Hitman 3 most important graphics options - every video setting benchmarked

Written by Chad Norton on Fri, Jan 22, 2021 12:54 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

Hitman 3 is finally here and in all it's bald glory. Mr barcode, AKA Agent 47, is back and better than ever in this climax to the World of Assassination trilogy. So far performance has been looking pretty good, but how demanding is each graphics setting individually? What are the most demanding graphics options? And how much can we adjust each setting to give us better performance?

In this article we will take a look at which Hitman 3 graphics settings are the best to turn all the way up to Ultra for little to no impact on frame rate, and which ones can get us a little FPS boost for no real visual loss when we turn them off or down. We've compiled a list below of the most demanding graphics options in the game, so you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in Hitman 3 to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked against a minimum graphics setting used as our baseline benchmark for Hitman 3. From there we see which graphics options have the highest performance impact on our hardware for the least visual improvement, and then we will see which options can be turned up to max and deliver the best visual improvement in Hitman 3.

This time we're doing something different and would enjoy your feedback on it below! Instead of just benching Hitman 3's Low graphic setting against its Ultra graphic setting and seeing the performance impact between these, this time we've benchmarked every setting in between Low and Ultra as well, for a much more detailed looks at how each graphics setting affects FPS (Frames Per Second).

We may do this more in the future depending on feedback, and considering how it impacts some graphics settings that are already quite low in FPS impact. More than likely we will probably just do the bigger hitting graphics settings for future games. Again though, that all depends on your feedback, so let us know what you think in the Discussion area at the bottom of this article!

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Hitman 3 then you can check out our Hitman 3 PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various Hitman 3 PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

Hitman 3 PC system requirements

Hitman 3 PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card (which is close to the recommended GPU for Hitman 3, a GTX 1070); an Intel Core i7-5820K processor; and 16GB of DDR4 memory. To standardize the benchmark tests we took the same route in one of the early levels, walking around the area which included some detailed models, dynamic lighting, reflections, as well as a large crowd of NPCs.

Since Hitman 3 is about stealth, we assume most players would take the slow and methodical approach to most situations. Therefore we feel this run is pretty representative of the majority of your experience in Hitman 3.

There's not a huge amount of graphics settings available in Hitman III, but there are a few outliers that required further and more extensive testing. These settings include Super Sampling, Simulation Quality, and Variable Rate Shading, all 3 of which will be discussed in more detail at the end of this article. All in all that leaves 8 graphics settings that we recorded the average frame rates for and then compared the performance impact to a baseline FPS that was recorded with all the graphics options either turned off or set to their lowest settings.

Hitman 3 baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for Hitman 3 Frame Rates achieved when all Hitman 3's graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

Hitman 3 Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4

Hitman 3 Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

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

What are the most demanding graphics options in Hitman 3?

As you an see in the Hitman 3 graphics settings FPS performance graph above, of the few settings available there are still some noticeably more demanding settings like SSAO that reduces FPS by a massive 20.18% on the Ultra quality setting.

This is then followed by Level of Detail at a 9.6% FPS performance cost, Shadow Quality at 9.43%, SSR Quality at 8.86%, and Mirrors Reflection Quality at 6.23% FPS performance cost.

After that there's only a few settings that barely make an impact on FPS starting with Texture Filter that only costs 2.46% FPS. Then there's Texture Quality at a 0.9% FPS performance cost, and Motion Blur at 0.66%.

Hitman 3 All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Hitman 3

There's only a few graphics settings available in Hitman 3, but even then they will still give us a decent selection of options to customize and tweak our experience to get the right balance of image quality and FPS performance.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think are the best Hitman 3 graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...

Some of the comparisons will be hard to see the difference unless you enlarge the image. To do so, just click on any image to enlarge it.



Level of Detail

Level of Detail Ultra setting performance impact

Level of Detail graphics option Low compared to Ultra

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Level of Detail Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Low 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Medium 118.8 93.8 144 89.4 82.3
High 113.4 93.2 143.3 89.7 84.3
Ultra 110.2 88.7 136.9 85.8 75.5

Level of Detail option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Level of Detail setting do in Hitman 3? Adjusts the level of detail and draw-distance of models. Lower settings perform faster.


Texture Quality

Texture Quality High setting performance impact

Texture Quality graphics option Low compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Texture Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Low 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Normal 120.8 97.4 146.6 92.8 87.4
High 120.5 95.7 145.9 90.6 84.5

Texture Quality option range: Low/Normal/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Texture Quality setting do in Hitman 3? Adjusts the maximum size of textures. To improve performance or free up memory, choose a lower setting.


Texture Filter

Texture Filter Anisotropic 16x setting performance impact

Texture Filter graphics option Trilinear compared to Anisotropic 16x

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Texture Filter Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Trilinear 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Anisotropic 2x 121 98.6 146 92.8 85.3
Anisotropic 4x 120.1 93.7 145.8 90.1 83.8
Anisotropic 8x 120.2 95.9 145.7 91.2 83.7
Anisotropic 16x 118.9 97.4 143.8 90.4 84.8

Texture Filter option range: Trilinear/Anisotropic 2x/Anisotropic 4x/Anisotropic 8x/Anisotropic 16x

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Texture Filter setting do in Hitman 3? Improves the perceived quality of textures when observed at an angle. Choose a lower setting for increased performance.



SSAO Ultra setting performance impact

SSAO graphics option Off compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

SSAO Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Off 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Minimum 117.8 93.7 142.1 89.7 84.3
Low 114.2 91.2 135.8 87.4 82.1
Medium 106 89.3 123.7 83.6 78.9
High 102.9 86.1 122.1 81.4 78
Ultra 97.3 81.9 113.3 77.8 54.2

SSAO option range: Off/Minimum/Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the SSAO setting do in Hitman 3? Screen Space Ambient Occlusion improves shadowing in ambient occluded areas. Disable for improved performance.


Shadow Quality

Shadow Quality Ultra setting performance impact

Shadow Quality graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Shadow Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Low 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Normal 120.6 95.7 145.3 90.6 83.2
High 115.6 90.5 140 86.2 80.3
Ultra 110.4 87.2 135.3 82.4 78.3

Shadow Quality option range: Low/Normal/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Shadow Quality setting do in Hitman 3? Realtime shadow quality. Lower settings perform faster and take up less video memory.


Mirrors Reflection Quality

Mirrors Reflection Quality High setting performance impact

Mirrors Reflection Quality graphics option Off compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Mirrors Reflection Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Off 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Low 117.8 94 146.1 88.9 83.9
Medium 114.9 90.2 147.2 85.2 79.5
High 114.3 91.3 145.9 85.8 81.1

Mirrors Reflection Quality option range: Off/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Mirrors Reflection Quality setting do in Hitman 3? Controls the resolution of the rendered reflections in mirrors and floors. Off disables reflections completely. Only intended for lowend computers. Costs both CPU and GPU time.


SSR Quality

SSR Quality High setting performance impact

SSR Quality graphics option Off compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

SSR Quality Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Off 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Low 118.2 90.6 141.4 87.2 82.2
Medium 113.5 89.3 135.1 86 80.5
High 111.1 87.5 133.6 84.1 79

SSR Quality option range: Off/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the SSR Quality setting do in Hitman 3? Quality of reflections by screen-space ray-casting.


Motion Blur

Motion Blur High setting performance impact

Motion Blur Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Off 121.9 95.6 147.1 90.8 85.4
Low 121.3 96.8 148.7 91.9 85
Medium 121.1 95.7 146.4 91.2 85.3
High 120.6 93.9 146 90.4 83.3

Motion Blur option range: Off/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Motion Blur setting do in Hitman 3? Enables Motion Blur to give a more smooth look. Costs GPU time.


Simulation Quality and Super Sampling

As we mentioned earlier, there are a few settings in Hitman 3 that can significantly affect your FPS, so we opted to not use them or just use the lowest setting possible. These include Simulation Quality and Super Sampling.

Both operate in different ways but will have dramatic effects to your visual quality. For starters, Simulation Quality will be determined by your CPU specs. IOI recommends those with 4 cores or less to use the "Base" option, whilst those with 8 cores or more should use "Best".

This is a bit confusing because the Simulation Quality settings suggest there are two different quality levels, but it's more like "Off" and "On" instead. Turning Simulation Quality up to "Best" will let objects behave with natural physics. Explosions cause items to fall over, or statues to crumble. Alternatively, at the "Base" level the physics simulation almost entirely disappears: most items will stay rigid and won't move as much based on actions happening in the world (see example below).

Notice how in the background, the red chairs by the fireplace have lost it's leather/fabric on the outside when Simulation Quality is set to Best. However, at teh Base setting the chairs remain largely intact save for a few bullet holes.Or the pillar to the right, which loses chunks of debris when Simulation Quality is set to Best, but also remains intact when set to Base.

There are also these statues, which remain completely intact on the "Base" setting, but crumble and fall apart like the pillar above on the "Best" setting.

What makes this awkward in our situation is that the Intel Core i7-5820K in which we used to benchmark is a 6 core CPU, which is just below what IOI recommends for the "Best" version. As such, the results below may not be entirely accurate to your own processor specs, and we highly recommend running the "Dartmoor" benchmarking scene to stress test your own CPU and see how well your processor fares.

Super Sampling on the other hand is a very demanding feature and acts like a form of anti-aliasing. What it does is render the image at a higher resolution than your screen resolution, and then downscales the image to fit your monitor. Though it dramatically increases visual quality, you'll also see that it significantly reduces frame rate when set to the max setting.

This should only be used for very fast computers that can handle it. The setting range goes from 1.0 to 2.0 and you can adjust it in 0.1 increments, so play around with it and see how well your rig is able to handle it. Since there are so many increments you can make for the setting we opted to just going from Low to Max and see the performance impact.

One more note: Although we used a GTX 1060 in order to benchmark all the graphics settings above, we used an RTX 2060 here because it allowed us to see a better range of performance since the 1060 cannot run Hitman 3 at 4K resolution as well. Additionally, Variable Rate Shading is only available on Turing GPUs (and above), of which the 2060 applies.

Another important note is that we used the official benchmarking tool for the below settings in order to judge their performance impact. Even though we outlined in our previous performance benchmarks article that the benchmarking tool does not accurately represent in-game performance, it will help us to see how impactful it is as the % performance impact will remain the same.

Additionally, it allowed us to use the "Dartmoor" benchmarking scene to if lots of physics/particles would affect certain settings. This was especially for the case of the Simulation Quality setting and allowed us to properly see the performance impact of this setting when pushed to it's limit.


Simulation Quality

Simulation Quality Best setting performance impact

Simulation Quality graphics option Base compared to Best

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Simulation Quality 1080p - Low 1080p - Ultra 4K - Low 4K - Ultra
Dubai Base 168.61 124.59 67.21 42.56
Best 167.14 122.61 66.91 42.38
Dartmoor Base 164.05 117.89 63.99 42.1
Best 81.47 76.49 56.6 39.17

Motion Blur option range: Base/Best

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Motion Blur setting do in Hitman 3? Controls the amount of CPU-only simulation for Crowds, Cloth, Destruction and Particles systems. Would result in improved visual quality at the cost of increased CPU load. Base: Recommended for CPUs with 4 cores or less. Best: Recommended for CPUs with 8 cores or more.

Note: Default setting value was auto selected using CPU detection code. The visual improvements enabled by this setting only apply to “Missions” and they are persisted in savegames. When loading a savegame the value of the setting at the time of saving the game will be used. The audio improvements apply to all game content.

Conclusion: As you can see in the table above, when set to "Best" the Simulation Quality setting can be very demanding in certain areas. During the opening Dubai level where there's not a huge amount of physics simulation going on, we can see the setting has little performance impact.

However, when tested in the "Dartmoor" benchmarking scene where lots of objects have simulated physics, we can see the performance drops dramatically. At 1080p we see an almost 50% reduction in FPS, whereas at 4K we see less of a performance impact.

Again, this might be due to the fact that it is recommended to use an 8 core processor for the "Best" setting for Simulation Quality, so we'd love to hear your own experiences from you guys!

The Dartmoor benchmarking scene should be considered a worst case scenario though, as it is full of physics simulations and particle effects that is honestly quite excessive even for someone who likes to go on violent rampages in Hitman 3. You can see how little the setting impacts performance in the Dubai scene, so by all means turning Simulation Quality up to Best won't immediately drop your framerate even if you aren;t running the recommended amount of CPU cores.


Super Sampling

Super Sampling Max setting performance impact

Super Sampling graphics option 1.0 compared to 2.0

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

Super Sampling 1080p - Low 1080p - Ultra 4K - Low 4K - Ultra
Dubai 1.0 168.61 124.59 67.21 42.56
2.0 69.56 46.24 17.82 8.95
Dartmoor 1.0 164.05 117.89 63.99 42.1
2.0 66.56 43.82 16.54 7.9

Motion Blur option range: 1.0 > 2.0

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Motion Blur setting do in Hitman 3? Renders each frame at a higher resolution than your screen resolution and then scales the image to fit. This reduces aliasing. Very demanding except for very fast computers. Disable if you experience performance problems.

Conclusion: As you can see in the table above, Super Sampling is an incredibly demanding feature when comparing it's lowest setting to the Max setting. We assume the number corresponds to how much the image should increase in resolution (2.0 presumably being rendered at twice the resolution). At 1080p, we can see the Super Sampled FPS closely matches the 4K results that have no Super Sampling.

This would obviously result in worse performance the higher your set resolution, and would require a lot of video memory in order to run properly. The 2060 only has 6GB of VRAM and so at 4K the memory gets maxed out and performance drops significantly. Hence why you would need a really fast computer in order to handle such a feature at it's Max setting.

On the 2060, performance drops by about 60% at 1080p, but up to 80% at 4K. So if you have some spare frames lying around, try increasing this setting in increments and see how much it impacts your FPS.


Variable Rate Shading

Hitman 3 includes a feature called Variable Rate Shading (VRS), which theoretically would be able to increase performance at the press of a button. Essentially what this option does is render less detail in areas where it would be less noticeable, allowing the processing power to go towards more detailed areas. This feature however is only available on Turing GPUs or above.

We were expecting a noticeable difference in performance here, and like the Simulation Quality and Super Sampling results above we used the Dubai and Dartmoor benchmarking scenes in order to judge the % performance impact as the ratio of FPS reduction would be similar to in-game, even if the exact FPS numbers don;t represent the same in-game performance.

What we found were some interesting results, which saw no significant increase in performance when enabling VRS in either Quality or Performance mode. Here's a quick breakdown of the various VRS options available in Hitman 3:

  • Off: The best visual visual quality.
  • Quality: Increases the performance at the expense of a slight visual downgrade.
  • Performance: Increases performance further at the expense of a larger visual downgrade.

Since we saw a very little increase to performance, we tried to see if the setting would help in other situations instead. So we loaded up the Dubai scene again and this time set Super Sampling to 2.0 and see the performance impact there. We then also ran the Dartmoor benchmarking scene to see how VRS would affect FPS when Simulation Quality was set to Best.

In each scene graphics quality is set to Ultra in order to get the full benefits of VRS.


Super Sampling = 1, Simulation Quality = Base

VRS 1080p % FPS increase 4K % FPS increase
Off 123 - 43 -
Quality 125.43 +1.2% 43.95 +2.2%
Performance 127.47 +3.6% 44.73 +4%

This was the first test we did, and as you can see VRS only increases FPS by a small amount. Although it may increase frame rate by 4fps at 1080p, the percent increase is actually smaller when compared to 4K.

Super Sampling = 2, Simulation Quality = Base

VRS 1080p % FPS increase 4K % FPS increase
Off 46.24 - 8.87 -
Quality 47.11 +1.9% 8.95 +0.9%
Performance 48.24 +4.3% 9.71 +9.4%

When Super Sampling is turned up to the 2.0 setting, we actually see VRS makes a slightly bigger impact on FPS. This time the % FPS increase us actually slightly more at 1080p than when Super Sampling is set to the 1.0 option. At 4K this can increase to an even larger amount (though FPS is still significantly low due to the higher FPS impact of Super Sampling).


Super Sampling = 1, Simulation Quality = Base

VRS 1080p % FPS increase 4K % FPS increase
Off 117.76 - 42.1 -
Quality 117.89 +0.1% 42.81 +1.7%
Performance 120.99 +2.7% 44 +4.5%

When we change to the Dartmoor benchmarking scene we see that the percent FPS performance increase is similar to the Dubai scene when both Super Sampling and Simulation Quality are set to their lowest options.

Super Sampling = 1, Simulation Quality = Best

VRS 1080p % FPS increase 4K % FPS increase
Off 75.21 - 39.17 -
Quality 76.12 +1.2% 39.26 +0.2%
Performance 76.49 +1.7% 40.81 +4.2%

Cranking up Simulation Quality to the max setting here though has less of an impact on performance. In fact, at 1080p and 4K resolutions the FPS barely even increases despite the percent FPS difference.

Does Variable Rate Shading affect image quality?

Since VRS renders less detail in some areas in order to improve performance, Variable Rate Shading does reduce image quality. By how much depends on the setting you choose that was mentioned above. Quality mode is much less noticeable and if you enable it whilst playing you'll probably never even realize.

Performance mode however has a much more noticeable drop in image quality. Take the below image as an example:

As you can see, distant objects lose a lot of the detail that makes them feel more like a 3D object. The tree in the distance to the left loses a lot of the lighting detail. Additionally, the tiles on the floor become slightly blurrier and lose detail especially in the seems of each tile.

There's also some weird black pixel effect that is particularly noticeable on foliage, like the grass seen below:

Or in this scene, where multiple objects of foliage is affected by the Performance mode, making them weirdly pop out and not feel like a natural part of the scene anymore.

VRS conclusion: More testing is required here for the Variable Rate Shading setting, but so far it looks like the feature either may not be working properly and therefor not providing the FPS benefits it should be providing, or it simply just does not help here in the case of Hitman 3 as much as it would in other games.

Racing games for instance would benefit more from VRS as high speeds will introduce motion blur on the ground and scenery, where VRS will be able to shine a lot more since those areas will be less detailed and so can be rendered at a slightly lower quality. Since Hitman is mostly about stealth and taking things slow, these areas wouldn't provide as much of a benefit.

But VRS also applies to low detailed areas in the background, of which Hitman 3 would certainly have, so it's interesting to see that the setting provides little to no performance increase even in a game like Hitman III.

So at this moment in time we can't recommend enabling VRS in Hitman 3. Although it does seem to increase FPS by small amount, this figure is so small that it is honestly not worth the loss in visual quality and is best turned off.

It may be the case that higher-end hardware would benefit more from this feature, as the 2060 is the lowest spec of the RTX 20 series that uses the Turing architecture. Although there is the GTX 16 series that also uses Turing, it would interesting to see if an RTX 2080 for instance would perform better with this setting. As we already mentioned, more testing is required for Variable Rate Shading in Hitman 3.



Hitman 3 graphics settings performance results and conclusion - Overall, looking at all the results above, Hitman 3 only has a handful of graphics options to play with. However, bar from a few specific settings, they do not affect FPS performance all that much. The heaviest hitter is SSAO by far, but luckily it has a lot of sub-settings to choose from in order to customize performance and image quality.

Following that is Level of Detail, Shadow Quality, SSR Quality, and Mirrors Reflection Quality. Options like Texture Quality also don't affect performance as much as you would think, so turning that up to the Max setting is almost always a good idea.

There are a few settings that can significantly affect FPS performance however. These are Simulation Quality, Super Sampling, and Variable Rate Shading.

Simulation Quality is very much based on CPU performance and it is recommended to have at least an 8 core CPU in order to enabled the "Best" quality option. This is also a very situational setting and will only affect physics simulations of objects, so it won't affect frame rate when you're just walking around like normal for instance. If you want to know how well your CPU can handle Simulation Quality, we recommend running the "Dartmoor" benchmarking scene for a proper stress test on your processor.

Super Sampling is a very demanding feature that should only be used if you have a very fast computer, or have some extra frames to spare. This will render your image at a higher resolution and then downscale so it effectively increases image quality whilst also significantly reducing performance. Higher resolutions will be affected more by this setting than lower resolutions.

Variable Rate Shading is a little tricky as it's either not working as it is intended, or Hitman 3 is just not the right kind of game to implement the feature. Not only does it only marginally increase frame rate by a few percent, but setting it to "Performance" mode can dramatically decrease image quality.

More testing is needed for VRS on different hardware and different situations, but for now we recommend turning it off for enhanced image quality. Unless of course you have done your own testing then please do let us know so we can fully understand this feature and how it affects our PC performance.

Login or Register to join the debate

08:32 Jan-30-2021

Many thanks for the detailed descriptions of the individual settings and their effects. I also find the image comparisons successful. The comparison of what happens in 4k with the fps was also successful. The only thing missing is @ 1440.

10:33 Jan-23-2021

There were times when there used to be a huge difference between low and ultra. Now Low looks as good.

junior admin badge
13:38 Jan-22-2021

This was a monuments task.

junior admin badge
16:54 Jan-23-2021

*monumental task

Sorry, for my junk grammar.
I really have to stop writing stuff late at night.


Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Low,
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1400 GeForce GTX 1060 32GB
Ryzen R5 1400 GeForce GTX 1060 32GB
0% No [1 votes]