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Digital Foundry: Project CARS Performance Analysis (PS4/XB1)

bombshell

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Oct 23, 2013
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Initial test article is up.

We intend to look into Project Cars visuals in greater depth with the upcoming Face-Off, but certain points bear mention right now. Firstly, Xbox One still retains a curious advantage in texture filtering, where static screens show PS4's roads blurring over at a closer proximity. Added to that we also see the same motion blur effect on PS4 as before, with moving objects producing an unusual banding behind them - while Xbox One's blur is more refined. Even on update 1.01, these are two areas that remain unchanged from when we last saw Project Cars in action, and similarly, PlayStation 4 retains a quality advantage in its rendering of shadows.
- Career mode, dry weather performance:

In terms of performance, the game has its high and low points. Depending on which modes you play, and how you prefer to set up your race, Project Cars hits either a clean 60fps without trouble, or tumbles down to the mid-30s with tearing - this being the very worst case scenario when pushing for the highest car count and rainy weather. To start off, we play things out the way Slightly Mad Studios intended, via the career mode. Here we have events that pre-determine the track, number of cars, time of day and weather conditions in advance, all of which sets up a fair test between PS4 and Xbox One.
A frame-rate analysis of Project Cars' career mode. With races capped at 20 cars, both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One mostly hold 60fps in dry weather, though dips to the mid-40s are apparent when rain effects are introduced.
Video: [60fps] Project Cars PS4 vs Xbox One Career Mode Frame-Rate Test

- Career mode, wet weather performance:

However, as clear skies turn to rain, it becomes apparent both consoles have an Achilles heel in their handling of weather effects. The greater the downpour, the bigger the drop from 60fps, and neither gets off lightly once the switch happens mid-race. With no other driver in sight, a cruise around a soaked Brands Hatch circuit has the final bends run at 45fps on Xbox One, while PS4 takes the lower end of 50fps. And once the pit-stop and stands are in view, this number goes even lower still, where both drop to the 40-50fps range, while the cadence of tearing becomes increasingly more aggressive.
- Stress-test, solo mode custom race, wet weather, max car count (45):

The side-effect of pushing the engine to such an extreme is a bizarre one: the differential we see between PS4 and Xbox One in most races begins to disappear. With all vehicles visible ahead on Le Mans, both consoles lurk around 35fps on this circuit as we pass the stands, and frame-rates remain neck-and-neck until we cross the finish line. Given the PS4's strengths on the GPU side, there is an evident trail-off in its benefits with so many cars on screen. In this case, a CPU bottleneck is the likely culprit given the commonality in this area between the two consoles.

By comparison, tracks like Imola and Azure Coast show a clear PS4 advantage, even with the car count cranked up to a lesser 31 and weather effects engaged. In this case Sony's platform glances the 30fps line only briefly as its very worst case, while Xbox One slips just below it. Elsewhere the margin is as wide as 15fps in favour of PS4, and the heavy alpha effects used for rain sees the Xbox One buckling more noticeably. It's an expected outcome given the sheer scale of the task, and impressive in the context of what Project Cars is doing over and above other console racing games.
Bumping the car count up to 45 is an excellent stress test for both PS4 and Xbox One. Using the solo mode to push for maximum cars on the track, Sony's machine is just ahead on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit to start - but it's clear both struggle when rain effects are also introduced.
Stress-test video: [60fps] Project Cars PS4 vs Xbox One Gameplay Frame-Rate Stress Test

- Graphical effects on/off tests:

Very slight tweaks to performance are possible by adjusting Project Cars' post effects menu. Using a bottled replay, we compare two separate runs side-by-side; one with all effects enabled, the other without - the latter of which brings a lead of around 2fps on average.
Video: [60fps] Project Cars PS4 Post-Effects On/Off Frame-Rate Test

All in all, it's fair to say Project Cars' final console build is equipped to hit 60fps in its career mode races, though the consistency of this falls hugely on its weather settings. As with our initial hands-on, heavy rain is still the cause for the most sizable drops to 50fps and lower, while races with clear skies hold much closer to the target 60fps. It's also evident Xbox One struggles to match the PS4's performance levels in most scenarios, especially with a conga line of cars in tow, where Sony's platform typically takes a firm lead.
More here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2015-project-cars-launch-performance-analysis
 

Skii

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Sep 22, 2014
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I don't get it. If the Xbox has more CPU available for developers, why doesn't it have the same or better framerates than the PS4 in all scenarios?

EDIT: Wow, that is going to be so disorientating. It's hitting mid 30s in the rain. How can reviewers give this a good score on the consoles when it can't maintain anything close to 60fps as a sim racer?
 

Gipsy Danger

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Nov 26, 2013
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I don't get it. If the Xbox has more CPU available for developers, why doesn't it have the same or better framerates than the PS4 in all scenarios?
Because CPU isn't always the reason for low framerates?

That stress test looks rough. Thought this game would've ran silky smooth on consoles.
 

Handy Fake

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I don't get it. If the Xbox has more CPU available for developers, why doesn't it have the same or better framerates than the PS4 in all scenarios?

EDIT: Wow, that is going to be so disorientating. It's hitting mid 30s in the rain. How can reviewers give this a good score on the consoles when it can't maintain anything close to 60fps as a sim racer?
 

danowat

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Aug 30, 2014
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Hmmmm........

XB1 gets better AF, again, PS4 blurring / banding is bad.........
 
Apr 22, 2009
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PS4 has its framerate issues but it has a clear lead over the Xbox Ones framerate which is all over the place add to that the lower resolution its not great for MS.

This is one game that makes me wish I had a better PC
 

Xer0

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May 8, 2013
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Sub 30-fps in a game that's supposed to be locked at 60 is pretty rough.

That being said, I doubt I'll spend much time in races with that many cars.
 

stryke

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Seems like some improvement in X1 performance, but other than that it doesn't really give an impression that much has changed since the last analysis.
 

Carn82

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Jan 15, 2014
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I don't get it. If the Xbox has more CPU available for developers, why doesn't it have the same or better framerates than the PS4 in all scenarios?
because less is more.

on topic, probably a combination of:
- some of those extra CPU-cycles are needed to balance GPU-shortcomings
- it needs more CPU-cycles for X compared to cycles needed on the PS4 for X (various kinds of OS and/or Networking overhead)
- the extra CPU-power doesnt amount to much in reality.
 

cackhyena

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May I ask why? Just curious. I assume friends on that platform? Which would be fair enough.
Usually the answer would be friends, but not in the case of a racing sim. It's the controller preference, along with the fact that as I look at those videos, I see numbers moving and that's it. I'm not as sensitive to drops if it isn't something chugging, so it's not detrimental to me to see it dipping the way it does. When it comes to shooters and racing, I just prefer the controller, overall.

Come to think of it, maybe I should just get it on PC, since I can use the XB1 controller. I have an i5 3570k and a 670, though. Not sure what kind of performance and visuals I'm looking at with that setup.
 

Inoa_K

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is there a 30fps lock option on consoles? I know its not ideal for a sim racer but would be neat if the framerate is inconsistent for races with rain. maybe in a patch ?
 

danowat

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Weren't they banding around big performance increases between the version that DF first tested, and the release version?.
 

SgtCobra

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lol the achilles heel of the PS4 is back, AF.

To be fair, they are both performing quite terribly.
That's not gow it works though, when you're comparing the performance of two things then it's pretty clear that the one who performs the best is the clear winner.
 

Vinsanity.

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Usually I laugh at the "pre-order cancelled" posts...but I'm seriously thinking about cancelling my pre-order on this one. :(
 

Gipsy Danger

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That's not gow it works though, when you're comparing the performance of two things then it's pretty clear that the one who performs the best is the clear winner.
You're right. But I just feel making an argument for which version sucks less is a waste of time. But you're right, the PS4 version is the clear winner.

Kind of makes me think that maybe giving console gamers more graphics options wouldn't be a terrible idea.
 

Handy Fake

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lol the achilles heel of the PS4 is back, AF.


That's not gow it works though, when you're comparing the performance of two things then it's pretty clear that the one who performs the best is the clear winner.
I'm sure it's a bloody bug. Some difference between devkits and commercial units.
 

SgtCobra

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You're right. But I just feel making an argument for which version sucks less is a waste of time. But you're right, the PS4 version is the clear winner.
Oh yeah both certainly are disappointing, no doubt :p
Mid 30 fps in a sim racer is not something to write home about.
 

megabytecr

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I wish there was an option for resolution on consoles.

I will be playing mostly career and that seems to have good performance on PS4.
 

Snake29

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I still think that DriveClub overall is better then pCars on the consoles. Yes DC is 1080p/30 but it runs amazing and also looks better then pCars.

I hope they release a pCars demo.
 

artsi

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Yes, before someone comes up and says "But old build, day one patch!" and DF is somehow all non-ethical again.

The game just doesn't perform as well as some people expected so they tried to shift the blame.

Personally I don't even mind the dips in rain, but the lack of G27 support on PS4 makes me buy the PC version anyway.
 

Noobcraft

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Nov 9, 2013
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Yes.

PS4: 1080p.
XB1: 900p, worse framerate.
PS4:
+1080P
+More stable frame rate
-less AF
-Ghosting
+ Higher res shadows

Xbox One
-900P
-Less stable frame rate (especially when there are lots of alpha effects like in the rain)
+Better AF
+No Ghosting
-lower res shadows
 

Gipsy Danger

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I still think that DriveClub overall is better then pCars on the consoles. Yes DC is 1080p/30 but it runs amazing and also looks better then pCars.

I hope they release a pCars demo.
But they are both designed for completely different audiences so what's the point in comparing them? Project Cars is a sim and Driveclub is more arcadey. Unless you just mean in performance/graphics, then never mind!