Rise of the Tomb Raider now has DirectX 12 support

I've said this a couple of times already, but the team behind the PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider is staffed with some seriously talented developers. Ever since its January release date they've managed to launch multiple patches, each of which brought impressive performance gains and graphical upgrades.

But the most important update, titled simply as 1.0.638.6, came out yesterday and brought with it DirectX 12 support, performance improvements across the board, and a couple of bug fixes to boot. Here are the patch notes and a short developer explanation of how exactly DirectX 12 helps out with performance:

• Added support for DirectX 12

• DirectX 12 is a new advanced graphics API that on the right hardware can offer far better performance.

• For the best DX12 performance and stability please install the latest drivers for your GPU.

-  For NVIDIA: Download Link

-  For AMD: Download Link

• Adds NVIDIA VXAO Ambient Occlusion technology. This is the world’s most advanced real-time AO solution, specifically developed for NVIDIA Maxwell hardware. (Steam Only)

• Added a new benchmark feature to allow easy comparison of performance on different systems, as well as at different graphics settings.

• Fixed some HBAO+ and other Ambient Occlusion issues.

• Fixed motion blur problems in Stereoscopic 3D mode.

• A variety of other smaller optimizations, bug-fixes, and tweaks. 

Information about the DirectX switch comes from the Tomb Raider blog on Tumblr, so if you're interested in the technical aspects of this update I'd recommend you give it a read. Here's the short version:

"When using DirectX 11, in situations where the game is under heavy load – for example in the larger hubs of the game – the individual cores may not be able to feed a fast GPU like an NVIDIA GTX 980 or even NVIDIA GTX 970 quick enough. This means the game may not hit the desired frame-rate, requiring you to turn down settings that impact CPU performance.

Even though the game can use all your CPU cores, the majority of the DirectX 11 related work is all happening on a single core. With DirectX 12 a lot of the work is spread over many cores, and the framerate of the game will run at can be much higher for the same settings. Check out the picture below for a visual example of how the CPU work is distributed:

Rise of the Tomb Raider pc DirectX 11 and 12 comparison

An example of how much more efficient DirectX 12 is at using multiple cores

The above advantage we feel is the most important one for Rise of the Tomb Raider, but there are many more advantages that make us excited about DirectX 12. Another big feature, which we are also using on Xbox One, is asynchronous compute. This allows us to re-use GPU power that would otherwise go to waste, and do multiple tasks in parallel. And there is a never before seen level of control over NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX configurations, which means that as a developer we can take full control over those systems and ensure users get a great experience with them.

Being one of the first game titles out there using DirectX 12 there are still many more optimizations to make and DirectX 11 is available for the most predictable and proven experience. However, as seen above there are large gains to be found already, and we encourage you to check out DirectX 12 for yourself in our latest patch!"

However, as with any big update, there is a chance it will either yield no improvements at all, or worst case scenario, make your performance tank far below DirectX 11 levels.

If you're among the unlucky ones impacted by this issue you can roll-back to the previous patch by right clicking RotTR in Steam, and then choosing the DirectX 11 "beta" build (629.1).

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