Halo Infinite Benchmarked: Master Chief Eats Tons of VRAM

Updated on April 24, 2022

Halo Infinite Benchmarked

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Halo Infinite adds to the Xbox Series X/S library with yet another huge release, and because it’s a first-party title, Microsoft has also released it on PC. Naturally, we’re interested in seeing how well Halo Infinite performs on the most powerful graphics cards. Because this is an AMD-sponsored game, we received a game code for testing reasons. Regrettably, the code was for the Microsoft Store, which remains the least user-friendly of all the major distribution platforms. This does enable Xbox and PC Play Anywhere support, but I’d rather have the game on Steam. That, however, is beside the issue.

We just published an article on what constitutes a good game benchmark and why built-in benchmarks are so useful for performance testing. Unfortunately, Halo Infinite lacks a benchmark mode, necessitating manual testing while utilising OCAT to capture frametimes. Our test sequence makes advantage of one of the game’s early outdoor regions, which has been cleansed of adversaries so that we can simply repeat the path without fear of dying. Note that while performance may be higher in other aspects of the game, it may be poorer in multiplayer mode, particularly during a huge combat.

Using the extreme graphics preset in Halo Infinite may quickly burn up a lot of video RAM, as we discovered throughout our tests. While you may be able to get by with 6GB at 1080p ultra, you’ll have a better experience by lowering a few settings till the game indicates it’s not requiring significantly more than 6GB. We’ll go over the ideal settings to change further down the page, but first, let’s look at the AMD and Nvidia GPU benchmarks side by side.

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Halo Infinite Test Hardware

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
We’re thinking about upgrading to a Core i9-12900K and Windows 11 in the near future, so this might be the final game we play on our three-year-old GPU testbed. At lower resolutions, the Core i9-9900K may be a problem, however 1440p and 4K testing typically shifts the bottleneck back to the graphics card.As previously stated, Halo Infinite is an AMD-promoted game, implying that the developers may have benefited from AMD’s assistance in tuning and optimising the engine. Because AMD’s latest RDNA 2 GPUs typically have more memory than their Nvidia counterparts — except at the RTX 3060 and RX 6600 XT levels — it’s likely it consumes a lot of VRAM. It’s also a DirectX 12 exclusive, which means AMD’s GPU architectures typically outperform Nvidia’s unless the creators spend a lot of time tweaking for other GPUs.We’re running AMD’s 21.12.1 drivers, which were released just a few days ago and reference Halo Infinite enhancements specifically. We’re utilising the most recent Nvidia 497.09 drivers, which are also Halo Infinite Game Ready. We tested with the game’s public release, including any fixes, so this is what people should be experiencing right now. Of course, the test sequence and other gear will have an impact on performance, but there isn’t much that can be done about it.

Halo Infinite PC Performance at 1080p

We’ll start with the most basic of our test configurations: 1080p at extreme quality. Except that we’re playing on a PC with a 4K monitor, and the game’s Microsoft Store version doesn’t have any resolution settings. You can choose between running in borderless (desktop resolution) or windowed mode. We could technically adjust the desktop resolution before starting the game, but it would take longer, so we just used the built-in resolution scaling slider and set it to 50% — we’ll look at “native” 1080p performance when we get to the settings study below.

Halo Infinite utilises 7.11GB of video memory at 1080p (4K with 50% scaling) at 50 percent scaling. Obviously, this could be a problem for some GPUs, and we noticed some oddities during longer play sessions, while Alt+tabbing out of the game and back in, and even when modifying settings. Even the 8GB RX 6600 XT was prone to slowdowns over time while using the extreme preset, though Nvidia’s RTX 2060 didn’t appear to have any such issues. It’s possible that AMD’s drivers merely need to be tweaked to increase memory consumption.

Using the extreme preset and expecting buttery smooth frame rates may be asking too much of some graphics cards right immediately. Only the RX 6700 XT and above held minimum (99th percentile frametimes converted to fps) over 60 fps in the campaign portion of the game, while only the RTX 3060 and above averaged 60 fps or above. Multiplayer can certainly lead to lesser performance than what we’ve seen so far.

While it appears that the RTX 2060 has a slightly lower minimum frame rate than the RX 5600 XT, keep in mind that these are the best results of three independent experiments. Playing for longer periods of time — such as completing numerous levels in the campaign — resulted in performance drops on AMD GPUs with only 6GB or 8GB.

Halo Infinite PC Performance at 1440p

Rather than adjusting the desktop resolution and restarting the game, we choose to use the in-game resolution scaling for 1440p. On a 4K monitor, we utilised 67 percent scaling, which results in a render resolution of 2573×1447, which is subsequently upscaled to the 3840×2160 resolution of our display. If you run at 1440p on a 1440p display at native resolution, you’ll get somewhat improved performance, but it’ll only be about 3–5% better.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
If 1080p ultra seemed taxing, 1440p ultra will necessitate one of only a few GPUs to maintain a consistent 60 frames per second. Even if the RX 6700 XT and RTX 3070 Ti are sufficient, minimums can go below 60. AMD’s RX 6900 XT continues to outperform Nvidia’s RTX 3090 (and, by extension, the 3080 Ti), which could be owing to AMD favouritism — or at the very least, a lack of completely tuned Nvidia performance.Despite the RTX 3060’s 12GB VRAM, the RX 6600 XT 8GB comes out on top once more, but longer play sessions rather than a 60 second benchmark run tend to shift positions. At 1440p, the RX 6600 XT’s performance deteriorated to roughly 30–35 frames per second instead of the 49 frames per second displayed in the chart. Hopefully, driver or game upgrades will be able to resolve this issue.Even though both cards have 6GB of RAM, the same issue happened with the RX 5600 XT, but not so much with the RTX 2060. The 5600 XT ranks somewhat higher overall in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, by roughly 4%, thus the 5.4 percent lead displayed here is well within the expected range. However, if the 5600 XT’s performance deteriorates, it can easily go below 30 frames per second.

Halo Infinite PC Performance at 4K

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
Given the outcomes at other resolutions, you’d think that 4K ultra would be too demanding for most graphics cards, and that’s exactly what happened. The RTX 3090 (and 3080 Ti) averaged little over 60 frames per second, whereas the RX 6900 XT managed 67 frames per second. Unless you choose somewhat lower settings, there will be regions and conflicts in the game when you will slide below 60, regardless of your graphics hardware.You can also check how VRAM deficiency affects performance on GPUs with less than 12GB of RAM. During lengthier test sequences, the RTX 3060 now has a significant advantage over the 6600 XT. The RTX 2060 also outperforms the RX 5600 XT by a significant margin.You won’t be able to run at 4K on any of the lower-end GPUs, but 4K with textures and geometry set to medium (rather than ultra) more than quadrupled the performance of the RX 5600 XT. If you simply need 30 frames per second or more, you should be able to bring any of the GPUs we tested up to a relatively consistent 30 frames per second or more with a little tweaking.

Halo Infinite Settings Analysis

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Halo Infinite

 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
When it comes to modifiable visual settings, 343 Industries goes all out. V-sync, maximum frame rate, and range of vision are among the more than two dozen options available. There are four presets in the game: Low, Medium, High, and Ultra, which essentially set all of the different parameters to the relevant value.As you might guess, many of the settings have very little visible difference – and this applies to both performance and what you see on the screen. Only seven of the options had a significant impact on performance, and while some of these effects are cumulative, other of the settings also had a little impact on performance. Basically, there are a lot of margin of error findings, which strangely apply even to some parameters that would ordinarily cause a larger change in performance.Almost all of the options may be changed without restarting the game, but you may want to do so depending on your GPU and VRAM. Texture and effect quality require a restart to take effect, and we tried each setting numerous times to check the results (preserving the highest score) — included restarting the game in between settings changes to ensure the results were legitimate.Image 1 of 26

Halo Infinite

 

Halo Infinite Settings – Ultra (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
You can see screenshots of all the different settings, and most of the differences between the settings at max and min are often minor. In reality, outside of the varied lighting from the clouds and sky, the difference between minimum and maximum quality isn’t significant when looking at the ultra, high, medium, and low presets. You wouldn’t miss anything if you played at a low or medium setting.When you consider both performance and image quality, Halo Infinite doesn’t appear to have much scaling. We were unable to break 120 frames per second with either the RTX 3060 or the RX 6600 XT, despite the fact that the 9900K is CPU constrained. We did obtain 154 frames per second with the RTX 3090 at 1080p low, and the AMD RX 6900 XT would probably go even higher, but most “ordinary mortal” PCs should aim for 60 frames per second rather than 120 or 144 frames per second.If you want to fine-tune your settings, Geometry Quality, Shadow Quality, and Effects Quality are the most performance-impacting options – assuming you have enough VRAM. Texture Quality improved performance by 12 percent on the RX 6600 XT, where VRAM was a major limiting issue, Geometry Quality improved performance by 25 percent, while Reflections, Cloud Quality, and Terrain Quality all improved framerates by at least 4 percent.It’s also worth mentioning that disabling Async Compute reduced performance by 8% on the Nvidia GPU and 15% on the AMD GPU. Disabling Async Compute may benefit older Nvidia architectures (such as Pascal and Maxwell), however AMD GPUs and Nvidia’s Turing and Ampere architectures did not.

Halo Infinite PC Looks Great but Requires a Decent GPU

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
Halo Infinite requires a Radeon RX 570 or GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, as well as a Ryzen 5 1600 or Core i5-4440 or greater processor. That’ll probably just bring you 1080p low at 30 frames per second or more. The recommended system requirements for 1080p high at 60 frames per second are a Radeon RX 5700 XT or GeForce RTX 2070, as well as a Ryzen 7 3700X or Core i7-9700K. You might be able to get by with little less hardware, but at the very least, you’ll need a GPU with at least 3GB VRAM, preferably 4GB.That shouldn’t come as a shock. While the game is available on the Xbox One and the upgraded Xbox One S/X, it is designed to run at 30 frames per second and features dynamic resolution scaling that ranges from 720p to full 1080p, with the latter occuring frequently during intense bouts. The CPU on most PCs will be faster than the Xbox One’s, but the GPU may be a different story. In any case, Halo Infinite was clearly designed to take advantage of Xbox Series X technology, so having a PC with equal capabilities will come in handy.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
Professional critics have given Halo Infinite a positive assessment, however user feedback has been mixed. The PC version has a Metacritic score of 82, but a user rating of only 6.4. Not surprisingly, many people are dissatisfied with their performance. Unless you have a GPU with 12GB or more memory, most people will prefer to stick with the medium-to-high graphics presets. Even at maximum settings, don’t anticipate extraordinarily high frame rates, since the RTX 3060 — which has roughly the same performance as the RTX 2070 — only managed a little more than 60fps at 1080p ultra. That’s alright, because the game looks excellent even at the medium setting.Only the Halo Infinite campaign necessitates the purchase of the game. If you merely want to play multiplayer, you can do so for the low, low fee of nothing. Games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Valorant, and other multiplayer games have clearly transformed what players expect from a game. So, if you want to see how the game plays on your PC, it’s quite simple to do, and the only potential expense is the 50GB download’s internet usage.