May 05, 2017 Written by: ROG

Everspace graphics performance guide

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ROG forum Grand Master Chino is back with another game performance guide. This time, he's been playing Everspace on a stack of ROG Strix graphics cards. Read on to see how the game performs.

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Man has always had a fascination with outer space. For those of us who aren’t astronauts or millionaires who can pay for a seat on a commercial space flight, we can still make it to space in video games. Space-themed games that put you in the cockpit tend to cater to simulation aficionados who crave accurately modeled flight or trigger-happy junkies who love shooting everything in sight. If you belong to the second group, then Everspace is exactly what the doctor ordered. Rockfish Games, the developer behind the Everspace, makes it clear that the game is a single-player, rogue-like space shooter. You’ll be flying from one destination to another while blasting asteroids and enemy starships that get in your path along the way.

ASUS and ROG are generously bundling Everspace with select graphics cards, motherboards, and other products. The participating models vary depending on where you live, and game codes are only available while stock lasts. Check the official bundle microsite to see which products are eligible in your region—and get your free copy if you made a recent purchase that qualifies. If you don't qualify, the game is available directly on Steam. Owners of GTX 1050, 1050 Ti, and 1060 3GB graphics cards can also unlock a special Everspace skin in the latest version of GPU Tweak.

Now for the big question: how does the game perform? Buckle up as we explore the Everspace universe on a variety of Pascal graphics cards at different resolutions.

Graphics options and image quality

Despite Everspace being an arcade shooter, the graphics are far more beautiful than we’d expect from a typical title in this genre. That’s because the game was developed on Unreal Engine 4, which allowed the team to exploit all the latest features in DirectX 11 and 12 features to make the graphics look really good.

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Upon opening the Display menu, we’re greeted with four built-in graphic presets: Low, Medium, High, and Epic. Also apparent is the reduced number of graphical settings at our disposal. We can only tweak the following individual settings.

  • Anti Aliasing Quality
  • Effects Quality
  • Post Process Quality
  • Shadow Quality
  • Texture Quality
  • View Distance Quality

Here’s how the game looks with each built-in preset. Click the buttons below the screenshot to switch between presets.

The universe in Everspace looks stellar with the Epic preset. Superb textures make the planets and asteroids appear realistic, and the overall graphics quality helps us feel like we’re really cruising around in space. The High preset reduces the quality of the lighting and shadows a bit. The details and textures on distant objects aren’t as sharp as with the Epic preset. Nevertheless, the game still looks great with High details.

Everspace starts to look different with the Medium preset. There is a noticeable reduction in the quality of textures on objects, causing them to lose details and depth. The Low preset brings a major downgrade to the graphics. Although shadows aren’t disabled, they look flat. And low-quality textures make objects appear blurry. Some of the distant objects are also removed to reduce the GPU load.

Test system and methodology

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CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X42
Motherboard: ROG Maximus IX Formula
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) 3000MHz
Storage: PNY CS1311 960GB
Video Card: ROG Strix GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080
Case: NZXT S340 Elite
Lighting: NZXT HUE+
Power Supply: Seasonic Prime 750W
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit with Creators Update
Drivers: NVIDIA 381.65 WHQL
Display: ROG Swift PG27AQ

Everspace is an Early Access game that’s available to play now even though the code isn’t final. The game client was updated to version 0.7.1.31567, which was the latest revision available when we did our testing for this article. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve used the graphic presets as they are, without any modifications. The only option I’ve disabled is V-Sync, for obvious reasons. I used Fraps to capture individual frame times during a custom sequence and then converted the data to FPS for easy interpretation.

Given the level randomness associated with the game’s procedurally generated missions, benchmarking was a challenge. Since each mission is unique, testing was confined to a single, longer run to minimize variance. I used the first tutorial mission, which takes a little over three minutes to complete.

Graphics settings analysis

First, let’s look at how individual graphics settings affect performance. These tests were conducted at 1920 x 1080 resolution with the Epic preset using the Strix GTX 1050 Ti. The results are presented in average frames per second (FPS).

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The Anti Aliasing Quality option is responsible for smoothing jagged edges. We gain an extra 5 FPS dropping from the Epic to High setting, while the Medium and Low settings show gains closer to 8 FPS. The Medium setting looks like the best option if you want to maximize performance on the Strix GTX 1050 Ti, but frame rates are high enough at this resolution that it’s not necessary to hold back.

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The fidelity of in-game effects like explosions is controlled by the Effects Quality option. It’s one of the graphical options that can really impact performance. We saved about 8 FPS going from Epic to High. Dropping to Medium is good for 26 FPS, while the Low setting yields an increase of 36 FPS over Epic. Don’t go below the Medium setting if you want to maintain an acceptable level of eye candy. Fortunately, performance on the 1050 Ti at 1080p is still excellent with this option turned up.

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In Everspace, the Post Process Quality option controls the lighting, bloom, and motion blur. It also has a significant impact on performance. The Epic and High settings perform similarly with this setup, with only 8 FPS between them. Dropping to the Medium and Low settings improves performance by as much as 30 FPS. The High setting offers a decent balance between visuals and performance.

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We can control the resolution and quality of the shadows in the game with the Shadow Quality option. We save as much as 8 FPS scaling back from the Epic setting, but given the insignificant differences in performance between the lower settings, it’s not worth going below High.

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The Texture Quality option dictates the resolution and fidelity of the game’s textures. On the Strix 1050 Ti, the performance cost between Epic and High is unnoticeable. The frame rate increases by roughly 11 FPS when we drop down to the Medium and Low settings. We recommend the Epic setting for the best visuals and the Medium setting for performance seekers.

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Lastly, the View Distance Quality option defines the maximum distance at which objects are drawn by the rendering engine. The Epic, High, and Medium settings perform similarly with this card and resolution, making Epic the most logical choice. If every frame counts for you, then the Low setting can save about 10 FPS.

GPU performance analysis

Now, we’ll look at how the game performs with different GPUs. The following graphs show FPS over time. Since the data has been converted from individual frame times, cards with higher performance produce more frames—and longer plots.

1920 x 1080

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With Everspace being a fast-paced space shooter, performance is very important. Higher frame rates make the gameplay more fluid in ways that you can actually feel while playing. The Strix GTX 1050 Ti stays well above 60 FPS with the Epic Preset at 1920 x 1080. Owners of high-refresh monitors should look to something along the lines of the Strix GTX 1060, which the pushes frame rate into triple digits.

2560 x 1440

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Even with the resolution increased to 2560 x 1440 with the Epic Preset still enabled, the Strix GTX 1060 proves to be a worthy candidate for the job. It has no problem maintaining a frame rate above 60 FPS throughout our test sequence. In a quest for better performance, we added the Strix GTX 1070 to the mix. The more powerful GPU generally kept the frame rate from falling below 70 FPS, and there are stretches with performance well over 100 FPS. Playing Everspace is smooth as silk with both graphics cards.

3840 x 2160

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Running Everspace at 3860 x 2140 with the Epic preset separates the big dogs from the pups. The Strix GTX 1070 manages to keep performance above 40 FPS, which is decent, but the gameplay becomes a little jittery where there’s a lot going on in the scene. The Strix GTX 1080 improves the gameplay experience somewhat at these settings, but to our surprise, it isn’t capable of sustaining frame rates above 60 FPS. This just screams for a “big Pascal” GPU like the GTX 1080 Ti to get the job done.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Everspace possesses very good graphics. But what makes the game especially attractive is the low requirements needed to enjoy those visuals. Even on the Epic preset, 60-FPS gameplay is possible with modest graphics cards. At 1920 x 1080, the Strix GTX 1050 Ti is more than sufficient to deliver frame rates above that threshold. As we increase the resolution to 2560 x 1440, we find the need to employ the more powerful Strix GTX 1060 to uphold our 60-FPS standard.

Everspace at 3860 x 2140 was a completely different story. Although playing with the Strix GTX 1070 wasn’t a horrible experience, it just wasn’t smooth as having a consistent 60 FPS. With frequent explosions and dogfights, not even the Strix GTX 1080 can keep up with all the action. It’s apparent that we will need a Strix GTX 1080 Ti to satisfy our 60-FPS gaming needs. Stay tuned.

Check out Chino's post in the ROG forums to discuss this article.

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