Battlefield 3 Performance: 30+ Graphics Cards, Benchmarked

Benchmark Results: Nvidia Graphics Cards, High Quality

These are our largest Nvidia-based charts, including 11 different cards at three resolutions. Note that the GeForce GTX 400- and 500-series cards are DirectX 11-capable, and the 200-series boards are limited to DirectX 10. This is an important distinction because, even though the 200s throw up some reasonable performance numbers (especially the GTX 295), they’re not doing as much work. The game automatically dials Terrain Quality down from High to Low, yielding some pretty nasty artifacts as shadows interact with the environment.

Those triangles should be smooth shadows.

Hopefully Nvidia can fix this in its drivers. For now, those older Nvidia cards don't do Battlefield 3 any favors; stick to the newer stuff (or go the AMD route—incidentally, AMD’s DX 10 cards don’t have this problem). 

Update: Nvidia let us know that the issue we encountered is caused by a shadow corruption bug in its driver, which should be fixed in the next release. The company says it hopes to have that build available within a couple of weeks.

Mentally filtering out the 200-series boards, the rest of Nvidia’s armada scales down fairly evenly. At 1680x1050 (sticking to High quality settings), I’d want at least a GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

The same card would probably suffice at 1920x1080 too, though a GTX 570 would be even better.

Owners of 30” displays already threw down some big bucks for 2560x1600; a GeForce GTX 590 is the right two-slot solution there. If you’re willing to go SLI, two GeForce GTX 570s perform better (and cost less), as we’ll see in a few pages.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • kyosuke
    pffft. My HD 6870 handles Ultra maxed just fine!
  • jrnyfan
    Great review, thank you very much!
  • 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
  • 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)
  • orellius
    blah, I guess my first comment didnt come through, nevermind then! ha
  • spentshells
    Wow does it look good, I played the demo on Xbox did it ever look dumb
  • 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.
  • 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. :)
  • 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.
  • canadian87
    Frikkin' finally, now I can upgrade safely. :)