Division 2 Setup, System Requirements, and Performance

Division 2 Setup, System Requirements, and Performance

Division 2 Setup, System Requirements, and Performance

The past few months have been a great time to release major games. From the unexpected release and great experience of Apex Legends, to Anthem’s tragic song (not really), to the post-apoc Metro Exodus tour, and more, we’ve been through a lot.However, I’m just one person and can’t benchmark everything. But I tested the beta of The Division 2 in February, and with the final game here, it’s time for a full update.

The good news is that performance is about 15% better on average compared to the beta, which is always good. It’s likely to improve further over time, but given the impressive level of detail in the DC environment and other areas, not to mention a mature game engine, I don’t expect much to change in the future. Also, please note that The Division 2 is an AMD promotional game, which means that when you launch the game, along with the AMD Ryzen/Radeon launch flag, it is more likely to be tuned to run best on AMD graphics hardware good. AMD CPUs, I’ll get to that later, but as long as you have a 6-core or better processor, basically the performance is fine.

Words About Our Sponsors

As our partner for these detailed performance analyses, MSI provided the hardware we needed to test The Division 2 on a range of different AMD and Nvidia GPUs, multiple CPUs, and several laptops – full details, and For our performance analysis 101, see the article below. Thanks, MSI!

The Division 2 has a lot of great features, but it really falls short. Two big issues are the lack of modding support and custom FoV. Aside from a few revamped mods from the original The Division, you’re basically stuck with what Ubisoft has to offer, and that probably won’t change with the sequel. It’s typical of a heist shooter, though, so if you’re a fan of the genre, that’s what you’ll pay.

Vision is more of a problem. If the FoV is too narrow, some people get headaches or motion sickness, so locking it isn’t ideal. There’s certainly an anti-dominant point of view (forcing everyone to have the same field of view limitation), but this isn’t a competitive shooter that I feel compelled to do. Also, games automatically adjust the FoV based on your resolution and aspect ratio, so ultrawide monitors already have an advantage (in theory).

But at least there are tons of graphics settings where you can unlock the frame rate (or lock it to anything from 30-200 fps), and it supports every resolution I’ve tried. There’s also a photo mode, and the UI is automatically hidden (most of it if you want), but there’s no way to completely disable the UI outside of photo mode.

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Wow, so many settings!

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Are you still reading this! ?

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Division 2 setup overview

There are many – I mean, one a lot of– You can adjust graphics settings in The Division 2, 25 of them are exact (this is before things like resolution, rendering API, etc. are calculated). But often, the visual and performance impact of many settings is slight at best. I just grouped everything that affected performance under 3% into one big group and focused the setup discussion on things that really helped improve framerates. I’ll also skip the lengthy description of most settings, as the game provides them.

The following graphics settings have little impact on performance (see the 1060 6GB and 580 8GB charts above): touch shadow, sharpen, Particle detail, reflection quality, Vegetation quality, subsurface scattering, Parallax mapping, depth of field, lens flare, vignette effect, Chromatic aberration, Projection Texture Resolution, high resolution sky texture, and Terrain quality. Some of them are a bit surprising, like the reflection quality, others are not. There are 14 settings that only make a small difference in appearance and performance if you’re going to keep the score. Turning all of these settings down to the lowest level only improved performance by around 4% compared to the Ultra preset. Wow!

In addition to this, there are seven settings that result in only modest (less than 10%) performance changes: shadow quality (5%, although setting it to “very high” reduces performance by 10%), point shadow (6-8%), point shadow resolution (6%), Anisotropic filtering (6-8%), Ambient Occlusion (5%), extra streaming distance (7-8%), and water quality (5%). Again, turning all 7 parameters to the lowest level can improve performance by about 30%. It’s a bigger jump, but only overall. There are only three settings left to increase frame rates more significantly, but at the expense of image quality.

Part 2 Exotic Guide

Volumetric fog (12%) determines the rendering quality of the fog volume, used for things like divine light and other effects. This can have a pretty severe impact on frame rates, and many people don’t think the presence of “fog” matters, so if you’re looking to improve performance, it’s a good no-no. (This has less impact on release builds; in beta, it improves performance by 28%.)

Object Details (13% vs ultra’s default setting of 60) is the last, a better name might be object pop-in. Set this to 0 and The Division 2 almost feels like a pop-up book. The viewing distance was severely reduced on many objects, and the level of detail in foliage and other objects was reduced, and I found the results to be very distracting. I personally prefer to set it to 100, but this slows down performance by 5-6%.

and Resolution ratio, which renders the game at a lower internal resolution, then scales up the result (while keeping the UI at the target resolution). I usually prefer to adjust the resolution directly, but you can set it to 50% to improve performance by 15-20%.

MSI provided all the graphics hardware used to test The Division 2, including the latest GeForce GTX and RTX cards. All GPUs come with a modest factory overclock, which in most cases provides about a 5% performance boost over the reference model.

My primary testbed uses an MSI Z390 MEG Godlike motherboard with an overclocked Core i7-8700K processor and G.Skill’s 16GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. I also ran additional tests on other Intel CPUs, including the stock Core i9-9900K, Core i5-8400, and Core i3-8100. AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X processors (also in stock) use the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC, while the Ryzen 5 2400G was tested in the MSI B350I Pro AC (as the M7 has no video output). All AMD CPUs also use DDR4-3200 CL14 RAM. The game runs from a Samsung 860 Evo 4TB SATA SSD on the desktop and an NVMe OS drive on the laptop.

I used the latest Nvidia 419.35 and AMD 19.3.2 drivers to test these results. Future driver updates and patches may change things, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

Tested Nvidia graphics cards

The Division 2 graphics card performance


Division 2 is good because it has OK DirectX 12 support. It’s probably thanks to all the work done in the earlier games that was carried over – unlike Hitman 2 (for me) which dropped DX12 for reasons unknown. I did a moderate amount of testing with the DX11 and DX12 APIs and found that DirectX 12 performed better in most cases.

There are exceptions: Nvidia GPUs smaller than 4GB, including the GTX 1050, GTX 1060 3GB, and GTX 970, perform best in DX11 mode. My guess is that the DX11 driver does a better job of managing VRAM when there is a limited amount of VRAM available, although there may be other factors. I’m using DX12 on all AMD GPUs and all Nvidia GPUs except the 1050, 1060 3GB and 970 mentioned above.

Our standard GPU testbed was used for most of these tests (see boxout on the right), but I also tested with multiple CPUs and some laptops. I use a high-end CPU for GPU testing, isolating graphics performance, and using a high-end GPU for CPU testing, isolating CPU performance. What does it take to hit 60fps or even 144fps in The Division 2? Let’s find out.

All devices with GTX 970 and above average 60 fps or higher, but you’ll need at least a GTX 1060 to keep the minimum speed above 60 fps. You may also need a faster CPU (see below). Medium quality looks much better than low quality and includes a 75% resolution scaling and other tweaks to improve performance. However, budget cards and older GPUs may want to drop to the low preset, as this will increase frame rates by around 75%. This should be enough for any recent graphics card to exceed 60fps.

What about 144fps, as it’s becoming more popular (and for good reason, apparently)? All GPUs occasionally fell below 144fps, but the RTX 2060 and above averaged at least over 144fps. Combine it with a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor and you’ll get the smoothest gaming experience possible.

AMD’s R5 2400G, on the other hand, struggled with the Vega 11 graphics card at medium 1080p resolutions, but dropping down to low resolutions of 720p made the game very playable. Meanwhile, Intel’s UHD Graphics 630 only averaged 32fps at low 720p, and you’d need to run it in DX11 mode, as I had a desktop crash before getting to the main menu in DX12 mode.

Ultra quality reduces performance by nearly half on slower GPUs, while higher performance cards still work fine. You can average 60fps on all devices with the new GTX 1660 and above, and the upcoming (and still very popular) GTX 1060 is a bit short. If you want to keep your minimum fps above 60, you’ll need at least a GTX 1070.

As for 144fps, only the RTX 2080 Ti (or Titan RTX) can break that bar, although Vega 64 and above are at least close to 100fps or better. Again, G-Sync and FreeSync are a great addition if you want to smooth out the feel of your game and avoid tearing and stuttering.

Take a quick look at AMD vs. Nvidia performance, AMD outperforms many other games in The Division 2. Not a big difference, but the Vega 64 is basically tied with the GTX 1080 (usually Nvidia is around 5% ahead), and the RX 570/580 are ahead of the GTX 1060 3GB/6GB by 7% and 17% respectively (by comparison I’m basically tying them in overall performance rating in 13 games tied).

1440p super quality obviously requires a powerful GPU, 1070 Ti and Vega 64 are minimum requirements for 60fps. Lowering the quality can also help other graphics cards reach playable framerates if you prefer resolution and framerate over image quality – e.g. running at 1440p low can almost triple your framerate (depending on your graphics card) ), so GTX 970 and above are theoretical…

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Wilbert Wood
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