User Review

8
8.4

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the latest in a long line of Tomb Raider games, dropping the player into lush South American environments as Lara once attempts to avert catastrophe. Shadow of the Tomb Raider can be quite the looker, but it can also be ugly as sin depending on the graphics options chosen.

Here we benchmark each individual graphics setting in Shadow of the Tomb Raider for its performance hit, as well as recommending how important it is for you to enable it.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider System Requirements

For the benchmark results below we used an MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G, an Intel Core i7-5820K processor, and 16GB DDR4 memory. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested at 1080p screen resolution for the purposes of this benchmark, with the average frame rate taking during a sprint through a jungle portion of the game about two hours in.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is.


Shadow of the Tomb Raider Graphics Settings

Antialiasing

A gaming staple, antialiasing options smooth out jagged edges on geometry. The higher the AA quality, the sharper and more distinct the edges of an object are, while no antialiasing can cause a shimmering effect. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses SMAA, TAA, SMAAT2x, and SMAA4X. Both SMAA and TAA are fairly light options, while SMAAT2x combines both at double the performance hit. SMAA4x is the highest quality multi-sampling option though. It easily looks the best but it comes with a massive performance hit. TAA is recommended.

Performance Impact - 5/5

Priority - 4/5

Texture Quality

Texture Quality affects the resolution of the textures in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The performance hit is negligible and is primarily affected by the amount of VRAM on your GPU.  

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 3/5

Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering, sometimes known as Anisotropic Filtering, improves texture quality when viewing surfaces at an angle. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider this is a fairly low-end performance hit and we recommend you set it to at least 8x Anisotropic.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 4/5

Shadow Quality

Pretty self-explanatory, Shadow Quality affects the level of detail and realism of shadows produced in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Turning up Shadows can cause a fairly large performance hit but it contributes a great deal to image quality and the realism of a scene. Completely turning off Shadows will dramatically improve performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider for those with older or weaker CPUs and GPUs.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion applies to the contact shadows where two objects meet, adding depth to the game world. Shadow of the Tomb Raider offers two options - BTAO and HBAO+ (for Nvidia users). HBAO+ is the more demanding of the two but BTAO still offers a great visual improvement. Considering the 12.5% drop in frame rate for HBAO+, BTAO is a sensible middle-ground.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Depth of Field

Depth of Field is a pretty commonplace visual trick designed to simulate the effect of looking through a camera, providing a more cinematic experience. Depth of Field blurs objects which are out of focus. Applying this will come down to personal preference as the performance impact isn't overly noticeable.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 1/5

Level of Detail

Level of Detail affects the distance at which objects fade to a lower detail level. The difference between Low and Very High is mammoth in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. On Low, objects pop into view just a few feet away. Dial this up as high as you can. Lowering the quality will significantly improve CPU performance.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 5/5

Tessellation

Tessellation adds more detail to select surfaces by subdividing geometry and applying displacement maps. Disable to increase performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Performance Impact - 0/5

Priority - 3/5

Bloom

Bloom is an effect which adds bright spots onto the screen to show light bleeding in. Some people find this an obnoxious effect, some don't, so your mileage will vary. The performance hit is negligible.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

Motion Blur

Another controversial graphics options, Motion Blur blurs geometry along the direction it is moving. Not only a visual effect, Motion Blur can help to mask poor performance. Conversely, disabling Motion Blur can improve frame rates slightly.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 2/5

Screen Space Reflections

The Screen Space Reflections setting in Shadow of the Tomb Raider enables reflections that are created by ray-marching into the on-screen image. This is not ray-tracing. Disabling SSR will improve graphics card performance.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 4/5

Screen Space Contact Shadows

For additional sharp shadows, enable Screen Space Contact Shadows in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Higher modes improve shadow accuracy but come at a greater cost to GPU performance.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 2/5

Pure Hair

Tomb Raider and hair physics go together like peanut butter and jelly. This time the feature is called PureHair. This setting renders and simulates individual strands of hair using the GPU. Frame rates drop around 5% by enabling this feature, but Lara's pony tail will flop about semi-realistically.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 1/5

Volumetric Lighting

Volumetric Lighting is a particularly nice looking graphical feature in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, realistically casting beams of light as it passes through the jungle canopy or lights up dust environments. In terms of atmosphere, this graphics setting improves SotTR a great deal, and with a surprisingly low cost to performance.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 5/5

Lens Flares

Michael Bay's favourite graphics option, Lens Flares allows bright lights to create internal reflection and scattering artifacts as if viewed through a camera lens. This setting has no impact on Shadow of the Tomb Raider's performance and is a matter of personal preference.

Performance Impact - 0/5

Priority - 0/5

Screen Effects

Screen effects refers to blood and dirt that can appear on the screen, simulating these items being smeared across a camera lens. This setting has no impact on Shadow of the Tomb Raider's performance and is a matter of personal preference.

Performance Impact - 0/5

Priority - 2/5

Shadow of the Tomb Raider PC Performance Report - GeForce GTX 1060 Benchmarks