Benchmarks indicate that the infamous Denuvo DRM negatively affects performance of PC games. Performance differences can be measured because some publishers have released patches that removes the DRM from their game.
In a video on Denuvo, YouTube channel Overlord Gaming shows the performance of the games Dishonored 2 and Death of the Outsider from game publisher Bethesda. Because Bethesda later decided to remove the Denuvo DRM with a patch, it’s possible to measure performance differences with a version of the game with Denuvo still loaded and with Denuvo removed.
The benchmarks show that there is a considerable difference in load times. Loading the main menu of Death of the Outsider with Denuvo takes 177 seconds, without the DRM it takes 136 seconds. Loading a mission takes 73 seconds when Denuvo is active, and 40 seconds when the DRM is removed.
Also the average frame-rate is affected by Denuvo. Dishonored 2 is able to achieve 60.1 fps at maximum settings when Denuvo is removed. With Denuvo, the maximum frame rate is 56.8 fps. Denuvo also causes peaks in frame times which users can experience as hiccups. With Death of the Outsider the maximum frame time with Denuvo is 137ms, without Denuvo that drops to 58ms.
Also in other games the performance differences with and without Denuvo DRM are considerable.
Although most games with Denuvo are cracked nowadays, that’s not a solution for the performance degradation. Crackers bypass Denuvo but the DRM remains part of the game and continues to impact performance. Only when publishers release a patch that really removes the DRM, the negative impact on performance disappears.