Forza Horizon 3 Runs Better Than Ever On PC

Forza Horizon 3 Screenshot

Ever since Playground Games released Forza Horizon 3 for Windows 10, the performance has been a major concern. Some gamers were able to get an acceptable frame rate with either 60FPS or unlocked frame rate selected, while others weren’t. Dropping the frame rate to 30FPS ended up making the cars drive like they were underwater, which was equally frustrating. To Playground Games credit, they have been very supportive of the title, by providing patch after patch. Over time, the performance has either gotten better, or worse in some cases.

However, seeing how the game has been available since September 27th, 2016, many PC gamers had started giving up hope.  If the game wasn’t running better or as it should 6-7 months after release, would the performance issues eventually get corrected? Amazingly enough, they were, thanks to yesterday’s patch.

But I’m you many of you are going to ask “Keith, how sure are you that this patch fixed the issues?”. Very sure, actually. You see, many had suggested that the issue that was plaguing the game was due to the game addressed the CPU or threads. Many had reported luck by forcing the game to use a specific number of cores using Windows’s affinity process. “Obviously, that is a lot of work, and the changes don’t stay once you restart/power off your PC. I would imagine that this put Playground Games on the right path to resolving this issue.  

Can you guess what was added in the recent patch? They introduced “Threaded Optimization”, among several other changes.

Improved CPU Performance

We have observed that a large portion of players are CPU limited when trying to run Forza Horizon 3 at high frame rates, including locked 60 FPS and unlocked. By analyzing telemetry, we have developed targeted optimizations for this group of affected players by increasing the number of concurrent threads used by the render architecture. We have taken further advantage of DX12 capabilities to allow the visuals to be processed out of order during the frame, in order to reduce synchronization stalls and decrease CPU execution duration. These changes result in a significant CPU performance gain on High or Ultra settings when running on PCs of Recommended spec or better.

Updated Thread Model

We have updated our threading affinity model to make better use of all available cores. Along with this change, we have added a new graphics option to disable the new model, should you prefer. This option can be found in the Video Settings menu under “Threaded Optimization”

Let’s just say once the patch was installed, I went and did some testing. Let’s just say, there was a huge difference in what I observed. With my settings at ultra, MSAA x4 and dynamic optimization disabled, I was able to do the following on testing/HTPC setup;

Intel E3 1231 v3 (think i7-4770)
Nvidia GTX 1080
Windows 10 Pro
16GB DDR3 Ram
4TB Western Digital Blue

I ran 3 goliath races (1080p & 4K) and several street races around the city areas in the game, where the frame rate drops were easily apparent. The results were the same regardless of what I did.

1920 x 1080p & 60FPS enabled = locked 60FPS
1920 x 1080p & frame rate unlocked = average 80fps
4K (Nvidia DSR 4x resolution) & 60FPS enabled = locked 60FPS
4K (Nvidia DSR 4x resolution) & frame rate unlocked = average 80fps

As I was testing on a 4K TV, I didn’t have the ability to test at 1440p and I didn’t make a custom resolution. But at the same time, if both 1080p and 4K were giving me those results, I have no doubt that 1440p would be any different.  That said, after I concluded my testing, I did my rounds to see who else was having the same sort of results. A quick glance over on Reddit and NeoGAF allowed me to see others having the same experience. Multiple people were reporting the same results as me, with little to no stutter and locked fps. This also included racing around the city areas in the game, where the frame rate drops were easily apparent.

It would seem that, for now, Playground Games has addressed the poor performance issues with Forza Horizon 3. And while the fixes weren’t exactly timely, I’m happy to see that we’ll no longer have to hear people complain about the PC version being subpar. There will likely be some people that still have performance issues, but not in the same numbers as before.”

Hot Wheels

My inner child needs this.

Oh, and pick up that Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels expansion. If you loved Hot Wheels as a child or still do, you’ve going to enjoy it.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.