The Tom’s Hardware team are long-time fans of the Battlefield franchise, not just because its games are fast-paced and fun, but also because EA DICE has a penchant for pushing graphics technology with great-looking visuals. World War 2-themed Battlefield V looks to continue this tradition using a mature Frostbite engine and system requirements that necessitate the modern hardware we love to test.
EA’s closed alpha build of Battlefield V is a very early representation of the game, and the recommended specifications below may change by the time it's finalized. For now, bugs abound. For every three attempts we made at collecting gameplay data, two typically had to be tossed and re-run. Sometimes matchmaking would fail outright. The game had a habit of locking up with our testing tools open in the background. Frames would drop when we benchmarked under DirectX 12 mode. Or, our two-minute runs would finish, only to kick out errors that Event Tracing for Windows packets were lost, leaving incomplete performance results.
But finally, after two long days of benchmarking, we compiled comparisons between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 performance, a look at the various graphics quality presets, an analysis of run-to-run variance, and benchmarks for Nvidia’s five highest-end Pascal-based GeForce cards.
|Closed Alpha Specifications||Minimum||Recommended|
Intel Core i5-6600K
|AMD Ryzen 3 1300X|
Intel Core i7-4790
|Memory||8GB RAM||12GB RAM|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB|
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050/660 2GB
|AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB|
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
|Operating System||Windows 7 64-bit||Windows 10 64-bit|
|Internet||512 Kb/s||512 Kb/s|
|Hard Drive Space||50GB||50GB|
Run to Run Variance
The benchmarks we run in our graphics card reviews are as controlled as possible, meaning we stick with single-player campaigns, repeatable sequences, and static settings, all while trying to ensure the data we collect is still applicable to real-world gaming. But because the Battlefield V closed alpha is multi-player-only, we needed to figure out how bad the variance could get running around in an always-changing map.
To the best of our ability, we assaulted the same points, ran the same paths, and tried not to die. In three back-to-back runs on our MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G, this is what we got:
If you’re careful to not get caught up in firefights or a desire for vengeance when a sniper repeatedly picks you off your path, it’s possible to generate fairly consistent performance in the closed alpha. Although frame times over the benchmark runs appear frenetic, binning FPS by percentile reveals remarkable tracking from one test to the next.
With these numbers in mind, we continued running every test point three times, discarding the fastest and slowest scores.
DirectX 11 vs. DirectX 12
There’s a post up on EA’s Battlefield V Closed Alpha forum flat-out guiding players toward the DirectX 11 default setting. Specifically, “…we recommend using the defaulted DX11 setting as this build is a work-in-progress and using DX11 will improve performance.” To verify, we compared runs under both APIs using the Ultra quality preset on our MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G.
Sure enough, DirectX 11 yields the best average and 99th percentile frame rates. Clicking over to the frame time graph suggests that gaming under DirectX 11 results in quite a bit more frame time variance, though frame times themselves are generally lower. The DirectX 12 line is a lot less choppy, but it is higher.
Dividing frame rates up by percentile affirm those observations. Up through the 99th percentile, DirectX 11 yields higher frame rates. The last percentile, however, belongs to DirectX 12 and its better consistency.
Naturally, we expect EA DICE to continue refining Battlefield V’s technical foundation. What’s interesting, though, is that the game is based on a well-established Frostbite engine. It’s not clear what Battlefield V adds that’d negatively affect performance under DirectX 12 to such an extent.
Graphics Quality: Ultra, High, Medium, And Low
What impact does the graphics quality preset have on performance? We left our MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G installed and switched between Ultra, High, Medium and Low.
Between the Ultra and High presets, there are clear differences in lighting and shadows. In both examples, the top layer of snow is powder-like in appearance.
The Medium preset gives the snow a crunchier look. Vegetation isn't as dense, and the edges of shadows don't look as soft. Meanwhile, the Low preset loses almost all of its shadow detail, plus a lot more of the far-off vegetation. Medium still looks great, particularly in light of the performance headroom it frees up. It’s only really the Low preset we’d try to avoid.
Small frame time spikes affect the Low and Medium benchmark runs, while the High and Ultra presets result in far fewer frames being rendered. Of course, you’ll notice that the frame time graphs are smooth otherwise. We did run these benchmarks in DirectX 12 mode to see how they’d compare.
Comparison Graphics Cards
Comparing High-End Pascal
Switching back to DirectX 11, we next compared Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 1080, 1070 Ti, 1070, and 1060 6GB cards at 2560x1440 using the Ultra quality preset.
Why no AMD cards? To begin, our closed alpha invite came by way of Nvidia’s PR firm, so we were already wary of running benchmarks that’d pit the two companies against each other. Then we spotted the following known issue on EA’s closed alpha forum: “[TRACKED] BFV - PC - Massive performance issue is present with the AMD RX series cards.” We’ll revisit a head-to-head between AMD and Nvidia once the final game becomes available in a few months.
A GeForce GTX 1070 keeps its 99th percentile frame rate above 40, while GeForce GTX 1080 Ti averages more than 85 FPS.
Our frame time charts are a lot messier due to the use of DirectX 11, but the performance trends are still apparent.
During the closed alpha period, EA DICE will continue to collect feedback, identify bugs, and rebalance elements of the game. The test is only expected to last a few days, and EA says it has several more planned before Battlefield V rolls out to EA Access and Original Access customers on October 11th. We aren’t planning to run a new set of benchmarks for each content update. However, the Tom’s Hardware team does look forward to publishing comprehensive performance guides each time the Battlefield franchise is refreshed. For a blast from the past, check out Battlefield 3 Performance: 30+ Graphics Cards, Benchmarked and Battlefield 1 Performance In DirectX 12: 29 Cards Tested.
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