For such a gorgeous game Alan Wake 2 runs surprisingly well on budget graphics cards

Between the exclusive RTX 40-series features required to run path tracing, and the mesh shaders snub for older graphics cards, you might be thinking that Alan Wake 2 isn’t a very well-optimised game. That’s not true, actually. This rather stunning videogame runs rather well on entry-level graphics cards.

It’s true that Alan Wake 2 is stuffed full of high-tech graphics features, such as path tracing support, Frame Generation, and Ray Reconstruction. It’s also true that once combined with a capable high-end graphics card, these make Alan Wake 2 one of the prettiest games I’ve seen yet. Though if you’re willing to make do with less impressive-looking graphics, you can get by just fine with a modern, entry-level graphics card.

I’ve stuck the following budget-friendly graphics cards into our test bench to see what sort of performance you can expect out of Alan Wake 2:

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050AMD Radeon RX 7600AMD Radeon RX 6600Intel Arc A750

For the testing of all four cards, I opted for the medium graphics preset at 1080p. This felt the most likely blend of resolution and graphics fidelity one would expect from these cards in a modern game like Alan Wake 2. 

Since there’s also both FSR and DLSS support in the game, you can bump performance further—I’ve run DLSS with the RTX 3050, as it’s the superior upscaling option in Alan Wake 2 in my experience, and FSR for the rest.

On both of AMD’s cards you can reasonably expect to edge close to, if not reach, 60fps on average. Either natively, as is the case with the newer RX 7600, or with a little help from upscaling on the RX 6600—not bad considering these cards are going pretty cheap today, at around $260 and $200 today. The 1% lows on both cards are a little on the low side natively, though upscaling straightens those out.

The RTX 3050 performs decently well. It’s not my first pick of the bunch—I wouldn’t recommend any of these cards except the RX 7600 today—but DLSS helps out a ton here. It maintains a good level of quality for the performance boost it offers, which is important when you can’t really spare to give up too much quality when you’re gaming at 1080p on medium settings.

The problem child is the Arc A750. From the average frame rate alone, you’d assume it’s a little better than the RTX 3050 to game on. However, that’s why 1% lows are an important metric. These help show frame consistency, which the Arc A750 scores poorly in. It’s probably even worse than the 1% lows let on, as I noticed a significant amount of stuttering every couple seconds or so on the Arc card, whereas I did not on the RX 6600, which performed similarly without FSR enabled. 

When you’re loading into scenes the picture also gets pretty noisy on the A750, though all cards do something similar in Alan Wake 2, to varying degrees.

I’m hoping this can all be sorted out with a new driver from Intel, as that’s fairly often what’s required for new releases with its Alchemist graphics cards.

(Image credit: Remedy)

Though you could always drop down a few choice graphics settings here to make your gameplay that much smoother. The easiest option would be to use FSR or DLSS in Balanced or even Performance mode instead. I would probably avoid Ultra Performance mode, however, at least until you’ve exhausted other options.

Post-processing quality, shadow filtering, fog quality, terrain quality, far object detail (LOD), and texture quality are still set to high even on the medium preset. And scattered object density is set to ultra. Turning all of these down to medium, or low for post-processing, did have a noticeable impact on the overall quality, though I gained 6 fps on the A750 for doing so. If you need a little extra, it’s something.

Alan Wake 2 isn’t quite the graphics chomping brute you might think it to be, then. There’s plenty of scalability here, so long as you’re not using a much older graphics card. Yeah, that still sucks. But there’s hope for the rest of us, and Alan Wake 2 is a damn good way to test your graphics card’s metal. It’s a real beauty.

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