Battlefield 3 Performance: 30+ Graphics Cards, Benchmarked

Benchmark Results: CPU Scaling

Looking back at my notes for the Bulldozer launch (AMD Bulldozer Review: FX-8150 Gets Tested), AMD was very enthusiastic about FX’s performance in Battlefield 3 (multiplayer beta, at the time). And no wonder—Battlefield 3's single-player campaign doesn’t care if you’re using a $130 Core i3 or $315 Core i7. It doesn’t care if you come armed with two Hyper-Threaded cores or four Bulldozer modules. It just. Doesn’t. Care.

In fact, after getting a little overzealous swapping out Lynnfield-, Clarkdale-, and Sandy Bridge-based chips, I tried one AMD CPU and decided to call it a day. Any reasonably-modern processor is going to be held back by graphics long before hamstringing performance itself.

How many cores does the game require for optimal performance? With Turbo Boost disabled on our Core i7-2600K, we get all the way down to two cores at the same 80 FPS. Battlefield 3 requires a dual-core chip, though, so with one core left, the game wouldn’t get past its initialization stage.

AMD’s FX-8150 only lets you disable cores in pairs, as Bulldozer modules. So, we slid down from eight to six and four to two, trying to see if this architecture behaves any different from Sandy Bridge. The only slight performance hit happens with one module left enabled, which is seen as two cores. As you can see in the line chart, a handful of hiccups early on in the test are what drag the average down by seven FPS or so.  

We’ve also read about folks complaining about stuttering issues caused by Hyper-Threading; disabling the feature seems to smooth things out for them. At no point did a perceptible stuttering (aside from the jerkiness attributable to a too-slow GPU at a too-high setting) afflict our platform. However, we can confirm that turning off Hyper-Threading on the Core i7-2600K, going from eight logical processors to four physical ones, doesn’t hurt performance in any way, and in fact may slightly increase it. The rest of our tests were run with Hyper-Threading enabled, but feel free to shut it off if it benefits your experience!

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    Top Comments
  • jrnyfan
    Great review, thank you very much!
    20
  • cangelini
    sentinelsparkOkay how is the HD5850 better than the HD6850. The HD6850 has better memory clock speeds. I was able to play the game in 1080p and AAx2 and all but two on ultra high, and i was getting 35fps average. I am calling Bulls**t on this one.


    Believe it, friend. Why do you think we were so tweaked when Barts came out and AMD's naming sounded so deceptive? 5850 is faster than 6850, just like 5870 is faster than 6870!
    16
  • cangelini
    aznshinobiGreat read, lovely to see a wide assortment tested, specially my 5850. Thanks for taking the time Chris, I'm sure it must've taken FOREVER to bench and swap all those cards.


    Very welcome, glad you enjoyed it. Didn't take forever, just four very long days ;-)
    14
  • Other Comments
  • kyosuke
    pffft. My HD 6870 handles Ultra maxed just fine!
    -24
  • jrnyfan
    Great review, thank you very much!
    20
  • Anonymous
    great review. but I am curious if a gtx 560ti can run ultra on a playable fps? because I am about to buy one :D
    -1
  • orellius
    nevermind my comment about 560 Ti, I see it in the benchmarks (high) but it is not on the main page list of cards (missed putting it there?) (yes, I used the search feature in my browser, no 560 to speak of)
    3
  • orellius
    blah, I guess my first comment didnt come through, nevermind then! ha
    -2
  • spentshells
    Wow does it look good, I played the demo on Xbox did it ever look dumb
    3
  • m0th2
    sirus3020great review. but I am curious if a gtx 560ti can run ultra on a playable fps? because I am about to buy one


    Without any form of AA you can run it on ultra and get over 30fps on every map @ 1920x1080 easily (over 60 when close quarters). Depends on your cpu and if you OC your gpu though. i have mine at 940/2100 and its always above 40fps.
    3
  • kcorp2003
    AWESOME! thank you very much for this. looks like i wont have to upgrade my CPU then. i have HD4870 and i play this on medium settings but still i want the ultra settings. :)
    1
  • aznshinobi
    Great read, lovely to see a wide assortment tested, specially my 5850. Thanks for taking the time Chris, I'm sure it must've taken FOREVER to bench and swap all those cards.
    4
  • canadian87
    Frikkin' finally, now I can upgrade safely. :)
    1
  • alhanelem
    looks like my e8500 and gtx 460 can pull through this game (hopefully)
    5
  • Anonymous
    I run BF3 in 1920x1080 ultra MSAA4x with my X4 955+HD5770 and it works fine. Playable 30fps :D
    -1
  • the torso
    running x fire 6950's and besting 78FPS avg fps on ultra, i5 2500k W/ Thank God no problems with multi GPU
    1
  • saratj1
    For anyone interested I get
    min - 21 Fps
    Max - 71 Fps
    Avg - 41.2 Fps
    Everything maxed at 1080P
    I7-2600k @ 4.3 + Sapphire 6950 2gb Flashed to 6970 with stock clocks 880 1250
    11
  • saratj1
    For anyone interested I get
    min - 21 Fps
    Max - 71 Fps
    Avg - 41.2 Fps
    Everything maxed at 1080P
    I7-2600k @ 4.3 + Sapphire 6950 2gb Flashed to 6970 with stock clocks 880 1250
    -14
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Great article and I love that picture with a pile of graphics cards :D Just one obvious thing missing: WHERE ARE SLI 560 Tis??? I was kind of considering picking up a second card for this game... come on, I'm sick of Tom's ignoring that card so often.

    Though I think my 560 Ti still doesn't need a pair if I tone down the settings a tiny bit :) Good to see that. And yet I hear the game looks great... kudos to DICE for optimizing the game nicely!

    Also, 6950 kicked the 560 Ti nicely in this game :D

    P.S. So the FX 8150 now has a Phenom name tag on it? :)
    1
  • cangelini
    amk-aka-phantomGreat article and I love that picture with a pile of graphics cards Just one obvious thing missing: WHERE ARE SLI 560 Tis??? I was kind of considering picking up a second card for this game... come on, I'm sick of Tom's ignoring that card so often.Though I think my 560 Ti still doesn't need a pair if I tone down the settings a tiny bit Good to see that. And yet I hear the game looks great... kudos to DICE for optimizing the game nicely! Also, 6950 kicked the 560 Ti nicely in this game P.S. So the FX 8150 now has a Phenom name tag on it?


    I actually don't even have two 560 Tis to show you, unfortunately.

    Phenom? FX? Where? =)
    8
  • amirp
    Hey Chris, quick question, did you notice any micro-stuttering with the 6870 cards in crossfire? (kind of like that previous article that was up on toms a while ago). The performance of 6870x2 seems amazing for the price, and am really tempted to pick another one up for my system.
    0
  • cangelini
    aznshinobiGreat read, lovely to see a wide assortment tested, specially my 5850. Thanks for taking the time Chris, I'm sure it must've taken FOREVER to bench and swap all those cards.


    Very welcome, glad you enjoyed it. Didn't take forever, just four very long days ;-)
    14
  • sentinelspark
    Okay how is the HD5850 better than the HD6850. The HD6850 has better memory clock speeds. I was able to play the game in 1080p and AAx2 and all but two on ultra high, and i was getting 35fps average. I am calling Bulls**t on this one.
    -10