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Gears 5’s inclusion on the Xbox Game Pass service didn’t stop it from outselling Gears of War 4, said Microsoft executive vice president of gaming Phil Spencer at the XO19 event this week.
In a wide-ranging interview with Eurogamer Spencer said that “Gears 5 sold well for us. It sold better than Gears 4. And we feel good about it.” Specifically, Spencer indicated that having the title available at launch on both Game Pass and standalone didn’t detract from Microsoft’s view of the title’s success. It’s a notable data point for those who want games to stay available as standalone releases rather than be pushed into exclusive subscription service models—showing that the demand for standalone is very much there.
Spencer went on to specify that the Game Pass business model has also been successful. “I think there’s some confusion out there whether Game Pass works. Game Pass works as a business model.” Spencer also made an interesting comparison of the debate over subscription-versus-standalone to crossplay—allowing players to play together across different platforms—saying that it’s something gamers need to make known that they want.
He was quick, however, to diffuse the kind of concerns some have expressed over services like Google Stadia. “I’m not trying to funnel everybody who wants to play Gears into the subscription,” Spencer said, "It’s about giving gamers choice.”
There is a new update available for Gears 5, and with it comes an implementation of AMD's FidelityFX technology. When enabled, images should look sharper on PCs outfitted with either a Radeon or GeForce graphics card.
FidelityFX is AMD's open source image quality toolkit that is available to developers. It combines the Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS) algorithm, which is a dynamic sharpening filter, with Luma Preserving Mapping (LPM) to sort of clean up images. Since it's open source, it's for all GPUs, not just Radeon cards. And according to AMD, there is not much of a performance penalty.
"FidelityFX automatically collapses multiple effects into fewer shader passes to reduce overhead and free up your GPU for the visceral experience you demand. This, in turn, frees up your graphics card to experience sharper visuals at virtually no performance loss," AMD says.
AMD also provided some screen comparisons showing two different scenes in Gears 5 with FidelityFX enabled and disabled. Have a look:
The effect is easier to see if you view the images at full size on 4K resolution display, though it's still noticeable on lower resolutions. There is a bit less blur, and in the second scene, the vegetation pops a bit more.
This is not mind blowing by any stretch—I doubt anyone is going to view the image comparisons and remove "fancy new graphics card" from their Black Friday deals shopping list just because this filter has found its way to Gears 5. But it is a visual upgrade, and we'll take it.
To use this, fire up Gears 5 and look for a new Sharpening setting in Video options (shown above) that says, "Use AMD FidelityFX Contrast-Adaptive Sharpening to increase the high frequency details in the scene. Higher values may have a minor effect on edge aliasing."
We have not done in-depth testing to see exactly what kind of performance hit this might add. But hey, if you want to give it a whirl, there you go.
Gears 5 is now widely available (the standard edition released today) and our review is up, in case you haven't read it already (we also have an in-depth performance analysis). Right on cue, Nvidia has made available a new "Game Ready" GPU driver that brings performance optimizations Gears 5 and other games, to GeForce graphics card owners.
"Game Ready Drivers provide the best possible gaming experience for all major new releases, including virtual reality games. Prior to a new title launching, our driver team is working up until the last minute to ensure every performance tweak and bug fix is included for the best gameplay on day-1," Nvidia explains.
Nvidia's driver team focused on a handful of games with this driver release. In addition to Gears 5, the 436.30 driver package is tuned to deliver the best performance in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare open beta, Borderlands 3, The Surge 2, FIFA 20, and Code Vein.
That's six games in all, whereas Nvidia's Game Ready driver releases typically focus on 1-3 titles. In addition, Nvidia has validated several more "G-Sync Compatible" monitors. They include:
Nvidia's driver team stomped out a bunch of bugs as well. They include:
Gears 5 is out today, but it's technically been available to all owners of the Ultimate Edition and Xbox Live Game Pass Ultimate users since September 5. Unfortunately, the early launch was marred with issues, like players not being able to find multiplayer matches or not being able to connect to the servers.
Over the last five days, The Coalition has been making fixes and posting regular Twitter updates, and it looks like the team has managed to resolve a lot of them before the official launch, but not all of them. It's still looking into missing collectibles and chapter progression, and players are still reporting other issues.
To make up for the problems, the developer announced on Twitter that players will get five days of Boost and 600 scrap, which should appear in the next couple of days.
This is far from the first game with a complicated release schedule and soft launch that went wrong, and it once again raises questions about what these early access launches are for. These aren't like Steam Early Access launches, where the game could be months or years away from release. In the case of Anthem, Gears and others, they were merely days away, so there's an expectation that everything is largely ready. But ultimately players still end up being testers and bug hunters, troubleshooting instead of playing.
Despite the problems, however, Phil Iwaniuk still found plenty to like about the shooter in his Gears 5 review.
"Across its generous swathe of Campaign, Versus, Escape and Horde modes, it's still deeply gratifying to let the aforementioned chainsaw bayonet loose on a gibbering Juvie or outmanoeuvre a throng of Swarm and rip into their turned backs with a car-sized Mulcher. The Metal Slug-style active reload, which gives your weapon a boost when you time your reload perfectly, still excites on a primal level, adding an extra wrinkle and a chance to feel adept where most games are happy to have you sit passively and do the reloading for you. Familiar, yes, but fun."
A combat droid called Jack and some pithy one liners. For all the spectacle, all the bluster, all the carefully orchestrated standoffs with stratospherically proportioned enemies, those are the scant bits of Gears 5 that stick around in the memory when the dust settles. It's a funny kind of game. It sweeps you up in the moment, but the enjoyment it delivers is always surface level.
Traditionally it's been a series in which you were never totally sure if you were laughing along with the characters and dialogue, or just plain laughing at them. Marcus Fenix, protagonist in the original trilogy, wore an unironic soul patch and shoulder pads more spacious than most London flats. The man carried a chainsaw bayonet into battle. And yet neither he nor his fellow cast members broke character and acknowledged the essential absurdity of the Gears universe over many hours of hyper-macho world-saving.
There was an embryonic sense of self-awareness in Gears 4, but the tone's notably different here. Protagonist Kait—although the term's loose, since you can also choose to play as Del, JD, or Jack in campaign mode—and those around her seem more willing to point out the ridiculous this time.
Don't get me wrong, this is still very much a game in which people say things like "The truth is, you two are more similar than either of you wants to admit" in cutscenes and "Nice of you to stop by!" when you arrive at an already blazing firefight. It's broad writing to underpin broad action. But there's a levity, a cocked eyebrow at the more preposterous elements, which wasn't there before.
It's even capable of fleeting moments of sensitivity and political complexity in between tearing into alien flesh from behind waist-high walls. What's the COG's purpose at this advanced stage in the Gears timeline? Are they justified in steamrolling smaller societies that grew out of the ruins in the name of keeping humanity safe? And what kind of toll does it take on a soldier, risking one's life every day for an increasingly murky cause? This isn't to say Gears has suddenly become a great literary work, but it has made a partially successful effort to strike a more sophisticated tone this time.
None of that would count for much if the fundamentals of its tried-and-tested cover shooting formula weren't so enjoyable, six games on. Across its generous swathe of Campaign, Versus, Escape and Horde modes, it's still deeply gratifying to let the aforementioned chainsaw bayonet loose on a gibbering Juvie or outmanoeuvre a throng of Swarm and rip into their turned backs with a car-sized Mulcher. The Metal Slug-style active reload, which gives your weapon a boost when you time your reload perfectly, still excites on a primal level, adding an extra wrinkle and a chance to feel adept where most games are happy to have you sit passively and do the reloading for you. Familiar, yes, but fun.
What stops the fatigue from setting in is, as ever, Gears' knack for throwing you into Hollywood set-pieces with just the right regularity. It knows when to let you you bask in the perfectly teed-up moment where you only need squeeze the trigger to save the day in a confetti cloud of bombast. And the answer, obviously, is: often.
Within a couple of hours you're flung like an action movie A-lister from underground missile silo on a tropical island to a ruined hotel displaying some of the old world's splendour, and most memorably, not to mention fittingly, a theatre stage. All the world's a stage when you're playing Gears, after all. Across its four-act structure it throws truly commendable variation at you.
Thanks to that constant flitting between locations, tones, and level design approaches, Gears 5 is categorically the most colourful and visually satisfying in the series to date. That first game in 2006 was browner than a copy of Quake dropped onto a waterlogged rugby pitch, but there's no such punishing palette here. Icy landscapes and atmospherically lit chunks of urban sprawl break up the rubble like never before. The fidelity's not quite up there with 2019's most advanced PC games, but it runs smoothly at 60 fps in 4K with a 2080 TI, and can be scaled down and tweaked to an appropriately granular level.
As for what's changed in that winning mechanical formula, it's all manifested in Jack. A surprisingly endearing support droid, he's there to revive downed party members, flashbang enemies, collect ammo from far-off spots, buff your armour and ping enemies. He's like a flying Crysis nanosuit, acting as everyone's shared special ability dispenser in campaign co-op.
This being 2019, there are upgrade trees lurking in Gears 5's menus too. Again these pertain to Jack, offering the chance to increase his effectiveness at any of the above by spending upgrade points dotted through levels. By choosing to invest heavily in just one or two abilities you can tilt the nature of combat in different directions, favouring stealthy flash-and-headshot combat loops for example. Or you can build them all evenly and prove nominative determinism right by making Jack a veritable robot of all trades.
Outside campaign modes there are more upgrade trees, and boost cards, and—oh God—unlockable cosmetic blood sprays to reward longform dedication. Inevitably the wave-based Horde offers the time sink-iest proposition of the suite, its maps mechanically immaculate if not tremendously exciting. Escape takes that dynamic on the road, timing you—goading you—on sci-fi dungeon runs with limited resources. Verus sees a shakeup around weapon acquisition which now guides you along temporary mid-round upgrade paths rather than rushing towards the best weapon on the map, but otherwise offers a familiar hit of cathartic PvP.
While the minutiae of shooting Swarm from behind convenient concrete emplacements isn't going to blow anyone's mind after six games, the variety of Gears 5's environments and set-pieces certainly alleviates overfamiliarity. In the campaign especially, it has a real knack for mixing things up at the right moment. While the first act follows a more traditional level design blueprint featuring winding pathways through large but linear environments, from act two the space opens out and you're given a little freedom to roam. It's not an open-world game by any stretch, it's just that the icy tundras and rolling deserts don't funnel you into predetermined routes like the shelled out streets do in the opening couple of hours.
The meaning of that extra space and freedom manifests in optional side quests dotted around the map, and although the incentive is always primarily upgrade hunting rather than narrative satisfaction, it's intrinsically enjoyable enough to take on these (inevitably) combat based extracurriculars for their own terms.
All of which makes for the most sophisticated and involving Gears game yet. And yet it still somehow feels lacking in substance, as though once you put down the controller there's very little about it that left an imprint. It's the kind of game that occupies you in the moment, but never pops into your head when people start talking about the best games of the year. Or, indeed, at all after you hit ‘Quit Game'.
That boils down to two distinct facets of Gears 5: one, that the writing might offer more subtlety and humour than before, but still feels cliched next to its contemporaries (Control's writing and atmosphere feel as though they come from a different decade to this game's). And two: although there are new elements to the Gears formula, they're not new to the player. We've been scrutinising upgrade trees and firing off specials for aeons now. It's enough to reinvigorate a long-running series, but not enough to capture the imagination.
Which means Gears 5 is what Gears has always been: deeply capable, eminently enjoyable and occasionally spectacular. The big difference this time around is that you know you're laughing along with the script, not at it.
What is the Gears 5 commercial song? Games trailers have quite the burden: in, at most, just a few short minutes, it's got to persuade you to drop roughly $60 and invest tens to hundreds of hours of your life. Thankfully for The Coalition, Gears 5's 'The Chain' trailer is clearly doing that and is striking a chord with plenty of would-be Locust slayers.
A big part of the commercial's success is its use of music, and it'll certainly sound familiar to the older demographic of Gears players. If it sounds completely new to you or you just weren't around for the late seventies release of the original track, we're here to let you know what the song in the Gears 5 trailer is.
In the trailer we can see protagonist Kait blazing a trail through a barren war zone as she struggles with her past demons. It's a scene that requires a soundtrack full of drama, and The Chain is a song that certainly delivers.
The original version of the track you hear in the launch trailer is The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. However, the Gears 5 commercial song is a cover sung by Amy Lee, co-founder and lead vocalist of rock outfit, Evanescence.
The Chain is part of the legendary album, Rumours, so give yourself a break from uncovering the origins of Kait's family to familiarise yourself with some vintage seventies pop when you get the chance.
The version by Lee is undoubtedly a refreshing one, and that's despite the omission of that iconic riff. Then again, Kait does unleash her chainsaw, instead; you win some, you lose some, we suppose.
Gears of War is back for another round and, as with the previous game, it's launching simultaneously for both Xbox and Windows, so you don't have to deal with the Windows Store since the game is also available on Steam. (Note that I'm testing the Microsoft Store version.) The arrival of Gears 5 made me realize it has been nearly three years since the last installment, and I'm certainly curious to see how much things have changed in terms of performance and graphics quality compared to Gears of War 4.
Hardware has changed quite a bit in three years. In late 2016, the fastest graphics card around was the GTX 1080, and on the AMD side we were looking at the R9 Fury X. Now we're looking at Nvidia's RTX cards (though the ray tracing abilities aren't used by Gears 5) and AMD's RX 5700 as the latest and greatest. Gears 4 couldn't manage a playable 60 fps at 4K back in the day, but perhaps Gears 5 will do better. Or maybe it's just that we have GPUs that are basically twice as fast (and over twice as expensive).
Before we get to the testing, a few items are worth mentioning. First, AMD is promoting Gears 5. It will be one of the first games to support AMD's new FidelityFX (Borderlands 3 being another), and AMD sent out a press release detailing a few other features. Plus, you can play Gears 5 "free" via Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, and you get a free 3-month subscription with the purchase of an AMD RX 5700 series GPU. And last, Gears 5 appears to be for DirectX 12 only, and in many DX12 games AMD graphics cards tend to perform better relative to their Nvidia competition.
Here's a quick look at what the PC version of Gears 5 has to offer.
Gears 5 basically ticks off every bullet point except one: mods. That's been the case since the first Gears of War and I don't expect it to change any time soon. Otherwise, the PC version has pretty much everything you need.
You can play at any resolution, field of view adjustments are available, and the cutscenes are even in 21:9 by default (which means the sides either get cropped or you get letterboxing on a 16:9 display, and there's a menu option that lets you choose). And then there's the graphics settings list, which goes above and beyond anything else.
I'll cover the settings below in more detail, but Gears 5 makes sure that even people who don't know what anisotropic filtering or anti-aliasing are can easily see what they do via its preview feature. It's pretty cool and actually useful. The only real problem is potential information overload—25 different settings, plus some additional tweaks that don't really affect performance, but can change the way the game looks. Do you want standard bloom or anamorphic bloom? Do you even care?
It's worth noting that Gears 5 will use your desktop resolution combined with screen scaling by default. If you have a 4K monitor but want to play at 1080p for performance reasons, you're actually better off changing your desktop resolution to 1080p and then launching the game—or you can even change the desktop resolution while playing and Gears 5 won't miss a beat, adjusting to the resolution. All testing was done with the desktop resolution set to the desired rendering resolution.
The official system requirements for Gears 5 are relatively tame, though no there's no specific mention of expected performance. Based on my test results (see below), I'd assume the minimum specs are for 1080p low at a steady 30 fps, though you might even get closer to 60 fps. The recommended specs meanwhile look like they should be good for 1080p medium at 60 fps, possibly even bumping up a few settings to high. Finally, the ideal specs should handle 1440p at ultra quality and still deliver 60 fps. Here are the system requirements:
The specs cover quite a range of performance and hardware, and if a 6th Gen Core i3 or FX-series CPU will suffice, you can probably get by with a 2nd Gen Core i5/i7 as well. There are also some serious discrepancies, like the fact that the GTX 970 and GTX 1660 Ti are in completely different classes, and the same goes for the RX 570 and RX 5700. The ideal specs do look pretty hefty, but based on my testing Gears 5 should be playable at 60 fps and high or ultra settings on quite a few GPUs.
Gears 5 will also work on Windows 7, provided you purchase the Steam version. The Steam page says Win7 is supported, while Microsoft says you need the latest version of Windows 10, specifically the May 2019 updated (build 1903) or later, along with DirectX 12, but the MS requirements appear to be specifically for the Microsoft Store version. MS ported most of DX12 to Windows 7, and it's nice to see them supporting the older but still popular OS with this latest release.
Gears 5 almost sets a new record for the number of graphics options. There are 25 main options, with another five or so tweaks (e.g., a bit less or more sharpening than the default). That's a lot of settings to sift through, but Gears 5 wins major kudos for letting you preview how most of the settings affect the way the game looks. Not sure whether volumetric lighting should be turned up or down? Check out the preview. It also suggests how much of an impact each setting can have on performance, though the estimates are a bit vague. Each setting lists one of "none/minor/moderate/major" for the impact on your GPU, CPU, and VRAM.
What does that actually mean? I checked performance with each setting turned down to minimum using the RX 5700 and RTX 2060 and compared that to the ultra preset, which generated the above charts. That provides a more precise estimate of performance. Gears 5 includes a built-in benchmark that delivers generally consistent results, so the measured changes should be reasonably accurate (within 1-2 percent). However, I only tested with one CPU and a relatively potent graphics card with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM, so some settings may have a greater impact on lower spec hardware.
Because there are so many individual settings, I'm only going to cover the ones that cause the greatest change in performance (at least 5 percent). My baseline performance is using the ultra preset at 1080p, and then dropping each setting to the minimum value. You can refer to the above charts for the RX 5700 and RTX 2060 for the full test results, but here are the main highlights.
Changing World Texture Detail to low can improve performance by up to 10 percent, but it can also make the world look a lot blurrier. Dropping a notch to high instead of ultra can still improve performance a few percent with very little change in image quality.
Dropping Texture Filtering to 2x can reduce performance by up to 7 percent, and in motion you probably wouldn't notice the difference between 2x and 16x anisotropic filtering.
Reducing World LOD and Foliage LOD are each good for up to 5 percent more performance, but the reduction in object detail can be noticeable. I'd try to keep these at high, or at least medium, unless your hardware is really struggling.
Dynamic Shadow Quality is the single biggest impact on performance, and the low setting can boost performance by up to 26 percent, but each step down is very visible, and the low setting makes everything look flat. Try to keep this at high or medium if possible.
Turning off Ambient Occlusion can improve performance by 3-5 percent, but also makes things look a bit flat. It's less noticeable than the drop in dynamic shadow quality, however.
Setting Tessellation Quality to low can boost performance by up to 10 percent, but it removes a lot of detail from some surfaces. I'd try for at least the medium setting.
Disabling Depth of Field can improve frame rates by around 6 percent, and some people prefer leaving this off to make background areas less blurry.
Finally, turning off Tiled Resources boosted performance by up to 10 percent, but minimum fps, particularly on the first pass, took a severe hit. I'd leave it on unless you have an older GPU where it's specifically causing problems.
Everything else only changed performance by 0-3 percent, though in aggregate the gains can be larger. Still, if you're at the point where you need to start turning down the remaining settings, you're probably better off just using the low preset and maybe tweaking from there.
One important setting to point out is the minimum framerate option. All of my testing was done with this set at "none." Setting a 30, 60, or 90 fps target for minimum framerate will dynamically scale quality and perhaps resolution to attempt to maintain the target performance. If your minimum framerate is set at 60, don't be surprised if you average close to 60 fps ... but on lower end hardware, it's definitely not running the same workload.
As noted already, Gears 5 has a built-in benchmark, which makes it possible for others to compare performance with my numbers. I have updated testing results using the latest Nvidia 436.30 and AMD 19.9.2 drivers, both of which are officially game ready for Gears 5.
There's a caveat with the built-in benchmark: often (especially after the first run), the first 8 seconds or so of the benchmark sequence will have an artificial fps cap. I don't know the root cause, but I had to wait about 10 seconds and then restart the benchmark to get correct results on many of the tests. If you see the fps jump from 30-60 to some substantially higher number in the first 10 seconds, pause and restart the benchmark.
For 1080p I'm looking at all four presets: low, medium, high, and ultra. I'm also testing 1440p and 4K using the ultra preset. Frametime data was captured using the FrameView utility from Nvidia, which is a slightly more user friendly take on the open source PresentMon.
All GPUs were provided by our partner MSI and are listed in the above real-time pricing tables as well as below in the tested hardware boxout. I have omitted many GPUs that perform similarly to one of the tested cards—the RTX 2080 Super is only slightly faster than the original RTX 2080, the RTX 2070 Super is slightly slower than the 2080, and the RTX 2060 Super is only slightly slower than the original 2070.
For previous generation hardware, I've limited testing to a few of the most common/popular models. You should be able to interpolate results (e.g., the GTX 1080 lands about midway between the 1070 and 1080 Ti, and the 1070 Ti is midway between the 1080 and 1070).
Starting with the 1080p low preset, the minimum spec GTX 1050 and RX 570 manage 60 fps, though just barely in the case of the 560. I don't have any hardware older than that, but I expect cards like the GTX 760 should at least break 30 fps without trouble. The AMD and Nvidia GPUs I've tested generally perform as expected, so the 2060 and 5700 are a close match, and the 1060 and 570 are also close together.
Elsewhere, the fastest GPUs appear to hit a CPU bottleneck of around 230 fps. That's not enough for a 240Hz display, though G-Sync/FreeSync would of course help out. The more common 144Hz displays would be good at least. Everything from the RX 5700 through the 2080 Ti lands in the 210-230 fps range. Considering the 2080 Ti is roughly twice the theoretical performance of the 2060, their similar performance proves we're hitting a CPU or some other bottleneck.
1080p medium is quite the step up in requirements. The budget and midrange GPUs see performance drop by 35-40 percent, though the fastest cards show a smaller dip due to CPU limitations. The minimum GPU for 60 fps is the GTX 1650, and breaking 30 fps is still possible even on the minimum spec GTX 1050 and RX 560. Meanwhile, the RX 5700 and above average 144 fps or more for those with a higher refresh rate display, though minimums are well below that mark.
The AMD cards generally do a bit better than their Nvidia counterparts, though in testing I noticed minimum fps tended to fluctuate a lot more between runs than on the Nvidia cards. The Radeon VII also does very well here, mostly thanks to high minimum framerates. Lower down the chart, the RX 590 also jumps ahead of the 1660 this time.
Depending on your GPU, going from the medium to high preset typically drops performance around 18 percent, but the 6GB and 4GB Nvidia Turing GPUs can drop by as much as 30 percent. That appears to be more of a DX12 optimization problem, however, as the 970 and 1050 only drop about 15-18 percent.
Besides the top GPUs, which are still at least somewhat CPU limited, most of the mid-range and slower GPUs are about half their 1080p low performance levels. The GTX 970 and above still average more than 60fps, and the RX 560 still breaks 30fps, so a mix of medium to high settings is still playable on most GPUs made in the past several years.
In terms of overall image quality, the high preset is the sweet spot. The difference between medium and high is relatively visible, while it's much more difficult to spot the improvements when going from high to ultra.
1080p high is also where things start to get a bit weird. The GTX 1060 6GB performed better than the GTX 1660 in my testing. That makes no sense from a hardware perspective. The 1060 has 1280 cores running at somewhere around 1850MHz. The GTX 1660 has 1408 cores running at around 1850-1900MHz. The 1660 also has hardware that supports concurrent INT and FP calculations. What gives?
This is the difficulty with low-level APIs like DX12. It appears, based on other GPUs as well, that Microsoft / The Coalition has spent more time optimizing for the Pascal architecture (GTX 10-series) than the new Turing architecture (16-series and RTX cards). The result is lower than expected performance on the Turing cards, at least those with only 4-6GB VRAM, but that could change with game and/or driver updates.
1080p ultra drops performance another 20-25 percent on most cards, though the 2080 Ti still bumps into CPU limits and only drops 16 percent. The 1060 6GB and 1660 come up just a bit short of 60 fps, while the RX 590 generally gets there but with occasional dips below 60 fps. Meanwhile, the GTX 1050 still manages to break 30 fps, which means it's technically playable, though minimum fps is clearly a concern with the 2GB card.
Gears of War 5 at 1440p ultra is too much for the budget cards, and I didn't bother testing the slowest GPUs. For 60 fps, you'll need at least an RX 5700, RTX 2070, or GTX 1080. If you're just looking for 30 fps or more, however, you can get by with even a GTX 970. Higher refresh rate displays won't do much good, unfortunately, unless you want to drop the graphics setting. Even a 2080 Ti only averages a bit more than 100 fps.
What about 4K ultra? The RTX 2080 Ti nearly gets to 60 fps, and at the high preset it can handle 4K quite well. All the other GPUs fall short of that mark, but with a few tweaks to the settings the RX 5700 and GTX 1080 above should still be okay.
Again, please note that the minimum framerate was set to "none" for these tests. If I set the minimum fps target to 60, most of the GPUs will show close to 60 fps, even at 4K ultra. That's because the game will dynamically scale quality and resolution to hit the desired level of performance. It's not a bad idea to set this to 60, but in terms of benchmarks, it definitely changes the workload and doesn't allow for apples-to-apples comparisons.
I've tested eight different CPUs, including an overclocked i7-8700K. At stock clocks, the 8700K ends up being similar to the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X, while the i9-9900K continues to claim top honors. Previous 2nd gen Ryzen hardware doesn't fare nearly so well.
If you happen to be running an RTX 2080 Ti, a Core i9-9900K can outperform the fastest third gen Ryzen CPU by up to 13 percent, and it beats the i3-8100 and Ryzen 5 2600 by 60 percent at 1080p low. The difference between the CPUs starts to narrow and image quality and resolution are increased, until everything ends up basically tied at 4K ultra.
That 4K ultra chart is basically what you'd get with a midrange level GPU as well, only at 1080p medium and above. Basically, slower graphics cards make the differences between CPUs far less pronounced. Even the slowest of the CPUs I've tested can easily break 60 fps, and Gears 5 should run well on just about any midrange or higher CPU from the past five to ten years.
Moving over to the gaming notebooks, all three laptops I tested easily break 60 fps at 1080p, regardless of setting, though minimums can dip below 60 at ultra on the 2060 and 2070 Max-Q. If you're sporting a 120Hz or 144Hz display (like these MSI models), 1080p low will also let you make full use of the refresh rate. For higher quality settings, you'd be better off with a G-Sync 120/144Hz display, to avoid tearing.
Gears 5 isn't the most demanding of games, and at lower settings it can run well even on budget hardware. Relative to the previous game in the series, Gears 5 appears to have reduced framerates by around 25 percent. I'm not sure how that will impact consoles, but on PC at least there are plenty of options to tweak to improve performance.
I did some initial testing with an early access release of Gears 5, but I've since retested with the latest drivers and the final public release of the game. I didn't see any noteworthy changes in performance, though a few cards did drop slightly (mostly Nvidia's RTX line is 2-3 percent slower at higher resolutions). Things could still improve over time and it's something I'll keep an eye on, but I haven't encountered any major issues running Gears 5 so far.
As with the previous game, Microsoft and The Coalition have done a good job making Gears 5 run well across a wide range of hardware. Even in these early days, the DirectX 12 code looks to be pretty well optimized ... at least for the older GPUs. Nvidia's Turing GPUs do indicate there's room for improvement, however, as cards like the GTX 1660 shouldn't perform worse than the GTX 1060.
Whether you have a Windows 7 PC and want the game on Steam, or you're running Windows 10 and are fine with the Microsoft Store, Gears 5 runs on a wide variety of hardware. Well, except Intel integrated graphics, which basically choked even at 720p. Bring along any budget GPU or better, however, and you should be good to go.