Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail’s better graphics will cost you

These graphics demand a small sacrifice.

Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail benchmark runs great but there is a performance sacrifice.

Final Fantasy XIV’s new Dawntrail expansion brings the MMO’s first graphics overhaul in 14 years. Naturally, this level of beauty isn’t free, coming with a performance tax for your gaming PC. The good news is that most systems should still chug along just fine, although you might need to dive into your settings to iron out some dips.

The upgrades touch just about every area of the game, from characters to backgrounds, enemies, and other visual elements. Square Enix says the reason is to “enhance screen-wide aesthetic appeal, texture and shadow resolution, material qualities, and the existing style.” Truthfully, I’m not a fan of the game, but the effort definitely shows because FFXIV is prettier than it’s ever been.

Using Club386’s all-AMD test bench, I compared the Dawntrail benchmark to Endwalker at max settings. Generally, you can expect some performance hits at 1080p, losing around 14% of your average frame rate. Bumping the resolution up to 1440p takes a bigger 26% fps hit. And the most demanding 4K resolution has 30% fewer frames than the previous expansion. You can see the comparison below.

Club386 Test Bench
(Ryzen 9 7950X3D / Radeon 7800 XTX)
fps @ 1080pfps @ 1440pfps @ 2160p
Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail20013662
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker23518588

It’s a similar case for Nvidia and Intel-based configurations, although there’s seemingly a smaller hit at QHD. I saw at 16% slip at 1080p, 22% at 1440p, and 30% at 4K resolution. Of course, these figures are all relative to your specific hardware, but you should have an idea of how this will affect you.

Core i7-14700KF / GeForce RTX 4070 Superfps @ 1080pfps @ 1440pfps @ 2160p
Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail19814369
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker23718599

Given this is the average frame rate, you’ll still see the usual dips. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster in busier cities and during chaotic fights with lots of particle effects. Anecdotally speaking, I’d say it’s a worthy trade-off for the impressive visuals that bring the game into 2024. Plus, you can always lower the settings to find your sweet spot.

Game load times remain mostly the same at HD and QHD, sitting around 8 seconds. It’s not a pretty sight at 4K, however. 2160p resolution takes 134% longer to load, going from 7.667 seconds in Endwalker to 17.907 seconds in Dawntrail. This could be a bug, but the impatient side of me says you’d be better off just going for QHD.

It’s always impressive to see just how much love this game gets from its community and developers. Fans have waited a long while for a bit more polish, and it doesn’t disappoint. Just make sure you have the best graphics card for the settings you prefer before hopping in. It doesn’t need a GeForce RTX 4090 from Amazon, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.