Doom Eternal at 8K sends a $2,500 graphics card to hell - but it's still a blast to play

Doom Eternal
(Image credit: iD Software)

Doom Eternal is the latest instalment in the iconic first person shooter game series, and now that it's launched, we couldn't wait to try it out in 8K on our specially-built gaming rig, which features the most powerful consumer graphics card in the world: the Nvidia RTX Titan.

We'd already found that even though Doom Eternal looks fantastic, it manages to run extremely well on a wide range of graphics cards at 4K, but running at 7,680 × 4,320 8K resolution is a whole other level of pain for even the most powerful of gaming PCs.

However, the good news is that Doom Eternal plays impressively well at 8K, easily surpassing our expectations. However, that 8K performance comes at a very high price, both in terms of cash and frame rates.

Click the image to see it in full 8K glory (Image credit: iD Software)

Doom Eternal 8K performance

Our 8K test system

PC built by Chillbast

Motherboard: Asus ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
Case fans: Noctua NF-A14 PWM Chromax 140mm
Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K, 8 Cores / 16 Threads
GPU: Nvidia GeForce Titan RTX
Storage: 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 PCIe
Secondary Storage: 2TB Samsung 860 QVO
Power: Corsair RM850x 80 PLUS Gold 850W PSU
Case: Fractal Design Vector RS Tempered Glass
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z RGB 32GB DDR4 3200MHz
Monitor: Dell UltraSharp UP3218K

So, let's get right to it: how does Doom Eternal run at 8K resolution? We're pleased to say, pretty damn well, all things considered.

Playing Doom Eternal at 8K resolution and with graphics settings on 'Ultra Nightmare', which is the highest they will go, gave us average frame rates of 39.9 frames per second (FPS).

As we mentioned in our in-depth Doom Eternal GPU tests, the game doesn't have a built-in benchmark tool. Instead, we used MSI Afterburner to record the frame rates as we played. These results cover around 15 minutes of gameplay at the start of the game, and include tight corridors, large rooms filled with enemies and wide open spaces as well.

Managing almost 40FPS in ultra settings at resolutions of 7,680 × 4,320 is very impressive, however it's a far cry from the 60FPS minimum most PC gamers expect these days. Plus, if you have a monitor with a high refresh rate, where you usually expect frame rates easily above 100FPS, that 40FPS frame rate isn't going to impress you much.

It's also worth noting that Doom Eternal is a frantic, fast-paced game that's been designed to feel quick and responsive, so having average frame rates of 40FPS (and we recorded minimum frame rates of 18FPS), means you're not going to get the full experience playing at 8K, not matter how good it looks.

Of course, we were playing at the highest graphical settings, so if you spent a bit of time tweaking the graphics, you could boost that framerate higher. However, that leads us on to our other issue with Doom Eternal at 8K...

Click this screenshot to see the level of detail at 8K (Image credit: iD Software)

A monster GPU for monster slaying

To get 40FPS at 8K, we're running Doom Eternal on a PC with an Nvidia RTX Titan graphics card... which costs $2,499 (around £2,000, AU$3,600).

And that's for the GPU alone. We also played it on the Dell UltraSharp UP3218K monitor, which costs $3,899.99 (£3,200, around AU$ 7,000). 

Factor in the rest of the PC, and you're looking at a setup that costs in the region of $10,000 / £9,000 / AU$17,000... just to play a game at 40FPS.

So, is playing Doom Eternal at 8K worth it? No, not at all. Sure, you get bragging rights, but this is a game that places emphasis on speed, FPS and lightning-fast responses, things that are all sacrificed if you play at 8K.

And, while this game certainly looks nice in places, it's not meant to be a graphical showcase. Because hardly anyone will be playing the game at 8K, the textures aren't designed for those resolutions. So, when playing at 7,680 × 4,320, you're getting a hit to the performance without the corresponding bump in graphical fidelity.

Dropping the resolution to 4K, then, gives you a much better return on your investment. In fact, in our tests we found that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super, a GPU that's a fifth of the price of the RTX Titan, can manage 4K at 60FPS.

8K gaming: not ready for prime time, but getting there

So, Doom Eternal's 8K performance is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the fact it's getting over 30FPS (frame rates many people consider the absolute minimum for a playable game) at 8K is impressive.

We tried Gears 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 at 8K resolutions, and both of those  games struggled to run at anything approaching a playable frame rate at 8K, despite the powerful (and very expensive) hardware they were running on.

This is testament to the devs over at iD Software, and the Vulkan API, Doom Eternal uses. This makes the game a brilliant PC port, with performance that easily beats the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, even on cheaper gaming PCs.

And, while 8K gaming at 60FPS seems a while away yet (unless you're playing old games like Halo: Combat Evolved, which we got running at a rock-solid 8K@60FPS), Doom Eternal proves that playable 8K gaming is possible right now for modern games - as long as you have the budget.

However, if you want to play Doom Eternal at 4K and 60FPS, which we think offers the best experience, check out our picks of the best hardware below:

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.