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Test Setup And Sequence

Battlefield 3 Performance: 30+ Graphics Cards, Benchmarked
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Are you wondering how your PC will handle Battlefield 3 before buying the game? We pulled a series of all-nighters to get almost every graphics card in our lab tested, in addition to a handful of processors, to answer your performance-oriented questions.

Test Hardware
Processors
Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) 3.4 GHz (34 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 8 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost enabled, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i3-2105 (Sandy Bridge) 3.1 GHz (31 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i7-875K (Lynnfield) 2.93 GHz (22 * 133 MHz), LGA 1156, 8 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost enabled, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled

Intel Core i3-530 (Clarkdale) 2.93 GHz, LGA 1156, 4 MB Shared L3, Power-savings enabled

AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi) 3.6 GHz (18 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3+, 8 MB Shared L3, Turbo Core enabled, Power-savings enabled
Motherboard
Asus P8Z68-V Pro (LGA 1155) Intel Z68 Express, BIOS 0801

Asus Maximus III Formula (LGA 1156) Intel P55 Express, BIOS 2001

Asus Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+) AMD 990FX/SB950, BIOS 0813
Memory
Crucial 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR3-1333, MT16JTF1G64AZ-1G4D1 @ 1.65 V

G.Skill 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-2133, F3-17000CL9Q-16BZH @ 1.65 V
Hard Drive
Intel SSD 510 250 GB, SATA 6Gb/s
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 6970 2 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 6950 2 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 5970 2 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 6870 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 5850 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 5770 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 5750 1 GB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 4870 512 MB GDDR5

AMD Radeon HD 4850 512 MB GDDR3

AMD Radeon HD 4770 512 MB GDDR5

Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512 MB GDDR4

AMD Radeon HD 5570 512 MB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB GDDR5

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB GDDR5

Asus GeForce GTX 570 1.25 GB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 1.25 GB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1 GB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 1 GB GDDR5

Nvidia GeForce GTX 295  896 MB GDDR3 * 2

BFG GeForce GTX 285 1 GB GDDR3

Zotac GeForce GTX 275 896 MB GDDR3

Zotac GeForce GTX 260 896 MB GDDR3

BFG GeForce GTS 250 1 GB GDDR3

BFG GeForce 9800 GTX 512 MB GDDR3

Asus GeForce 8500 GT 256 MB DDR3
Power Supply
Cooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.10 Preview 3

Nvidia GeForce Release 285.62


Tom's Hardware Battlefield 3 Benchmark Sequence

The video clip above demonstrates the short sequence used for benchmarking. It's not the most demanding segment of Battlefield 3 I've seen thus far, nor is it necessarily the most representative of single-player game play (and certainly not multi-player). However, after a couple of hundred runs, I know it's consistent.

That makes this system precise, but not necessarily accurate, so its validity could certainly be called into question. The challenge in a game like this, which doesn't offer the timedemo functionality purportedly made available to IHVs, but not press, is that nailing both precision and accuracy then becomes very difficult due to Fraps-based testing of actual sequences. While not perfect, what we have here is, at the very least, great for relativistic comparisons.

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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 ;-)
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