Game Benchmarks stub

Evolve Graphics Benchmark – GTX 980 vs. 290X FPS & More

Posted on January 17, 2015

In Left 4 Dead-like form, Evolve reintroduces the concept of monster vs. humans multiplayer gameplay with high-fidelity graphics. 2K's soon-to-be released “Evolve” has already been analyzed by us a few times, but now we're returning to specifically benchmark the game's PC FPS performance. 

This Evolve GPU FPS benchmark tests the game on Very High (max) and Medium settings, pitting some of the best graphics cards against one another. On our Evolve graphics bench, we tested the GTX 980 vs. the GTX 780, 770, 750 Ti, & R9 290X vs. the R9 285, 270X, R7 250X, & HD 7850. Once we got past the FPS limitations (resolved easily, as explained in an upcoming guide), testing Evolve was fairly easy and unrestrictive.

NOTE: This game is in BETA. Although it is near completion, results could be significantly improved prior to launch as GPU manufacturers move to finalize drivers specific to Evolve. The same is true as 2K continues to implement optimization patches.

Evolve Max Graphics Gameplay & Benchmark 

(For users experiencing mouse lag or framerate / FPS caps in Evolve on PC, we've posted a quick guide to potential fixes here).

Evolve Graphics Technology 

Evolve doesn't necessarily introduce any major technological revolutions for video game graphics. The game looks gritty and is extremely well-detailed, though the settings are largely items we've encountered before: Texture resolution, shader quality, anti-aliasing, and items of that nature.

The game makes use of high-poly models for the player characters – given the overall minimal count of active player models in the game – and features dynamic, destructible environments. A critical component of Evolve's gameplay is the means through which the monster interacts with the environment; as such, foliage moves and sways with the monster's heavy steps, demanding more physics processing than perhaps some other titles.

Test Methodology

The above is a video overview of our benchmarking course, nothing more. We followed an identical path during each test to replicate the procedure on each video card. The video shows Evolve at its maxed-out settings (“Very High”) on PC, including SMAA 2X, and operates at close to 120FPS (well over the 60FPS minimum playable framerate). This video was recorded using a GTX 980, as it's our most powerful GPU available on the bench.

We ran an identical 120-second circuit in Evolve's monster tutorial for each test. Combat was relegated to the few sequences during which the player kills and scavenges animals. Framerates during the later combat against the Hunters saw almost identical framerate performance, but was harder to replicate to a science, so we left it out of the data collection in spirit of consistency.

We tested Evolve on “Very High” and “Medium,” both at 1080p.

Note that this game is still in closed beta for PC. Although its launch deadline is fast approaching, this is not necessarily a perfect representation of performance expectations upon launch. As GPU manufacturers develop and ship drivers, and as 2K clears-up optimization and bugs in this round of testing, you can expect marginal performance increases closer to launch.

NVidia 347.25 press drivers and AMD Catalyst Omega drivers (latest update) were utilized for all testing. FRAPS was used to capture gameplay benchmark data. FRAFS was used to analyze and interpret this data, which was then placed into a spreadsheet.

GN Test Bench 2013NameCourtesy OfCost
Video Card

(This is what we're testing).

XFX Ghost 7850 
GTX 750 Ti 2GB SuperClocked
GTX 770 2GB (we used reference).
GTX 780 Ti 3GB
AMD R9 290X 4GB (from CyberPower)
ASUS R7 250X 1GB
MSI R9 270X 2GB (we used reference).
GTX 980 4GB
XFX R9 285 2GB

CPUIntel i5-3570k CPU
Intel i7-4770K CPU (alternative bench).
Memory16GB Kingston HyperX Genesis 10th Anniv. @ 2400MHzKingston Tech.~$117
MotherboardMSI Z77A-GD65 OC BoardGamersNexus~$160
Power SupplyNZXT HALE90 V2NZXTPending
SSDKingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSDKingston Tech.~$205
Optical DriveASUS Optical DriveGamersNexus~$20
CasePhantom 820NZXT~$130
CPU CoolerThermaltake Frio AdvancedThermaltake~$65

The system was kept in a constant thermal environment (21C - 22C at all times) while under test. 2x4GB memory modules were kept overclocked at 2133MHz. All case fans were set to 100% speed and automated fan control settings were disabled for purposes of test consistency and thermal stability.

A 120Hz display was connected for purposes of ensuring frame throttles were a non-issue. The native resolution of the display is 1920x1080. V-Sync was completely disabled for this test.

A few additional tests were performed as one-offs to test various graphics settings for impact.

The video cards tested include:

Evolve Benchmark: GTX 980 vs. 780, 770, R9 290X, 270X

Below are both graphs from our benchmark.



The GTX 980 ($550) ran Evolve as 106FPS average with an 85FPS during its 1% low periods (the worst framerate output of 1% of total bench time, averaged). We believe 1% low is a significantly better statistic than the minimum FPS output, which could potentially be an outlier during testing. Still, both are listed for those who'd like all the data.

The GTX 780 operated at roughly 85FPS average, which is close to where a GTX 970 would be; unfortunately, we don't presently have a GTX 970 available for this benchmark, but its performance tends to rank close to the GTX 780.

After this, AMD makes an appearance with the R9 290X – brother to the extremely affordable R9 290 at $265 – clocking 72FPS average. The more recent architecture found in the R9 285 ($230) granted the card 64FPS average, landing it just above our playable minimum of 60FPS with one of the best cost-to-performance ratios.

NVidia's GTX 770, now deprecated as the GTX 970 ($340) has taken its place, remained playable and smooth at 60FPS, but had noticeable dips during gameplay that could be jarring to some users.

As for low-end hardware, the previous-gen HD 7850 struggled to hang-on at 52FPS with medium settings; if you're stuck on a 7850 (the 2GB model would perform better than this one), running low settings will allow a playable experience at the sacrifice of visual quality.

Owners of the 750 Ti may have to give up on playing Evolve with any semblance of a quality experience, as it struggles even on low settings (without dropping resolution further).

Surprise: No Major Frame Drops or Micro-Stuttering

For once, we're happy to report that no major stuttering or frame output lag (beyond what is usual for low-end hardware) was experienced during our Evolve benchmark. It appears that, given the hardware we tested with, the game is fairly stable and performs reasonably.

Conclusion: Best Graphics Card for Evolve

We'd like to have seen Evolve playable on a GTX 750 Ti and AMD 265, but it looks like this one will require closer to the 270 and 760 (or similar forthcoming cards) for modest framerates at a lower budget. For users who demand max settings at 1080p, we'd recommend anything from an R9 270X ($170) and up on AMD's side or anything from a GTX 970 ($340) and up on nVidia's side (or potential forthcoming video cards).

As for users who don't need the best graphics quality, settling for “medium” at 1080p will permit the R9 270 ($145) and GTX 760 (or forthcoming cards) to play.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.