The Best Games to Benchmark your PC in 2021


If you want to test your computer’s gaming performance, you need to use one of the best games to benchmark your PC. A lot of games don’t provide consistent, reliable results, and others could provide a skewed view of how your hardware stacks up. We rounded up 10 titles that are consistent, repeatable, and clearly show how powerful your PC is.

Most of the games we chose have built-in benchmarks. All you need to do is find the benchmark — it’s usually in the Graphics menu — and run it. Others don’t have an in-game benchmark, so make sure to use a program like FRAPS and find a short section to play through to test your system’s performance.

Further reading

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

A Viking holds a shield durign a siege in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla isn’t as demanding as some other titles on this list, but it’s an excellent way to benchmark your PC. It has a built-in benchmark that produces consistent results, serving as a solid baseline that you can compare to other machines.

The game uses the now aging AnvilNext 2.0 engine. It’s capable of impressive visuals still — Valhalla is a beautiful game — but its not as demanding as some other engines. It’s consistent, and that’s what’s important. We’ve ran dozens of tests through Valhalla‘s built-in benchmark with only minor variations between trials.

Read our Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review

Red Dead Redemption 2

Arthur Morgan mounts a machine gun in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has a built-in benchmark, too, but it’s much longer than Valhalla‘s. It provides an overview of sustained performance in a demanding title, stressing your CPU and GPU. In addition, it uses the Vulkan application programming interface (API) by default, serving as a change of pace from the DirectX APIs many games use.

This benchmark has a quirk, though. Instead of presets, Red Dead Redemption 2 has a performance slider that adjusts settings based on your hardware. For the best, most consistent results, we recommend cranking the slider to its max setting when running your first test.

Read our Red Dead Redemption 2 review

Control

Control protagonist Jesse explores the game's facility.

Control is a solid DirectX 12 benchmark thanks to its access to real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). The game is a machine of physics simulations and lighting, highlighting some of the most demanding tasks PCs can handle today. Unfortunately, it lacks a built-in benchmark, so you’ll need to find a patch of the game to test yourself.

Although Control is great for testing the latest GPU technologies, it’s not consistent. Enemy spawns are random, so it’s hard to find a consistent place to test, and the physics simulations can throw things out of whack. Still, Control is a great way to push your hardware and test the newest features available on graphics cards.

Read our Control review

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 Dubai level.

Hitman 3 provides an interesting in-game benchmark. Instead of a set scene, the game loads you into the Dartmoor level with infinite ammo weapons and the option to spawn waves of guards. It’s a good way to press your CPU and GPU at the same time, with large, complex environments and dense A.I. on characters.

Although Hitman 3 can stress both, it serves a good GPU benchmark. It’s well-optimized to take advantage of a lot of cores, so most modern gaming CPUs shouldn’t get stressed too hard. A lot of the pressure comes from complex physics simulations and particles, which are mostly handled by your graphics card.

In addition to the Dartmoor benchmark, Hitman 3 includes set benchmarks if you want a repeatable test for performance.

Read our Hitman 3 review

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus gameplay.

The Metro games have long stood as the titans of PC gaming benchmarks, and Metro Exodus is no different. Its graphics options don’t consider what people have, but rather what people could have in the future. It’s a taxing game with the latest Nvidia technologies, ultra-high-quality textures, and some intense lighting options, to boot.

The big reason we’re including it here is the Enhanced Edition. This upgraded version requires a ray tracing-capable GPU because every light source uses ray tracing. Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition offers a rare glimpse at a future where graphics cards are capable of rendering solely ray-traced lighting, and it will bring even the most powerful PCs to their knees.

Read our Metro Exodus review

Microsoft Flight Simulator

An airplane flies over a city in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is, like Metro Exodus, a game designed to take advantage of future hardware. It demands massive amount of video memory to stream in high-resolution textures, as well as many fast CPU cores as possible. In short, it hits on all fronts. The CPU handles all of the intricacies of a flight simulation, while the GPU is hard at work rendering the beautiful world.

Beyond your CPU and GPU, Microsoft Flight Simulator stresses every part of your system, down to your networking. While Metro Exodus and Control stress your GPU, and Hitman 3 and Civilization VI tax your CPU, Microsoft Flight Simulator does both, offering a good overview of system performance.

Keep in mind how demanding this game is, however. It will reveal bottlenecks in your system that otherwise wouldn’t show up in other games.

Civilization VI

The map in Civilization VI.

Civilization VI isn’t good for testing frame rates. It’s not very demanding, and it’s designed to scale down to low-end hardware. However, it’s great for benchmarking your CPU. Using the in-game benchmark, you can run a simulation of end-game turns and time how long it takes for those turns to complete.

This is useful for testing the speed of CPU cores. Overclocking a processor usually shows clear improvements in the turn time benchmark, showcasing the improvements in clock speed. If you want to sanity check that your overclock is actually improving your gaming performance, Civilization VI is a good benchmark to use.

Read our Civilization VI review

Forza Horizon 4

A car racing in Forza Horizon 4.

Forza Horizon 4 is a stunning racing game, and it includes a dense in-game benchmark. The benchmark offers three different frame rate read-outs — GPU, CPU render, and CPU simulation. It also shows how much RAM and video memory the benchmark required, giving you an indication of if you can turn up your settings or not.

In addition to great insight into your performance, Forza Horizon 4 scales well across hardware. It was designed to run on everything from the base Xbox One to the Xbox Series X, after all. It shows clear steps between graphics cards as they climb in performance and price, offering a good indication of how your PC stacks up.

Read our Forza Horizon 4 review

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider includes a built-in benchmark that’s highly repeatable — similar to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Outside of being a pretty game that can tax high-end hardware, the built-in benchmark provides solid insights into performance, including CPU and GPU rendering times and 95% low frame rates.

It’s best as a DirectX 12 benchmark, however. Although you can run Shadow of the Tomb Raider with DirectX 11, the game shows noticeable performance improvements with the newer API. With DirectX 12 selected, Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows solid scaling across settings and hardware. That combination is hard to find, as most titles scale more toward settings or hardware.

Read our Shadow of the Tomb Raider review

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

A battleground in Ashes of the Singularity.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is almost solely a CPU benchmark. Although a GPU benchmark is available, the main reason to use Ashes as a benchmark is that it can take advantage of a lot of cores. In early 2021, the developers updated the game to take advantage of up to 32 cores, which is far more than most games.

It likes a lot of fast cores, making Ashes is a great benchmark for testing not only your CPU’s clock speed, but also its core count. Outside of testing your processor, Ashes also includes some demanding graphics settings with the Crazy preset if you have a high-end GPU you want to stress.

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