Id’s frenetic shooter DOOM has just been updated with support for the new Vulkan graphics API. In theory this should result in significantly higher frame rates for those with certain configurations, removing potential bottlenecks and exploiting the full performance of your graphics cards and CPU. While gains will be made at the high end, down at the low-end id Software anticipates the system requirements for running DOOM will in fact drop with the introduction of Vulkan.

“We anticipate some older GPUs will now be able to play the game at good framerates,” writes id’s Robert Duffy. “We hope the range of GPU support widens with additional game and driver updates. That said, this is the first time a triple-A game is releasing on a brand-new API and brand-new drivers so there may be a few bumps, but our testing is showing really great performance and stability.”

It’s not clear just how much the system requirements have dropped, but users with 1GB VRAM video cards are now reporting frame rates in the 30-80 range, despite being unplayable before.

“When we were looking to adopt Vulkan for DOOM, the main question we asked ourselves was: “What’s the gamer benefit?” Duffy continues. “Ultimately the biggest benefit will be high framerates. There are a number of game-focused reasons super-high framerates matter, but primarily its movement and player feel. The game just feels amazing running that fast, so we made it a priority to try to really exploit the available hardware on PC.”

Previously running on OpenGL 4.5, DOOM’s Vulkan is a low-level abstraction graphics API which works in a similar manner to Mantle and DX12. However, Vulkan is a totally open standard and can be used for games as far reaching as Windows PC, Linux, Android, consoles and Mac OS. From a PC gaming perspective it allows developers deeper access and greater control over both GPUs and CPUs, achieving a console-like level of optimisation.

The idea behind it is that Vulkan can raise the bar for any potential bottlenecks, improving frame rates or bumping up the visual quality. It’s got the backing of the AMD, Nvidia, Valve, Oculus, Blizzard, Intel, and now id Software, so suffice to say this is a technology which is likely to go places.

DOOM Vulkan Performance Improvement

I did a quick run through of DOOM with an Intel Core i7-5820K CPU and a graphics card I can’t unfortunately name. Performance was very marginally better with Vulkan, but the i7-5820K is a poor test for any bottlenecks due to being such a high-end performer.

Others are reporting some very significant gains depending on the setup, with Radeon RX 480 performance jumping as much as 40%. Those with older processors are likely to see the biggest games, as Vulkan is more efficiently using the power and cores available to it.

Booting it back up I'm continually amazed by how DOOM looks as well. With a GTX 960 I was pulling in average frame rates in excess of 80 at Ultra / 1080p, which is obscene considering the visuals and level of action going on.

If you’ve got DOOM then please let us know how your performance has changed with Vulkan below, we’re eager to know!