Tom Clancy’s The Division Performance Guide

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a new massively multiplayer IP developed by Ubisoft Massive, formerly known as Massive Entertainment. As some of you may know, Massive Entertainment was acquired by Ubisoft in 2008, a year of publishing World in Conflict, and has since gone on to develop Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and Far Cry 3. The Division takes place in a near-future mid-crisis New York City after a smallpox pandemic sweeps through the city on Black Friday.

  • API: DirectX 11
  • V-Sync: Yes
  • Anti-Aliasing: Yes
  • 4K Support: Yes
  • Unlimited FPS: Yes
  • Adjustable FOV: No

The Division is an open world, multiplayer, 3rd-person shooter with RPG elements, in a similar vein to Destiny. Players share a common world and are visible to one another, but player-vs-player combat happens only in “The Dark Zone”, an area that is separate from the main campaign and completely optional.

TheDivision 2016-03-15 23-42-44-95

Before starting a new game, you’ll be given the chance to create you own unique character, though customization options are rather limited when compared to other RPG’s. Throughout the game you’ll earn experience points, currency, and loot which you’ll use to improve and further customize your character.


The Division has a LOT of graphics options, including seven different Ambient Occlusion settings, 10 different anti-aliasing options, and surprising granular control over image sharpening, object detail, and streaming distance. All told, I tested my way through 90 different graphical settings multiple times each, so it’s taken me quite a while to work through them all…

For my testing, I used a single Radeon R9 290X at the most popular gaming resolution of 1920×1080. As with Far Cry Primal, the developers have been kind enough to provide an internal benchmark, and after a few hours of gameplay, I decided that the benchmark provided an ideal scenario that was both representative of actual gameplay as well as being easily reproducible. I found that the ‘Ultra’ preset provided a good baseline for performance, averaging around 56 fps at 1920×1080 on my 290x, meaning that while the options for a single setting are changed, the rest of the options will be left on the ‘Ultra’ preset. These settings are all shown in the above slides, and of course V-sync has been disabled for the benchmarking.

0-6 FPS ~ Moderate Impact 2-8 FPS ~ High Impact
5-7 FPS ~ High Impact
0-5 FPS ~ Moderate Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
1-3 FPS ~ Low Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
4-9 FPS ~ Very High Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
1-4 FPS ~ Moderate Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
0-3 FPS ~ Low Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
0-5 FPS ~ Moderate Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
2-8 FPS ~ High Impact
0-5 FPS ~ Moderate Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact
1-2 FPS ~ Low Impact
<1 FPS ~ Negligible Impact

Ubisoft has done an admirable job of making just about every setting imaginable into something you can adjust to your liking. Unlike some other recent offers, there isn’t any one setting that will kill your performance, with most settings costing just a modest amount. Additionally, settings like Image Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration, Lens Flare, etc… allow you to fine tune the artistic look of the graphics, without costs any FPS. One last thing I appreciated was that Nvidia-specific settings like PCSS+ and HBAO+ can only be enabled manually, and aren’t included in any of the presets, something other AMD users will no doubt appreciate.

Graphic SettingsPerformance Impact
Shadow QualityModerate
Shadow ResolutionHigh
Spot Shadow CountHigh
Spot Shadow ResolutionModerate
Contact ShadowsNegligible
Post FX AALow
Temporal AANegligible
Sharpen ImageNegligible
Particle DetailNegligible
Enable Wind-Affected SnowNegligible
Volumetric FogVery High
Reflection QualityNegligible
Local Reflection QualityModerate
Sub-surface ScatteringNegligible
Anisotropic FilteringLow
Parallax MappingNegligible
Ambient OcclusionModerate
Depth of FieldNegligible
Object DetailHigh
Extra Streaming DistanceModerate
Chromatic AberrationNegligible
Lens FlareLow
Vignette EffectNegligible

In terms of VRAM usage, The Division is a bit of a strange beast. The game seems to cache what it can and is constantly swapping textures in and out, and as such, it’s hard to really gauge how much VRAM it needs. With my 4GB 290X, I found that it used around 3GB…but that remained the same at 1920×1080 and at 2560×1440. From what I could find of other cards VRAM usage, it seems that 2GB is an absolute minimum for 1080p, while 3GB is recommended for 1080p and certainly anything higher. If you find yourself running low on graphics memory, the only thing you can really do is lower the AA levels (if they’re even enabled).

As for CrossFire support, at the time of this writing the game technically supports it, meaning that both cards are utilized, but there is bad flickering, so I’m going to refrain from testing multi-GPU performance at this time. If you’re running an SLI setup, you should be good to go, as I don’t believe it suffers from the same issues.

The Division runs well, looks nice, and has plenty of options, all signs of a PC port that received the proper amount of care. Keeping it from an ‘Excellent’ rating is the poor CrossFire support, no doubt a symptom of its Nvidia Gameworks integration. If you have any questions or suggestions, be sure to leave them in the comments!

My Testing Rig Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
  • GPU: Radeon R9 290X (Crimson Driver 16.3)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR3
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Final Verdict for PC Quality:

Tom Clancy’s The Division: GOOD (shite, mediocre, good, excellent)

I'm an avid skier, currently working as a software engineer in Rocky Mountain Colorado, USA. I've been a PC gamer for years and my favorite genres are RPG's and strategy games. People are like sausages: it's what's under the skin that's important. So poke them with a fork periodically.

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