Its been 6 years since Assetto Corsa has been available on Steam and has concluded its development cycle for quite some time now.  In 2020, AC has evolved quite significantly thanks to community development like Custom Shader Patch and SOL, AC’s graphic capability has been enhanced with new features like procedural grass effects, watch effects, sparks, smoke particles, dynamic skies, and even experimental ray tracing support!  

We want to find out if the recommended specs for Assetto Corsa when launched in 2014 is still capable of running smoothly with all the new additional features. We will also compare with a PC in a similar price range today in 2020 to see how much advancement has improved (or not) the performance of our PC running Assetto Corsa.

We will only consider the dollar amount without including inflation and our budget will be set at $1500. In 2014, a $1500 budget can get you an i7 4770, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 770 whereas today we can get a Ryzen 5 3600, 32GB of RAM, and a GTX 2070 Super.  The cost here is the raw component cost before tax only and does not include case, power supply, and Microsoft Windows, as all of those components were reused in the new build.

In 2014, the GTX 770 is the equivalent of our RTX 2070 Super, however, due to difficultly in sourcing, we have decided to buff the older PC with a more capable GTX 980Ti.

Both setups are running at stock clock settings and with a clean install Windows and the latest drivers. AC is running CSP 1.52 and both are running with graphical settings maxed out.

How do they compare?

2014 PC

CPU: Intel Core i7 4770

Ram: 16GB DDR3 1600

MB: Gigabyte Z97 Gaming 5

Video Card: GeForce GTX 980Ti

SSD: Intel 660p 512GB M.2 NVME SSD

 

2020 PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Ram: 32GB DDR4 3200

MB: Asus ROG B450

Video Card: GeForce RTX 2070 Super

SSD: Intel 660p 512GB M.2 NVME SSD

 

In the gameplay test, the 2014 PC is borderline playable at full graphical settings under hot lap or with a lower amount of AI,  lowering graphical settings would help to improve frame rates and playability.  Let’s see how the numbers stack up with the 2020 PC.

 

3D Mark Time Spy

2014: 6380

2020: 9662

 

AC Bench

2014: 7848

2020: 16006

The synthetic benchmark shows that there is a 30% increase in performance but the AC benchmark is much more impressive and also more applicable. With a gain of over 100%, it is a HUGE leap forward and it shows in-game. The 2014 PC ran at ~60FPS whereas the 2020 machine ran comfortably at 120FPS. New high detail circuits such as Macau and Baku are playable with a full grid of AI and the performance is a stable 80FPS. Increased FPS is hugely beneficial in sim racing as it is much more fluid and you feel more in sync with the car. That said, we have yet to reach the limitation of the physics engine as it is designed to work up to 400 Hz which means we would need to be able to run at a stable 400FPS+ to reach the limit.

VR performance is also now acceptable on our 2020 PC, we were able to keep a steady 45FPS and have a very playable environment thanks to Oculus’ Asynchronous SpaceWarp. We can look forward to more VR performance improvement in the future both from a software and hardware standpoint. There is plenty of improvement that could be made in VR to further enhance the experience, and we may see the most gain in this space with future hardware tech. We do not recommend VR running on the 2014 PC, the hardware specification is simply not up to it. We were not able to achieve and maintain the minimum playable 45FPS, therefore we would deem it being unplayable.

After the testing, it turns out the CPU is the biggest bottleneck in AC’s performance, especially with a full grid of AI. We placed the same 2070 Super into the 2014 PC and only saw a 20% increase in AC’s benchmark. While the GPUs have seen larger gains over the years, CPU tech hasn’t advanced as much as we hoped until the release of AMD Ryzen “Zen2” chips. We can see sim titles benefit a lot from the CPU upgrade as sims not only have to render high detail scenarios but also simulate real-world physics and opponent AI which are very CPU intensive tasks. With CPU being freed up and able to process more data quicker, we see a much higher increase in GPU efficiency further increasing overall performance, as it is no longer bottlenecked by the CPU.

Final verdict, the 2014 PC is still capable of running AC, even with a significantly more powerful GPU, the results of both the synthetic and in-game benchmarks show just how far silicon has advanced in half a decade. It has greatly changed the Assetto Corsa experience to a level not imaginable in 2014.  

Comparing the 2014 spec hardware with 2020 spec hardware, we can see that in 2020, tech has progressed greatly and Assetto Corsa has seen benefit with the enhancing both visual fidelity and driver’s feedback via faster physics calculation. A stable fast performing PC also allows the driver to be more consistent as graphical stutter is less likely to occur. Assetto Corsa itself should not be treated as something from 2014 anymore and it is as demanding as its second generation title Assetto Corsa Competitizone. 

Therefore we think that the new recommended setup should be updated for Assetto Corsa and would be somewhere along the lines of our 2020 PC Hardware specification.  

Even though AC seems like a last-generation title, it is still cutting edge and is limited by hardware advancements.  We have yet to reach its potential using future hardware.  Right now AC is just beginning to mature and enter its prime. Also Thanks to mods, there is an insanely large content library that is expanding day by day, with plenty more content for hundreds of hours of enjoyment on your newly purchased Axon GT Simulator!

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