Box art - Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 PC FPS drops | Vulkan vs. DirectX 12 API

The Red Dead Redemption 2 PC release is finally here, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ready to play. As with the launch of any graphically intensive PC title, Red Dead Redemption 2’s launch has been marked by a number of issues, including audio problems and crashes on startup. One of these issues—the stuttering and FPS drops being experienced by many users—may be related to the game’s prompted choice between the Vulkan and DirectX 12 APIs. In this Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Vulkan vs. DirectX 12 guide, we’ll go over the basics of this choice and what users have reportedly experienced as a fix for frame rate drops.

What are Vulkan and DirectX 12?

What are Vulkan and DirectX 12

Vulkan and DirectX 12 are both graphics APIs—application programming interfaces—that facilitate the interactions between programs and software. DirectX 12 is a Microsoft-developed API meant for gaming on Windows PCs. Vulkan, developed by Khronos Group, is also a gaming API, designed specifically to provide better gaming performance when compared to other interfaces. Performance quality between the two varies based on the game being played and the machine it’s being played on, so we’ll discuss what Red Dead Redemption 2 PC players have experienced so far.

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Should I choose Vulkan or DirectX 12 for RDR2 on PC?

Choose between Vulkan or DirectX 12 for RDR2 on PC

As stated above, how much changing to a different API will affect performance varies from PC to PC, but some Red Dead Redemption 2 players have reported success when picking one over the other. In a thread on the Red Dead Redemption PC subreddit, users have reported that choosing Vulkan instead of DirectX 12 seems to help with frame rate drops, especially for users with Nvidia GPUs. If you have a more powerful machine, this change may not make much of a difference, but it seems to have helped users with less-powerful PCs.

To switch from DirectX 12 to Vulkan, select Vulkan when prompted to choose your preferred API. Alternatively, you may be able to find the API choice in Red Dead Redemption 2’s in-game graphical settings.

Whether or not you choose Vulkan over DirectX 12, it’s a good idea to make sure your GPU software is up to date. To do this, head to your GPU interface (ex: Radeon Settings, Nvidia Control Panel, etc.). For Vulkan, version 1.1.126 is the latest stable release, so if your GPU interface shows an older version, it may be smart to update to 1.1.126.