Grand Theft Auto V put to the test

After the first release in autumn 2013 for last-gen consoles and last year for current-gen consoles, the time has come: Grand Theft Auto V has also made it to the PC. Despite the advanced age of the actual game, the developers have worked hard to deliver an appealing PC title for 2015. We have of course made the PC version and are now delivering a detailed test and technical considerations.

Intro

On April 14, 2015, the GTA V, which means “Big Car Theft”, found its way to the PC. Since the first release two years ago, the game has been improved a lot, recently including first-person mode and the heists - bank robberies.

In addition, the PC version of the hotly anticipated game should make a lot of graphics. The developers took their time to do this and the fans were patient. But was it worth the wait? We are now trying to clarify precisely this question in our test and also show how demanding GTA V can be for PC hardware and which adjustment screws can perhaps be changed in order to be able to enjoy the game smoothly.

Bookmark blockbuster games

GTA V - details

Story

Four cronies rob a bank and want to make big money. The plan was successful, all they have to do is escape. But two are killed in the rapid escape. Trevor and Michael are now on their own and must somehow escape. But Michael also seems to be caught, and Trevor has to leave him and his loot behind. However, he manages to escape ...

Nine years later: Franklin is an employee of one of the most important car dealers in the fictional state of Los Santos. His job now is to steal a car for his boss. He succeeds in doing this, but he did not expect the car owner's father, who was hiding in the back seat. Michael, believed dead, is now forcing Franklin to drive the car into his boss's shop.

This is exactly what fires him, but develops a friendship with Michael. Because of debts, he goes back into business and a short time later also robbed a bank with Franklin. But Trevor Wind, who now lives outside of town, also gets from this. This immediately starts looking for him.

This was only a brief glimpse into the history of GTA V, which is ultimately an interplay of these three main characters, which can all be played. The story itself is not first class, but often motivates by its narrative style and various options to continue playing. In English with German subtitles and swear words every ten seconds, this may not be to everyone's taste, but it does make for a few laughs. And with a playing time of 20 to 30 hours for the pure story - without side missions - nobody can complain.

GTA Online

In this own GTA play area, the player creates a character, more precisely a criminal, and is then released into the wide world of Los Santos again. There is no real story waiting for you here, although you will occasionally meet characters from the campaign, such as Trevor.

The idea behind it is that you as gangsters have to keep your head above water with jobs. With this you earn money and can buy cars, weapons and other bells and whistles or simply put a bounty on another player. Races or deathmatches, for example, are available as missions.

The Heist missions are also interesting. This translates as “bank robbery”, but it is not always such a thing, but rather a planned cooperative mission. For example, it is a matter of freeing a prisoner from prison, whereby each step is planned and the individual players are assigned certain roles, including "demolition master". But there are also bank robberies. They play similarly to those in the story and are very reminiscent of Payday, but are much more entertaining and better staged.

So one can say that the GTA online mode can still bring a lot of activity and variety if the story gets too boring.

Flair and implementation

As already mentioned, GTA V takes place in Los Santos, which is a huge game world that is completely open to the player. It has a strong USA flair, the surroundings are reminiscent of states like Florida, but Las Vegas and its desert-like regions can also be recognized. Ultimately, Los Santos remains a fictional island, and it is precisely this that limits the open-world title. There are no bridges to the mainland and there is also no plane that takes us away from the island.

After activation, the player chooses between the three characters Franklin, Michael and Trevor, who all have slightly different abilities. However, this has little effect on the flow of the game and can also be offset by various skill-enhancing actions. For example, the player can ride a bike to improve endurance.

Otherwise there are the story missions, which can only be played by certain characters, but bring them all together, and a small handful of side missions. To cope with this, the player can buy weapons, steal and tune cars and, in principle, do whatever he wants.

Because the variety of possibilities in Los Santos is huge, although the side missions are also limited. Parachuting, flying planes, going by boat or car, going to the hairdresser or the strip club - there are no limits. This is also expressed in the language riddled with swear words, which is practically a trademark of GTA V.

The attention to detail is also noticeable in the animations, for example in the way a dog moves or people do yoga - Los Santos looks more lively than almost any other setting in a video game. The first-person implementation of the game is also interesting. In this case, basically only the camera is placed on the head of the player from the third-person view, so that he can observe every step of his figure from a first-person perspective. For example, in contrast to Call of Duty in GTA, there are no invisible hands when climbing a ladder.

Initial mistakes

While we weren't confronted with any noticeable errors on the gaming test station, we were then plagued with NVIDIA graphics cards on the graphics card test station. We experienced various crashes during the many necessary restarts and were confronted with error messages such as "ERR_GFX_D3D_INIT". Google became our best friend after that and entertained us for many, many hours. We studied command line options that could help us out in parts. But we want to go into this again separately.

The error message just mentioned is well known on the web, and you can - without an official solution on the part of Rockstar Games - spend hours with advice and information from users in the official forum.

There is advice on setting options, such as turning V-Sync or demanding settings. Advice is given to only start up in windowed mode or to downclock the GeForce graphics card. As nonsensical as the latter seemed to us, that's exactly what we had to do with our Inno3D GeForce GTX 970. After we had throttled the clock to NVIDIA's averaged Boost specification of 1.178 MHz, the game finally started on this system. However, the problem cannot be linked to the GPU, since our Palit sample, as well as our MSI sample from a GTX 970, could not reproduce any problems at all.

Even with other NVIDIA graphics cards from our test inventory, we initially no longer encountered this error message, but instead encountered recurring crashes. We cannot determine with certainty whether this is ultimately due to the NVIDIA driver or GTA V. Since the game crashes with none of our AMD graphics cards with the last beta driver, we currently suspect a driver problem with NVIDIA.

Graphic implementation and hardware requirements

Get in

In the meantime, GTA V and especially the PC version has already received several praise for its beautiful graphics. Our first impression looks a little different here.

We have to praise the attention to detail of the developers, which is reflected in the cars, the people and the processes involved. Sunsets, the car headlights at night and the lighting effects in general are wonderful to look at. But these are also the highlights of the graphical sheen of GTA V.

The really half-hearted textures caught our eye. Even on the highest setting, these cannot be described as contemporary and can disrupt the flow of the game for a graphics enthusiast a little. But this is only our first impression. Let's take a closer look at the graphics settings.

Anti-aliasing

Grand Theft Auto V offers extensive setting options here, but we can first say that the formation of stairs at edges or even a tendency to flicker there in GTA V is clearly limited and in most cases you could be satisfied with the post-processing filter FXAA .

In addition, one must also note that GTA V with maximum activated game details is very hardware-hungry in many scenes, so that activating correct anti-aliasing options such as MSAA or NVIDIA's TXAA simply eats up too much performance. In urban areas, where the game is CPU-limited in most cases, a fast system often still has enough power to work with double or quadruple multisampling. However, in areas where a lot of vegetation is shown, a GTX 980 in Full HD even bends its knees, which our later benchmarks will show.

In addition to MSAA and TXAA, SSAA can also be activated in GTA V, but not directly in the options, but only via the command line. Due to the described hardware hunger of the game, we disregarded the option.

Graphics settings - selection options

GTA V first recognizes the existing system and the graphics card and makes its own default settings. With the graphics card, for example, this is also dependent on the main memory. Some options cannot be increased in the game if, for example, there is only a graphics card with 1 or 2 gigabytes of main memory in the computer. GTA V only allows all settings to be activated from 4 gigabytes. We do not want to discuss further at this point how useful this is. However, we were able to help each other out via command lines and still persuade the game to activate all the desired options even with graphics cards with 2 gigabytes. That didn't lead to massive dropouts or jerks. We observed a maximum graphics memory usage of around 3,3 gigabytes.

GTA V does not offer pre-selection options such as low, medium, high etc. The setting options for the optical quality can be found in the individual options in the menu items "Graphics" and "Extended graphics".

Shadow

While setting options for the shadows in GTA V can already be found under Graphics (normal / high / very high), there are two more options for the shadow display under "Advanced Graphics" Long shadows and High resolution shadows.

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

Depending on the scene in the game, the maximum possible details in the shadow display can seriously jolt the performance. The really best display is achieved in a combination of “high-resolution shadows” and “shadow quality: very high”, which means that we lose 970 frames per second on a GTX 18 graphics card.

GTA V as a PC variant was developed with the help of NVIDIA's Gameworks program. In addition to the already mentioned option TXAA in the area of ​​anti-aliasing, GTA V also offers a special setting option in the area of ​​shadows, namely Percentage-Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS).

NVIDIA technology allows shadows to be displayed realistically softer. Of course, this function can only be activated in the system with NVIDIA graphics cards.

Textures

While GTA V can shine in many areas with the graphics, no great effort has been made with the textures, especially the ground textures. Changes to this option of normal leads over hoch up to very high File

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

This menu item and its options therefore hardly place any demands on the hardware and especially the graphics card.

Grass quality

It looks completely different with the grass display point. GTA V once again offers the usual options of normal to very high, but here also the setting Incredibly which then brings with it an immense hardware hunger for vegetation.

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

The “Normal” option should be avoided if possible. As our screenshot shows, grasses and details are simply not shown in order to conserve performance. Even with the setting "High" one saves one or the other detail, but already has a very good result, which is again slightly surpassed by "Very High". The “Ultra” option leads to the best result, but then also eats up too much power for what is offered and should only be used on high-end systems. One should not forget that the service descriptions here only refer to a full HD resolution. If we only switch to the next higher resolution of 970 x 2.560 pixels in this system with the GTX 1.440, this does not lead to a smooth gaming behavior in similar situations.

Reflections

The reflections in GTA V create a very atmospheric and impressive image, which makes the game appear very pretty. Fortunately, even the maximum setting “Ultra” is not too demanding.

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

We would always prefer the Ultra setting - viewed over many scenes in the game - especially because the associated loss of performance is relatively small. With weaker systems, you should definitely use the "High" option.

water quality

The implementation of water surfaces is unfortunately not one of the strengths of GTA V. All in all, the display is still okay. However, it should not be regarded as a really performance-demanding characteristic.

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

If you only set the setting option to normal, the reflections on the water surfaces in particular are lost - this should of course be avoided. As a rule, there should be little to be said against using the setting “Very high”.

In addition, there are a few other options in the graphics menu, but these are not very performance-hungry and we therefore don't want to go into any further details here.

Command line options

If you just want to play GTA V offline in story mode, for example, you will first fail because of the obvious options. If you want to switch on some graphics options in this game with a graphics card with 2 gigabytes of main memory, you will also fail because the game reports that there is not enough memory available. There are a few other things that don't really seem logical about GTA V, but at least the manufacturer has integrated some command line options that can help in many cases.

All you need is the file in the main directory of the game commandline.txt, which is not available after regular installation, but can be created manually using a simple TXT file.

Command lines are then simply inserted one below the other in this text file and indicated by a hyphen - an example of a few commands that are automatically adopted by the game:

    • -scOfflineOnly
    • -width 1920
    • -height 1080
    • -grassQuality 5
    • -ignoreDifferentVideoCard

With the first call, we start the Rockstar Social Club, for example, exclusively in offline mode (alternative: disconnect network connection!). With the second and third calls we determine the resolution of the monitor. With the fourth call, we automatically set the setting option for the grass display quality to Ultra, which cannot be selected in the game with a 2 gigabyte graphics card, for example. With the fifth call, we get GTA V not to check again which graphics card is in the system when changing graphics cards, since otherwise the game will simply make default settings unknown.

We offer a list of the command line options found below:

  • General game settings
    -UseAutoSettings Unnecessary option as this is the default setting
    -goStraightToMP Immediately start the game in MP mode
    -safemode Starts the game in Safe Mode with minimal details
    -uilanguage Sets the language setting for the game
    -useMinimumSettings In principle the same / similar behavior as Safemode
    -frameLimit Should enable a frame rate limitation, but did not work here
    -fullscreen Forces the game to start in full screen mode
    -windowed Forces the game to start in windowed mode
    -height Screen resolution image height
    -width Screen resolution image width
    -scOfflineOnly Starts Social Club in offline mode and leads straight to the story
    -benchmark Starts the game in benchmark mode
    -benchmarkFrameTimes Starts the game in benchmark mode and outputs the frame times
    -benchmarkPass Individual benchmark scenes can be selected
    -benchmarknoaudio Disables audio output in benchmark mode
  • Hardware settings
    -DX10 Game starts in DirectX 10 mode
    -DX10_1 Game starts in DirectX 10.1 mode
    -DX11 Game starts in DirectX 11 mode
    -keyboardLocal Sets the keyboard layout to a specific region
    -mouseexclusive Game can only be operated via mouse / keyboard
    -ignoreDifferentVideoCard New graphics card is ignored in the auto settings
    -disableHyperthreading CPU hyperthreading is not used
  • Graphics settings
    -noInGameDOF Disables DOF ​​effects
    -shadowSoftness Selection options: linear, rpdb, box 4 × 4, soft 16
    -ssa Activates SSA
    -SSAO Setting options 0-2
    -anisotropicQualityLevel Setting options 0-16
    -cityDensity Setting options 0.0–1.0
    -fogVolumes Activates light / weather effects
    -fxaa Setting options 0-3
    -grassQuality Setting options 0-5
    -lodScale Setting options 0.0-1.0
    -particleQuality Setting options 0-2
    -particleShadows
    -postFX Setting options 0-3
    -reflectionBlur
    -reflectionQuality Setting options 0-3
    -shaderQuality Setting options 0-2
    -shadowLongShadows
    -shadowQuality Setting options 0-3
    -tessellation Setting options 0-3
    -textureQuality Setting options 0-2
    -waterQuality Setting options 0-1
    -txaa Enables NVIDIA TXAA

In the setting options, it should also be mentioned that 0 basically stands for off or the smallest variant and the highest value for the maximum setting option. If you read the options carefully, one or the other will certainly notice settings that the game does not offer in its official options. We haven't tried all of them. Some of the tested options worked immediately and very well, others did not - at least we did not get the desired reaction.

The commands are certainly not complete either - we are sure that Rockstar knows a few more that are not mentioned. In any case: Use these commands at your own risk, even if we were not able to catch any problem areas in the game. But as I said, we haven't tried everything.

System requirements & special features

Anyone who lends a hand to Grand Theft Auto V should make it clear that they meet the minimum system requirements of the game. In this case the operating system should not be older than Windows Vista 64 bit. In addition, 4 GB of system memory is the minimum. Rockstar provides at least a two-core processor as the processor, but only uses four-core models in its names: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 or AMD Phenom 9850.

You shouldn't start with an NVIDIA 9800 GT or an AMD HD-4870 graphics card with 1 GByte. Last but not least, you also have to scrape together a whopping 65 GB of hard disk space for the game, which in a download version also has to be downloaded uncompressed! Many users with poor internet connections will simply have to fall back on the compressed DVD offers.

Key data Grand Theft Auto V
publication April 14, 2015 (PC version)
Genre Open world action
Developer Rockstar North
Publisher Rockstar Games
Age rating From 18 years ago
Graphics engine RAGE engine
DirectX path 11
game modes Single player & multiplayer mode
- -
System requirements (minimum):
Processor Intel Q6600 or AMD Phenom 9850
random access memory 4 GByte
graphic card DX-11 graphics card similar to NVIDIA 9800 GT or AMD HD 4870 (1 GByte)
65 GB hard disk space
Windows Vista 64 bit
Internet connection for activation
System requirements (recommended):
Processor Quad-core CPU from Core i5-3470
random access memory 8 GByte
graphic card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 with 3 GByte memory
- -
Copy protection Steam / Rockstar Social Club activation - account-bound
Available platforms Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
Download size on Steam (approx.) 65 GByte
steering Keyboard, mouse or game controller

It's funny what Rockstar writes down in its minimum / maximum recommendations. So we found the specification of a Radeon HD 4870 with 2 GB. Typically these were available with 512 MB main memory, optionally and more expensive with 1 GB. We absolutely do not remember 2 GByte versions. Under the recommended conditions, we read something about a GTX 660 with 3 GB of main memory - also the actual exceptions in the market and absolutely not in relation to the actual performance of the graphics card.

Therefore, the information can be classified as incomprehensible and difficult for the user.

CPU requirements and graphics memory

Let's start with the CPU requirements. Our system has a Core i7 processor from Intel with four cores. In the typical course of the game, we usually only see a load of 40 to 60 percent, distributed over four CPU cores. GTA V for the PC can certainly be described as optimized for four CPU cores.

In extreme situations, however, it also happens that the CPU load on all four cores shoots up to 80 to 90 percent.

Resolution: 1.920 x 1.080 pixels

Our screenshots show this very quickly. A four-core processor is always preferable to a two-core model, if you look at GTA V. But a powerful two-core processor is still able to handle the game, provided that you turn the many adjusting screws of the game.

The reference to 3 GB of graphics card memory does not really make sense to us either. The faster 2 GByte representatives could do their job quite well and we then saw a graphics card memory filled with 2.000 MByte, often below it. The game didn't turn into a jerk orgy, but it took a little longer here and there, which is implemented so well on the software side that it doesn't affect the flow of the game.

Recommendations

However, all of this requires that you influence the various game setting options. If you select the smallest recommendation "Normal" in the settings and above all leave your fingers on the additional anti-aliasing in the game, you can barely get through with a dual-core CPU and a 1 GB graphics card. It will probably not always be fluid, and you will by no means experience graphic splendor. On the whole, however, the title can still be experienced fairly nicely, because anyone who uses such aged systems hardly knows the optics better.

Our recommendation is clearly to use a mid-range graphics card with 2 GB of GDDR5 main memory (no DDR3). We're thinking of a Radeon HD 7800 or an R9 270, both in the starting price range of 150 euros, or a GeForce GTX 660 or 960 in the price range between 180 and 200 euros. A powerful dual-core model should be available as the CPU - an Intel Core 2 Duo from around 2,8 GHz should be sufficient here. In this case you will be able to enjoy GTA V with more appealing graphics with medium levels of detail.

If you want the maximum enjoyment and if you group yourself into the image fetishist sector, then we are immediately at enthusiast level when it comes to the requirements. A Radeon R9 290 or a GeForce GTX 970 is mandatory here. A quad-core processor from Intel with the power of a Core i5-2400 to 2500 is also popular - the higher the better.

But then all of this only relates to the Full HD resolution. If you want to play it in full detail, you can hardly get over even faster CPUs and graphics cards. A Titan X* could be one approach, maybe also a dual GPU combination of two high-end graphics cards. But even the Titan X becomes too thin to breathe in Ultra HD aka 4K, as the following benchmarks will show.

Benchmarks

In-game test scene

GTA V

1680 x 1050 [No AA / 16xAF]

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

43,5
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

37,1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

36,0
AMD Radeon R9 290X

34,5
AMD Radeon R9 290

32,7
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770

30,2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960

27,5
AMD Radeon R9 280X

26,1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

25,1
AMD Radeon R9 285

22,7
AMD Radeon R9 270X

21,3
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti

18,0
FPS
GTA V

1920 x 1080 [No AA / 16xAF]

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

39,5
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

33,9
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

33,9
AMD Radeon R9 290X

30,9
AMD Radeon R9 290

29,1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770

28,1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960

25,9
AMD Radeon R9 280X

24,7
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

23,7
AMD Radeon R9 285

21,5
AMD Radeon R9 270X

20,1
FPS
GTA V

2560 x 1440 [No AA / 16xAF]

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

33,2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

29,1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

28,0
AMD Radeon R9 290X

26,4
AMD Radeon R9 290

25,2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770

23,3
AMD Radeon R9 280X

22,6
AMD Radeon R9 285

19,7
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

19,5
FPS
GTA V

3840 x 2160 [No AA / 16xAF]

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

20,6
AMD Radeon R9 290X

16,8
FPS

Although AMD also delivered a suitable beta driver (version 15.4) at the start of GTA V, the performance diagrams speak for themselves. Grand Theft Auto V runs in the NVIDIA frameworks program, and AMD has a hard time implementing similarly optimal settings in the driver. We cannot say whether this happens in the following drivers. It simply takes time and investment in developer work to catch up with the NVIDIA models.

NVIDIA's favorite, the GTX 750 Ti as a bread-and-butter card, cannot shine, even with 2 GB of main memory, even below 1.680 x 1.050 pixels. Nothing works here with maximum details. And under 4K resolution with maximum details without anti-aliasing, nothing works in the AMD or in the NVIDIA camp. A Titan X could perhaps still make a difference here, but only if the options are manually reduced.

Depending on the environment in which you move, GTA V kills small graphics cards with maximum game details and makes the big ones work up a sweat.

Summary

Overview GTA V
tension +
Idea +
playing time ++
Fun ++
Constant motivation ++
MP: Fun to play ++
MP: constant motivation +
Graphic implementation / options +
Download size
Initial mistakes +

Ratings: ++ [very good] / + [good] / o [satisfactory] / - [very bad] / - [bad]

Manufacturer's website Price PC version: from approx. 55 euros

With Los Santos, Rockstar has created a huge, beautiful playground with extensive possibilities, which rewards GTA fans for the long wait for the PC version. What we missed a little is more diversity in the side missions. But GTA V also comes with an extensive story that players can be occupied with for 20 to 30 hours. This is neither cinematic nor instructive or profound, but despite everything well told and with humor - just a typical GTA. However, if you don't speak English or don't believe in a flood of swear words, you should consider buying this game.

IntroThe usual GTA gameplay as a mixture of action, shooter and car racing plays out smoothly, and the optional first-person perspective can be described as successful. Graphically, the game is particularly impressive with its lighting effects and shadows, but weakens in the area of ​​textures. This also applies to the online part. The character creation there is not as extensive as in Skyrim, for example, but definitely sufficient. The online mode is fun, and the newly introduced heist jobs are another treat that will add a few hours more fun to the game.

In summary, it can be said that lovers of this genre will get their money's worth at the current price of just under 50 euros. Finally, there is a complaint for the just over 60 GByte download volume when purchasing the digital version. Anyone who has poor internet quality in a specific location should clap their hands over their heads here. The only thing left here is the retail version, which comes with DVDs for installation and then subsequently installs the patches online.

[dog & pg], May 13, 2015

Article attachment

Test environment

Software:

  • Windows 7 64-bit, including all updates
  • Intel chipset driver 9.2.3.1022
  • DirectX 9.0c (June 2010 Update)
  • Audio driver (Windows 7 integrated)
  • ASUS AI Center II driver for Marvell caching function

When it comes to graphics card drivers, we naturally use the latest version available from the respective graphics card manufacturer.

Hardware:

New test system - introduced with ACU

The newly introduced test system is valid from today's starting signal for the Assassin's Creed Unity test. We have long considered whether we should take this step at all. According to the requirements of the last titles like Lords of the Fallen or Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, we fear that more titles of this kind will come our way. And since we also want to create an overview of the optical possibilities with our system, we had to upgrade the system towards a high-end gaming station.

The most important components are as follows:

Let's be clear: The system shown really cannot be classified in the low cost area, and if you only want to change the components CPU, main memory, graphics card and mainboard, you unfortunately have to pay between 800 and 900 euros. With this, however, you are equipped for everything that may come - except for the special case of "shit programmed"!

Beyond these components, the descriptions below remain. We use a 50 GB Corsair SSD for caching and a be-quiet! Power supply as a stable and quiet power supplier.

Previous test system

Picture Gallery

About David Maul

David Maul is a qualified business IT specialist with a passion for hardware