DirectX 12 vs Vulkan API – A Detailed Analysis

DirectX is an assembly of API designed specifically to handle tasks related to multimedia, especially games on Windows platforms. With the release of Windows 10, came DirectX 12. DX 12 promised gamers higher frame rates using the same settings. Vulkan API, on the other hand, was developed by Khronos Group. Vulkan API too promised higher performance and a drastic reduction in CPU bottleneck.

The gaming industry has come a long way in bridging the gap between reality and virtual reality. This is where AMD’s Mantle API came. Mantle API promised to give more control to developers by providing them access to high-level program based tools that would help developers to create more realistic and dense worlds. Both DX 12 and Vulkan API are developed based on Mantle API. Here is a comparison of Microsoft’s DX 12 and Vulkan API in terms of features, performance and compatibility.

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1. DirectX 12

How it works

With DX 11, all the major work is done on a single core. DirectX 12 is programmed to split the workload among other cores. DX 12 is also optimised to use CPU and GPU more efficiently during rendering and displaying high-resolution runtime image.

Performance

DirectX 12 is considered as a massive overhaul of DirectX 11. DirectX 12 was developed specifically to achieve “console-level efficiency” and improved CPU parallelism and to reduce driver overhead similar to AMD’s Mantle API. Recently, Square Enix released a DX 12 patch for the new Tomb Raider Game. While running the game on high settings using DX 11 on a Nvidia GTX 870m, I could barely get a steady 30 FPS.

Benchmark Results: (DX 11)

 Max: 33 Avg: 28 Min: 24

While enabling DX 12, the performance was very solid with occasional stutters and crashes (When the quality was set above high).In some areas, the game was able to reach 40+ FPS.

Benchmark Results: (DX 12)

 Max: 43 Avg: 34 Min: 29

Of course, many Nvidia high-end graphics cards like GTX 980 and the 970 was able to perform identically on DX 11 and DX 12. However, in some dense areas, the game held a steady fps on DX 12 unlike the DX 11 which suffered frame drops. AMD cards, on the other hand, suffered performance issues when using DX 12. The AMD cards perform well on other games such as Ashes of Singularity and the new Hitman game. So it is not clearly a Win-Win for both of them.

Compatibility

DirectX12 supports only Windows 10 and Xbox One. Click here for the list of games with DX12 support.

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