Saints Row PC Performance Review

Deep Silver last week released the latest part of the Saints Row series (which is also a reboot of the franchise), Saints Row. Powered by Volition’s in-house engine, now is the time to compare it and see how it performs on the PC platform.

For this PC performance review, we used an Intel i9 9900K with 16GB of DDR4 3800Mhz, Radeon RX580, RX Vega 64, AMD RX 6900XT, GTX980Ti, RTX 2080Ti, and NVIDIA RTX 3080. We also use Windows 10 64-bit, GeForce 516.94, and Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 22.8.2 drivers.

Saints Row CPU Scaling

Volition has added numerous graphics settings to tweak. PC gamers can adjust the quality of textures, shadows, water, effects, global illumination, and more. The game also comes with a field of view slider and supports Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion. However, Saints Row does not currently feature any AI enhancement techniques. according to a amd slidehowever, a future patch will add support for AMD FSR 2.0.

Saints Row-1 Graphics SettingsSaints Row-2 Graphics SettingsSaints Row-3 Graphics Settings

Saints Row does not have any built-in reference tools. For this reason, and for our tests, we used the desert area right after the prologue mission of the game. That area seemed to be one of the most demanding areas we could find, so consider the following benchmarks as stress tests. We also reduced our resolution to 800×600 for our CPU benchmarks (in order to avoid potential GPU bottlenecks).

To find out how the game scales across multiple CPU threads, we simulated a dual-core, quad-core, and hexa-core CPU. And surprisingly, the game does not require a high-end CPU to be able to enjoy it at high frame rates. Even our simulated dual-core system (without Hyper-Threading) was able to provide 90+ fps on high settings.

Saints Row CPU Benchmarks

Now, while Saints Row is light on its CPU requirements, it’s really heavy on its GPU requirements. For gaming at 1080p/Ultra settings, all three of our main GPUs were able to deliver a consistent 60fps experience.

Saints Row-1 GPU Benchmarks

At 1440p/Ultra, our NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080Ti was unable to deliver a consistent 60fps experience. As for 4K/Ultra, there was no GPU that could come close to a 60fps experience. And that’s without even using the game’s ray tracing effects.

Saints Row-2 GPU Benchmarks

Fortunately, gamers can significantly improve performance by adjusting the game’s graphics settings. By lowering our settings to High, we were able to get a 50fps experience on our RTX3080 at 4K. And, by lowering our settings to Medium, we were able to get a consistent 60fps experience at that resolution.

Saints Row Graphics Settings Benchmarks

Now, before we go any further, we need to mention some technical issues that we have experienced. For starters, the game currently suffers from numerous unoptimized scenes. Take, for example, the following screenshot. This scene, even at 800×600 (and that’s on High settings, not even Ultra) was stressing our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. Truth be told, we got 158fps but that’s at 800×600 and High settings. We also experienced some annoying flickering issues and saw some flickering shadows on the ground. Speaking of shadows, there are BIG pop-up shadow issues, even on Ultra settings. Ultra Shadows also have a huge impact on performance, so we suggest turning them down to High.

Saints Row reference scene

As stated, Saints Row supports Ray Tracing Ambient Occlusion. And, to our surprise, these Ray Tracing effects are not that heavy. Not only that, but they can significantly improve the graphics of the game. Below you can find some comparison screenshots between the ray traced version (left) and the rasterized version (right). The final comparison, in particular, shows how RT AO can significantly improve in-game visuals.

Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-1Ray Tracing of Saints Row Off-1 Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-2Ray Tracing of Saints Row Off-2 Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-3Saints Row Off-3 Ray Tracing Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-4Saints Row Off-4 Ray Tracing Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-5Ray Tracing of Saints Row Off-5 Ray Tracing of Saints Row On-6Ray Tracing of Saints Row Off-6

What is also fascinating here is the impressive performance of the AMD Radeon RX 6900XT when enabling these RT effects. Contrary to other games, the Saints Row RT AO seems to run slightly faster on the AMD 6900XT than on the NVIDIA RTX3080. This may be the first time we witness something like this.

Saints Row-1 Ray Tracing LandmarksSaints Row Ray Tracing Landmarks-2

Graphics-wise, Saints Row feels like a mixed bag. For one thing, the game has amazing lighting and global illumination effects. Not only that, but there are numerous destructible objects (FINALLY). The game also compiles shaders before you start a mission, which means you don’t suffer from any stuttering issues. And, luckily, its ray tracing effects aren’t that demanding, so we recommend enabling them. However, Saints Row has major and ridiculous physics bugs (for example, you can literally destroy a truck with a… bike), character models are outdated, and their environments feel lifeless.

All in all, Saints Row is in an average state at the moment. The game suffers from some unoptimized cutscenes, and Volition will have to fix a lot of things through some post-launch updates. The mouse controls also felt weird, so I don’t really know what’s going on with the K&M controls. And while the game doesn’t require a high-end CPU, its visuals don’t justify its high GPU requirements!

John Papadopoulos

John is the founder and editor-in-chief of DSOGaming. He is a PC gamer and is very supportive of the indie and modding communities. Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a staunch PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved, and still loves, 16-bit consoles and considers the SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won out over the consoles. This was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a graduate thesis on “The Evolution of PC Graphics Cards”.
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