The official game for the current Formula 1 season is here. On PC, F1 2021 will offer ray tracing for the first time to improve graphics. And it works very well: F1 2021 has a comparatively low performance of retracement shadows and reflections. Testing with multiple benchmarks clarifies whether it is worthwhile in the overall package.
PC version of F1 2021 being tested
F1 2020 has been changed: the official game for the current Formula 1 season will again move to the next round this year. In F1 2021 you can now fight for the championship with the existing cars and some improvements. Furthermore, this is the first version that is no longer published by Codemasters, but by EA – even though development still took place mainly in Codemasters Studio.
F1 2021 isn’t just a “next-gen game”, the latest version is also available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Accordingly, the graphics don’t make a huge jump, but it’s still better than the predecessor. Not only that, but among other things, this is due to ray tracing, which will be used for the first time in F1 2021. The developers have updated the Ego 2.0 engine, which is no longer completely fresh.
Overall, F1 2021 is a really good game that doesn’t score points with highlights and doesn’t do anything extraordinary, but it just creates a consistent environment that’s hard to beat. The lighting, surface details and actual route details are taken a step further. In the end, it’s enough to look “up-to-date” again. But next year’s part should take a big step forward.
PC version only with DirectX 12 and ray tracing for the first time
While F1 2020 still offers DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, F1 2021 will only have DirectX 12. It’s also worth mentioning support for Nvidia’s intelligent AI upsampling DLSS, and AMD’s FidelityFX sharpening and upsampling. The new FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and thus technology that competes with DLSS is still untouched.
F1 2021 offers a better graphics menu on PC than its predecessor. The options are still many, if not exhaustive. The game offers an FPS limiter that can be freely configured between 30 and 250 FPS. A dynamic resolution is part of the game, which tries to have an adjustable target frame rate of 30, 40, 60, 120 or 144 fps. To make this possible, a minimum resolution (up to 50 percent in 1 percent steps) and how aggressively the game must try to achieve this can be determined.
In addition, there are five different graphic presets with Ultra Low, Low, Medium, High and Ultra High, a configurable integrated benchmark and, more recently, descriptions of individual options. In-game down- and up-sampling is unfortunately still missing, the same applies to the sampling screenshots.
Like the predecessor, a different coverage is selected for AMD and Nvidia graphics cards. Nvidia HBAO+ is used on GeForce, while Intel-developed ASSAO is used on Radeon. The latter looks better and should also be used on GeForce graphics cards as there is hardly any performance cost.
Whoever selects the highest graphic preset turns off one option, as with the F1 game: the optional “Screen Space Shadow” is intended to improve shadow quality. This costs a lot of performance and only looks better when ray tracing shadows are turned off – the option isn’t worthwhile on most graphics cards.
Anti-aliasing only averages
TAA is still the standard anti-aliasing of F1 2021. It operates at an average level, delivers good image sharpness from WQHD and smooths out a large portion of the image effectively. However, some objects still flicker, which can be largely corrected with just several pixels, but Ultra HD is also not optimal in this regard.
Intel-developed post-processing AA CMAA F1 is missing in 2021 for the first time in a long time, but it’s not sad. The game’s own checkerboard rendering with half the resolution on the horizontal pixel axis, which is used on consoles for higher resolutions, is also missing.
DLSS and FidelityFX remain
The more important options remain DLSS and FidelityFX. With DLSS there is still only an “on” or “off” setting option, with FidelityFX there is still a choice between re-sharpening or optionally rendering at lower resolution and then resharpening. More details about the options will be given in a later paragraph.
On the next page: Raytracing, DLSS and FidelityFX in F1 2021