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Monday, 21 October 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta Performance: 16 Graphics Cards, Benchmarked and it's experiment of beta version details

We spent our weekend playing the Battlefield 4 multiplayer beta, and made sure to capture a ton of performance data with lots of PC hardware. Does your system have what it takes to handle this title? It comes out this month; you'd better look and see!
PC gamers who love great-looking first-person shooters have more than a few big-name franchises to choose from. But if you're particularly enchanted with large-scale multiplayer battles that include a wide array of player-piloted vehicles, one series stands above the rest. The Battlefield games weren't the first to focus on that style, but they certainly had a hand defining the genre.
The imminent release of Battlefield 4 is, therefore, a big deal to PC gamers. We spent some time with the public multiplayer beta to see what's new and check out pre-release performance on a wide array of graphics cards and processors
Gone in 60 seconds
Gone in 60 seconds
Of course, this means our analysis is limited to online play for now (though that tends to be what makes the series so long-lasting). The basics haven't changed: the four player roles are still assault, support, engineer, and recon. The beta offers the staple conquest-style game with large vehicle-populated maps, along with an infantry-focused domination option on a smaller map and void of mechanical transportation. The new obliteration and defuse games are not available yet. Neither are competition favorites like team deathmatch, rush, or squad deathmatch. There's only one map in the beta test: Seige of Shanghai. Like Battlefield 3, the game servers are selected via a Web browser.
Server browser

Server browser

The sense of scale is much larger than any Battlefield game I've played before, thanks to the sprawling city and large buildings. The new Frostbite 3 game engine facilitates gorgeous visuals that remind me a lot of Crysis 3. There are other changes, like improved water dynamics, the commander mode (also available from Battlefield: 2142), and the new "levolution" feature that gives you the ability to destroy large-scale map features, such as buildings, to move the location of objectives. While levolution sounds cool, it appears to be hard-coded into specific structures. My understanding was that only one building in the Seige of Shanghai could be destroyed. It was already down in every server I joined, though, so I never saw this feature in action.
Chopper up...
Chopper up...
I would have liked to see fully-destructible terrain, though of course that introduces logistical issues. We're hoping, then, that the final version of Battlefield 4 includes at least one map with more "levolvable" structures.
Otherwise, the beta's environment is fairly standard, perhaps a bit more interactive than prior titles in the franchise. There's a lot of glass and architectural detail that demonstrates abuse from gunfire and explosions, and much of the concrete cover is destructible. Most of the buildings are static above the first floor, though.

Chopper down.

Chopper down.
Thus far, Battlefield 4 looks like it's shaping up to be a polished, better-looking version of its predecessor with even more interesting environments to play in.

We all know we're going to be busy playing Battlefield 4 when it comes out, so let's take a moment during the beta period to discuss DICE's Frostbite 3 engine.

Again, Battlefield 4 employs an updated Frostbite 3 engine, the newest version of Digital Illusions CE's game technology for the next-gen console and PC platforms. While it makes its commercial debut with Battlefield 4, Frostbite 3 will also power Need or Speed: Rivals later this year, in addition to the next iterations of the Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: Battlefront franchises. 

Compared to it's predecessor, Frostbite 3 features higher-resolution textures, particle effects, and changes to tessellation, according to the company's feature video. A new networked water feature ensures that all players see the same waves in the water at the same time, allowing small naval craft to hide behind waves in rough seas.
Leavin' On A Jetski
Leavin' On A Jetski

First we tested the Low, Medium, High, and Ultra detail presets, finding that the texture detail on Low appeared dependent on the game type. We noticed higher-resolution textures on the Low setting in domination mode compared to conquest, even on the same Seige of Shanghai map. It's not clear whether this is a beta glitch, or a result of the game dynamically allocating resources based on the number and size of models in the map.

We chose to benchmark the domination map because of its higher texture resolution on the Low setting. We didn't notice a significant performance hit shifting between the Medium and High presets, so we tested Low (MSAA off, AA Deferred off, Ambient Occlusion off), High (MSAA off, AA Deferred high, HBAO enabled), and Ultra (4x MSAA, AA Deferred high, HBAO enabled) detail presets.  

                               The challenge of benchmarking a multiplayer game is that every run is potentially different, altering the load from one test to the next. For this reason, we performed our measurements on serve

We all know that graphics cards like the Radeon HD 7990 require a substantial amount of power, so XFX sent along its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12 V rail rated for 70 A. XFX claims that this unit provides 850 W of continuous power (not peak) at 50 degrees Celsius (notably higher than the inside of most enclosures).

we've almost exclusively eliminated mechanical disks in the lab, preferring solid-state storage for eliminating I/O-related bottlenecks. Samsung sent all of our labs 256 GB 840 Pros, so we standardize on these exceptional SSDs.

As far as testing goes, we have to use Fraps in conjunction with a predefined 

path for 60 seconds of recording. We planned to use our FCAT tools to report frame rates for dual-GPU solutions like the Radeon HD 7990 and GeForce GTX 690, factoring out dropped and runt frames, but this turned out to be impossible. The frame overlay only works in 32-bit applications, and the Battlefield 4 multiplayer beta is 64-bit-only.

Test System
CPUIntel Core i5-2550K (Sandy Bridge), Overclocked to 4.2 GHz @ 1.3 V
MotherboardAsus P8Z77-V LX, LGA 1155, Chipset: Intel Z77M
NetworkingOn-Board Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryAMD Gamer Series Memory, 2 x 4 GB, 1866 MT/s, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
GraphicsGeForce 210 1 GB DDR3
GeForce GT 630 512 MB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 660 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 670 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 770 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX Titan 6 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 690 4 GB GDDR5

Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5
Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3
Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7790 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7950 Boost 3 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7970 3 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7990 6 GB GDDR5
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Pro, 256 GB SSD, SATA 6Gb/s
PowerXFX PRO850W, ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta 2, Nvidia GeForce 331.40 Beta
Battlefield 4
Multiplayer beta
Custom THG Benchmark, 60-second Fraps run
Map: Siege of Shanghai, Game Type: Domination


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