Red Dead Redemption 2: Can it run on an old graphics card?

Last year, I started building myself a new PC as a side project, with the intention of using it for gaming, and eventually, recording gameplay footage. Sadly, because of some budget constraints, I was unable to buy a newer graphics card. And so, for the time being, I’m stuck still using my old GeForce GTX 760 in my newly built PC

It’s funny to see a PC case with a bunch of shiny new parts, and one big dusty block of a graphics card!

Now, I am by no means an expert when it comes to PC components, but I think it is safe to say that my 2013 graphics card is due for an upgrade. While it certainly did well back in the day, in this day and age, newer games are likely not going to handled very well anymore. Even Skyrim Special Edition is showing some performance issues (although that may just be due to hundreds of graphical mods at work)

It makes me sad to see the obnoxious prices of graphics cards, especially after saving up to get one. The rise of cryptocurrency mining has resulted in a massive surge in the demand for graphics cards, and as a result, prices go up.

Everywhere you look online, cards are either sold out, or available at crazy markup prices. Typically, a decent mid-range graphics card could go for about 300 dollars. Or at least, that’s how much I remember paying for my 2GB card many years ago.

And so, until the prices had decided to normalize, I’m stuck with my older card for now.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to see what my old graphics card is capable of. As sad as it is to not be able to play the game at its highest quality, the least I can do is to see how the game runs at its worst. I might even try to record some footage of my findings to see how it goes.

Based on the Steam Store page for Red Dead Redemption 2, the minimum requirements for a GPU is the GTX 770 series. Mine is the GTX 760. If I’m going off of this logic, my PC should not be able to run this game, right?

Let’s test out that theory, shall we?

After spending about 3 hours waiting for the game to download and install, I am happy to say that the game was able to boot up to the main menu, without any crashes. As with any new PC game I play, the first thing I do is delve into the settings section to see how it looks…

If there’s one thing I appreciate about games made by Rockstar, it’s the video RAM counter they show when you adjust the graphics settings. It’s a really helpful way to see how much you may be pushing your GPU.

It’s a good thing I see this, because the default settings for RDR2 are already pushing my card to the limit. In fact, my graphics are set so low that I cannot even play the game at my usual screen resolution of 1680×1050.

There was a Benchmark test button that I could press to see how my performance would look based on my settings, so I took a look. I got on average about 35 FPS. The fact that my settings were set to Low/Medium means that my results are not great, especially considering how used I am to a consistent 60 FPS on my older games.

But that didn’t stop me from further testing things out…. I started up a new game in Story Mode.

Hoo boy, those graphics were definitely not looking good! The particles were fuzzy, the shadows were bad, and the textures were so low res that the Van der Linde gang looked more like wax sculptures than the lifelike people that I saw in trailers and other videos.

I have to admit, in spite of the low quality settings, you could still see some pretty impressive graphical details. For example, our gang had just got out of a snowstorm and into a small cabin, covered in snow. As Dutch was giving a speech to the people, you could see the snow melting on their clothes before evaporating away, just like real life snow.

As soon as Arthur and Dutch were outside, it was time to take the controls. It was a lot easier to see the low FPS at work here. Perhaps the raging blizzard made things harder to see, but the game certainly perform all that great. And sadly, after a few minutes of riding up the snowy mountain, my game ended up crashing.

Likely due to the high demand on my GPU. Indeed when you look at Task Manager, and see your GPU running at about 99% usage, it is safe to say that my old graphics card is being pushed to its absolute limit.

All in all, it was a good experiment. It reminded me of the time when I first started playing Starcraft 2, when it first released in 2010. At the time, my first desktop PC had a 512MB graphics card. Right from the getgo, the graphics were not all that great until I eventually upgraded to a 1GB card, which made a very big difference in quality and performance.

So, does Red Dead Redemption 2 run on an old graphics card? Sort of, but it’s certainly not great. Honestly, my graphics card dates back to 2013, so it is probably about time that I upgrade it anyways. But considering the shortage in graphics cards and the crazy prices, it might be worth waiting a while…

Thank you for reading, and happy gaming!

~Ken

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