SnowRunner, is a popular driving sim, that lets the player drive massive trucks into and through mud and snow, and its out now for PC. Like lots of other similar simulator titles this game needs to look good, to deliver the right levels of immersion while driving. And to do this right, a game like SnowRunner comes with a hefty PC hardware performance cost. Whilst we've been having a lot of fun exploring the great open areas in SnowRunner, we wanted to see how well the game performs on a selection of graphics cards, especially considering how physics simulation-heavy it is. So does it perform about as well as a wet piece of cardboard? Or does it blitz through like a truck through paper? Let's find out...
First of all, in this PC Performance article for SnowRunner, we benchmark the official graphics card recommended system requirement, the GeForce GTX 970, and a close match of the minimum system requirement GPU the Radeon R7 370. Then we go through the FPS test results of each graphics card ran at 1080p, 1440p and 4K screen resolutions. From there we can see the performance of the recommended and minimum system requirement graphics cards and consider how well optimized SnowRunner really is.
Secondly, if you haven't read our SnowRunner PC Graphics Settings article (link below), then we have a couple interesting points to look at before we dive in. When adjusting the graphics quality preset, the Simulation Quality setting never drops below the High setting even when the preset is set to Low settings. This is because SnowRunner is a heavily physics-based game and the developers want you to have the true intended experience. You can manually drop this setting to a lower quality, however if you want to see the performance difference between each setting exactly, we'll have a more specific analysis for SnowRunner's simulation quality setting on the way. Similarly, Ambient Occlusion never gets turned off even when dropping the quality preset to Low settings.
And one last thing, since some of the general video settings are not affected by SnowRunner's graphics quality presets (such as antialiasing or film grain), we decided to turn all these off for the Low settings preset, then turn them all on for any preset higher than Low. In the case of antialiasing however, we went with Off for Low preset, TAA for Medium preset, MSAA x2 for High preset, and MSAA x8 for Ultra preset. And we ran the benchmark in the same opening area after starting a new game, driving through some physics-based mud and dirt for a bit.
Now without further delay, lets jump into SnowRunner's PC performance benchmarks...
SnowRunner Minimum System Requirements
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit
- CPU: i3-4130 3.4 GHz / AMD Ryzen 3 2200U 3.4 GHz
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU RAM: 2GB
- GPU: GeForce GTX 660 / Radeon R9 270
- HDD: 20GB
- DX: 11
SnowRunner Recommended System Requirements
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit
- CPU: Intel i7-8700 3.2 GHz / AMD Ryzen 7 2700 3.2 GHz
- RAM: 16GB
- GPU RAM: 4GB
- GPU: GeForce GTX 970 / Radeon RX 580
- HDD: 20GB
- DX: 11
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SnowRunner benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia PNY GeForce RTX 2060 | Intel i7-3770K | 8GB
Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB in SnowRunner
The FPS performance for the RTX 2060 in SnowRunner is surprisingly not that great. Whilst at lower graphical settings this GPU breezes through with ease, they're not quite as high as we would expect, plus it was unable to reach 60fps at Ultra settings. Despite that, both 1080p and 1440p are perfectly suitable to play at High settings, with Ultra bringing in a lot more performance impact. 4K is also playable but only at Low and Medium settings, at High or above the game's frame rate starts to chug with Ultra being downright unplayable. Overall though, the RTX 2060 is perfect for 1080p and 1440p gaming in SnowRunner at High settings.
SnowRunner benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia MSI GeForce GTX 1060 | Intel i7-3770K | 8GB
Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in SnowRunner
The GTX 1060's FPS performance in SnowRunner is okay. At 1080p settings you're looking at running the game on High settings, whilst 1440p is best played at Medium settings or High if you don't mind the frame drops. 4K resolution is perfectly fine on Low settings or even Medium, but above that the game starts to really lag and you'll see some major performance hits. In the end though, the GTX 1060 is perfectly suitable for playing SnowRunner on High settings at 1080p or Medium/High at 1440p.
SnowRunner benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia ASUS GeForce GTX 970 | Intel i7-3770K | 8GB
Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB in SnowRunner
The GTX 970 is the recommended GPU for SnowRunner and the FPS performance is frankly quite poor. Whilst it's perfectly fine to play on High settings at 1080p, 1440p can only reach Medium settings before starting to chug and 4K is unplayable above Low settings. This isn't great results for what is supposedly the recommended GPU. So when playing SnowRunner, the GTX 970 is best suited for 1080p gaming at High settings or 1440p at Medium settings.
SnowRunner benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on AMD MSI Radeon R9 380 | Intel i7-3770K | 8GB
Average FPS for AMD Radeon R9 380 in SnowRunner
The R9 380 performs surprisingly well on Low settings in terms of FPS performance in SnowRunner. Though you can't reach above High settings at 1080p, the frame rates you get are more than suitable for this type of card. Even 1440p is playable on Low settings, Medium will be quite a push but is still playable, same as High settings at 1080p. Overall, the R9 380 performs the best in SnowRunner at Medium settings on 1080p or Low settings at 1440p.
SnowRunner benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on AMD XFX Radeon R7 370 | Intel i7-3770K | 8GB
Average FPS for AMD Radeon R7 370 in SnowRunner
The FPS performance for the R7 370 is okay. Whilst the minimum required hardware to play SnowRunner is an R9 270, the R3 370 comes pretty close behind, but it can barely achieve a stable fps beyond Medium settings at 1080p, whilst 1440p is only playable on Low settings. In the end, anything above Medium settings at 1080p or Low settings at 1440p for the R7 370 in SnowRunner is completely unplayable.
Looking at the results above, we can see that SnowRunner is an incredibly demanding game when pushed to its limits, however it's also really well optimized for lower-end systems. This means that users with low-end hardware are going to be able to play SnowRunner at a comfortable frame rate at least, whilst those who want to see SnowRunner's graphics at its best will need a much higher-end PC.
But judging by these results, the recommended system requirements are not that accurate. For one, the recommended GPU, the GTX 970, could barely reach 30fps at Ultra settings. Plus, in our tests we found that the System RAM never went higher than 7GB, and so 8GB is perfectly fine for any system. It was never revealed what performance the system requirements were expected to achieve, but we now reckon that the recommended specs are looking for 30fps at High settings.
As for the minimum specs, the same applies here, as the minimum GPU required was a GTX 660 or an R9 270, which our R7 370 comes pretty close to but came just shy of 30fps at High settings as well.
SnowRunner is perfectly playable at 30fps or above by the way, whilst 60fps is ideal the 30 frame rate mark is fine will not ruin your experience. As soon as it drops below 30 though the game becomes completely unplayable as the speed slows down and input lag becomes more significant. Achieving these results in our benchmarks meant that I kept under/oversteering and constantly found myself skidding out of control. And you will find at certain parts of the game the performance will drop a little more as the physics simulation gets more extensive, so as long as you're above 30fps you should be fine to have an enjoyable experience in-game.
So the good news is that low-end PCs can play SnowRunner perfectly fine on Low settings at 1080p, whilst high-end PCs can reach High settings at 1080p or even at 1440p. If you want to reach Ultra settings though, it might be time to look for an upgrade.