The 15 Most Graphically Demanding PC Games

The 15 Most Graphically Demanding

 

15: Grand Theft Auto V

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 – Service Pack 1 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q6600 / AMD Phenom 9850 Intel Core i5 3470 / AMD X8 FX-8350
Memory 4 GB 8 GB
Graphics Nvidia 9800 GT / AMD HD 4870 Nvidia GTX 660 / AMD HD 7870
DirectX DirectX 10 DirectX 11
Storage 72 GB 72 GB

As with any open-world type of game, Grand Theft Auto V has the unique issue of creating a myriad of complex systems that can’t bog down the game’s visual fidelity or performance. The developers have stated that the game can run all the way up to 4K resolution and even above on PC. Getting the full experience will require a high-end computer. That’s impressive, given GTA V was released on PC nearly six years ago.

That being said, just reaching the recommended settings shouldn’t be too hard for most players. GTA V only needs an Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD HD 7870 to run at moderate settings. It’s the budget option, but for players wanting to get the absolute maximum experience, going well above that tier is an absolute must if they want the game to run at a smooth 60 FPS in 1440p or 4K.

14: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K / AMD Phenom II X4 940 Intel Core i7 3770 / AMD FX-8350
Memory 6 GB 8 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7870 Nvidia GTX 770 / AMD Radeon R9 290
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 35 GB 35 GB

The Witcher 3 is still a benchmark for high-end gaming systems, partly due to how many graphical settings you can tweak. If you’re an Nvidia user, you can punish your GPU even further by turning on HairWorks feature to make the characters in the game even more life-like. Moreover, the absolutely massive open world, covered in beautiful textures and illuminated by HBAQ+ light occlusion, makes the game very demanding.

Running The Witcher 3 on anything less powerful than a GTX 770 and a solid processor will result in sub-30 FPS image reproduction. However, even cards like the RTX 2060 and above won’t be set to play this game at over 1440p, especially if they hope to get more than 60 FPS. And don’t even think about turning on Nvidia HairWorks; Geralt of Riva’s flowing hair is a massive strain on most GPUs.

13: Crysis 3

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 or 8 Windows 7 or 8
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64X2 Intel Core i5-750 / AMD Phenom II X4 805
Memory 3 GB 4 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTS 450 / AMD Radeon HD5770 Nvidia GTX 560 / AMD Radeon HD5870
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 17 GB 17 GB

“But can it run Crysis?” That was the most important benchmarking question you could ask during the seventh console generation. The first Crysis showed the world that visual fidelity and mission scope aren’t mutually exclusive, although it came at the cost of optimization. Almost no PC could run the original Crysis at launch. Even today, some PCs still buckle under that game’s weight.

So why is Crysis 3 on here? Well, it’s more graphically demanding than the first, and it’s also much better looking. Don’t let that GTX 560 recommendation fool you: this game will use far more than 1 GB of VRAM. Even throwing an RTX 3080 at this game won’t guarantee a stable 60 FPS at 4K resolution. Keep in mind that Crysis 3 came out in February of 2013, over eight years ago. Even after all this time, “Can it run Crysis?” is still as valid of a question as ever.

Why Not Crysis Remastered?

Crysis Remastered runs terribly on just about every system, regardless of your GPU. This is because Crytek hasn’t reworked the remastered version to use multiple CPU cores, meaning the game has a serious CPU bottleneck. The original version of Crysis suffered from the same issue, hence why it’s notorious for running so poorly. There are other games that demand more of your GPU than the Crysis Remaster, all of which make much better use of your CPU. If you want to test how well your PC can run a Crysis title at 1440p or 4K, play Crysis 3 instead.

It’s also worth noting that there is a Crysis 3 Remastered, requiring slightly higher PC hardware to run. It’s virtually identical to vanilla Crysis 3, except this version supports ray tracing and DLSS. Beyond that, both versions look and perform exactly the same. Play whichever version you prefer.

12: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7.1 – SP1 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i3-2100 / AMD equivalent Intel Core i7-3770K / AMD FX 8350 Wraith
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7870 / Nvidia GTX 660 Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD Radeon RX 480
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 45 GB 55 GB

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided set the bar for graphical fidelity when it was released back in 2016. Eidos Montreal’s Dawn Engine is notorious for its GPU-hungry performance, requiring 6GB of VRAM when using ultra settings. The visual improvement is certainly worth it, delivering a photorealistic cyberpunk dystopia that can only be matched by Cyberpunk 2077.

11: Metro Exodus

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-4440 / AMD equivalent Intel Core i7-4770k / AMD equivalent
Memory 8 GB 8 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 670 / 1050 / AMD Radeon HD 7870 Nvidia GTX 1070 / RTX 2060 / AMD RX VEGA 56
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 12
Storage 59 GB 59 GB

Metro Exodus features the fabled real-time ray tracing technology support to use the full potential of the new Nvidia graphics card lineup. Players planning on running the game on lower settings might have issues, as the game offers only a few possible tweaks to improve performance for lower-grade systems.

Benchmarks by PC Gamer on lowest settings reveal an average of under 60 FPS on anything worse than a GTX 1070. Cranking everything up to the max is going to require an RTX card like the 2060 or above. It’s not the most performance-heavy FPS on the market, but Metro certainly rewards powerful PCs with jaw-dropping visual fidelity.

10: Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K / AMD Phenom II X4 940 Intel Core i7 3770 / AMD FX-8350
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7870 Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 580
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 70 GB 90 GB

Foliage. That’s the word that’s probably going to be on your mind as your overpriced system struggles to push out 60 FPS in this game. Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s Dunia engine is actually based on the engine developed for the notorious Crysis. It carries over that engine’s breathtaking visuals and equally breathtaking PC requirements—ranging from high-end GPUs to a solid chunk of disc space.

The system requirements for this game make little sense. Despite allegedly needing a GTX 1060 graphics card and a solid processor (and we can’t forget the necessary 16 gigs of RAM), those running GTX 1080Ti’s will still experience frame dips during play. Even RTX cards struggle to play this game at higher resolutions.

9: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i3-3220 / AMD Equivalent Intel Core i7 4770K / AMD Ryzen 5 1600
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia 650TI / AMD R7 250x Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 480
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 12
Storage 40 GB 40 GB

The latest chapter in Lara Croft’s story is more visually stunning and diverse than ever. The previous game was no piece of cake when it comes to system requirements, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider continues the tradition.

Even at mediocre refresh rates, you won’t be able to enjoy this game with anything less than a GTX 1060 graphics card combined with the brainpower of something like an i7 4770K processor. Its performance does scale quite well when pushed to higher resolutions, but you’ll still want a 20 or 30 series RTX card from Nvidia to squeeze out as many frames as possible. This game is benchmarked frequently for a reason.

8: Forza Horizon 5

Three cars going off-road during a thunderstorm in Forza Horizon 5
Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 10 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel i5-4460 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Intel i5-8400 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD RX 470 Nvidia GTX 1070 / AMD RX 590
DirectX DirectX 12 DirectX 12
Storage 110 GB 110 GB

Forza Horizon 5 is one of the most stunning games released in 2021. Beautiful lighting, realistic car models, and incredible weather effects all make for one of the best-looking racing games you can find. It also makes for a rather demanding PC title.

The recommended GPU for Horizon 5 is a GTX 1070, quite a large leap from Horizon 4’s recommended GTX 970. And that’s just for 1080p resolution running at 60 FPS. As reported by Digital Foundry, if you want to push Horizon 5 into 4K territory, you’ll want at least an RTX 2080ti or an RTX 3070. You’ll also want a stronger CPU like the R5 3600 to maintain a solid 60 FPS during this game’s more performance-heavy races.

7: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Minimum

(Low, 1080p, 30 FPS)

Recommended

(High, 1080p, 60 FPS)

OS Windows 10 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-4460 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Intel Core i7-6700 / AMD Ryzen 7 1700
Memory 8 GB 8 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 960 / AMD R9 380 Nvidia GTX 1080 / AMD Vega 64
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 50 GB 50 GB SSD

Ubisoft’s latest Assassin Creed game is, unsurprisingly, the most demanding of the series. The absolute minimum GPU required to run this game is a GTX 960, and that’s for 1080p resolution at 30 FPS on low settings. For 60 FPS on high settings, you’ll need a GTX 1080 or better. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given Valhalla’s open-world nature, yet it’s when you crank up the resolution that these requirements get extreme.

If you want a smooth 1440p experience at 60 FPS with no frame dips, you’ll need an RTX 2080ti or a 30 series GPU, as reported by Digital Foundry. A solid 60 FPS at 4K resolution—mimicking what the PlayStation 5 outputs—is going to require an RTX 3080 or 3090 with a high-end CPU from AMD or Intel. Even then, expect a few frame dips during performance-heavy cutscenes.

6: Red Dead Redemption 2

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 – SP1 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K / AMD FX-6300 Intel Core i7-4770K / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Memory 8 GB 12 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 770 / AMD Radeon R9 280 Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 480
DirectX DirectX 12 DirectX 12
Storage 150 GB 150 GB

Now that everyone’s favorite western adventure of 2019 has been released on PC as well, it’s time to talk about its flaws. Despite being an amazing game on console, its PC port was far from stellar. Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC is plagued with stuttering and FPS dips, even if you meet the recommended specs.

The recommended requirements aren’t anything to laugh about either. For Nvidia users, a GTX 1060 or above is absolutely crucial for a great experience. AMD users will need to opt for a Rzen 5 1500X or above to get such results. Much like GTA V, Red Dead Redemption 2 chews through RAM, requiring 12 GB to run smoothly. Should you meet those requirements, you’ll get to experience the most visually impressive Rockstar game to date.

5: Far Cry 6

Far Cry 6 Key Art

Minimum

(30 FPS)

Recommended

(60 FPS)

OS Windows 10 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-4460K / AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Intel Core i7-7700K / AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 960 / AMD RX 460 Nvidia GTX 1080 / AMD RX Vega 64
DirectX DirectX 12 DirectX 12
Storage 60 GB 60 GB

Far Cry 6 is the most demanding Far Cry title yet, requiring a GTX 1080 and Ryzen 5 3600X to reach 60 FPS at 1080p resolution. If you want to play this game at 4K resolution, you’re going to need a whopping 16 GB of VRAM, meaning you’ll need an RTX 3090 to play this game at 4K. You’ll also need a powerful CPU to push this game to higher resolutions or a target FPS of 120 or higher.

4: Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 Cover
Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-3570K / AMD FX-8310 Intel Core i7-4790 / AMD Ryzen 3
Memory 8 GB 12 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 780 / AMD Radeon RX 470 Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / GTX 1660 Super / Radeon RX 590
DirectX DirectX 12 DirectX 12
Storage 70 GB 70 GB

You’re going to need a fairly powerful PC if you want to explore Cyberpunk‘s Night City. This game chews through your system memory, requiring at least a GTX 780 and 8 GB of RAM to play on minimum settings. If you want to bring out the beauty of Cyberpunk’s dystopian setting, you’re going to need at least a GTX 1060 (6GB version) and 12 GB of RAM.

Even with those specs, Cyberpunk will struggle to maintain a consistent framerate at times. And if you want to play this game at 4K with 60 FPS, forget it. Even the best PC specs can’t maintain that frame rate consistently. Fortunately, Cyberpunk has quite a few settings you can tweak to maximize your performance. Digital Foundry has an excellent guide on how you can increase this game’s performance with minimal visual impact.

3: Final Fantasy XV

Minimum

(720p 30fps)

Recommended

(1080p 30fps)

OS Windows 7 – SP1 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500 / AMD FX-6100 Intel Core i7-3770 / AMD FX-8350
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 760/1050 / AMD Radeon R9 280 Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / Radeon RX 480
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 100 GB 100 GB

In 2018 we finally got to see Final Fantasy XV on our desktop monitors. But this port came with a price: utilizing top-notch graphics and some of the most stunning graphics and advanced physics (GameWorks technology), the game will truly test your system’s mettle.

We’re still baffled by the required 155GB free space to play this game in 4K – that’s right, you’ll need 155 GB of storage space to play this game at its highest settings. And even then, we can’t guarantee 60 FPS with anything tamer than an RTX card and 16 GB of RAM. A GTX 1060 (6GB) is recommended for this game, but that recommendation is for 1080p resolution at 30 FPS. No matter how you spin it, FFXV is a seriously demanding game on PC.

2: Project CARS 2

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 – SP1 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5 3450 / AMD FX-8350 Intel Core i7 6700k
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics Nvidia GTX 680 / AMD equivalent Nvidia GTX 1080 / AMD Radeon RX480
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 11
Storage 50 GB 50 GB

Hands down one of the most stunning autosport games out there, Project CARS 2 improves tremendously on its predecessor. The graphics are completely photo-realistic, and the fact that you need at least 50 GB of free space to even install this game should be a testament to the amount of detail it includes.

However, it’s the CPU that’s getting the lion’s share of the work in this game. Project CARS 2 puts major emphasis on simulation rather than arcade racing, placing quite a bit of strain on your PC’s CPU. That’s why the processor recommended to run Project CARS 2 is a hefty i7 6700K, along with a high-end GTX 1080 graphics card. And that’s just for 1080p.

1: Control

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7 (64-bit) Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-4690 / AMD FX 4350 Intel Core i5-7600K / AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
Memory 8 GB 16 GB
Graphics NVIDIA GTX 780 / AMD Radeon R9 280X NVIDIA GTX 1660/1060 / AMD Radeon RX 580
DirectX DirectX 11 DirectX 12
Storage 42 GB 42 GB

Control is hands-down one of the most GPU-intensive video games ever released on PC. This game’s crowning achievement—at least visually—is its implementation of ray tracing. Environments and particle effects are drop-down gorgeous while RTX is on, but this comes with a heavy price—both metaphorically and literally.

You need an RTX 2060 or better GPU to use ray tracing. Considering just how good RTX’s implementation is here, it’s well worth the GPU requirement. DLSS is also available on the RTX series of cards, drastically improving performance for this title.

You can also play Control without an RTX card, yet that is also rather demanding. A GTX 1660 is recommended for non-RTX users, which is still a fairly powerful card. No matter how you look at it, Control is one of the most graphically demanding games on the market currently.

 

64 thoughts on “The 15 Most Graphically Demanding PC Games

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