(Photo: Axville/Unsplash)We’ve been waiting a long time to see how DirectStorage performs in the real world. Forspoken is the first game to support it and it was released this week after a multi-month delay. Now it’s in gamers’ hands and we finally have some numbers to pore over, thanks to some benchmarks a hardware testing site in Germany has posted. They’re not for loading times but for overall performance. As it turns out, offloading asset compression from the CPU to the GPU does impact gaming performance. Your mileage may vary, of course, but in the first tests, it’s up to an 11% penalty in frames per second.
The tests were performed by PC Games Hardware. To test DirectStorage 1.1, it set up a test bench with a Core i9-12900K and an RTX 4090. On the SSD side, they tested three models: SATA, and PCIe 3.0 and 4.0. Oddly, the testers didn’t say which models of SSDs they used for testing. Regardless, DirectStorage doesn’t work with SATA, so we’re able to glean the effects of the asset decompression happening on the GPU instead of the CPU. The tests were run in 4K and showed some clear results.
In an unexpected twist, the SATA SSD offered the highest fps, coming in at 83.2 on average. When switching to the fastest PCIe 4.0 SSD, the average frame rate was 11% slower at 74.4fps. The PCIe 3.0 drive was just as fast as PCIe 4.0, averaging a single fps more on average. Since they only tested at 4K, we don’t know if this situation is the same at lower resolutions. The good news for gamers is the 1% and 0.2% fps averages were essentially the same across all three drives. This would indicate that the player would not notice any performance spikes while playing.
Previously, it was reported that DirectStorage can lead to a huge increase in data transfer speeds. In that test, it was Intel’s GPU that was the fastest, beating out pricier GPUs from AMD and Nvidia. Clearly, more testing is needed across the GPU spectrum. We’d also be curious to see what a PCIe 5.0 SSD could do with Forspoken. Sadly, those drives are not quite ready yet. Also, keep in mind this is just one data point. Another YouTuber named Bang4BuckPC Gamer also has a SATA vs. PCIe 4.0 side-by-side, and in the majority of the scenes, the performance is the same. Sometimes, though, the NVME drive is noticeably faster than the SATA drive.
At this point, we need to see more SSDs and GPUs tested to see what the performance penalty is (if any). Though 11% is a higher number than expected, the game’s frame rate was still well above 60fps and it looks very smooth in the video. We also don’t think the RTX 4090 is the best GPU to test this on, as someone with that card never really has to worry about fps in any game, even at 4K. We’d be curious to see what the impact is on Windows 10 as well, as it has a watered-down version of DirectStorage.
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