Sleeping Dogs is a open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games and Square Enix London Studios, published by Square Enix. The game was initially announced in 2009 as a original IP but later it was named True Crime: Hong Kong, only to be dropped by Activision, immediately the rights were bought by Square Enix. The rights to the True Crime name remained under Activision so the game was renamed to Sleeping Dogs.
The development story behind Sleeping Dogs resembles the one behind Duke Nukem Forever, which was a total failure. The developers at United Front are ex employees of EA BlackBox, Rockstar, Radical Entertainment, etc. They only developed two games and both of them were for PlayStation 3 but all devs have experience with open world games.
Developers worked close with AMD to have fully optimized drivers on release date. Sleeping Dogs uses DirectX 10 and 11 APIs, DirectX 9 and Windows XP are not supported.
On release date the game had a lot of issues: settings not saving, crashes to desktop, poor performance (for both AMD and nVidia Cards), unresponsive UI and other game breaking glitches, bugs etc. In a a week, the developers have updated the game to 1.4 which fixed some of the issues.
Before proceeding, the in game benchmark feature does a lousy job at recording the maximum FPS. The differences between one run and another can be extremely big. I’ve discarded the lowest and highest values for Max FPS and only noted the middle value, opposed to doing the average between the three runs. The minimum and average FPS recorded from the in game benchmark feature are reliable. Once again, you might want to ignore the Max FPS values.
All the tests were done using two settings: High and Extreme. Because FXAA + SSAA can be extremely taxing even on high-end hardware, I wanted to see how the game performs with these two settings under different batteries of tests.
FPS was recorded using the in game benchmark option.
CPU usage was recorded using Windows Performance Monitor. Processor(_Total) with a sample interval of 1 second.
GPU Usage was recorded using MSI Afterburner 2.2.3.
Sleeping Dogs is updated to v1.4
|Test Hardware | Sleeping Dogs 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 7 x32 SP1
Windows 7 x64 SP1
Windows 8 Pro x32 build 9200 (RTM)
Windows 8 Pro x64 build 9200 (RTM)
|Driver||AMD Catalyst 12.8 WHQL|
Operating Systems Comparison
It’s a good occasion to see how the final version of Windows 8 (x32 and x64) performs in comparison with Windows 7. AMD’s latest Catalyst driver (12.8 WHQL) brings full Windows 8 support, right on cue.
Excluding the Maximum FPS, as I said in the beginning, extremely unreliable; both Windows 7 and Windows 8 are on par regarding performance. Both operating systems behaved absolutely the same: same loading times, same IQ, etc. I’m not going to go into further details as I will probably do a Windows 7 vs Windows 8 benchmark in the near future.
CPU and Cores Comparison
As you might imagine, Sleeping Dogs will not work with just one CPU core; the game starts just fine but in freezes on the loading screen.
On Extreme Settings, there aren’t any differences in performance between different numbers of cores and even overclocking won’t improve performance. With High Settings, the only thing that improves with the number of cores available is the minimum FPS, overall performance is the same.
Enabling Extreme AA = FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti Aliasing) + SSAA (Super Sampling Anti Aliasing) will put a lot of stress on the GPU and will lower performance by almost 50% opposite to Normal AA. If you’re going to use HD Textures, AA will not be necessary especially at high resolutions.
The GPU usage is fairly good in comparison to similar titles (Grand Theft Auto IV) but there’s always room for improvement. Sleeping Dogs doesn’t take advantage of more than 3 cores and the CPU usage is relatively small for a game with this level of detail.
|CPU Usage||GPU Usage||CPU Usage||GPU Usage|
|2 Cores OC||67.8%||98.4%||89.8%||94.4%|
|3 Cores OC||52%||98.6%||67%||95.4%|
|4 Cores OC||38.4%||98.9%||59.8%||95.8%|
Overclocking the GPU seems a reliable “procedure” to improve performance but in this case doing so will not do much of a difference. With a little bit of registry tweaking you can achieve higher clocks but be warned: Sleeping Dogs will put huge stress on your GPU, watch those temperatures !
As you guessed, the most taxing setting is AA, disabling AA completely will increase FPS by more than 50%. The differences in IQ between the last 3 levels of quality (medium, high, extreme) will not be noticed right away, the only striking difference will be noticed in the lack of shadows on Low quality setting.
AMD Catalyst Drivers Comparison
It seems that AMD optimized their drivers long before the release of Sleeping Dogs because a 5 month old driver performs the same as a two weeks old one. The bottom line is, don’t bother with drivers while playing Sleeping Dogs…
There’s one certainty with Sleeping Dogs: it will tax your GPU. Remember, low performance doesn’t necessarily mean bad optimization, low usage of resources does. Technically speaking, Sleeping Dogs is a good console port due to the “limited” mouse and KB support, it has its good and bad parts.
Image Quality / Performance ratio is good and that’s what counts, these things are hard to quantify but looking at past games (Batman AC DX11, Rage, GTA IV), Sleeping Dogs is optimized to run at high quality settings even on 2-3 years old hardware. Even though the game had tons of issues on release date, developers quickly rolled out a few updates that fixed the most concerning problems and hopefully they will continue to do so.
Because the development studio, as an entity, is new to PC games, I thing they did a good job with Sleeping Dogs and I’m looking forward to future United Front developed games.
- Reasonable amount of graphic options
- HD Textures
- Graphics well above average
- Reasonable usage of resources, still needs improvements
- Relatively low CPU usage
- Performs the same on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 (x32 and x64)
- All recent AMD Catalyst drivers perform the same with Sleeping Dogs
- Mediocre Mouse and Keyboard support
- Bugs, glitches, CTDs
- Hardware Intensive on High/Extreme quality
- Developers choice of AA is a bit extreme, FXAA + SSAA is too much for mainstream hardware
- HD Textures uses a lot of VRAM
- Overclocking the CPU and GPU will only increase average FPS by 1-2 FPS
Before I wrap this up, if you get this warning message while playing Sleeping Dogs generally means one thing: your Graphics Card doesn’t have enough RAM to handle HD Textures, either lower settings or disable HD Textures completely.
I played the game with a gamepad and after 15 minutes the monitor goes into sleeping mode, this is definitely a game issues as other games don’t have this problem. So if you’re playing with a gamepad I suggest disabling sleeping mode…or wiggle the mouse every now and then.