Review Index:

Battlefield 3 Beta Performance Testing and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: EA

Game Quality Settings Comparison

Even though we did all of our testing at the Ultra quality settings for our Day 1 results, we were curious to see how much of a difference in image quality we would see when switching between the various presets of Ultra, High, Medium and Low.  One note here: switching between the quality settings requires a restart of the game client, meaning you have to exit the server you are playing on and either re-join or find another one.  Also, if you want to change settings for some freaking reason you can only do it when you are "deployed", spawned and in the game.  You cannot do it while you are dead - which makes absolutely no sense to me.

Even worse, if you are in the settings and you die (which will happen as yoareu standing still looking like a jackass), you get pushed OUT of the settings menu and nothing you did is saved.  Pretty nice, huh?  Oh well, we fought through all the pain of that to take the following screenshots.

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(NVIDIA) BF3: Operation Metro - 1920x1200 - Ultra Settings - Click to Enlarge

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(NVIDIA) BF3: Operation Metro - 1920x1200 - High Settings - Click to Enlarge

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(NVIDIA) BF3: Operation Metro - 1920x1200 - Medium Settings - Click to Enlarge

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(NVIDIA) BF3: Operation Metro - 1920x1200 - Low Settings - Click to Enlarge

Again, I did my best to line up in the exact spot each time but since it was a new server and game instance each time, there are some minor differences.  The primary difference I see in all four of our images above is in the amount of antialiasing going on.  The Low present doesn't have much of it and you see very hard edges on the shadows on the ground.  After that, the differences appear to be in the shadow quality as well as detail anti-aliasing in the trees, the bench seats, etc. 

I did make some basic animated images below to try to give you a better way to view the differences.

The gun barrel doesn't appear to change much though texture quality is a bit better on the High-Ultra side of things. 

Again the Low quality setting is the one that really stands as being "bad" and even Medium makes a big jump over that. 

This shot tells us a bit more about the quality scaling from Low to Ultra as you can see the foliage in the background increase as the quality setting does as well.  Of course the shadows are the most obvious change.

The detail on the gazebo is definitely lost in the Low quality setting and we see a small but consistent increase in the distant object quality as we progress through Medium, High and Ultra.

September 28, 2011 | 02:39 PM - Posted by ZackJ (not verified)

Thanks Ryan for your day 1 review, I along with the community greatly appreciate this at the time. I can't wait to hop on BF3 come Thursday to test out my GTX460. I could get 45 - 70fps at 1680 x 1050 on Battlefield Bad Company 2 at max so looks like BF3 is going to be pretty rough on my card. Can't wait to see more test from you and your crew.

September 28, 2011 | 05:34 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Hopefully I'll be able toss in a GTX 460 today and post some updated results.

September 28, 2011 | 09:11 PM - Posted by 72VirginExpress (not verified)

I have the following specs:
AMD Phenom II 1100T Black Edition
EVGA GTX 460 1024 GDDR5
8.0 Ghz 2X4 Kingston DDR3 1600Mhz Barracuda 1-TB

Had absolutely no problems running all settings on high with no noticeable glitches...except for ability to bind mouse settings.

You can contact me if you are looking for more information.

Good bit of research you have done to date....keep it up. First time visit to your site, not last I should think.

September 28, 2011 | 03:52 PM - Posted by mark (not verified)

man the new metro benchy.....nice article

September 28, 2011 | 04:58 PM - Posted by AMDftw (not verified)

I used the 11.9 cat for my dual 5870. I didn't have any problems with mine. I was getting detween 45-70 fps@ 1920*1200. I didn't try my 3 monitor setup tho. I will later on tonight. My set up is. AMD 1090t@4.1 ghz 8gb gskill 2000 mhz flare. 2x120gb ocz ssd in raid. Ga-990fxa-ud7 mobo. 2xga5870 Gpu. 1200watt psu.

September 28, 2011 | 05:34 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

At first I was very surprised by your results then I saw you were using TWO Radeon HD 5870s. That falls much more in line with my thinking.

September 28, 2011 | 06:02 PM - Posted by Paul (not verified)

I also am using 2 5870s with an i7 920 @3.2. I am using the 11.9 driver also and am getting 55-85 FPS on Ultra setting @1920*1200

Pretty happy and the 11.10 driver is supposed to be better with cf support for bf3.

September 28, 2011 | 04:59 PM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

AMD just released a new video driver for the BF3 beta today and nvidia just did the same a few days ago. i think you need to retest things with the updated drivers. Awesome review Ryan.

September 28, 2011 | 05:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you read page one where Ryan tells us the specs of the PC being used he says and I quote ”We used the latest drivers from both NVIDIA and AMD that were released specifically yesterday for Battlefield 3: 285.38 for NVIDIA and 11.10 Preview for AMD.”

September 28, 2011 | 06:11 PM - Posted by rahul (not verified)

Hi Ryan, thanks for putting so much effort into testing BF3!
I was wondering, if you could do some CPU performance tests? Perhaps testing scaling with number of cores or frequency?

September 28, 2011 | 06:16 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I would like to do that and see how frequency and CPU cores helps. May not be until tomorrow sometime that I can sort of play with that.

September 28, 2011 | 06:32 PM - Posted by M3rc Nate (not verified)

I just wanted to say that i have a Q9550 (3.6ghz) and a 6950 2Gb Flashed to 6970 shaders (BF3 Beta Drivers installed). I am getting 50 average outdoors in the park (never dipping below 40) and indoors the average is about 80, sometimes as high as 90FPS.
I game settings are on auto, which has res at 1920x1080, Ultra, 16x AA, and everything on High and Ultra.
To be honest i was expecting much lower frame rates. BC2 and the Witcher 1 had worse frame rates than im getting in BF3. Im loving it though, and im buying a second 6950 to Crossfire.

Odd however is my friend whos using my GTS-250 (512mb) is unplayable in full screen with everything on as low as it can go (at 1920x1080) but he played BC2 on medium everything (same res) and it was smooth.

September 30, 2011 | 12:02 AM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

Hey, I have the exact same setup and I'd be interested in your clocks, timings and voltages as I've little experience with this CPU and OC'ing it. Your help would be most appreciated.

September 28, 2011 | 10:15 PM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

Hi Ryan, i own a i5-2500k @ stock clocks 3.30Ghz...i am planning on overclocking it to 4.5ghz to take advantage of its "K" my question is...will that increase the fps ingame by much?
and in between...RAM, processor speed, GPU...which might you think will be a dominating factor and by how much?

On a different note Seeing as there isnt much difference between high and ultra except for a little smoothing of textures and the AA...would you kindly put up a performance chart of the cards running on high?

Because if there is a considerable increase in the fps, there might not be any reason to run the game at ultra at all... keeping in mind the comparitively high loss in performance.

any feedback is greatly appreciated :)
and thank you for all your hardwork, really is helping us make important decisions on our purchases.

Thank You :)

September 28, 2011 | 10:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"Overall I think the NVIDIA cards are currently offering just a bit better experience than the AMD cards due to my instability with the HD 6970 and the better multi-GPU scaling being reported with SLI than CrossFire."

How can you say SLI scaling is better than Crossfire scaling when you didn't even test Crossfire? If you're generalizing, that's some pretty bad "scientific" testing.

September 28, 2011 | 10:55 PM - Posted by Jesse (not verified)

I find this funny because the textures in the beta on ALL platforms are around half quality. They aren't even showing you the best graphics yet. Therefore, your benchmarks are a waste of time =P

September 28, 2011 | 11:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

This is incorrect - verified through both GPU vendors and their developer relations teams. That WAS the case in the alpha though.

September 28, 2011 | 11:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You are of course aware that the majority of 'ultra' settings aren't functional yet, and don't do anything.. yes?

September 29, 2011 | 12:06 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Reference? I am hearing the exact opposite from both NVIDIA and AMD.

September 29, 2011 | 12:27 AM - Posted by Tim (not verified)

Great rundown PcPer. Just gotta wait for the 7900HD's now :(

Depends what the bottleneck is. What is your graphics card? I play Medal of Honor and had a Q6600@4GHz, with a 5850. when i changed to a 2500K, at stock, it doubled my frames. But still at 4.5GHz, it only added about about 5% more frames

September 29, 2011 | 06:12 AM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

AMD HD6870 stock clocks...i know its a mid-level card...but its all the money i had :\

September 29, 2011 | 12:30 PM - Posted by fuzzynuts69 (not verified)

lol you will be fine!!!

September 29, 2011 | 10:18 PM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

so your saying that i might get a considerable performance boost if i go from 3.3-4.5ghz? :O

and as for ur MOH situation...i think games like those that dont demand much of the cpu....just get overkilled after a stage and cant go any im playing C0D right now....and play it after 4.5ghz....there wouldnt be any difference at all....but on games like crysis, metro 2033...which are more may take effect

i just wanted to make sure of the same for battlefield 3 too before i did any overclocking. :)

September 29, 2011 | 03:00 AM - Posted by HM (not verified)

for the poor folks like me who are still stuck on dual core CPUs, could you disable 2 cores, I mean set affinity to 2 cores only during the game to see the difference (and HT off)?

September 29, 2011 | 05:59 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We might be able to fit that testing in over the next couple of days, sure.

October 2, 2011 | 06:20 AM - Posted by Pablo (not verified)

That would be cool. I'm not really sure if it's worth upgrading to a 6870 while rocking an i5 650.

October 3, 2011 | 05:15 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

I think a visit to ebay might help.
Some serious bargins. Got my 990x there.
(Yip. Was nervous but it arrived and worked a treat.)
I did my brothers dell too. A Core 2 system. Just swapped out the chips,Dual to quad. Ebayed the dual and got some money back. Just need to check your chipset.

September 29, 2011 | 04:28 AM - Posted by Nilbog

Definitely one of the best articles I've ever read, thank you for such an in depth look.

September 29, 2011 | 04:39 AM - Posted by HalloweenJack (not verified)

wouldnt mind seeing the ultara low end results - minimum spec ones , like HD4xxx or 9800GT , or a minimum cpu/ram combo (amd and intel)

September 29, 2011 | 06:21 AM - Posted by scottwd (not verified)

I agree with HalloweenJack, I wouldnt mind seeing the ultara low end results. I play on a nice beefy PC at home and and barely functional one at lunchtimes at work.

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