Metro Exodus PC Performance Review – RTX On!

Metro Exodus PC Performance Review - RTX On!

Conclusion – Should You Jump on the Metro Train?

4A Games in a way has taken up the mantle that was previously held by the Crysis series, pushing forward with demanding graphical options and visuals that truly push PC gaming forward. This is an admirable accomplishment, but it also means that their games release with many graphical settings that will likely go unused by most gamers for several hardware generations. 

Metro Exodus can be a demanding game, but the PC version offers more than enough scalability to deliver great visuals and high framerates on even today’s mid-range systems. This game can even make an RTX 2080 Ti cry, but thankfully you are not obligated to play the game at Extreme settings.   

Settings-wise, most PC gamers should settle for High settings, where the game offers its best graphics to performance ratio, keeping effects like screen space reflections turned on, while delivering a respectable performance profile. Higher settings push the game hard, offering noticeable boosts in quality, but also a large enough framerate dip in performance to not be worthwhile to most PC users. 

The game’s extra options like Tessellation, HairWorks and Advanced PhysX are nice to have, but most PC gamers should avoid these settings, unless you own a system with sufficient headroom to make running such options feasible. Even at High Metro Exodus can tax ultra-high-end gaming PCs, so moving past that will likely require future era graphic hardware, or a tolerance for low framerates. 

On the CPU-side Metro Exodus isn’t a huge performance hog, at least under the game’s High quality settings. We noticed that the game runs better on Intel processors, but performance isn’t exactly bad on our Ryzen 1st Generation CPU. Both systems stayed at over 60FPS, which is all you really need from your CPU. Perhaps Ryzen’s performance would increase with AMD’s Ryzen 2nd Generation processors, but sadly we cannot test that with our current crop of hardware. 

One of the killer features of Metro Exodus is the game’s use of Nvidia RTX Ray Tracing using Microsoft’s DXR API, as well as the game’s use of Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology. On the topic of Ray Tracing (see page 7), we can see that 4A Games’ Ray Traced Global Illumination technology has a profound impact on the look of Metro Exodus, adding to the game’s rich atmosphere while providing more accurate lighting to the entire game. Shade is now where it should be and creeping through the shadows now looks exactly as it should. Metro Exodus’ use of real-time ray tracing shows us exactly where the future of gaming is. 

Before speaking about DLSS, we will note that we used Nvidia’s 417.71 drivers, at Nvidia’s request, making it possible that the company’s DLSS implementation may improve before Metro’s launch, perhaps with a new Game Ready Driver. With this in mind, we will state that we fully expect DLSS to get better with time, especially as more gaming data is fed into Nvidia’s Supercomputer.

Metro Exodus’ stock look is sharp, and Nvidia’s DLSS, at the time of writing adds a little extra blur to the scene. The performance gain at high resolutions is there, especially when used with Ray Tracing, but on our 43-inch 4K game testing screen we could spot the difference. This problem will be lessened on smaller 4K screens, or with future updates to Nvidia’s DLSS algorithm, but at least Nvidia’s promised performance improvements are present. 

With all things considered, we’d say that 4A Games’ PC system requirements for Metro Exodus are pretty accurate, though the high-end recommendation of an i9-9900K may be a little exaggerated.

When testing Metro, we decided not to use the game’s built-in benchmarking utility, as we felt that it did not represent in-game performance. Our test run is a demanding scene that sits in the game’s Caspian area, offering minimum framerates that are representative of several of the game’s more demanding stages, while providing an average framerate that most of the game will sit at or exceed. This is how we feel gaming benchmarks should be. Bear this in mind when viewing our results. 

For 4K 60 gameplay an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Ti is needed, and even then demanding scenes within the game will pose a challenge at High or above settings. Metro is a demanding game, and other GPUs will need to use lower in-game settings or use the game’s resolution scale settings to reduce the game’s resolution to something more achievable.    
At 1440p resolutions, an RTX 2070 or GTX 1080 Ti seems like a solid recommendation, or AMD’s RX Vega series or the like of an RTX 2060 or GTX 1070 Ti if you are can tolerate dips below 60 in demanding scenes or are okay with lowering some settings.

Even at 1080p Metro Exodus can be demanding on PC hardware, and AMD’s Radeon RX 580 and Nvidia’s GTX 1060 remain strong choices here, staying at over 60FPS in most situations using Metro Exodus’ High quality setting and none of the game’s additional graphical effects. For a steadier 60 at these settings, a higher-end GPU like a GTX 1070, RX 590 or RX Vega 56 may be a better bet. 

For those on lower-end graphics hardware, we recommend that 1080p player have a GPU at least 3GB of VRAM and higher resolution players have at least 4GB of VRAM. We ran into some performance issues with our 2GB Radeon R9 380 and GTX 960 graphics cards, which means that it may be time for users of 2GB GPUs to upgrade or make do with some graphical sacrifices and low framerates. 

It is hard to summarise our thoughts on Metro Exodus, the game is demanding, don’t get us wrong, but the game is scalable enough to allow even moderately priced gaming systems to offer a great experience. Another thing that’s worth noting is that the game’s low setting looks great, slight blur and all (see page 4) and high-end GPU users, and future gamers, will be able to benefit from a wide range of stunning graphical effects that can be added to the experience. 

On the topic of RTX, Metro Exodus shows us exactly what is possible using Ray Tracing, delivering lighting that far exceeds that is available without Nvidia’s RTX graphics card, adding a lot to the game’s atmosphere, but at a high hardware cost. Thankfully DLSS helps to claw a lot of this performance back, though we would like to test DLSS with Nvidia “Game Ready” drivers and across more games before we come to a definitive conclusion on the technology. 

– Update – The Quality of DLSS in Metro Exodus has greatly improved after the game’s February 21st patch. Our thoughts and several image quality comparisons for DLSS are available to read here. 

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