Alan Wake is a Third Person Action game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The game was first released on May 18 2010 for XBOX 360 and almost two years later we have it on PC.
A pretty interesting thing happened with Alan Wake. The game was announced back in 2005 for XBOX and PC but the PC version was canceled after Microsoft got it as a exclusive title for its console. The interesting part is that Remedy convinced Microsoft to “allow” a PC version of the game. This version was in development for approximately 7 months.
The most important question is this: How optimized is Alan Wake for PC? I’ll try answering this question by doing multiple tests.
First of all, I will test Alan Wake with different operating systems (Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8) to see if there are any performance differences between them. Then I’ll look into how much CPU power it needs to run properly, this is the main problems with ported console games. And finally, I’ll look into how the game performs and looks with different settings and drivers.
Alan Wake’s version is: 1.00.16.3209
Each test will consist of 3 runs of 60 seconds. The area used for testing is found between the emergency box where you get the flare gun and the bridge just before the lighthouse. The area chosen might not be the best for testing purposes because it’s not 100% repeatable but after doing a few runs the margin of error was rather small and acceptable. The main reason behind choosing this area is that it has everything: enemies, explosions, shots, flying objects, flashes of light, fog; And the most intensive part of the test is the flare gun shot, where FPS drops to the 30s and the minimum FPS is registered. I believe this is the perfect area that combines almost all intensive elements of Alan Wake’s gameplay.
Settings: Settings are maxed out @ 1680×1050, the only difference between Maximum Settings and High Settings is that High has 4xAA enabled and Maximum has 8xAA.
FPS was recorded using Beepa Fraps 3.4.7.
CPU usage was recorded using Windows Performance Monitor. Processor(_Total) with a sample interval of 1 second.
GPU Usage was recorded using MSI Afterburner 2.2.0 Beta.
|Test Hardware | Alan Wake Benchmark|
Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge)
3.3 GHz, OC = 4.5 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache, power-saving settings disabled, Turbo Boost disabled.
|Motherboard||MSI P67-C43-B3, Intel P67 Chipset|
|Memory||2 x 2 GB DDR3 1600MHZ|
WD 500 GB SATA III (OS)
Samsung 750 GB Sata II (Game)
|Graphics Card||Sapphire HD6950 1 GB|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX 650 W|
|System Software And Drivers|
Windows XP x32 SP3
Windows XP x64 SP2
Windows 7 x32 SP1
Windows 7 x64 SP1
Windows 8 Developer Preview x32
Windows 8 Developer Preview x64
AMD Catalyst 12.1 WHQL
AMD Catalyst 18.104.22.168 ( Windows 8 )
Operating Systems Comparison
Alan Wake behaves 99% the same with all tested operating systems, performance is exactly the same with all of them. I didn’t notice any differences in loading times, graphics or any other thing between them. It’s safe to say that Alan Wake is perfectly optimized for at least these 3 operating systems and performs the same no matter the architecture, x32 or x64.
CPU and Cores Comparison
Alan Wake started just fine with 1 core enabled but it wouldn’t load any savegame or new game, it loaded forever. I let the game load for 10 minutes but the loading disc kept on rotating without any success. Furthermore, the menu was very laggy and even if the game loaded it wouldn’t be playable.
There are literally no differences in performance between different numbers of cores available. 51 average FPS across the board. This and the fact that GPU usage is all the way up indicates that Alan Wake is very well optimized. I really expected some sort of CPU usage issues with Alan Wake especially if the game was first released on a console. Obviously I was dead wrong.
Here you can see exactly how the processor is used. The CPU usage is fairly stable except for a short time (between seconds 47 and 52), this is the part where a barrel smashes into the bridge and a lot of debris appear, here, physics calculations are needed. Obviously, for AMD Graphics Cards, physics are calculated by the CPU.
|CPU Usage||GPU Usage|
|1 Core OC||N/A||N/A|
|2 Cores OC||82%||99%|
|3 Cores OC||60%||99%|
|4 Cores OC||43%||99%|
The GPU Overclock to FPS Ratio is almost 1:1. I’ll explain this; for every 1% in GPU Overclock you’ll get a 0.8% improvement in frames per second. That’s pretty good. This is another sign that Alan Wake is well optimized, this is exactly how a game should behave.
If you’re using CrossFire: AMD recently released a CAP with a profile for Alan Wake that should improve CrossFire scaling, you can get that CAP from here: Catalyst Application Profiles 12.1 CAP 3.
AMD Catalyst Drivers Comparison
Using different AMD Catalyst drivers won’t make any difference with Alan Wake, we’ll have to wait until AMD releases a driver with some optimizations for this game.
It is great that the developer added a lot of quality settings you can fiddle with. To be honest, the differences in graphical details between Low and High are not that big, biggest one is shadows quality, taking into account that Alan Wake is a “nocturnal game”, shadows won’t be very noticeable but these kind of things are very subjective so it’s up to you to decide if you’re sacrificing performance for some fancy shadows. Going from High to Low settings will let your GPU render ~74% more frames per second.
Image Quality Comparison
I’m very pleased to see Alan Wake perform the way it does, never expected to see this kind of game (console version released before the PC one) perform this good. The game might not be the best looking game out there but you can’t disagree with the fact that the lighting in Alan Wake is close to perfection. Transition between light and dark is done very smooth and the feeling you get from playing Alan Wake is almost unique. The only thing I don’t like about the game is the camera control, I always need to push three buttons and make adjustments with the mouse to run in the direction I want.
- Alan Wake performs the same no matter on which operating systems it is played on.
- No more than two cores are needed for the best performance at highest settings, even to process intensive scenes.
- Overclocking the CPU is useless (for current gen, high end CPUs). If you have an older generation processor this is actually recommended
- GPU usage is always at 99% (depends on your CPU), this means no stutter or big frame drops.
- Overclocking the GPU is very useful, almost 1:1 ratio return (OC in % : FPS gained in %).
- AMD Catalyst drivers have no say in increasing/decreasing performance.
- Differences in graphical quality between different quality presets are small in comparison with FPS gained.