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Results: Battlefield 3

Gaming At 3840x2160: Is Your PC Ready For A 4K Display?
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Surprised to learn that a $1000 GeForce GTX Titan won’t get you consistently playable frame rates in Battlefield 3 using the Ultra quality preset? At least based on the averages, we’d be most inclined to go with a pair of 780s for slightly more. Two Titans won’t necessarily give you the return on your investment in this game.

This is but the first time you’ll see strange behavior from two GeForce GTX 770s in SLI. The GF104-based cards react to all of the same peaks and valleys that the other combinations convey—they just exaggerate them. In order to investigate, we fired up EVGA's Precision X and logged memory usage at this monster resolution and the demanding settings that go along with it. What we found is that certain titles need more than 2 GB of on-board memory, and it isn't difficult to freak the 770s out by going over.

That behavior aside, we see one Titan maintain more than 30 FPS throughout our single-player run, while two GeForce GTX 780s keep their noses above 50 FPS the whole time.

Erratic behavior translates into an outlier worst-case reading from two GTX 770s, though their average variance isn’t particularly worrying. The other three configurations perform really well on paper, though the huge 3840x2160 resolution makes it very easy to see any time the scripted sequence we test hitches.

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  • 39 Hide
    RascallyWeasel , September 19, 2013 6:12 AM
    Is it really necessary to use Anti Alaising at this resolution? If anything it would only hurt average FPS without really giving much of a visual increase.
  • 26 Hide
    expl0itfinder , September 19, 2013 6:22 AM
    Yep, now hold on while I go order my SLI Titans. Anyone got $2K I can borrow??
Other Comments
  • 39 Hide
    RascallyWeasel , September 19, 2013 6:12 AM
    Is it really necessary to use Anti Alaising at this resolution? If anything it would only hurt average FPS without really giving much of a visual increase.
  • 4 Hide
    RascallyWeasel , September 19, 2013 6:16 AM
    Would of enjoyed seeing the 79xx series take a crack at this.
  • 26 Hide
    expl0itfinder , September 19, 2013 6:22 AM
    Yep, now hold on while I go order my SLI Titans. Anyone got $2K I can borrow??
  • 8 Hide
    ubercake , September 19, 2013 6:30 AM
    Great review! It's good to see this information available.

    I know you want to leave AMD out of it since they still haven't completed the fixing of the runt/drop microstutter issue through promised driver updates (actually, I thought it was all supposed to be done with the July 31 update?), but people constantly argue that AMD cards would be superior because of this or that on 4K. Maybe after they release the new flagship?

    At any rate, I won't buy a 4K 60Hz screen until the price drops under the $1K mark. I really wish they could make the higher res monitors with a faster refresh rate like 120Hz or 144Hz, but that doesn't seem to be the goal. There must be more money in higher res than in higher refresh. It makes sense, but when they drop the refresh down to 30Hz, it seems like too much of a compromise.
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , September 19, 2013 6:40 AM
    Hey Chris!
    So 2GB of ram on the 770 was not enough for quite a few games... but just how much vRAM is enough? By chance did you peak at the usage on the other cards?

    With next gen consoles having access to absolutely enormous amounts of memory on dedicated hardware for 1080p screens I am very curious to see how much memory is going to be needed for gaming PCs running these same games at 4K. I still think that 8GB of system memory will be adequate, but we are going to start to need 4+GB of vRAM just at the 1080p level soon enough, which is kinda ridiculous.

    Anywho, great article! Can't wait for 4K gaming to go mainstream over the next 5 years!
  • 8 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , September 19, 2013 6:40 AM
    So it's going to be a few years and a few graphics card generations before we see 4k gaming become the standard, something that can be done on a single mid-high end video card. By that time, the price of 4k tv's/montors should have dropped to an affordable point as well.
  • 4 Hide
    Cataclysm_ZA , September 19, 2013 6:54 AM
    So no-one figures that benching a 4K monitor at lower settings with weaker GPUs would be a good feature and reference for anyone who wants to invest in one soon, but doesn't have anything stronger than a GTX770? Gees, finding that kind of information is proving difficult.
  • 0 Hide
    cypeq , September 19, 2013 6:57 AM
    Cool Yet I can't stop to think that I can Put 5 000$ on something better than gaming rig that can run smoothly this 3 500 $ screen.
  • 4 Hide
    CaedenV , September 19, 2013 7:02 AM
    Quote:
    Is it really necessary to use Anti Alaising at this resolution? If anything it would only hurt average FPS without really giving much of a visual increase.


    This is something I am curious about as well. Anandtech did a neat review a few months ago and in it they compared the different AA settings and found that while there was a noticeable improvement at 2x, things quickly became unnecessary after that... but that is on a 31" screen. I don't know about others, but I am hoping to (eventually) replace my monitor with a 4K TV in the 42-50" range, and I wonder with the larger pixels if a higher AA would be needed or not for a screen that size compared to the smaller screens (though I sit quite a bit further from my screen than most people do, so maybe it would be a wash?).

    With all of the crap math out on the internet, it would be very nice for someone at Tom's to do a real 4K review to shed some real testable facts on the matter. What can the human eye technically see? What are UI scaling options are needed? etc. 4K is a very important as it holds real promise to being a sort of end to resolution improvements for entertainment in the home. there is a chance for 6K to make an appearance down the road, but once you get up to 8K you start having physical dimension issues of getting the screen through the doors of a normal house on a TV, and on a computer monitor you are talking about a true IMAX experience which could be had much cheaper with a future headset. Anywho, maybe once a few 4K TVs and monitors get out on the market we can have a sort of round-up or buyer's guide to set things straight?
  • 0 Hide
    daglesj , September 19, 2013 7:13 AM
    So those of us married, living with a partner or not still living with our parents need not apply then?

    I think there is a gap in the market for a enthusiast PC website that caters to those who live in the real world with real life budgets.
  • 1 Hide
    mapesdhs , September 19, 2013 7:25 AM

    Just curious Chris, with the CPU not oc'd, are you sure there are no CPU
    bottlenecks going on anywhere? Wondering whether an oc'd 4960X (as
    I'm sure most who'd buy that chip would do) could help in any of the test
    scenarios, inparticular Crysis3, though I see you do highlight Skyrim as
    being one test that's platform-bound.

    Ian.

  • 6 Hide
    CaedenV , September 19, 2013 7:36 AM
    Quote:
    So no-one figures that benching a 4K monitor at lower settings with weaker GPUs would be a good feature and reference for anyone who wants to invest in one soon, but doesn't have anything stronger than a GTX770? Gees, finding that kind of information is proving difficult.


    There are a few reasons:
    1) If you can afford a $3,000 TV then you ought to be able to afford a decent GPU or two, making your argument seem kinda silly.

    2) More resolution makes detail MUCH more important. If you have an image that is (pulls number from ass) 100x100 pixels then that image will always look it's best at that native 100x100 resolution. You can take that image and display it at a lower resolution (say 50x50 pixels) because you are displaying less information than is in the source material. But there is only so much that can be done to display that image at a higher resolution than the source (say 200x200 pixels). You can stretch things out and use AF on it, but at the end of the day you end up with a texture that looks flat, chunky, and out of place.
    We are playing games today that are either console ports aimed at 720p, or native PC games aimed at 1080p. Nither of these are anywhere near 4K resolution, and so an 'ultra' setting for any game out today designed around these resolutions is really a 'basic' setting for what a 4K TV is really capable of. The true 'ultra' test is simply not possible until we get some much larger texture packs designed with 4K in mind.

    3) While some performance can be gained back by dropping a bit of AA and AF, the vast bulk of the performance requirement is dictated by the raw amount of vRAM required, and the sheer 8MP image you are making 30-60 times a second (compared to the 2MP image of a 1080p display).

    4) Next gen consoles are right around the corner which will be loaded with tons of RAM. This ridiculous amount of ram is available because next gen games are going to have much higher resolution textures, and a wider variety of them. On top of that we are going to see a lot more 'clutter' in games to make environments much more unique. All of these objects are going to have their own textures and physics to calculate, which means that yet again that today's 'ultra' settings are simply the 'basic' setting of what is coming in just 1 year.


    So if you want to do 4K gaming then you need to afford the monitor, a duel head GPU setup, and be prepared to replace that duel head GPU setup in a year or two when next gen games simply become far too much for today's GPU capabilities. However, you do not need this raw horsepower to run a desktop, or to watch 4K video as even today's onboard GPUs can handle those tasks just fine at 4K. But if you want to be on the bleeding edge, you are simply going to have to bleed a bit, or else be like the rest of us and wait another year (or three) when the price drops and the GPUs catch up.
  • 8 Hide
    vertexx , September 19, 2013 7:37 AM
    Great article, but what I really want to know is...

    How AWESOME was it playing BF3 or Crisis3 with dual Titans at 4k?? Is it better than 3x1080s in surround? How much so? It's like you just had a morning in a Ferrari Enzo at Laguna Seca and just showed us charts of max G's and velocity time variance. I want to know what it's like to drive that rig!

    And get some hi-res packs plus ENB for running Skyrim already!!
  • -2 Hide
    DBGT_87 , September 19, 2013 7:43 AM
    why do I have to spent some money for lowing my fps?
  • 2 Hide
    cheesyboy , September 19, 2013 7:52 AM
    It's kicking off between AMD and Nvidia on this 4k business. PC Perspective basically being accused of being and Nvidia shill;
    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2013/9/18/nvidia-launches-amd-has-issues-marketing-offensive-ahead-of-hawaii-launch.aspx

    and the offending article;
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-Rating-Eyefinity-vs-Surround-Single-and-Multi-GPU-Configurations/AMD-Ey

    And the twitter note from Roy Taylor of AMD;
    https://twitter.com/amd_roy
  • 0 Hide
    Roger Wilco , September 19, 2013 8:00 AM
    I guess I might take the plunge, maybe in a few weeks!! :D 
    As far as AA goes, ya, I have a ZR30W and AA makes gaming more "comfortable" on the eyes. It's already 2560x1600, but with AA on, it's difference *can be seen.
  • 4 Hide
    vmem , September 19, 2013 8:10 AM
    until they put an HDMI2.0 port in both the displays and my GPU (or have the display support 4K at 60hz through Display Port), I am staying out of this 4K business.

    cost aside, I'm not going to spend top dollar on something that essentially runs as synced split-screen, and requires some sort of SLI or Crossfire system to get playable rates. by the time GPU technology advances enough, we can probably get a better quality 4K OLED at the cost of that ASUS panel
  • -1 Hide
    master9716 , September 19, 2013 8:10 AM
    Higher Res wont do much for gaming , Id rather have 5760x1080 ultra wide view angels with 120hz than a single 4k display ,
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , September 19, 2013 8:13 AM
    Quote:

    Just curious Chris, with the CPU not oc'd, are you sure there are no CPU
    bottlenecks going on anywhere? Wondering whether an oc'd 4960X (as
    I'm sure most who'd buy that chip would do) could help in any of the test
    scenarios, inparticular Crysis3, though I see you do highlight Skyrim as
    being one test that's platform-bound.

    Ian.



    Hey Ian,
    I was expecting this to be graphics-limited across the board. Skyrim didn't quite surprise me. I would have thought Grid 2 would have been the next-most-likely to demonstrate a processor bottleneck. Crysis 3, particularly at those higher settings, seems less likely to be platform-bound. Great idea for a follow-up, though (same for the suggestion that we evaluate quality without AA to see if it's perceived as necessary with 8.3 MP--thanks for that one).
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , September 19, 2013 8:14 AM
    Quote:
    until they put an HDMI2.0 port in both the displays and my GPU (or have the display support 4K at 60hz through Display Port), I am staying out of this 4K business.

    cost aside, I'm not going to spend top dollar on something that essentially runs as synced split-screen, and requires some sort of SLI or Crossfire system to get playable rates. by the time GPU technology advances enough, we can probably get a better quality 4K OLED at the cost of that ASUS panel


    You'd be fine with DisplayPort, too. The limitation isn't the interface, it's the hardware inside the monitor.
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