Shadow of the Tomb Raider gets Denuvo removal boost

With Shadow of the Tomb Raider (SOTTR) now somewhat long in the tooth, it seems to be the case that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are going to get out of bed with Denuvo. As Bit-Tech has reported previously, Denuvo Anti-Tamper tech comes at a price, and while it might be attractive at game launch time, the tradeoff between game sales income and anti-tamper tech-rent must now be at a pivot point.

The Dark Side of Gaming noticed the removal of Denuvo from SOTTR last week and at the weekend decided to test the performance difference between the Denuvo-protected version and the recently released version with the anti-tamper tech exorcized. Many users complain about their CPU cycles being soaked up by the likes of Denuvo, though publishers typically deny any significant impact, so it is good to A/B such releases to find ‘the truth’.

Please note that the refreshed non-Denuvo version of the SOTTR has been ‘rolled back’ on Steam, but is still available in the beta build section of the store. DSOG tested both versions of the game on the following PC system specs:

  • Intel i9 9900K processor,
  •  Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU,
  • 16GB of DDR4 system RAM at 3,600Mhz,
  • Windows 10 64-bit, using the GeForce 496.13 driver.

Tests of SOTTR were run at both 1080p/Highest Settings (without Ray Tracing or DLSS), and 1080p/Lowest Settings and the built-in benchmark in the search for significance. DLSS wasn’t used as in the patch notes it has been noted that it has been improved between game versions with and without Denuvo tech. No other game optimizations are noted for the sans-anti-tamper version.

DSOG noticed that the biggest changes in frame rates between game versions were when the lower settings were used. In this case frame rate differences of an average of 17fps were observed. Moreover, with HT disabled, a difference of 30fps was observed.

The above indicates that, yes, Denuvo will soak up your CPU cycles, impacting game performance, and those who can less afford such a hit (e.g. older processor with lower core count, no HT) will come off the worst. I have seen similar reports of the GeForce driver having an overhead, affecting lower-power PC systems. Nvidia Driver Overhead could possibly be a contributory factor here with HT off, too.

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