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Final Fantasy XV Denuvo v DRM-Free Demo Benchmark
By Jon Sutton on March 7th, 2018 at 05:22pm - original article from game-debate

Square Enix’s high profile cock-up with Final Fantasy XV which allows users to simply use the demo’s executable to circumvent the Denuvo Anti-Tamper DRM protection on the full game has one decidedly nice perk - it means we can test exactly how the performance of FFXV differs between the Denuvo-protected version and a DRM-free version of Final Fantasy XV.

Denuvo has many downsides for legitimate owners of games, but one of the most widely touted is its impact on gaming performance. There have been many claims that Denuvo affects frames per second over the years due to its consistent cycling rate that may, or may not, unnecessarily stress CPUs.

It's notoriously difficult to benchmark the impact of Denuvo because there are so many moving parts. Graphics card drivers are updated and games are patched at such a rate that it makes it difficult to accurately measure a benchmark with and without Denuvo. Now, I had originally hoped to benchmark a Denuvo-free version of the full game, but it turns out this isn't possible without downloading a pirated copy. So, I had to settle for second best - last week's DRM-free demo of Final Fantasy XV's opening chapter, comparing performance with the retail version of FFXV.

It makes this benchmark very simple. We just had to compare the performance of Final Fantasy XV while playing through the exact same bit of the game. One version has Denuvo running, the other doesn’t.

Final Fantasy XV Denuvo v DRM-Free Demo Benchmarks

Final Fantasy XV benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G | Intel i7-5820K | 16GB DDR4


Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 1080p Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

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Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 1080p Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

 

Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 1440p Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

(Click to expand)

Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 1440p Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

 

Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 4K Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

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Final Fantasy XV MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 4K Benchmarks - Denuvo versus DRM-Free

Demo 1080p 1440p 4K
Low 100 68 37
Medium 81 48 24
High 63 42 22
Ultra 51 39 21

 

Final Game 1080p 1440p 4K
Low 94 66 38
Medium 83 49 25
High 63 43 22
Ultra 56 38 20

And the results, well, if you want to extract some meaning from them then be my guest. My very first benchmark run showed a 6% performance at 1080p/Low, which did get me wondering, but it turns out the final results were all well within the margin for error we'd expect. The frame rates in every benchmarked are nearly identical, indicating that either Denuvo isn't having a performance impact, or that the demo is actually less optimised than the final game and the impact of Denuvo is leveling the playing field. One of those options seems infinitely more likely than the other, to me at least.

As with anything like this, the results are inconclusive. All we can say for certain is that on this particular PC hardware configuration at least, Denuvo doesn't appear to affect FFXV's frames per second.