Wolfenstein: Youngblood system requirements, benchmarks, and performance analysis

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Wolfenstein: Youngblood officially launched today, and I've been busy with some initial performance testing. I'm going to keep this short for this first look and will return next week with the full writeup, but the short summary is that the game runs quite well on every GPU I've tested so far. Which is only seven Nvidia cards and two AMD cards, but it's a start.

A word on our sponsor

As our partner for these detailed performance analyses, MSI provided the hardware we needed to test Wolfenstein: Youngblood on a bunch of different AMD and Nvidia GPUs, multiple CPUs, and several laptops—see below for the full details, along with our Performance Analysis 101 article. Thanks, MSI!

Youngblood has six presets to choose from, along with an advanced section that offers full control over even more settings—25 to be precise, plus a few additional options like maximum framerate, field of view, and resolution scaling. There are also a few settings that are Nvidia specific, but for now ray tracing is not supported. It's coming, and Nvidia is working with developers to get the most out of the ray tracing effects. For now, the only 'special' Nvidia tech is adaptive shading, where a game can use fewer resources on some surfaces to boost performance.

I ran through all six presets on one graphics card, and found several of them are so similar in performance and image quality as to not warrant further testing. The low and medium presets for example performed within four percent of each other. The same goes for high, ultra, and über, with a four percent spread again. The mein leben! preset runs about six percent slower than über, with the catch that if you don't have at least 6GB (preferably 8GB) of VRAM it can drop performance quite a bit more.

For this initial bout of testing, I ran the test GPUs at 1080p using the low, high, and mein leben! presets. I also ran mein leben! at 1440p and 4K. 4K is definitely too much for the slower graphics cards, but most of the upper midrange GPUs do surprisingly well. Here's how things look right now, using the Nvidia 431.60 drivers (game ready for Youngblood) and AMD 19.7.2 drivers (not game ready).

Here's the full suite of MSI hardware I'll be testing over the coming week:

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Wolfenstein: Youngblood graphics card benchmarks

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

Given Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an Nvidia promoted game, it's not too surprising that the Nvidia GPUs currently run better than their AMD counterparts. Granted, I only included the RX 5700 XT and RX 590 for now, but relative performance is worse than in other games. In most games, the 5700 XT tends to land between the 2060 Super and 2070 Super, but in Youngblood the 5700 XT can't even stay ahead of the RTX 2060. The GTX 1660 Ti meanwhile is normally about 20 percent faster than the RX 590, but in Youngblood it's currently up to 35 percent faster (at low quality—high and above tend to be in the 20-25 percent range).

Driver updates should change things, and AMD just released a new driver that reportedly improves performance by up to13 percent, but I didn’t have it for these initial results. I should also note that I didn't disable variable rate shading on the Nvidia cards for these tests. It's not strictly apples-to-apples then, but it's a tough call—do you potentially penalize Nvidia's newer GPUs that support a feature AMD doesn't? In motion, it's hard to tell when variable rate shading is on or off, other than the performance improvement. I'll dig into how much it helps in the full article next week.

As for what each GPU can handle, 1440p at maxed out settings is viable on every GPU except the GTX 1650. 4K mein leben! breaks 60fps averages on everything except the GTX 1660 Ti and below, though ideally you'd want an RTX 2060 Super or above to stay above 60fps most of the time. And for cards with 4GB VRAM, you'll probably want to stick with the über or ultra preset to avoid running out of memory and getting stutters and potentially even instability. Youngblood will repeatedly warn you if your GPU runs out of VRAM, and it did crash at least once on the 1650 during testing, though I couldn't reproduce it in limited testing.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Wolfenstein: Youngblood initial performance thoughts

So far, I'm enjoying Wolfenstein: Youngblood's co-op campaign, even though I'm an asocial hermit so I just let the computer control my twin sister. The two girls can be a bit obnoxious at times, but the guns feel good and I enjoy the super powers that come from the special armor. As for performance, I haven't done any CPU specific testing so far, but with framerates well above 200fps possible on the i7-8700K, I don't expect it to be a major concern. Most graphics cards should handle the game as well—even budget GPUs at 1080p low should be more than playable.

I'm a bit sad that there's no ray tracing support out of the box for Youngblood. That will hopefully come sooner than later, but I was really looking forward to seeing what sort of performance and effects the developers could wring out of the Vulkan API. Compared to many DX12 games, the id Tech 6 engine tends to run better. Maybe it doesn't look quite as good as some other games, but 4K at maximum quality at well over 60fps is a nice change of pace. Of course, other levels in the game may be more demanding, but I didn't have a chance to play through the entire game on multiple GPUs.

As always, thanks to our sponsor MSI for providing the hardware and support to make these performance analysis articles happen. I'll be putting together a full analysis of all the settings along with a video showcasing real-time performance comparisons in the next week or so, but if you're interested in playing Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PC, the testing I've already completed should get you started.

Jarred doesn't play games, he runs benchmarks. If you want to know about the inner workings of CPUs, GPUs, or SSDs, he's your man. He subsists off a steady diet of crunchy silicon chips and may actually be a robot.