It’s a good thing NVIDA are only bundling Rise of the Tomb Raider with their GTX 970 cards and upwards because they don’t recommend you use anything slower for 1080p play.
It would have been awkward to package it in with something like their GTX 960, only to have it function well below their own standard – an average of 60 frames per second at high settings.
“To determine the recommended NVIDIA graphics card, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics leveraged our experienced team of testers, who located a 2-minute repeatable segment of the expansive game that was graphically demanding and representative of the other graphically intensive moments of the game,” said NVIDIA.
They went onto state that with further testing, their “technical marketing team concluded that a 60 frames per second average during this particularly demanding scene, on the High-detail preset, delivered the best balance between graphical fidelity, input responsiveness, and performance in all of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay locations and cutscenes.”
It’s quite the disparity between NVIDIA’s recommended requirements and Square Enix / Crystal Dynamics’ publicised minimum requirements, a GTX 650 2GB.
The GTX 970 isn’t just a little faster than the GTX 650; it’s a lot faster – a lot more expensive too.
Then you get to 1440p play, where NVIDIA recommends a GTX 980 Ti, which is essentially a GTX Titan X, or very nearly anyway.
The reason for Rise of the Tomb Raider’s need for more pixel pushing grunt than you might have expected is all of the neat, additional GameWorks technologies implemented by NVIDIA.
Weirdly, this has Rise of the Tomb Raider’s GPU requirements, possibly, varying according to your preferred brand of card.
Because AMD cards don’t support a vast array of GameWorks, not properly at least, you might not need a card near as fast as the GTX 970 for similar performance – it will sport inferior visuals however.
Given how the reboot performed, we doubt it. You’re probably going to need a Radeon R9 390 if you’re in the red camp.