Hogwarts Legacy is one of the final games that are cross-gen. Last-gen versions of the game have been delayed so that devs can deliver a polished game for PC and current-gen consoles. Optimizing a game for PC is no simple task, considering there are so many PC configurations. Also, recent PC ports of AAA video games haven’t been optimized and faced issues like shader compilation stutters, low FPS, and general unoptimization. Is Hogwarts Legacy optimized for PC? Does it have shader compilation stutters? We will try to answer that in our Hogwarts Legacy PC Performance Review.
Hogwarts Legacy PC Performance Review
Unlike our PC performance reviews for AC Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion, we will test Hogwarts Legacy on a single mid-range PC. I have access to just one PC, and since most of the PC community plays on mid-range PCs, it’ll give a good idea of the game’s performance. The following are the PC specs used to benchmark Hogwarts Legacy.
- Intel Core-i5-12400F 6 Core/12 Thread CPU
- Zotac GeForce RTX 3060 12GB
- 16GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200 MHz
- Windows 11 Pro
Hogwarts Legacy offers several graphical settings that can be tweaked. They are detailed, and even DLSS and FSR settings tell you the resolution the game is rendering at. My only gripe with the Hogwarts Legacy settings is that it doesn’t offer Fullscreen exclusive Fullscreen options. There are only Windowed or Windowed Fullscreen options.
I’ll review Hogwarts Legacy’s PC performance by running the game at different presets and will list my experience and average FPS. I’ll also talk about specific game settings and their impacts, like Ray Tracing and upscaling techs like FPS and DLSS.
Recent Unreal Engine titles were plagued with shader compilation stutter. This stutter occurs when the game compiles shaders for every new animation, new action, or entering a new area. This sours the experience; fortunately, Hogwarts legacy doesn’t compile shares as you play.
Hogwarts Legacy compiles shaders when the game is launched. However, this shader compilation takes place every time you boot the game, which becomes annoying as it takes some time to complete depending on the hardware. In-game, there are no shader compilation stutters.
Ray Tracing effects need a beefy CPU, and a mid-range CPU like Intel i5-12400F is incapable of such a task. Hogwarts Legacy is CPU bound most of the time with Ray Tracing enabled, which causes a lot of hitching and frame time spikes. Capping the game’s Max FPS didn’t help as the game was still CPU bound.
However, in some instances, Hogwarts Legacy was CPU limited even though ray tracing was off. I assume this is an optimization issue as the GPU and CPU usage drop for no reason and causes hitching and low FPS.
Hogwarts Legacy has issues with the amount of RAM it requires. The official system requirements state that players need 16 GB of RAM to run the game. However, in my testing, I found that 16 GB of RAM isn’t enough to play Hogwarts Legacy. Hogwarts Legacy’s RAM usage was above 90%, with no background programs running. With a single Edge browser tab opened in the background, things become even worse as the game constantly stutters as there is less RAM available. In one case, I experienced a game crash because there wasn’t enough RAM available. So do keep that in mind while playing Hogwarts Legacy on PC.
In recent years some incredible image upscaling techs have appeared in the market and evolved to provide better image quality, like FSR, DLSS, XESS, and Apple’s MetalFX. Hogwarts Legacy supports all except for MetalFX. I have tested these upscaling techs, and here are the results. Note that I tested all upscaling techniques at Ultra settings with Ray Tracing disabled.
Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling is probably the best upscaling tech, as Nvidia is pushing it hard and actively working to improve quality. My preferred upscaling tech is DLSS, as I own an RTX 3060. I didn’t find any issues with the DLSS at the Quality preset. The image was nice, and I didn’t notice any artifacts that would distract players. However, at 1080p resolution, players will notice a dithering artifact on NPC hair, but even that is not very noticeable and only occurs occasionally, depending on the scene.
Using DLSS at Quality preset with everything Ultra and Ray Tracing disabled, Hogwarts Legacy ran at an average of 135 FPS.
FidelityFX Super Resolution, or FSR, is AMD’s answer to DLSS. However, this is a software-based solution but isn’t hardware-locked like DLSS. However, FSR can cause some occluding artifacts, but it’s on par with DLSS in overall image quality. However, performance does take a hit using FSR at quality preset, as Hogwarts Legacy ran at an average FPS of 124 with the same settings. The game also offers FSR 1.0, but it’s better not to use it due to its inferior image resolve. Below is a comparison of DLSS(left) and FSR(right).
Ray-traced effects are all the rage nowadays, and Hogwarts Legacy features a few, like reflections and ambient occlusion. These ray-traced effects come at an FPS cost.
Ray-traced reflections were one of the main marketing points for Nvidia while pushing for RTX GPUs. Hogwarts Legacy does support ray-traced reflections. Without enabling ray-tracing effecting, the game ran at an average of 120 FPS inside Hogwarts. Enabling Ray Traced Reflections at Ultra quality dropped FPS by 35%, which is quite expensive.
However, ray-traced reflections do not apply to all reflective surfaces. As you can see below, water uses the old SSR (Screen Space Reflections) technique, which only renders reflection if the object is in the player’s field of view.
Aside from water, I couldn’t find any other surface that exhibits the same behavior. As you can see below, the floor reflects the scene’s entirety. However, the resolution at which these reflections render is low. This isn’t an issue at higher resolutions like 1440p or 4K. But at 1080p, the reflections look noticeably blurry.
Ray-traced shadows is one of the settings that have no transformative effect on the game except for the FPS. Enabling Ray Traced shadows improved shadow quality, but the image quality didn’t feel different. On top of that, enabling those settings dropped my average FPS by approximately 38%.
Ambient Occlusion is another ray-traced effect that Hogwarts Legacy offers. If the ray-traced ambient occlusion is disabled, the game uses a SCreen Space AmbientOcclusion effect, which only creates shadows or darkened outlies for objects in the player’s field of view; below is an example. As you can see in the video below, if the player itself is obstructing the view, the SSAO stops working. However, Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t explicitly state which technique it’s using as it’s bundled with other post-processing effects like motion blur.
Like Ray-traced shadows, enabling ray-traced ambient occlusion had no transformative effect on the game. While it did add shading to those objects where previously was none, overall, Hogwarts Legacy kept using its screen-space solution for most objects. Even with ray-traced ambient occlusion enabled, you will keep seeing the artifact if you or any other NPC obstructs the object.
In my experience, enabling ray-traced effects, except for reflections, had nothing to offer to improve image quality significantly. I recommend only enabling ray-traced reflections in Hogwarts Legacy as Ambient Occlusion, and Shaodws cost too much FPS and give almost nothing in return.
From the start, it’s clear that Hogwarts Legacy is a demanding PC game. The FPS is all over the place at Ultra settings with DLSS Quality and Ray Tracing Enabled. The video below shows that Hogwarts Legacy is constantly dropping below 60 FPS.
Now, there is much going on in the prologue in terms of heavy alpha effects. However, when the prologue concludes, and we reach Hogwarts, the FPS becomes even more variable.
Inside Hogwarts is another story as the game struggles to maintain a good avg FPS. Not to mention the hitches that happen while moving around the school. Of course, a mid-range PC isn’t supposed to run a game like Hogwarts Legacy at Ultra Settings with Ultra ray tracing effects. Also, the game is CPU limited with ray tracing enabled. As shown in the video below, the GPU usage drops around 80% or lower, and the game struggles to keep up.
Performance improves a lot when ray-traced effects are disabled. However, the game is still CPU limited, especially in areas where NPC crowds are dense, and GPU usage drops as low as 71%.
High preset with high Ray Tracing effects is where I was able to get a good experience playing Hogwarts Legacy. However, the game is still CPU limited in some cases. Despite that, I could cruise through Hogwarts with an average of 76 FPS. This means players with a modern mid-range PC can easily play the game at 60 FPS with a mixture of High and medium graphics settings.
As I mentioned, Hogwarts Legacy is CPU limited when Ray tracing is enabled. Disabling Ray tracing at High preset, I got 80+ FPS, and Hogwarts Legacy was no longer CPU bound. The hitches were gone, and the game ran smoothly and even got a perfect 60 FPS lock with good frame pacing.
Hogwarts Legacy puts Unreal Engine to good use. It’s an optimized title that can easily run at High settings on a mid-range PC. Including upscaling techs like DLSS, FSR, and lesser-known upscaling techs like Nvidia Imaging Scaling and XESS improves the overall experience. Less than desirable implementation of Ray Traced effects leaves much to be desired considering their FPS cost. The game needs more time in the oven to be optimized as it sometimes doesn’t use CPU or GPU resources. Perhaps post-launch patches will fix it.