Fallout 4 Retested HBAO+ Performance Impact

Fallout 4 Retested HBAO+ Performance Impact

Fallout 4 Retested HBAO+ Performance Impact


We always want to see how a new game performs at max settings, but when games are constantly updated to add more and more visually impressive features, from high resolution texture packs to even entirely new features like PhysX or new AA options. 

Fallout 4 has just received a new Beta update which has added HBAO+, an Nvidia made technology which improves upon existing Ambient Occlusion techniques, creating more realistic shadows and greater definition.

Nvidia’s HBAO+ used a physically-based algorithm to generate highly realistic shadowing, performing much better than Nvidia’s older HBAO tech, while delivering a better visual quality. In this article we will be testing Fallout 4 with and without this new technology on both AMD and Nvidia’s flagship GPUs, seeing exactly how much impact the effect has upon the game. 


Test Setup  

We will be testing this game on our dedicated GPU test rig using the current flagship GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia. Both GPUs will be the reference design and will be ran at stock settings with the most recent drivers. 


AMD R9 Fury X & Nvidia GTX 980Ti
Intel Core i7 6700K
ASUS Maximus VIII Hero
G.Skill Ripjaws 4x4GB DDR4 3200MHz
Corsair HX1200i
Corsair H110i
Windows 10 x64 

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Nvidia GTX 980Ti (Left), AMD R9 Fury X (Right)


Test Scene

We will be testing the game inside Diamond City, an urban area where there will be a lot of shadows from both people and buildings, making it the perfect testing ground for this effect. We will be testing the game at a resolution of 4K. 

Please do not compare this to our previous Fallout 4 testing, as this is using a different area of the game and as such is incomparable to these new test results. 

This test is between SSAO on vs HBAO+ on. The new Nvidia only Weapon Debris effect was turned off here, so that both platforms were treated fairly. 


Fallout 4 Retested HBAO+ Performance Impact  


As you can see in the graph above the new HBAO+ effect does have a notable performance impact on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs, with Nvidia taking the largest impact when the effect is turned on, which is pretty strange for an Nvidia optimized game. 

When turning on HBAO+ Nvidia’s GTX 980Ti has a 16.5% performance impact whereas AMD’s R9 Fury X has a mere 9% performance impact when it comes to average framerate, though we will have to bear in mind that this feature is still in beta and as such may need to be optimized for each platform or have it’s impact reduced with future drivers. 

With HBAO turned on at 4K Nvidia and AMD give a very similar experience, which is not that great at 4K. You will need to use lower settings to get that magic 60FPS, but you will need to turn off more than HBAO+ to do so. 

This feature is still in beta and as such likely has a larger performance impact now than what it will be when it is officially added to the game, especially if AMD or Nvidia release new optimized drivers. 

We will retest this new graphical feature when it is officially patched into the game. 


You can learn more about HBAO+ here. 


You can join the discussion on Fallout 4’s HBAO+ performance on the OC3D Forums.