Waited a bit before posting this but I think it’s so significant it’s worth mentioning, since it’s massively out of step with the rest of the game. May serve as a heads up for people considering building or buying a PC for Zwift, supposedly to experience the best it has to offer.
Makuri Islands requires staggeringly high end components to maintain 60fps; not by modern gaming standards but when compared to all the other worlds. You need a highly clocked CPU (Intel 9th gen at 5GHz+ or Ryzen 5000 series) and an RTX tier GPU, because the world design seems to have no consideration for the performance impact of adding more and more assets and effects in a small space/view. For those who may believe this was always the case (there are many misconceptions about what’s needed in a ‘gaming PC’ to max out Zwift), an i3-4130 and GTX 1060 is enough to run the game at 4K and Ultra detail at 60fps+ in every other world on a solo ride, with very few exceptions. Makuri Islands therefore represents an absolutely HUGE step up in system requirements to maintain that same level of performance.
There are two different but related issues, both easily observed using nothing more than Task Manager and the frame rate counter config file hack.
CPU bottleneck scenarios - Much of the time on this world the GPU isn’t able to try its best because it’s being held back by the CPU. This has always happened in Zwift in group events but on Makuri Islands it happens even when there’s nobody else around. You can disconnect from the internet and be at 52fps with the GPU utilisation under 70%. It’s like being in a big group ride all the time, when this is not the case on any other world. Something is going on all the time which is causing way too much CPU load, and so the GPU has to wait. Changing resolution setting or upgrading graphics card makes NO DIFFERENCE in these scenarios; I’ve seen it happen on an RTX 2070 Super, a GPU leagues above the aforementioned GTX 1060. Example: Streamable Video
GPU bottleneck scenarios - In places where the GPU is able to do its best (i.e. where the CPU isn’t the limiting factor) you can be riding along with the frame rate fluctuating by 20-30fps* in a very short timeframe, purely based on the view and what’s on show. Surely it shouldn’t be this inconsistent? The game is on rails, it’s not like we’re able to ride wherever we want. The user can’t interact with the game in such a way that suddenly increases the number of assets/events on screen, like could happen in an online shooter, for example. That quantum of change is astonishing, if a GPU is capable of holding 60fps it shouldn’t be possible to turn a corner and suddenly be at 28fps with the GPU going flat out. Example: Streamable Video
*PS: this isn’t due to vsync.
Monitoring the utilisation of the GPU and the frame rate, it’s easy to see that a typical ride around Makuri Islands sees the bottleneck constantly switching back and forth, as the limiting factor swings wildly from one component to the other. It feels like performance testing wasn’t carried out to ensure the experience is consistent, firstly across this world and secondly in line with the rest of the game. Whacking in more and more eye candy looks great but performance for the end user is all over the place.