Frame Rating: GeForce GTX Titan, GeForce GTX 690, Radeon HD 7990 (HD 7970 CrossFire)
Battlefield 3 (DirectX 11)
Battlefield 3™ leaps ahead of its time with the power of Frostbite 2, DICE's new cutting-edge game engine. This state-of-the-art technology is the foundation on which Battlefield 3 is built, delivering enhanced visual quality, a grand sense of scale, massive destruction, dynamic audio and character animation utilizing ANT technology as seen in the latest EA SPORTS™ games.
Frostbite 2 now enables deferred shading, dynamic global illumination and new streaming architecture. Sounds like tech talk? Play the game and experience the difference!
Our Settings for Battlefield 3
Here is our testing run through the game, for your reference.
While all three cards are able to keep Battlefield 3 running well at 1920x1080, in the FRAPS based information the HD 7970s in CrossFire that are emulating the HD 7990 are clearly the performance leader followed by the GTX 690 with the GTX Titan rounding things out.
Well, things change quickly around these parts and you can see that for the HD 7990 the observed frame rate after removing any runts or drops has come down considerably.
Our plot of frame times from the Frame Rating capture technology shows two interesting items. First, the HD 7970s in CrossFire result in an alternating fast/slow frame times, usually indicative of runts, frames that take up so little of the screen's scanlines that they aren't positively affecting apparent performance. Also, even though the GTX 690 has better frame rates than the GTX Titan, it definitely has more frame time variance as evident by the wider blue band of color on the image above.
Minimum frame rates after taking out the runts result in an observed FPS average of about 102 FPS for the HD 7970s, 120 FPS for the GTX Titan and 140 FPS for the GTX 690.
But once we look at the variance picture again we find that the GTX 690 and the GTX Titan have swapped places, with the single GPU performance of the Titan resulting in a smoother overall experience than even the GTX 690. Both NVIDIA solutions are drastically better than the HD 7990 / HD 7970s in CrossFire.
At 2560x1440 the FRAPS results look pretty similar to those above...
But once we take away the runts and drops we find the HD 7970s in CrossFire fall behind the performance of both of the NVIDIA GeForce cards.
Ouch, another blanket of color from the Radeon solution that indicates unsmooth and inconsistent frame rates! If we look just as the NVIDIA side of the equation we again see the a thinner band of color on the GTX Titan results that indicates tighter and more consistent frame times throughout the benchmark run.
Here is an individual run graph for the HD 7970s in CrossFire to help demonstrate how the runts cause the observed frame rates to be lower.
And the two runs for the GTX 690 and the GTX Titan do not indicate any runts at all...
These minimum FPS percentile charts show some pretty dramatic differences, even between the competing NVIDIA options. The HD 7970s in CrossFire average around 60 FPS, the GTX Titan at 75 FPS and the GTX 690 at 95 FPS.
But the frame variance results, our ISUs (International Stutter Units), once again prove that the single GPU solution has a more consistent and fluid frame time result with the HD 7970s in CrossFire really seperating themselves (not in a good way) starting at the 80th percentile.
Even though we only have NVIDIA results for 5760x1080 due to the extreme amount of dropped frames on the HD 7990 / HD 7970s, comparing these two options is interesting. In both FRAPS and observed average frame rates per second, the GTX 690 is showing as the faster of the two options, running faster than the Titan the entire time.
But the plot shows an interesting story - the frame times on the GTX 690 are not as consistent or as smooth as on the GTX Titan. They are averaging much lower, based on the where the bulk of the blue band resides in comparison to the green band, but the spikes that show themselves on the GTX 690 are gone completely with the GTX Titan.
If we look at only the minimum FPS marks we find the GTX 690 to be 33% faster in average frame rate over the entire run, but based on the graph above (and the one below) that isn't the whole story.
Here we see the result of all of those "spikes" in frame times - a pretty sizeable difference in frame variance going from the GTX 690 to the GTX Titan. While the Titan never has more than 2.5 ms of variance from one frame against the running average of the past 20, the GTX 690 has 8-9 ms jumps at times, which will likely cause some noticeable stutter.
There are two take aways from this first page of results. First, the AMD Radeon HD 7990 or HD 7970s in CrossFire are not going to compare well to the GTX Titan or GTX 690 in many cases because of the runt and dropped frame issues we have detailed. Second, while the GTX 690 may be "faster" than the GTX Titan in Battlefield 3, at higher resolutions and especially for multi-monitor situations, the GTX Titan looks to provide the better overall experience.