Impact of Denuvo on PC Frame Rates Benchmarked in Seven Games

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 12:46 PM

There’s a rather interesting video doing the rounds showing the performance impact of Denuvo when tested across several titles. It’s notoriously difficult to gauge the performance impact of Denuvo as cracks often bypass Denuvo rather than remove it, while developers also tend to push patches which remove Denuvo without warning. In an ideal world, we could benchmark a game the day before Denuvo is removed, but this is next to impossible.

Still, YouTuber Overlord has given it their best shot, benchmarking seven games before and after Denuvo DRM was removed. The full list of games benchmarked includes Hitman, Abzu, Sherlock Holmes the Devil’s Daughter, Mad Max, Agents of Mayhem, and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. The downside is the comparisons still often aren’t perfect matches, although Overlord gets damn close.

He also only utilises a single system for the test, which is a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti paired with an Intel Core i7-2600K at stock clock speeds. This is intended to make the CPU the performance bottleneck as Denuvo would tax the CPU if it affected anything. Unfortunately, this is still a quad-core, multithreaded system, so this doesn't delve into the impact on low-end CPUs.

Here’s how the seven games shaped up both with Denuvo and without Denuvo. 

  Denuvo No Denuvo
Hitman Yes 71.67
Hitman No 72
Abzu Yes 101
Abzu No 101
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter Yes 86
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter No 92
Mass Effect Andromeda Yes 89
Mass Effect Andromeda No 92
Mad Max Yes 165
Mad Max No 166
Agents of Mayhem Indoors Yes 126
Agents of Mayhem Indoors No 133
Agents of Mayhem Outdoors Yes 51
Agents of Mayhem Outdoors No 51
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Yes 71
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 No 75
Total Average Yes 95
Total Average No 97.75

While it's difficult to draw concrete conclusions, based upon the raw frame rate data we can see there is little noticeable performance difference between games running Denuvo and those without. Some games do demonstrate a greater frame rate drop than others, but the typical average FPS loss with Denuvo is around 2.8%. For most PC gamers this drop in performance should be imperceptible.

At the end of the day, a game that performs badly or is badly optimised is going to run badly, regardless of Denuvo. There appears to be little correlation between game performance and Denuvo implementation. While stripping out Denuvo may have bumped up the average FPS by 4, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 simply doesn't run well.

What these results don't let us though is the impact of Denuvo on lower-end hardware. The Intel Core i7-2600K may be over seven years old now, but it's still a decent quad-core CPU with multi-threading. We know for sure that Denuvo does use CPU resources. It has to, it's an application running in the background. For weaker CPUs, it's going to be a proportionately larger hit. What this indicates though is that the performance impact of Denuvo should become less of an issue as time goes by and gamers have access to more powerful processors. 

However, there is also the issue of frame times. Frame rates only tell us half the story, and in Overlord's we can see a better look at frame times and, in particular, the highest frame time for each benchmark. A high frame time is where we'd notice stutters and performance hiccups, even if the frame rate is being maintained.

As you'll see in Overlord's video below though, the frame time analysis is still inconclusive. In examples like Sherlock Holmes we can see the max frame time is actually lower with Denuvo enabled. It's the same story with Mad Max, but in another test, Agents of Mayhem has a lower max frame time without Denuvo.

During the video, there’s also a reference to an article here on GD benchmarking Doom both with and without Denuvo. As Overlord says, it’s an imperfect art when the game was benchmarked eight months apart, but you can see the full article for yourself here.

Okay, so it feels as if we're still no closer to answering the question once and for all of whether Denuvo affects frame rates in PC games. The statistics tell us there is the smallest of dips, although it's practically imperceptible.

What are your thoughts? Are you convinced Denuvo is responsible for poor performance during your gaming sessions? Or is it an easy scapegoat when poor performance may be the result of the game itself? Let us know what you think below!

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15:00 Aug-10-2018

your cpu and gpu inaccurate do not account for window 10 security patch performance hit!


total performance hit reach up to 50% denuvo+ window security patch

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15:01 Aug-10-2018

stutter in game using midrange pc is very obvious!!!


DO NOT USE HIGH END PC TO COVERUP!!!

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15:03 Aug-10-2018

window security patch and denuvo cpu intensive full load i5 cpu 80% above during gaming!

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15:08 Aug-10-2018

use midrange i5 and gpu 1060 6gb benchmark


do not use high end pc coverup GeForce GTX 1080 Ti paired with an Intel Core i7-2600K

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12:15 Aug-11-2018

I7 2600K is midrange nowadays. Compares to R5 1400 on performance

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00:30 Aug-10-2018

Performance is less with this.


So my question is, why use something that can decrease performance and increase stutter in a game when it can easily be cracked? Where's the logic in this?

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23:37 Aug-09-2018

The thing is,if a game uses for example 50-60% of the total CPU resources,Denuvo pushes it a bit further but it doesn't impact performance cause the CPU load is still bellow 100%. But my thinking is that,when the game already uses a lot of CPU resources (AC Origins),say 90-95%,then you add Denuvo on top and it pushes it to 100% and it still needs more power...I think that's when you might run into some serious problems.

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18:48 Aug-10-2018

Every modern game on latest CryEngine consumes CPU resources like crazy aswell (very often above 90%) Don't know if they use Denuvo too, but if not, then it'll be better if it stays that way.

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16:43 Aug-14-2018

"cough" Kingdom Come Deliverance "cough"

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20:09 Aug-09-2018

Bottom Line - It Impacts Performance.

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19:26 Aug-09-2018

I'm dealing with Steam and their competitors already, I don't need another layer of trash turning my games into digital garbage years later.

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18:51 Aug-09-2018

I would have to agree with the results of this test, it likely doesn't have much if any performance impact on a modern PC..... but to the end user it's a pointless DRM that has no benefit to us and is the creation of industry paranoia..... I'm perfectly OK with DRM game stores like Steam because they give us something back..... Denuvo is more the opposite and trying to act like a mafia hitman "Hey you try to breaka my boss game? I breaka you face!".... we don't need that crap.

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18:16 Aug-09-2018

Still, I prefer not to have denuvo or any kind of DRM (if possible, which I don't think it is) in any games that I bought. I'd still vouch for the death of denuvo.

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17:06 Aug-09-2018

I shouldn’t have to be online to play the game I purchased that’s some bull regardless of their reasoning

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11:47 Aug-10-2018

EXACTLY! Especially when playing single player modes. There's no reason why I should be connected to the server if the keys that was input-ed in the Serial Key Codes were already legit and is not pirated!

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15:49 Aug-09-2018

Performance aint the issue for me, its the connecting to a stupid server, so it has an online requirement and once those servers are gone do people really think devs will care and remove it, heck they dont even fix many bugs and other issues with games nowadays so why after say many years later would they bother when they will prob have many other newer games to focus on

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16:01 Aug-09-2018

that's true I can remember the nightmare the sim city was (2013) if you wanted to do single player you had to be online like wut? people couldn't play the game for days I bought it and regretted it $30 was to much for trash

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16:07 Aug-09-2018

There was also a glimpse in what could happen because i remember all WB games went down as there was a denuvo server issue that stopped people from playing Batman, Mad Max and Shadow of War, since then iv been very selective on what i now pay for

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15:08 Aug-09-2018

Denuvo doesn't impact performance if it's implemented on the game correctly and most importantly how well the game engine is optimized. just look at MGSV TPP for a good reference of how well optimized an beautiful looking game can run smooth even on an low end or mid end PC with Denuvo.

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14:16 Aug-09-2018

Now try that on weaker hardware. 10 fps on budget systems can really make a difference.

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14:17 Aug-09-2018

that's what I was thinking to

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14:23 Aug-09-2018

I sort of get it but weak hardware is weak hardware, of course it's going to struggle playing some of these games? Denuvo is the least of someone's problems if they're running a Pentium 4 and a GTS 250

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14:25 Aug-09-2018

not everyone has the money for the newer hardware and that's kind of a extreme example I feel that's why I suggested a modest older i5 or i3 for benchmarks with denuvo its more realistic then a 18 year old Pentium 4

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15:17 Aug-09-2018

Usually, the performance drops percentage-wise. 10fps is 10% of 100fps, but out of 30fps it's 3fps that is 10%, though I can't confirm that it's percentage drop rather than raw drop with denuvo.

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14:07 Aug-09-2018

The big problem of these DRMs is not necessarily the final FPS number, but the excessive load they generate on the hardware, especially on the CPU... This greatly undermines the stability and the fluidity of the game, generating recurring frame drops.

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14:04 Aug-09-2018

This comparative needs some Ubisoft games. The fact that they use two superimposed DMRs (Denuvo and VMProtect), generates a lot of load on the CPU.


Unfortunately Ubisoft does not remove DRMs from their games, even after they are cracked, which makes this comparison impossible...

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15:03 Aug-09-2018

prove that denuvo generates a lot of load on the cpu please

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21:23 Aug-10-2018

asked for a proof, got only downvotes good job guys

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13:54 Aug-09-2018

A 2-3% performance hit is fine by me if it results in giving developers the confidence to bring their games over to our platform such as Yakuza.

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14:06 Aug-09-2018

I think by now we gotta think about stopping the Denuvo absolutely tanks performance claims. There's a lot of valid reasons to dislike Denuvo, but performance really isn't it.

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14:08 Aug-09-2018

keep in mind this was done with still a decent i7 in todays standards throw this with an older i5 or i3 and the performance could vary a lot more

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15:23 Aug-09-2018

It's ancient hardware though. If someone's got an 8-year-old i3 then it's kind of expected they're going to be phased out. It wouldn't surprise me in the less if an i3 2100 struggled and there's a very good reason for that.

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15:54 Aug-09-2018

yeah I get it has a good reason to be phased out but to be realistic if your using a new beefy ryzen 7 or i7 denuvo would impact very small if your using a older processor it needs all the help it can get and odds are the impact is going to be bigger and if someone has a lower end system 5 fps or 3 may make a difference that's all im saying I know the impact isint the biggest out there but there still is in some titles and I am yet to see someone do this test with a weaker system I always see it done with much stronger ones

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15:04 Aug-09-2018

there is no evidence that denuvo tanks fps yet lots of gamers somehow "knows" that it does.

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16:01 Aug-09-2018

theres a lot of people complaining about how bad it was for that new sonic game

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13:23 Aug-09-2018

as far as I know, Denuvo is primarily disk-demanding, so question is if he was running game from some regular HDD, or SSD

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14:09 Aug-09-2018

that's a good question actually

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14:32 Aug-09-2018

I saw some posts of people having terabytes of data written just by playing denuvo-protected games for few days which is crazy considering the SSD wear and lifespan -_-

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15:04 Aug-09-2018

yeah my laptop is only 8 months old I cant recall the writes on it but I know my m.2 ssd is only sitting at 91% health which it should really be a lot higher some form of app or drm is chewing at it


spotify I think last year got nailed for that one cause there app I don't remember why was writing terabytes of data all the damn time which is weird as **** but eh

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15:06 Aug-09-2018

Why people concerned of ssd lifespan? Actually its more durable than hdd's and it will outlast your system by far.

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15:12 Aug-09-2018

nobody knows actually, I have 15-year old HDDs fully working, there is no such old SSD yet

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15:43 Aug-09-2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XZNr7mS0iw


this is excellent explanation of ssd life expectancy.

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17:37 Aug-09-2018

@Gerulis20 indeed, roughly in the middle of video, they calculate with 20GB written a day, some users claim few 1000's GB in few days, so instead of 600 days it drops to less than 60 days, or instead 1200 days just less than 120 days,
problem lies in situation where seemingly "zero workload" drives (where OS and programs are installed "once", without need to overwrite everything daily) get excessive writes (Windows 10 spying and other bullsh!t processes help that worsen incredibly)

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20:46 Aug-09-2018

+tzzsmk i think users who write that amount of information on their storage know what are they buying and for what are they buying ssd's but for regular people its plenty. From my personal experience i have never heard of some who experienced failing ssd. They are available for quite some time, first series of sata ssd came out like in what 2010? But now they are much more durable than those first 32gb sata ssds.

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22:01 Aug-09-2018

what that guy in the video is saying is all theory which is great but its not practical as tzzsmk said i know many older hdds that still work just fine today and i know a few different people who had ssd die for example and sometimes windows chews up data writes for silly reasons and sometimes apps that go rouge like spotify did link here>>> https://www.thewindowsclub.com/stop-spotify-killing-ssd-hard-drive could chew up 5gb to 10gb an hour so yes the guys right in a way a drive could last a while but it depends on many other things to


so to your comment about ssd lifespan outlasting everything lol no it wont buddy

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13:10 Aug-09-2018

IMO the only legit comparison would be if the games had Denuvo removed and on lower end systems too(like the minimum cpu req for a game let's say).Those cracks are just a bypass,so denuvo is just tricked,but it still works,hence the minimal difference in FPS.

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13:02 Aug-09-2018

I like how people takes statistics out of their ass and tells like ohh if not the denuvo we might run this game flawlessly or how assassins creed origins would run 50% better without denuvo, i know there are no results here for origins but watching from results above i think its safe to say that it takes minimal toll on hardware and that its just the engine that is demanding not the drm.

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12:54 Aug-09-2018

You forgot to put on the list Assassins Creed Origins i have the legit version and the pirated, in legit version i have all the time frame drop but in the pirated version i have conctant 60 fps because vsync turned on

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12:59 Aug-09-2018

Isn't that crack just a bypass?

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13:01 Aug-09-2018

If it's a crack, then it's a bypass.

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14:04 Aug-09-2018

But we had that whole rigmarole when testing AC Origins that it wasn't a crack it was a bypass, everyone was saying it

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13:57 Aug-09-2018

I must of got the pirate version from Steam then because I never get performance drops when I play Origins.

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15:04 Aug-09-2018

you also have a more powerful pc

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15:27 Aug-09-2018

And a higher resolution which is more demanding so our performance shouldn't be too different.

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01:46 Aug-10-2018

Which is why I would never try to equate my experience with AC Origins with the average person's experience. Of course my experience was good, constant steady frame rate with zero issues. I have good hardware and I decided, for whatever stupid reason, to play it on 1080p instead of 4K.

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12:47 Aug-09-2018

blasphemy...

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Can They Run... |

| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i7-7500U 2-Core 2.7GHz GeForce 940MX 2GB 16GB
Core i5-4590 3.3GHz GeForce GTX 1650 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Inno3D Twin X2 11GB 16GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1440p
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming 3GB 16GB
Ryzen 9 4900HS 8-Core 3.0GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Pentium Dual Core E6300 2.8GHz GeForce 210 3GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X GeForce RTX 3060 Ti MSI Ventus 3X OC 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-2600K 4-Core 3.40GHz GeForce RTX 2060 MSI Gaming Z 6GB 16GB
| Ultra, 1080p
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1070 Gigabyte Windforce OC 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-6600K 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 3GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Radeon RX 570 XFX RS Black 4GB 8GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-2310 2.9GHz GeForce GT 1030 8GB
| 30FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz GeForce GT 1030 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 Radeon RX 570 Sapphire Pulse 4GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]