Mafia II: Definitive Edition Testing video cards in the game

Brief information about the game

  • Release date: May 19, 2020
  • Genre: third-person shooter
  • Publisher: 2K
  • Developer: Hangar 13 / d3t

Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a re-release of the popular third-person open-world shooter that combines elements of a car simulator, developed by 2K Czech and published by 2K. The original game was released 10 years ago – in 2010 in a version for PC and game consoles Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. Why are we interested in it? In mid-May of this year, 2K announced the Mafia: Trilogy compilation, which includes improved versions of three games, with story additions and bonuses included.

Of the trio, the greatest improvements are expected in the first part, which was supposed to be released at the end of August, but was later postponed a month in advance and will be released on September 25th. We will definitely return to it, but for now, we will consider the improved Mafia II. Unlike the third game, the re-release of which did not require any special graphic changes, the improvement of this part is made in the form of a remaster – with improved textures, changes in lighting and shading. The new version was released on May 19 on all popular platforms and contained both the game itself and all the additions to it.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition

This is the second installment of the Mafia crime saga and features the events of the 40s and 50s in Empire Bay, New York. The plot of the second game in the series is practically unrelated to the events of the first part. The player will play the role of a gangster in the golden era of organized crime, commit crimes and earn criminal authority. The game has been known to our readers for 10 years now, so there is no particular point in detailed stories about it.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition Gameplay

The Definitive Edition of the second part was met with controversy by players and specialized media. Reviews from the press and ordinary users are mixed, largely due to the dampness and flaws of the re-release, expressed in bugs and problems with graphics, and players were also not satisfied with the few graphic improvements with frankly considerable system requirements and brakes even on top systems. This is due to insufficient optimization of the used version of the Illusion Engine (2K Czech), which was released exclusively for internal use. It was first used in the original version of Mafia II, released in 2010.

Mafia II, released in 2010

2002 Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, the predecessor to Mafia II, used an LS3D engine developed specifically for this game and then applied to other games of various genres. Probably, parts of the LS3D engine code were transferred to the Illusion Engine, which received further improvements from the Hangar 13 studio with the participation of 2K Czech – already for Mafia III 2016.

Previous versions used DirectX 9 and 10 APIs for rendering, but now there is support for more modern DX11. The main distinctive features include support for large open spaces with background loading, bump mapping, dynamic soft shadows with self-shadowing. Also, this graphics engine supports many post-processing effects (defocus, motion blur, imitation of sun glare, hot air and depth of field effects, volumetric sun rays, etc.).

Mafia II 2010

Particularly interesting, and at the same time quite controversial, was the use of the Nvidia PhysX physics engine with the ability to accelerate effects on the GPU. The game makes extensive use of the capabilities of the particle system, there is destructibility of the environment, imitation of tissue behaviour, etc. 10 years ago it was a breakthrough, and similar physical effects looked just fine.

At the time of the release of the game, the graphics in it were very good, but now they are pretty outdated. In the Definitive Edition, we tried to improve it a little, but the matter did not go beyond changing some textures (not even all!) And some improvements in lighting and shadows. And they even worsened something – for example, the possibility of hardware acceleration of physical effects on the GPU was lost. And rather strange “brakes” remained … With graphics from many years ago on the most powerful modern systems!

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System requirements

Minimum system requirements :

  • central processor Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD FX-8120 ;
  • RAM of 6 GB ;
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870 graphics card ;
  • 2 GB video memory ;
  • free space on the drive 50 GB ;
  • 64-bit operating system Microsoft Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10

Recommended system requirements :

  • Intel Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-8350 central processor ;
  • RAM 8 GB ;
  • graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD’s the Radeon R9 290X ;
  • 4 GB video memory ;
  • free space on the drive 50 GB ;
  • 64-bit operating system Microsoft Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10

Since Mafia II: Definitive Edition uses a rather old engine, it does not require the use of the newest graphics APIs, bypassing DirectX 11, and at the same time there are no requirements for using Windows 10 for it. For the same reason, the relatively old age of the engine and the game, albeit somewhat improved, the system requirements for it are far from the most severe.

The developers chose GeForce GTX 660 and Radeon HD 7870 as the minimum suitable video cards – these are already very old models, and 2 GB of local memory on them will be enough for the game. The game requires a system with 6 GB of RAM, and 8 GB is recommended, and this is really quite enough, unlike most modern projects. The game needs a CPU of the level of Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD FX-8120 – this is also noticeably lower than the average requirements for today. But all this is only the most basic level required to obtain minimum comfort.

The recommended requirements are also low, for the CPU this is the level of the old Core i7-3770 or FX-8350, and for the GPU – although the popular cards of the past in the form of the Radeon R9 290X and GeForce GTX 780 are very old, and the amount of video memory will be quite 4 GB is enough. It immediately becomes clear that the game seems to be not particularly demanding on the volume of VRAM. In general, it should “fly” on everything modern. But is it?

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Test configuration and testing methodology

  • AMD Ryzen based computer :
    • processor AMD Ryzen 7 3700X ;
    • cooling system Asus ROG Ryuo 240 ;
    • ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X (AMD X570) motherboard
    • RAM GeIL Evo X II DDR4-3600 CL16 (32 GB);
    • SSD Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 (2 TB);
    • Power supply unit Corsair RM850i (850 W);
  • operating system Windows 10 Pro ;
  • monitor Samsung U28D590D (28 ″, 3840 × 2160);
  • Nvidia drivers version 451.67 WHQL (July 9th);
  • AMD drivers version 20.7.2 WHQL (dated July 14);
  • utility MSI Afterburner 4.6.2
  • List of tested video cards:
    • Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Amp! 6 GB (ZT-P10600B-10M)
    • Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 Amp 8GB (ZT-P10700C-10P)
    • Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Amp 11GB (ZT-P10810D-10P)
    • Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Amp 11 GB (ZT-T20810D-10P)
    • Sapphire Nitro + Radeon RX 580 8GB (11265-01)
    • MSI Radeon RX 5700 Gaming X 8GB (912-V381-065)
    • MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming X 8GB (912-V381-066)

Mafia II: Definitive Edition is not included in marketing support programs from AMD and Nvidia (although the original game supported PhysX), but both companies have optimized their latest drivers for this game. Since we are testing later than the release of the game, we simply used the latest driver versions at the time of testing: 451.67 from July 9 for Nvidia and 20.7.2 from July 14 for AMD, which already have all the necessary optimizations.

It is very good that the benchmark remained in the game, and it is quite convenient. It has several different scenes with effects and locations found in the game. According to the indicators obtained in it, it is quite possible to judge the playability, the repeatability of the results is good, so this built-in benchmark may well be considered reflecting the real comfort when playing. The only thing is that the minimum FPS rate jumps from run to run, and it clearly does not reflect reality. The middle one is fine.

After the test, information on the system configuration (CPU, GPU, RAM, video driver version) is displayed, although with inaccuracies in determining the operating frequency of the processor. But we are more interested in the frame rate, here are the minimum, average and maximum indicators. This is quite enough. For inexperienced users, their decoding is also given – will the game be comfortable. However, it is not particularly accurate, to say the least.

Mafia II settings

The total load of the CPU cores during testing at medium and high settings in 4K resolution on the top-end GeForce RTX 2080 Ti averaged only 10% -15%, and the game clearly runs into the engine’s drawbacks, but the GPU is often idle only when complex physical calculations. At medium settings, the GPU load is surprisingly 95% -99%. This is what the main processor load graph looks like:

GPU load of game

Well, a very strange schedule by modern standards! The number of cores that are somehow loaded with work is very small, and most of them are actually idle. That is, the game is almost not trained on multithreading. Loaded kernels are often limited by the capabilities of one kernel, and several computational threads are clearly poorly used by the game, so fast dual-core processors with virtual multithreading will suffice. Well, that’s enough … However, read about it further.

As usual for shooters, we take 30 FPS as the absolute minimum. FPS drops below this mark are absolutely not suitable for such games, and for minimum comfort, it is necessary that the frame rate is not less than 30 FPS. In this case, the average frame rate should be about 40-45 FPS, and ideally, an average value of at least 80 FPS is required in the absence of frame rate drops below 60 FPS.

Note that the game does not make high demands on the amount of video memory and RAM. At high settings in Full HD resolution, the game consumes no more than 4 GB of video memory, a couple of gigabytes will be enough for medium settings. At 4K resolution, video memory consumption rises to 5-6 GB, but no more. The game’s RAM requirements are noticeably lower than typical ones; the total memory consumption is about 6-7 GB, no more.

Impact of settings on performance and quality

The graphic settings of Mafia II: Definitive Edition are changed in the game itself from the menu, which can be called up, including during gameplay. Changes to almost all settings take effect immediately, without the need to restart the game, which is quite handy when looking for suitable settings. Only when you change the quality of PhysX physical effects will you have to restart the game, which does not cause significant inconvenience.

There is only one image settings menu in the game, in typical items you can select a monitor, change the screen resolution, select windowed or full-screen mode, adjust the vertical sync, frame rate limiter, brightness and focus loss mode. But we are more interested in the menu items that affect the quality of the graphics. There are not so many of them in the game, by the way. But here you can select a preset profile of settings or custom settings. The profiles of the quality settings available in the game are pretty typical, except that the unusual thing is that the maximum level is High.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition settings

As always, it’s best to tweak the rendering quality and final performance to your needs based on your own feelings. The influence of some parameters on the resulting rendering quality with different settings in the game is not always noticeable, especially in the screenshots. From the videos, it will be a little easier to notice the difference in rendering quality, corresponding to the levels of graphic settings, but also not so simple.

The settings in the game do not differ too much in picture quality, and are clearly imperfectly balanced, although the lowest ones make it possible for owners of weak systems to play, and the maximum ones at high resolution, even for powerful systems, can give a rather high load. But it is not always clear what. You can try to estimate the visual difference between medium and high (it is the maximum) quality by videos:

Actually, the most important parameter is the PhysX setting, which affects the overall performance the most. Consider the rendering quality settings available in the game menu. We conducted the research on a test system with a top-end GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and 4K maximum settings suitable for this GPU. The frame rate, in this case, was about 50 FPS – even slightly lower than what is required ideally. Then, adjusting the parameters downward, we determined how much the performance increased – this approach allows us to quickly find the settings that have the most impact on the average frame rate.

The first among the quality settings is Anisotropic Filtering – the name speaks for itself; this is the choice of the level of filtering for textures in the game. The difference between the extreme values ​​was 1-2 FPS from the force, so it is better to turn it on to the maximum possible value of 16 ×, since all modern GPUs easily cope with complex texture filtering, and a low level of anisotropic filtering will lead to too soapy textures on inclined surfaces.

The Shadow Quality parameter is responsible for the quality of rendering shadows, the resolution of shadow maps and their filtering. The difference between Low and High in performance is a maximum of 5% -7%, so it is better to set the maximum possible value for such an outdated game. Only on weak GPUs of the past years, lowering the setting can be at least somehow justified.

The Geometry Detail item changes the quality of the geometry in the scene, the drawing distance and the level of detail of objects depending on the distance from the virtual camera. At least it should, but we didn’t notice any performance impact. There is no difference between Low and High in terms of rendering speed at all, so feel free to set the maximum possible value.

The most important setting is GPU PhysX – this item is responsible for the quality of physical effects executed in the original game on a video chip, and in the converted version – on the CPU. Since this parameter was the most important in the original, it is only natural that it remained significant in Mafia II: Definitive Edition. We saw almost no difference between the disabled effects and the Medium value, but the High setting leads to a drop in speed by a significant 40% (on our system). Naturally, if you do not have enough fluidity in this improved version, then, first of all, reduce the quality of “physics” on Medium.

Another useful setting is HBAO. This is an imitation of global shading using information from screen space. It adds shadows between the edges of objects and surfaces in-game scenes, increasing the volume and realism of the picture. Without this effect, the scene looks too flat and unrealistic and turning it on adds shadows where they are not rendered using shadow maps. Disabling the effect leads to an increase in frame rate by almost 20%, but only for physical effects below the High level. In the latter case, the difference will be much less – 1-2 FPS.

Next are the post-filtering settings: Vignette and Chromatic Aberration – imitation of optical effects: vignetting and chromatic aberration, respectively. These post-effects do not degrade performance at all and should be turned on and off solely due to personal preference. However, on the weakest systems, this can allow you to get a couple more extra FPS.

Moving on to full-screen anti-aliasing. The game supports both MSAA hardware multisampling and Post AA software postfilter. Naturally, the post-filter does not affect performance too much – when you enable SMAA anti-aliasing, you will lose a maximum of 1-2 FPS (with physical effects at maximum, there will be no difference at all), so we recommend enabling it in any case.

But with MSAA, things are more complicated. If you have a powerful enough GPU, you can enable this type of anti-aliasing at the 4x level – this will take up to 25% of the performance. However, with PhysX at the maximum quality, the difference may also not be, as on our test system. You can also choose a lower quality level of 2 ×. But a value of 8 × will lead to a huge drop in rendering speed by about half with disabled physical effects, and only a couple of FPS with the maximum quality of physics.

In this game, almost everything depends on the value of the GPU PhysX parameter. If you prefer to set the quality of physical calculations to the maximum, and you have enough smoothness, then all other graphics parameters can very often also be maximized without an obvious effect on FPS. But if the “physics” is at an average quality level or disabled, and there is still no smoothness, then you should pay special attention to HBAO and MSAA. Everything else does not affect the speed particularly strongly. At least that’s how it turned out on our test system.

Performance testing

We have tested the performance of video cards based on GPUs from Nvidia and AMD, belonging to different price ranges and GPU generations from these manufacturers. In testing, we used the three most common screen resolutions: 1920 × 1080, 2560 × 1440 and 3840 × 2160, as well as two settings profiles: medium and high (they are also the maximum).

All the video cards in our comparison coped with the average settings, so there is no particular point in going down below, despite the potential drops in the minimum frame rate. Traditionally, for the materials on our site, we check the maximum quality mode – one of the most demanded settings among gaming enthusiasts. In the case of the improved Mafia II, the high and maximum settings are the same, so there will be fewer tests today than usual. First, let’s take a look at the most popular Full HD resolution.

Resolution 1920 × 1080 (Full HD)

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test

Even in relatively simple conditions, most of the tested GPUs experienced difficulty reaching the minimum allowable frame rate – at least 30 FPS was shown only by the most powerful solutions. However, the average frame rate was high for all solutions. Alas, the in-game benchmark shows an underestimated minimum frame rate, which has little correlation with gaming comfort. In addition, the minimum indicator can jump from test run to test run, which also does not add credibility to it.

We can say that almost all GPUs, except for the Radeon RX 580, coped with the task of ensuring not just the minimum playability, but the most comfortable one. Although the direct competitor of this solution in the form of the GeForce GTX 1060 did the job. An average of 90 FPS and higher in this benchmark will provide at least 60 FPS in the game, which is quite comfortable and acceptable for all players. Perhaps it is a lack of optimization in AMD drivers. The rest of the graphics cards provided high performance, easily reaching 120-140 FPS on average, which is enough even for the corresponding gaming monitors.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test 2

Performance at high settings dropped dramatically for all GPUs, and the PhysX physics effect quality setting is to blame. Turning it on to the maximum possible level leads to an emphasis on the CPU (since the corresponding effects in the “improved” game are performed exclusively on the central processor), and a strong drop in overall comfort. Such that even on the top-end GeForce RTX 2080 Ti it is simply not possible to play comfortably! Yes, it reached the minimum playability, along with the rest of the fast GPUs, but nothing more.

A pair of junior graphics processors in our comparison does not provide even minimal comfort, the ageing middlings in the form of the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580 are already closer to each other in speed, and even if an average frame rate of 41-48 FPS would be enough, possible drops in their speed shift up to 11-13 FPS will make the process not the most comfortable. It would probably be better to lower the quality of the physical effects.

Higher-end video cards, like the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and Radeon RX 5700 and more powerful, have mastered these conditions, providing at least minimal comfort. The performance of these solutions is not enough for gaming monitors, but 40-50 FPS on monitor models with support for dynamic synchronization (G-Sync, FreeSync) will still be quite pleasant to play. Not sure if the same can be said for higher resolutions, though.

Resolution 2560 × 1440 (WQHD)

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test3

At higher resolutions, the picture hasn’t changed too much. Even powerful solutions nominally failed to show sufficient performance to achieve maximum smoothness, but this is due to the underestimated minimum FPS. In reality, it will be quite comfortable to play on all GPUs, starting with the GeForce GTX 1070, which provided over 80 FPS on average. The best video cards from AMD and Nvidia are enough for gaming monitors with a frequency of 100-120 Hz.

But the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580 cannot boast of this. They again moved away from each other, and AMD’s solution was noticeably inferior. However, with an average of almost 60 FPS and on the GTX 1060, there may be too strong drops in performance. Although this speed may be enough for undemanding players, and enthusiasts, even with medium settings at this resolution, it would be better to lower the settings (first of all – PhysX). Moreover, we will not even recommend a more powerful video card – it can and will help this game in an “improved” form, but not much:

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test 4

When choosing high graphics settings, we again see a severe lack of code optimization and a corresponding emphasis on the CPU capabilities. All-powerful solutions show almost identical results in the minimum frame rate, and their speed differs slightly in average FPS. Considering the understated minimum figure, we can say that all-powerful GPUs still show performance sufficient for minimum comfort. Although 44-50 FPS on average for such powerful solutions in a game with outdated graphics is just ridiculous.

The GeForce GTX 1060 is again ahead of the Radeon RX 580, but both cards will experience massive drops in frame rates below 30 FPS, which clearly does not match the comfort and smoothness. So the owners of such GPUs will definitely have to lower the settings. Even in such a relatively undemanding game, an average of 44 FPS may not be enough – questions about game optimization, which has almost deteriorated compared to the original project.

Resolution 3840 × 2160 (4K)

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test 5

When it comes to the highest rendering resolutions, games tend to be much more demanding on the power of video cards. When 4K is selected, the fill rate requirements are quadrupled compared to Full HD, and this affects the results. But the “improved” Mafia II also excelled here. Yes, under medium settings, the overall speed dropped significantly, but this had almost no effect on the minimum FPS. But with the average, it turned out about the same as in other games.

Only the most powerful GeForce RTX 2080 Ti video card, which showed 80 FPS on average, coped with the task of ensuring maximum smoothness in such conditions (excluding the underestimated minimum FPS). Weaker GPUs are far behind and give only the minimum allowable 45 FPS on average and above. This is no longer the case for the GeForce GTX 1070 since the minimum FPS on it dropped below 20 FPS, which indicates obvious problems in ensuring smooth gameplay.

We don’t even talk about Radeon RX 580 with GeForce GTX 1060, their 26-31 FPS on average is too little. Owners of such GPUs and 4K monitors will have to lower the rendering resolution. Owners of 4K monitors simply need to use powerful GPUs, ranging from the level of GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and Radeon RX 5700 (XT), which averaged 50-64 FPS. This is enough for most players, but not for the most demanding ones. The latter will only fit the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition resolution test 6

From the pluses of the most severe emphasis on the CPU, the transition to high settings does not greatly affect the results even in 4K. These are the same 40-50 FPS on average on powerful video cards. The top-end Turing still does not provide the most comfortable speed, and from the list of clearly inappropriate video cards, only a couple of the weakest ones and the GeForce GTX 1070 in the bargain can be discarded. The Trinity does not cope with providing comfort, but more powerful GPUs do.

But all of them are content with only the minimum level of performance, and the drop in the minimum frame rate reaches already unacceptable values ​​of 17-23 FPS. Taking into account the incorrect display of this value in the built-in benchmark, the real values ​​of the minimum will be closer to 30 FPS, which will allow you to play more or less normally, but enthusiasts with gaming monitors are unlikely to get pleasure from such a game.


It is very difficult to judge the “improved” Mafia II: Definitive Edition by our usual standards. Despite a few improvements, the game still looks very dated, and the replacement of some textures and improvements in lighting did not particularly help bring it closer to the modern level in terms of graphics. The detailing of the game world today is clearly low; the character models are almost from the last century. And in terms of the technology of the engine, the game is already very far behind the current state of affairs, there is no support for modern effects and algorithms, and the PhysX physics effects supported by the engine are outdated and have not received sufficient optimization.

The funny thing is that the performance with a modest (to put it mildly!) Picture in the game is very low, especially if we talk about maximum settings. Even the top-end GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is not enough speed at the maximum quality! However, it is not her fault – it seems that in the reissued Mafia II all PhysX effects are performed exclusively on central processors, and it is the activation of PhysX (especially high quality) that leads to a huge drop in performance and non-smooth gameplay. In fact, the GPU becomes not very important in such conditions, and there is simply no special sense from powerful CPUs. Overall performance is limited by optimization. More precisely, in their absence.

And no top-end video card will help get rid of these problems, since they are related to the quality of the game engine code. Initially, it did not have a particularly good optimization, and even “improved” the republished game rather clumsily, so we don’t see much sense in such a modern remake, to be honest. And we very much hope that the remake of the first part will not be as crooked and braking as the republished second part!

However, conditionally, we can say that for medium settings in Full HD everything is suitable, starting with the Radeon RX 580 and GeForce GTX 1060, at higher resolutions you will need an RX 5700 (XT) and GTX 1080 (Ti), and for high settings, the requirements for The GPU will change little, if you do not take into account 4K, which only the RTX 2080 Ti can handle well. The processor is far more important, but the most powerful CPU model will not save you from performance problems. Therefore, it makes no sense to compare AMD and Nvidia products, although specifically the Radeon RX 580 in this game is still somewhat weaker than its direct rival in the form of the GeForce GTX 1060.

If you still consider the CPU needs of the game, then Mafia II: Definitive Edition does not have a good multi-threaded optimization of physics calculations, so it doesn’t really matter how many cores and threads your processor has. There are four streams – that’s enough. Performance requirements for one core are noticeably higher than typical, but even overclocking to the highest frequencies will still not make the game as comfortable and smooth as possible.

As for the use of video memory, the game is voracious on average or even slightly below average. We recommend 6 GB of video memory – this is enough for all cases, even for the highest settings in 4K. 4GB graphics cards can handle low resolutions easily, but at 4K they can have problems (although they will anyway, who are we kidding). But in terms of the level of system memory use, the game is very democratic, and 8 GB of RAM for a gaming system will always be enough since the total memory consumption does not exceed 6-7 GB.

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