NVIDIA Ampere and AMD RDNA 2 graphics cards -- and the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, too.
This is something that is often asked: how much VRAM do you need to run 8K -- or 7680 x 4320. There are some instances where games like Control running at 8K will use up to an insane 18GB of VRAM. I should know, I've done the testing -- you can read more about that here.
You can see in my testing that having DLSS 2.0 enabled cuts down on the amount of VRAM used at 8K but a big chunk. Looking at the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti which uses over 10GB of VRAM at 8K without DLSS 2.0 enabled, but under 8GB of VRAM when DLSS 2.0 is enabled to the Quality preset.
The lower-end GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER drops to just 6.7GB of VRAM when DLSS 2.0 is enabled at 8K with it set to the Performance setting.
But wow, that $2499 graphics card in the TITAN RTX just slays -- 11.2GB of VRAM used at 8K without DLSS 2.0 enabled, and 8.5GB of VRAM when it's enabled. Whatever the TITAN RTX is running, you can be sure it'll make sure it kicks the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti's ass, even if it's just by a few frames per second or a little more VRAM used.
Final Thoughts: DLSS 2.0 Is Magic
There we have it: Death Stranding benchmarked not just at 8K, but with NVIDIA's incredible DLSS 2.0 technology enabled. DLSS 2.0 gets its game to shine, so, so brightly in Death Stranding where anyone can see the benefits of a Turing-based graphics card.
Just looking at 8K we see the GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER go from 14FPS to 30FPS at 8K -- this is where next-gen consoles won't even be able to reach with everything cranked to Ultra in Death Stranding like I have here with my testing.
If you knocked down a few settings on the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and enabled DLSS 2.0 to the Performance setting, you can hit 60FPS average without a problem.
8K 60FPS average in Death Stranding on a single GeForce RTX 2080 Ti -- and it's all thanks to DLSS 2.0 technology.
For those that want the ultimate in performance and don't mind paying for it, the TITAN RTX might cost $2499 but it will deliver you the ultimate 8K gaming experience. Death Stranding running at a crazy 50FPS average at 8K with DLSS 2.0 set to the Performance setting. With a visual dial or two adjusted, you're once again talking about 60FPS gaming at 8K thanks to DLSS 2.0 -- incredible.
Without DLSS 2.0, that $2499 TITAN RTX is reduced to just 25FPS, let that sink in.
NVIDIA: I can't wait to see what you do with DLSS 3.0, because DLSS 2.0 in its current form when used well, is nothing short of GPU cheat codes. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start = DLSS 2.0 on steroids.