Battlefield V Alpha: Our First Gameplay Benchmark Results

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

System Requirements

Closed Alpha Specifications
Minimum
Recommended
CPU
AMD FX-8350
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
DirectX Version
11.0
11.1
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.

Conclusion

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.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

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  • DookieDraws
    I love the BF series, and have played them since the very beginning, but this one hasn't gotten me as excited as previous versions have. I do plan to buy it and give it a try, though. Hopefully the finished product will be another BF classic, but I am not sold on the new fortification-building feature. Seems a little cheap to me, but we'll see how it goes.

    Fingers crossed!
  • dhayric
    Using DX12 on BF1 always gives me stuttering and at one time broke the game so that I couldn't even start it and had to clean install it!
  • Martell1977
    Last BF game I bought was BF3. It was fun but terribly short campaign. I've never really cared for multiplayer/pvp so is was $60 for 6 hours of fun...not much of a return. Seems to be a trend with FPS and that is why DOOM was the last one I've purchased.
  • Phaaze88
    I can only stare in disbelief at the minimum cpu requirements.
    FX 8350 in the same tier as 6600k, when it(8350) was competing with sandys and ivys at the time?
    Granted, Intel made such marginal improvements up to now due to being top dog for so long, and they still are... if price is not a concern. :/
  • zhalawi111
    I played BFV i dont like it.. BF1 is more more better
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    I can only stare in disbelief at the minimum cpu requirements.
    FX 8350 in the same tier as 6600k, when it(8350) was competing with sandys and ivys at the time?
    Granted, Intel made such marginal improvements up to now due to being top dog for so long, and they still are... if price is not a concern. :/


    That was perhaps most surprising to me as well. Looking forward to some platform comparisons when the game is out, particularly if it's possible to put together fairly consistent benchmarks in multi-player maps with 64 participants.
  • Averant
    When Battlefield 4 was released, I was pissed! We were paying to be beta testers. The audio was out of sync(when it worked at all) the frame rates were horrific(I had a GTX 660 at the time, so it's not like it was a slouch at 1920x1080) on all settings, and the physics were just broken. And that doesn't even count the multiplayer, which was FUBAR from the get-go. Eventually, they worked out -most- of the bugs, but I swore I'd never buy a new game again. I'll wait until they either patch the bugger, or until it's on sale. I will not pay full price to be a beta tester again...
  • 10tacle
    Dice has a long history of leaving gamers, both PC and console (PS3/4 for me), with bad tastes in our mouths. I last had BF3 (PC) and liked it but the massive bugs reported with BF4, both single player campaign and online, let me sit that one out. It remains to be seen what we will be dealing with here when it goes gold. That said....

    Quote:
    "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.”


    ^^I can see AMD card owners furious over this and making the same complaints they did when the first Project Cars was in development and they claimed that Nvidia GPUs were favored. That of course was not the case as Slightly Mad Studios (SMS) gave ten copies of pre-release games to each GPU maker to work with. Well guess what? As one who "invested" in an early release access to PCars 1 and was an active tester and contributor, according to SMS, only Nvidia proactively worked with the developer to fine tune game performance.

    AMD was MIA. It took several patches to get AMD users to get payable frame rates, and even after the final one, AMD GPUs still fell far short against Nvidia GPUs in that game. PCars 2 on the other hand leveled that field and AMD and Nvidia GPUs perform similarly. I'd like to see what the story is here with Dice and BF5 and how AMD responded during development with them (if at all).
  • KD_Gaming
    I played about 5hrs in the closed alpha, while not much time, it ran flawless without any crashes for me on a gtx 970
  • zhalawi111
    All the maps in Bf1 that released after the basic maps not statisfied for all gamers that i know and that continue in bfv alpha. We need maps like amiens.. Ballroom.. Forest.... We need work in visual effect..
    In bfv alpha when enter a house. There is prob. In visual. The speed damage of enemie fire hits is high
    The visual of the soldiers not quitly good like bf1
    The planes and the tanks is another story...
    Bf1 better in everything
  • DerekA_C
    I am sad they are still pushing DX garbage dx12 is a steaming pile of horse SH!T when they pushed Mantle the basis of Vulkan in BF4 and you do gain performance with it not lose like dx12 these companies need to stop catering to Microsh!t and stand up for open source open collaboration it is a much better end result.
  • DerekA_C
    The reason the specs are in favor of an older 8 core is because frostbite 3 scales really well with more cores. I am willing to bet this game runs best on a 2700x over a 8700k even if that thing is OC to 5.1 or 5.3ghz.
  • TerryLaze
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I can only stare in disbelief at the minimum cpu requirements.
    FX 8350 in the same tier as 6600k, when it(8350) was competing with sandys and ivys at the time?
    Granted, Intel made such marginal improvements up to now due to being top dog for so long, and they still are... if price is not a concern. :/


    That was perhaps most surprising to me as well. Looking forward to some platform comparisons when the game is out, particularly if it's possible to put together fairly consistent benchmarks in multi-player maps with 64 participants.

    How was that surprising? EA want's to sell games and most AMD systems are still FX...
    Also the game is designed to run on 6 jaguar cores so any potato with at least 4 threads will be able to run it.
  • swiciak
    Disappointing to see no AMD results. I understand they are the minority but we need them to be successful to keep Nvidia honest, which they aren't.
  • SkyBill40
    Anonymous said:
    Dice has a long history of leaving gamers, both PC and console (PS3/4 for me), with bad tastes in our mouths. I last had BF3 (PC) and liked it but the massive bugs reported with BF4, both single player campaign and online, let me sit that one out. It remains to be seen what we will be dealing with here when it goes gold. That said...


    The designers who worked on BF4 bailed on the game before most of the DLC content was finished (EA/DICEStockholm) to go work on their utter failure of a game in BF: Hardline. Had it not been for the valiant and life saving efforts as poured in by DICE LA in completing the DLC, listening to players' complaints, and setting up the PTE for new fixes to be tested, BF4 might have died shortly after release. I used to play the hell out of it though I stopped as other things took my interest. I'm on the fence with BFV and have that deep seated suspicion they'll pull the same nonsense again and perhaps that's the reason I'm leery about buying and may pass on it as I did on BF1.

    Outside of that, it looks like my ol' 8350 is getting to be the bottom of the rungs despite it still handling most everything well. I'm just not quite ready to do a (largely) all-in rebuild to a new AMD setup and will hold off as long as I can seeing that multi threaded applications are becoming more of the norm now and the FX has grown better over time thanks to such improvements. If Zen 2 is still on track for next year at some point, that'll be my new foundation.
  • Martell1977
    Anonymous said:
    Disappointing to see no AMD results. I understand they are the minority but we need them to be successful to keep Nvidia honest, which they aren't.


    Apparently you missed this part:

    "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."
  • DerekA_C
    Rx580 out performs 1060 by 33% in bf5 so there is that. AMD is coming back to the gaming field.
  • 10tacle
    Anonymous said:
    Rx580 out performs 1060 by 33% in bf5 so there is that. AMD is coming back to the gaming field.


    Sorry, but comparing one game that is only in Beta is not a definitive conclusion on where AMD GPUs stand. No matter the tier.
  • DerekA_C
    Except it says a similar story with bf1 so it is most likely a frostbite 3 engine thing.
  • techy1966
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Rx580 out performs 1060 by 33% in bf5 so there is that. AMD is coming back to the gaming field.


    Sorry, but comparing one game that is only in Beta is not a definitive conclusion on where AMD GPUs stand. No matter the tier.


    There is that as well as it being beta still and most likely Nvidia has not had to much time to have their tweaks installed into the game yet which goes to show that if indeed the RX 580 was 33% faster than a 1060 it won't be by the time release comes around and Nvidia has their way.