After eight years of being in development, Cyberpunk 2077 has finally arrived, and we are very excited to see how this futuristic action-adventure game preforms on PC platform. In case you didn’t know, Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG game developed and published by CD Projekt, the same company that made critically acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The story of the game takes place in Night City, an open-world set in Cyberpunk universe. The game received critical acclaim by critics who reviewed PC version, with praise for its narrative, setting, and gameplay, however, the game received criticism for technical issues that were present at its launch.
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Featuring incredibly stylish and detailed futuristic world, Cyberpunk 2077 is an impressively stunning video game. In this article we are going to examine game’s system performance, and offer graphics settings optimization guide for owners of AMD Radeon RX 580, as well as other mid-range 1080P graphics cards such as Radeon RX 5500 XT and GeForce GTX 1650 Super.
Cyberpunk 2077 is powered by CD Projekt Red’s internally developed REDengine4, which is the next iteration of the same engine that powered The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The new engine has been heavily modified and updated in order to support 8K resolution rendering, ray-tracing rendering, better global illumination effects, and other effects featured in Cyberpunk 2077. The REDengine4 was also built with next-generation consoles in mind, particularly PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, in order to deliver jaw-dropping visuals and advanced computer technologies, such as procedurally generated NPCs, AI automation, and dynamic world environment.
Featuring such state-of-the-art technologies, Cyberpunk 2077 is an extremely demanding game, even on PC platform. For achieving smooth 60 FPS gameplay experience on ultra settings most mainstream graphics cards, such as the Radeon RX 580, won’t be enough. In order to examine game’s performance, we have used our standard benchmark PC rig with the following components:
Testing Rig Specifications
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4770 @ 3.4 GHz|
|RAM||16GB (4×4) Kingston HyperX Fury DDR3 @ 1866 MHz|
|MBO||ASRock Z97 Anniversary|
|GPU||Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB|
|SSD||Kingston HyperX Fury 120GB|
|HDD||WD Blue 1TB - WD10EZEX|
|PSU||FSP Hexa+ 500W|
In order to measure how many frames per second can our system achieve, we have used MSI Afterburner tool (ver. 4.6.2) and RivaTuner Statistics Server (ver. 7.2.3). Since Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t have a built-in benchmark tool, our benchmark consisted of running the same arbitrary sequence in Little China District for 60 seconds and then logging the data with the programs we have mentioned above. After finishing each benchmark run we wrote down our average FPS results and later compared them with the results from other runs. For our testing purposes we have used the latest AMD Radeon Adrenalin Edition 20.12.1 driver, as well as Windows 10 x64 Build 1909.
Graphics Presets & Resolution Scaling
Since Cyberpunk 2077 offers plenty of adjustable graphics settings which you may not understand, there are four image quality presets that let you easily adjust game’s graphics quality: Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. Here you can see our 1% low, maximum, and average FPS results at 1080p resolution for each of the mentioned presets:
As you can see, Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t run very well on our test PC featuring Radeon RX 580. Even on Low settings, the Radeon RX 580 wasn’t able to render more than 55 FPS on average, while its 1% low results were around 41 FPS mark. However, we must admit that even on Low preset Cyberpunk 2077 looks very impressive, although we don’t recommend playing the game on these settings, as object level of detail is quite disappointing, and shadows are practically non-existent.
At Medium preset, the game looks much better. In fact, most AAA titles on Ultra settings don’t look so good as Cyberpunk 2077 on Medium preset. Unfortunately, the Radeon RX 580 is too weak to deliver favorable performance even on this preset, since it averages around 43 frames per second, which is lower than the refresh range of most FreeSync monitors available on the market. The 1% low results are also somewhat disappointing, but this is probably related to our aging Haswell-based Intel Core i7-4770 CPU.
On High and Ultra presets the game performs roughly the same. The graphics are truly amazing, but the system performance is unfavorable. The Ultra preset seems to be featuring even better shadows than the High preset, and view distance also seems to be somewhat extended. However, since game runs at about 30 FPS on average on both Ultra and High presets, it is hard to spot any major differences given the fact that image fidelity in both cases is extremely high.
Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 proves to be an incredibly demanding game that will push your old Radeon or GeForce graphics card to its limits. Achieving stable 60 FPS seems like an impossible task for Radeon RX 580 which leaves you with two options – either upgrade your system, or achieve smooth gameplay at 30 FPS (more on that down below).
Since Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t run very good on our test PC rig, after very long time we’ve decided to examine the game’s performance on resolutions lower than 1080p. As you can see in the chart above, even at 720p our Radeon RX 580 wasn’t able to deliver 60 FPS on average on ultra settings. At this resolution game also looked very smudgy, so we don’t recommend even trying to play the game at 720p.
At 900p (1.600×900), the image quality was much more favorable, and average frame-rates were up by 24 percent. Lowering the graphics settings to Medium preset at this resolution enabled us to achieve satisfactory system performance, however, going from 1080p to 900p after numerous years of playing games at Full HD resolution proved to be a difficult task. Luckily enough, we have found a potential solution for making image less blurry by enabling Radeon Image Sharpening through AMD’s driver control panel, and thus making image look more crisper and sharper.
Testing game’s performance at QHD and UHD resolution proved to be pointless, but we still did it for fun. As expected, at 1440p game performed even worse on our Radeon RX 580, averaging around 19 FPS, while at 4K the whole benchmark run became a horrible PowerPoint show, with about 8 still images being shown every subsequent second.
Graphics Settings Performance Impact
After examining the performance of Cyberpunk 2077 on Radeon RX 580 at multiple resolutions and with default graphics presets, we proceeded further with the analysis of each individual graphics option available in Cyberpunk 2077. This phase of analysis consisted of running multiple benchmark tests on ultra preset, but with each separate graphics option disabled or maximally lowered down. After we’ve acquired the results for each graphical setting disabled, we had the ability to compare them with the results while they were enabled. This gave us the opportunity to determine performance impact of each setting on overall frame rate. As a baseline we used ultra quality preset. Here are the results:
Cyberpunk 2077 lets you adjust seven basic graphics settings, and 20 advanced graphics settings. Combined with few other extra options, this game lets you adjust a whooping number of almost 30 individual graphics settings, thus giving you the ability to fine-tune the overall visual experience to the tiniest detail.
As you can see from the chart above, Screen Space Reflections Quality has the largest impact on frame-rate. Turning off this option will improve your average FPS by almost 35%, which we find to be quite a lot. However, instead of turning it off, we recommend at least lowering it down, as this option adjusts lighting reflection on numerous surfaces, and as such makes the game visually very appealing.
Another very expensive option is the Volumetric Fog Resolution. This option adjusts resolution quality of clouds and smokes, but given how demanding it is, we strongly recommend lowering it down as much as possible. Same thing applies to the Volumetric Cloud Quality option.
Turning off Ambient Occlusion will improve your average FPS by 24%, but will make the game look less next-gen. Our opinion is that you shouldn’t turn off this setting, or even lower it down, however, it all comes down to your preferences.
Cyberpunk 2077 comes with a wide variety of obscure graphics settings that don’t produce too much noticeable effects, but still consume a lot of system performance. One such setting is Color Precision, which has an impact of about 17% on average FPS, but is barely noticeable. This setting apparently makes colors look more vibrant, however, we didn’t notice any significant difference between this setting being disabled and enabled. If you have an HDR display, having this option enabled will probably make a huge difference, but for now you should better turn it off, as it’s not worth sacrificing any FPS.
In Cyberpunk 2077 shadows and light are of great importance. Thus, it is no wonder that there are so many different options that let you adjust shadows and lighting quality. To improve your average FPS, we recommend lowering down Cascaded Shadows Range and Distant Shadows Resolution, as these two settings improve the rendering of distant objects, and are thus not too important. Local Shadow Quality is also worth lowering down, but not and disabling, as it will completely disable shadows on nearby objects.
We also strongly recommend disabling Film Grain, as this option induces eye straining, and it even consumes about 13% of your potential average FPS, which we find to be too much. Also, by lowering your Field of View (FOV) from default 80 to 70, you’ll improve you average FPS by about 10%, which isn’t too shabby.
Lastly, by enabling Dynamic or Static FidelityFX options, you can improve your average FPS by a whooping 40%. However, there is a catch. These two options force the game to run at lower resolution that the native resolution of your display. So instead of rendering 1080p image, you can set the rendering resolution to be 900p, or any other resolution lower than 1080p. Dynamic FidelityFX lets you dynamically lower the resolution in order to meet a target FPS, while Static FidelityFX lets you run the game at internally lower resolution for the whole time. In practice, none of these options will grant you 60 FPS on ultra graphics preset with Radeon RX 580, however, they will most certainly improve your average FPS at the cost of making the image a bit more smudgy and blurry. We strongly recommend using Radeon Image Sharpening in addition to these two options to make image more crisper, even though FidelityFX is an AMD-sponsored feature and it comes with its own image sharpening filter.
CPU, RAM & VRAM Usage
Great thing about Cyberpunk 2077 is that it lets you adjust graphics settings on the go, without having to constantly restart the game (like most games made by Ubisoft do). However, there is only one option that you can only adjust while being in the main menu – the texture quality settings. There are three texture quality levels which you can choose: Low, Medium, and Ultra. Here are our system performance results for each level:
As you can see, lowering the texture quality didn’t improve system performance at all. This was to be expected, as nowadays GPUs are fast enough to quickly process high resolution textures, and are only limited by VRAM in that aspect, and not processing power. The only thing that changed during our runs with different modifications of this setting was VRAM consumption. Low and Medium textures consumed about 4500-4700 MB of VRAM, while High resolution textures consumed almost 6000 MB of VRAM. If you own a graphics card with 8GB of VRAM, like the Radeon RX 580, then feel free to leave this option at High settings. If, however, you own a GPU with 6GB of VRAM, or less, consider lowering this setting to Medium or Low.
Since Cyberpunk 2077 proved to be such a highly demanding video game, we’ve also decided to measure CPU and RAM usage on our somewhat outdated gaming PC featuring 4th Gen Intel Core i7-4770 CPU, and 16GB of DDR3-1866 RAM. To get valid results, we’ve decided to measure our CPU and RAM usage in three Night City’s districts that feature different NPC populations, as well as different number of interactable objects and assets. These were the results:
As you can see, our 7-year-old Haswell-based Intel Core i7-4770 CPU still runs Cyberpunk 2077 pretty decently, and doesn’t cause any bottleneck. In Little China district average CPU usage was about 65%, and would go up to 75%, but never crossed 80% utilization mark. In other areas, like Kabuki and Northside districts, average CPU usage was about 50%.
RAM usage was also pretty consistent and favorable. With no other apps working in the background (except default Windows 10 processes and GOG Galaxy), our RAM usage averaged at around 7600 MB, which is quite impressive. With time RAM usage grew a little bit, however, it would eventually decrease, and it would never go above 8500 MB.
One specific setting which we thought would be particularly CPU-bound is Crowd Density setting. This setting can be accessed via Gameplay tab in the main menu, and it lets you adjust how much NPCs do you want to see in the streets. You can either set it to Low, Medium, or High. These were our results for this particular setting in the Little China district:
As you can see, modifying this setting didn’t improve, nor deteriorate our system performance. CPU usage was slightly higher when Crowd Density was set to high, but RAM and VRAM usage remained practically the same. There was also no impact on our average FPS. On low-end PCs this setting probably has much higher impact, as well as on last-gen consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. On PC, you can feel free to set this setting to high, as it will make Night City much livelier place, and streets will be crowded with interesting NPCs.
Here is our opinion: if you already own a 4th Generation Intel 4-core/8-thread CPU, or newer, then there is no reason to upgrade your CPU to play Cyberpunk 2077. Your CPU is just fine. Keep in mind that i7-4770 offers the same performance levels as the Ryzen 5 1600 (just for the reference). If, however, you own a standard quad-core processor with no hyper-threading technology, then you should seriously consider upgrading it. Also, 16GB of RAM is plenty enough to run this game, and you don’t have to overclock your old DDR3 RAM to match the speed of newer DDR4 memory sticks. The only thing you should probably upgrade is your graphics card.
HDD vs. SSD Loading Times
Since Cyberpunk 2077 was designed for next-gen consoles that feature super-fast SSDs, the question arises whether should you install this game on SSD or HDD if you are a PC user. To provide an answer to this question, we’ve decided to test loading times on both SATA3 SSD and conventional 1 TB hard drive. Since loading times of Cyberpunk 2077 vary a lot depending on object density of area you are spawning in, we’ve decided to measure loading times in one densely populated area, and one scarcely populated area. These were the results:
As expected, SSD is clearly able to deliver quicker loading times compared to the conventional 7.200 RPM hard drive. In densely populated areas (like Little China Central Square), SSD is up to 2x times faster than the HDD. However, in scarcely populated areas, loading times for our 1TB WD Blue HDD were quite impressive. In fact, it seems that CD Projekt implemented some kind of new assets loading technology, since Cyberpunk 2077’s loading times are much quicker thanThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s, even on mechanical hard drives.
In our opinion, Cyberpunk 2077 is perfectly playable on an ordinary 7.200 RPM hard drive. There is no negative frame-rate or system performance impact, however, if you want to experience super-fast loading times, and reduce assets loading and texture pop-up as much as possible, then playing this game from an SSD is strongly advised.
Optimal Graphics Settings for Radeon RX 580 @ 1080p/30 FPS (Requires TV with High Interpolation Value)
If you want to play Cyberpunk 2077 on Radeon RX 580 while retaining stunning visuals and 60 FPS frame-rate, then you can abandon all hope. The Radeon RX 580 is too weak to run this game with favorable performance, so you can either buy a more powerful graphics card, or settle with a compromising solution.
Read also: Best Selling Nvidia Graphics Cards in 2020
One such solution is to play this game at 1080p resolution with locked 30 FPS, but it requires a TV with high interpolation value (at least 1000 PQI). This means you’ll have to play this game from a couch, which isn’t too bad idea if you don’t mind it. Getting a high interpolation TV is the tricky part, but if you already own a mid-range or high-end smart TV, then you won’t have to spend a dime, as it probably already features advanced frame interpolation technology. Here are few examples of some affordable mid-range models featuring this kind of tech:
You see, frame interpolation tech is similar to the FreeSync or G-Sync tech that you can find in the latest gaming monitors, although it is much more modest. Most TVs made by Samsung and LG come with frame interpolation tech that allows them to generate additional frames between the existing ones, and thus make video appear smoother and more fluid. For example, if you play a 30 FPS video on high interpolation TV, then the output image will look like its played at 60 FPS.
The same effect can be achieved in order to enjoyably play Cyberpunk 2077. Since Radeon RX 580 can deliver stable 30 FPS performance at 1080p resolution, even on ultra settings, lowering graphics settings down isn’t necessary. All you have to do is connect your high interpolation TV to the back of your graphics card via HDMI or DisplayPort cable, and enjoy the stunning visuals of Cyberpunk 2077. However, even at ultra graphics preset frame-rate can dip to 20 FPS area, so in order to achieve maximally stable 30 FPS for 100% of time, here are the settings we recommend you to use:
|Quick Preset||Ultra (Custom)|
|Volumetric Cloud Quality||Off|
|Volumetric Fog Resolution||Medium|
|Cascaded Shadows Range||Medium|
|Screen Space Reflections Quality||High|
|Dynamic FidelityFX CAS||On|
|Maximum FPS||On (Value: 30)|
With the above settings (all others were set to max.) we managed to achieve very enjoyable gameplay experience on our Samsung UE43NU7190 TV while retaining maximum image quality. We didn’t experience any significant screen tear, nor system hiccups, or stuttering. The game appeared quite smooth, almost filmic, and although it was far from real 60 FPS gameplay, it was nonetheless very smooth thanks to the TV’s high frame interpolation capability. We set the maximum FPS to be locked at 30 FPS, in order to synchronize GPU frame-rate output to the TV’s 60 Hz refresh rate, so the ratio between the two was 1:2. With this setup we were actually able to trick our eyes in order to achieve smooth gameplay experience.
Optimal Graphics Settings for Radeon RX 580 @ 1080p/50 FPS (Requires FreeSync Monitor)
In case you would rather eat a plutonium-filled capsule, then play Cyberpunk 2077 locked at 30 FPS, we have another solution for you. The Radeon RX 580 is too weak to run this game at stable 60 FPS even at lowest settings, however, it is capable enough of running it at medium to high settings with 45-55 FPS on average. Combine it with FreeSync monitor, and you can achieve extremely smooth gameplay experience that will make even PlayStation 5 owners envy you.
Most entry-level FreeSync monitors feature a variable refresh rate range of 45 to 75 Hz, which is enough to achieve smooth and tear-free gaming experience in most high-demanding PC titles. In order to achieve the same thing for Cyberpunk 2077, all you have to do is adjust game’s graphics settings to get at least 45-50 FPS on average in order to match monitor’s variable refresh range (VRR), which starts at 45 Hz. Once you do that, the FreeSync tech will kick in, and you’ll achieve perfectly smooth gameplay experience. Here are the graphics settings we used on our test PC to get the smoothest gameplay possible (without sacrificing image quality too much):
|Quick Preset||Ultra (Custom)|
|Screen Space Reflections||Medium|
|Volumetric Fog Resolution||Low|
|Volumetric Cloud Quality||Off|
|Distant Shadows Resolution||Low|
|Local Shadow Quality||Medium|
|Local Shadow Mesh Quality||Medium|
|Cascaded Shadows Resolution||Medium|
|Cascaded Shadows Range||Medium|
|Depth of Field||Off|
|Level of Detail (LOD)||Medium|
|Max Dynamic Decals||Medium|
|Static FidelityFX CAS||On|
|Radeon Image Sharpening (AMD Driver)||Enabled|
With the above settings (all others were set to max.) we managed to achieve 47-56 FPS on average, with occasional dips to 43 FPS area, but only in graphically intensive situations. Our LG 23MP68VQ-P FreeSync monitor was able to deliver smooth and tear-free experience, which we overall considered to be enjoyable and worth our time. This way we made Cyberpnuk 2077 quite playable, even on our aging Radeon RX 580. Game’s graphics still remained visually stunning, and deterioration of image fidelity was to kept to the minimum.
Graphics-wise, Cyberpunk 2077 is a visually stunning and impressive video game that features breathtakingly beautiful futuristic world that reminds us of the one featured in Luc Besson’s movie The Fifth Element (1997). Speaking of performance on most mainstream PC configurations, Cyberpunk 2077 is an extremely demanding title. Most setups won’t be able to achieve stable 60 FPS on medium settings at 1080p, let alone on ultra settings.
Performance on Radeon RX 580 was somewhat disappointing, but expected. It is a three-year-old graphics card, and is no longer suitable for 1080p gaming on ultra settings. With some fine-tuning, it is possible to achieve enjoyable gaming experience, but only if you own a FreeSync monitor, or high interpolation value TV. Cyberpunk 2077, however, performs quite well on older PC configurations featuring quad-core processors with hyper-threading technology and DDR3 memory. It also runs quite well on ordinary 7.200 RPM hard drives.
In short, if you want to play Cyberpunk 2077 on ultra settings with 60 FPS at 1080p, then purchase a new graphics card, preferably Radeon RX 5700 XT, GeForce RTX 2070, or GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. In our opinion, you don’t need to buy a new 10th Gen Intel Core processor, or AMD Ryzen Series 3000 or 5000 CPU. Of course, newer components will perform better, and won’t bottleneck your graphics card, but Cyberpunk 2077’s performance mainly depends on GPU, and not CPU. For playing this game at 1440p you’d better get a GeForce RTX 3070, and for 4K you can only keep dreaming on, as even the mighty GeForce RTX 3090 is unable to run this game at 60 FPS.
ViCadia’s recommended hardware for playing Cyberpunk 2077:
- AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT on Amazon
- AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT on Amazon
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 on Amazon
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti on Amazon
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 on Amazon
Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 is able to deliver true next-generation gaming experience, to which we are looking forward to. Performance on older hardware is disappointing, but not surprising. With a bit of tweaking, however, it can get enjoyable. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions you would like to ask us, feel free to post in the comment section below.