Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Battlefield 3 Is Good For PC Gaming….

Battlefield 3 Performance: 30+ Graphics Cards, Benchmarked
By

…and now I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of you who’ve enjoyed the game over the last week while I was benchmarking. I have all of this hardware from which to choose. So, what am I going to put back together for my own Battlefield 3 gaming rig?

Processor-wise, it doesn’t really matter. I could pick an AMD FX, an Intel Core i3, or a Core i7 and get the same performance. I’ll probably throw a Core i5-2400 on a Z68-based motherboard just because the former rarely needs to be used for testing and I have spares of the latter. I’ll likely drop in a pair of GeForce GTX 570s for Ultra quality on a 24” (1920x1080) screen. And I’ll definitely use an SSD.

That’s not something I really tested for in this piece, but Dice does do a lot of object mesh and texture streaming during multiplayer levels. Minimizing level loads and the time you spend looking at a Saving prompt really encourages the use of faster storage.

One last thing that needs to be mentioned: I made it about five levels into the single-player campaign before buckling down to benchmark. I have a lot of data here based on that 90-second snapshot where there is no running, jumping, or magazine-emptying combat.

A distinction even has to be made between this single-player experience and what you’re almost certain to see in a multi-player map. I’ve seen benchmarks from the multiplayer beta where there’s more of a hit incurred dropping down a given processor vendor’s stack. What’s most clear there and here, however, is processor performance takes a back seat to graphics potential.

But this sequence is friggin consistent. So, when you compare frame rates, keep relative performance in mind, and not the absolute numbers attained here, which are guaranteed to range both up and down, depending on what you’re doing in Battlefield 3.

AMD And Nvidia: Two Disappointments

I had my own issues in testing for this story, and they are summed up in two points: AMD’s CrossFire support and Nvidia’s image quality on DirectX 10-based cards.

AMD first. Apparently, prior to launch, the company had everything running swimmingly. We do know that Dice pushed out a 222 MB v.1.01 patch prior to Battlefield 3 going live, though, and perhaps it broke something. Regardless, shortly before publication, AMD confirmed it had replicated my problems with CrossFire and was trying to figure out what happened. Should the company fix this issue with haste, maintaining excellent scaling, it’ll emerge a favorite for its exceptional performance.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Nvidia’s Low Terrain Quality setting in DirectX 10, but it looks really bad. AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 didn’t exhibit the same artifacts, so I have to assume this is fixable in software. Until that happens, I’d be inclined to stay away from anything in the GeForce 200 series or older. Fortunately, the GeForce GTX 400- and 500-series cards look great, run well, and take a much smaller hit when you apply MSAA than AMD’s boards.

A special thanks to the Tom's Hardware readers who engaged with me on Twitter to help shape the direction of this story as I tested. If want to play a more active role in the projects we tackle, make suggestions on the tests we run, or simply share your enthusiast for hardware technology, please join me!

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 315 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    jrnyfan , October 28, 2011 4:54 AM
    Great review, thank you very much!
  • 16 Hide
    cangelini , October 28, 2011 7:24 AM
    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!
  • 14 Hide
    cangelini , October 28, 2011 5:48 AM
    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 ;-)
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    jrnyfan , October 28, 2011 4:54 AM
    Great review, thank you very much!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2011 5:03 AM
    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 
  • 3 Hide
    orellius , October 28, 2011 5:07 AM
    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)
  • -2 Hide
    orellius , October 28, 2011 5:07 AM
    blah, I guess my first comment didnt come through, nevermind then! ha
  • 3 Hide
    spentshells , October 28, 2011 5:13 AM
    Wow does it look good, I played the demo on Xbox did it ever look dumb
  • 3 Hide
    m0th2 , October 28, 2011 5:15 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    kcorp2003 , October 28, 2011 5:17 AM
    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. :) 
  • 4 Hide
    aznshinobi , October 28, 2011 5:20 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    canadian87 , October 28, 2011 5:20 AM
    Frikkin' finally, now I can upgrade safely. :) 
  • 5 Hide
    alhanelem , October 28, 2011 5:30 AM
    looks like my e8500 and gtx 460 can pull through this game (hopefully)
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2011 5:31 AM
    I run BF3 in 1920x1080 ultra MSAA4x with my X4 955+HD5770 and it works fine. Playable 30fps :D 
  • 1 Hide
    the torso , October 28, 2011 5:35 AM
    running x fire 6950's and besting 78FPS avg fps on ultra, i5 2500k W/ Thank God no problems with multi GPU
  • 11 Hide
    saratj1 , October 28, 2011 5:42 AM
    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
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , October 28, 2011 5:44 AM
    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? :) 
  • 8 Hide
    cangelini , October 28, 2011 5:47 AM
    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? =)
  • 0 Hide
    amirp , October 28, 2011 5:48 AM
    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.
  • 14 Hide
    cangelini , October 28, 2011 5:48 AM
    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 ;-)
Display more comments