Most Graphically Demanding PC Games 2021

Do you have a powerful GPU and want to put it up to a test? Here is a list of all the best graphically demanding PC games to play right now.

PC gaming has come a long way since the days of simple text-adventure computer games.

Modern video games are constantly pushing the boundaries of our CPUs, GPUs, HDDs, and SSDs until we eventually cave and accept it’s time to upgrade.

In this list, we’ll be recommending the most graphically demanding PC games that will push your rig to its limits, for better or worse.  

If you feel like we overlooked your favorite game, sound off in the comments and let us know.

Lastly, remember to check back in the future as we continue to update this list with new games!

Related:Most Realistic Video Games, RankedBiggest Open-World Games Ranked By SizeBest Looking PC Games 2021

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The Forza Horizon games have always taken an arcade-style approach to racing and are generally a lot more forgiving than its counterpart, Forza Motorsport.

Forza Horizon 4 features a massive, fully-explorable open-world filled with detailed locations and a variety of racing challenges.

It’s definitely the kind of game you want to play on the highest settings your PC can handle to get the full experience.

While the game recommends you have an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290X, the most demanding spec is actually memory, with 12GB of RAM needed to run optimally.

The Grand Theft Auto games see you playing as work-for-hire criminals who are more than willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty for mob bosses, street gangs, or just for the sake of anarchy.

GTA 5 presents the biggest and boldest experience to date, introducing three new playable characters in its single-player story as well as the ability to create your own avatar in GTA Online.

The game’s sprawling open-world is comprised of two regions: Los Santos and Blaine County, with both offering an exhaustive amount of detailed landscapes and a wealth of activities to explore.

Meeting the recommended system requirements shouldn’t be a problem for most, but if you want to play the game at 4K 60 fps, you’re going to need a more powerful GPU and high-resolution monitor.

Control is notorious for having demanding graphics that can be quite taxing on mid-range PCs, with even some higher-end ones still struggling.

Thankfully, there have been several updates since the game’s release to scale back Control’s GPU-intensive framework, requiring a GTX 1660/1060 or Radeon RX 580 to maintain a steady 60 fps.

In it, you play as Jesse Faden, a woman tasked with exploring a secret government facility called the Oldest House, which just so happens to be overflowing with paranormal activity.

It combines the best parts of metroidvanias, shooters, and science fiction novels to create a thrilling rollercoaster of frenetic combat and dynamic exploration.

As great as Red Dead Redemption 2 runs on consoles, the PC port of the game was met with backlash at launch due to how poorly optimized it ran, even on powerful machines.

While Rockstar has stepped things up in this regard, you’ll want to make sure your rig is up to snuff before venturing into Red Dead 2’s lovingly detailed open-world.

The recommended system requirements call for an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 at 6GB and 4GB, respectively.

Much like Rockstar’s other high-profile open-world game GTA 5, you’ll want to have at least 12GB of RAM for it to run smoothly. 

Before the release of Crysis Remastered, we were all but ready to retire the infamous “can it run Crysis?” meme and move on with our lives.

However, Crytek had other plans in store and decided to up the ante by remastering the game’s graphics with improved lighting, volumetric fog, ray-tracing support, and up to 8K resolution textures.

Despite Crysis Remastered being based on the inferior console build’s architecture, it can still be quite demanding for most PCs.

An Nvidia GTX 1660 TI or Radeon Vega 56 with 12GB RAM is recommended for the most optimal results, leading many of us to unironically ask ourselves, “can my PC actually run Crysis?” yet again.

CD Projekt Red’s ambitious open-world action RPG still serves as a reliable benchmark for high-end gaming PCs, even in 2021.

This can be mainly attributed to a large number of graphical mods and built-in settings that allow you to tweak The Witcher 3’s visuals and up the detail on things like characters’ hair and textures.

Of course, every good thing in life comes at a price. For the best experience, CD Projekt recommends you have a GTX 770, Radeon R9 290, or equivalent graphics card.

 Anything less, and your game will run the risk of outputting less than 30 fps. The requirements for running the game at high-resolutions are even steeper, with even RTX 2060 GPUs struggling to keep up.

Open-worlds as gorgeous and lovingly handcrafted as Final Fantasy XV’s usually come at the cost of needing a remarkably powerful PC in order to experience it in all its glory.

And while we commend Square Enix for sticking to their vision, we wish we didn’t have to give up 16GB RAM and over 150GB of available storage in the process.

Of course, many of these hurdles only apply if you’re trying to play FFXV at 4K 60 fps, but even after lowering the game to 1080p, you may find your machine’s still not up to snuff.

It’s recommended you have a GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480 for the best results. Still, you may run into the occasional hiccup during bigger battles with a lot of enemies on screen.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is arguably the best-looking game Ubisoft’s ever made and features the most detailed depiction of Ancient Greece ever rendered in a video game.

However, as we’ve already discussed at length, games of this caliber always come with a price tag, in this case, the amount of a GTX 970 or Radeon R9 290 graphics card.

You’ll also want to have at least 8GB of available RAM, an Intel Core i7 3770 or the AMD equivalent, and roughly 45GB of disk space.

If you meet all of the above and are still experiencing issues getting Odyssey to run properly, you may consider adjusting the game’s draw distance and dynamic lighting effects.

The third entry in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise depicts a much darker, morally gray Lara Croft than previous installments.

Therefore, it seems only fitting that Shadow of the Tomb Raider has some pretty harrowing system requirements, especially when it comes to RAM-consumption.

The game recommends at least 16GB RAM for the best results, along with a GTX 1060/Radeon RX 480 GPU or equivalent and an i7 4770K/Ryzen 5 1600 CPU.

However, if you have any hopes of hitting consistent 60 fps, you’ll likely need a GTX 1080 at the bare minimum. And don’t even get us started on the requirements for playing in 4K…

If you’re really looking to see what your gaming PC can do, Project Cars 2 is the perfect test case for several reasons.

It features photorealistic graphics as well as dynamic weather and track temperature systems that affect acceleration, handling, and braking via the LiveTrack 3.0 physics engine.

There are also several different racing modes, 140 tracks set in real-world locations, and over 180 vehicles, allowing you to experiment with different parameters.  

This all adds up to an impressive PC gaming benchmark that will push your machine’s CPU, GPU, and memory capabilities.

Other than being one of the most realistic medieval RPGs on the market, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is no slouch in the graphical department and will put your PC through the wringer.

While it calls for a GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 580 graphics card, you’ll likely need a 1080Ti or above to get anywhere close to 60 frames in the game’s more populated cities.

That’s before even highlighting the game’s ridiculous 16 GB RAM recommendation.

This isn’t all that surprising once you realize Deliverance’s Dunia engine is based on the same CryTek engine that powers the Crysis games.

Another title that utilizes the Crytek-based Dunia engine is Far Cry 5, much to the dismay of Far Cry fans who primarily play on PC.

Although it allows for more beautifully-rendered environments and realistic physics, it can tough on many mid to high-range machines.

It’s recommended you have a GTX 970 or AMD R9 290X, but to get a steady 60 fps at 1080p or above, expect to need a GTX 1080 or its AMD equivalent.

Add to that an Intel Core i7 (preferably the 6700 model but the 4770 should suffice) and 8GB of RAM (again, more is always better), and it’s easy to how Far Cry 5 made it onto this list.

Hitman 2 features some of the most engaging sandbox levels we’ve ever seen in a game starring a stoic bald assassin.

Each one is larger in scale than the first Hitman and introduces new win conditions, disguises, and opportunities to cause mayhem.

However, to get the most out of the game, you’ll want to make sure to have something in the realm of a GTX 1070 for your GPU.

An i7 4790 is recommended for the CPU and, probably the most egregious, enough memory to afford you 16 GB of usable RAM.

At the time of its release, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided set a new standard for PC graphics, especially if you tried playing the game using its Ultra preset.

Unfortunately, most of us will never get to witness such things firsthand since even meeting the game’s recommended settings will prove challenging for most.

A GTX 970 or AMD equivalent to start; ideally though, a GTX 1080 or better if you want smooth and consistent 60 fps.

Then there’s the matter of memory, a recurring hurdle in this list. For the best experience, Mankind Divided calls for a whopping 16GB of RAM.

The Metro games have only improved with each entry, and Metro Exodus is by far the most impressive one to date.

Besides sporting next-gen graphics, it features larger sandbox environments, a tighter story, and an addictive blend of action and stealth-based gameplay.

One of the game’s biggest selling points is its support for Nvidia’s ray tracing-enabled graphics cards, which greatly improve lighting effects in RTX-compatible games.  

It’s recommended you run the game using at least a GTX 670/1050 or above and a GTX 1070 for steady 60 fps performance.

The latest iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator is worth checking out just to see if your machine can properly run it.

The game harnesses data from Bing Maps in conjunction with Microsoft’s Azure Cloud technology to generate 3D representations of real-world mountains, forests, and airports.

What makes it so demanding are the textures that get rendered in to simulate real terrain and bodies of water.

You’re looking at a GTX 970 or AMD equivalent with 16GB RAM for steady performance. Just make sure you have enough storage to account for its massive 150GB install size.

While it’s definitely not without its flaws, especially at launch, Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the true next-gen showcase titles.

Of course, this doesn’t mean much for PC gamers where generations are defined by new graphics card lineups.

Still, with features like ray-tracing support, deep-learning super sampling (DLSS), and additional graphics options, you can fine-tune the experience to see just what your rig is capable of.

The game recommends you have a GTX 1060 or higher and at least 12GB RAM for optimal performance.

Ghostrunner is a stylish first-person action game that casts you as a sword-wielding assassin tasked with infiltrating a heavily guarded data tower. 

You ascend the massive structure with fluid parkour movement and a grappling hook before zeroing in on a target and dispelling them with a cyber-enhanced katana blade.

While its recommended specs aren’t too bad, GTX 970 or AMD equivalent GPU and only 8GB of RAM, getting the game to consistently run at 60 fps can prove challenging for older hardware.

We suggest giving it a shot if you’re a fan of the cyberpunk aesthetic, including neon-rich visuals and synth-heavy soundtracks.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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