Battlefield 3 (BF3) Beta Performance: Quality Preset and SLI Scaling
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 1, 2011 - 01:49 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: sli, gtx 570, gtx 460, bf3, battlefield 3
I know, we've been talking a lot about Battlefield 3 this week, but I have yet another set of numbers and results that I think you guys will want to see. Previously, all of our BF3 benchmarks have been run under the Ultra quality presets but it is obvious that not all GPUs or gamers are going to want to target the highest settings the game can accomplish. With that in mind I decided to test a couple of cards at Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets in order to guage how well the game scaled based on image quality.
For this round I wanted to use a high end card as well as an older, much more popular (and currently low cost) card; the result is tests on the GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference platforms. We used the Operation Metro map and the initial outdoor section for our testing as it was the most strenuous in the beta thus far.
As a side note, if you want to see how the image quality actually changes from the Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets, check out this page of my previous performance article that included screenshots and even some animated GIFs as demonstration.
Here are the results:
On the more powerful GTX 570 you can see that BF3 scales pretty well from the Ultra settings through the Low options in even steps. By moving from Ultra down to High a gamer would see about 34% better performance and 22% better minimum frame rates. The jump to Medium gains another 41% while the move to Low gets another 25% on top of that. The gap between Low and Ultra is about ~2.3x.
The GTX 460 sees similar levels of performance grades though the move from Ultra to High only gains you about 28% and averages of 33.8 FPS or so. I would still consider that on the low side of a good game play experience and thus the move to Medium (which is 82% faster than Ultra) seems like the sweet spot for BF3.
I know we also had some requests for SLI scaling performance and, in particular, with the GTX 460 1GB cards. Since this card has been so incredibly popular we thought this would be the perfect candidate for the "SLI Upgrade Path" option and you can pick one up for $150 (or less with rebates). Let's see how well Battlefield 3 scales with multiple GPUs.
At the Ultra quality settings we saw a 60% scaling capability by adding in a second GTX 460 at stock speeds while at High settings we see that rate increases to 84%! That is pretty impressive and for the cost investment of a second GPU it looks like you are going to see better than average scaling. Considering this is with the first driver release and with a beta version of the game, I can only see multi-GPU scaling rates going up as the full retail release hits.
With these results and some others we have done through the week we are ready to put together our Battlefield 3 system build guide. Stay tuned!