Battlefield 3 Benchmarked, GPU and CPU Performance Tested

By on October 28, 2011, 2:54 AM

Earlier this month we checked out the beta version of Battlefield 3 to see how it played on a range of DirectX 11 graphics cards. The results were concerning as even the latest and greatest graphics cards struggled, especially those who planned to enjoy the game in all of its visual glory.

The good news is that only one month later reviewers in general are finding the final game to be quite enjoyable and considerably more polished than the beta. Our Product Finder has listed 11 reviews of the game so far, with a wide majority giving positive impressions and a very optimistic 92/100 metascore.

As before, BF3's developer DICE recommends a quad-core CPU be used along with 4GB of system memory. Suggested graphics cards start with the GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6950, meaning that gamers will want to spend $200+ on a modern GPU to appreciate Battlefield 3. Today we'll take a peak at what's required to play Battlefield 3 as we test a number of GPU and CPU configurations.

Read the complete performance review.




User Comments: 85

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dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Thanks for the comprehensive review.

Very sharp...both the content and the review layout

Guest said:

Ouch! my poor 560ti QQ

Arris Arris said:

Wonder if this will push me to upgrade from my 2 x 5850s... hmm.

I mean at 1920x1200 I really find that AA is something I value less than other quality settings. I used to consider it to be of more importance back in the days of ~1024 resolutions.

Stupido Stupido said:

Arris said:

Wonder if this will push me to upgrade from my 2 x 5850s... hmm.

I mean at 1920x1200 I really find that AA is something I value less than other quality settings. I used to consider it to be of more importance back in the days of ~1024 resolutions.

Well, for some more details/info check the Tom's hardware:

AMD cards and CrossFire scaling

BlindObject said:

Nice review. For the record, since you guys didn't include it, I'm playing with a i7 950 at 4ghz and SLI GTX465 (odd set up right?) and I can play at 1080p with High Settings with v-sync on and it NEVER drops below 60fps. No AA, honestly, it doesnt look like I need it. I'm gonna try some ultra settings soon.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

My rig is running smooth, (my internet could be better though...DSL) so if ya wanna buddy up shoot me a PM

Guest said:

I'm sorry this is ridiculous marketing rubbish. My specs aren't even on there and I can play the game on medium at 1680 x 1050 with a THREE-YEAR-OLD PC! (Core 2 duo 3.16 GHz, 4GB, GTX 280).

The game looks amazing at this resolution and quality, but more importantly plays fluidly and is joyful.

If you NEED amazing graphics, sure fork out, but if you're like me and you just need to play BF3, stick with what you have.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

So my Nvidia EVGA GTX570 Classified Edition will handle this game on ultra at 1920x1080?!

AWESOME! Plus the fact that it will be coupled with an i7 2600K I think this game is going to run very well

Although I do have one question, I noticed that it is recommended to run this game using a 64-bit processor in order to use more RAM, does this game run any different with 8GB of RAM compared to 4GB?

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

So my Nvidia EVGA GTX570 Classified Edition will handle this game on ultra at 1920x1080?!

AWESOME! Plus the fact that it will be coupled with an i7 2600K I think this game is going to run very well

Although I do have one question, I noticed that it is recommended to run this game using a 64-bit processor in order to use more RAM, does this game run any different with 8GB of RAM compared to 4GB?

Hey burty,

this may interest you.

[link]

They apparently were very sensitive with memory load and streaming, and the use of instancing to mitigate the effects of memory use. It is very interesting. watch all 5 parts if you have time.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

red1776 said:

So my Nvidia EVGA GTX570 Classified Edition will handle this game on ultra at 1920x1080?!

AWESOME! Plus the fact that it will be coupled with an i7 2600K I think this game is going to run very well

Although I do have one question, I noticed that it is recommended to run this game using a 64-bit processor in order to use more RAM, does this game run any different with 8GB of RAM compared to 4GB?

Hey burty,

this may interest you.

[link]

They apparently were very sensitive with memory load and streaming, and the use of instancing to mitigate the effects of memory use. It is very interesting. watch all 5 parts if you have time.

Thanks for the Link Red, will make a good watch while on lunch at work

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Amd has released CAP 4 that includes BF3 improvements, so maybe they wont suck, or look foolish.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Guest said:

I'm sorry this is ridiculous marketing rubbish. My specs aren't even on there and I can play the game on medium at 1680 x 1050 with a THREE-YEAR-OLD PC! (Core 2 duo 3.16 GHz, 4GB, GTX 280).

The game looks amazing at this resolution and quality, but more importantly plays fluidly and is joyful.

If you NEED amazing graphics, sure fork out, but if you're like me and you just need to play BF3, stick with what you have.

It's not marketing rubbish. It's a good performance analysis to let you know what you'll need in terms of recent hardware if you want to be able to play it at high/ultra settings.

I too, don't have a top-of-the-line PC, and can play the game just fine at slightly higher than medium settings with my Core i7 920, 6GB RAM, GTX 260 at 1920x1200. I haven't once had any framerate issues.

However, if you do have an older video card, don't update to the latest NVIDIA drivers (285.65 I think) as it causes some bizzaire stuttery animations when you move your mouse and run/walk. Also, if you have an amBX speaker setup, you'll have to kill the amBXFXgen (or something like that) process or else you will get a DirectX error upon game startup.

Arris Arris said:

Well, for some more details/info check the Tom's hardware:

AMD cards and CrossFire scaling

Thanks for the link Stupido. I'll have to grab latest AMD drivers and CAP and see how it performs myself. Hopefully this evening as it took most of my entire lunch break to install! Origin was doing an update when I left it to go back to work

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Thanks for the article, but it leaves me with one (big) question.

How much of a difference does the MSAA setting at "Ultra" graphics settings actually have visually?

HardOCP had this to say in their performance preview: [link]

All of our testing is at apples-to-apples settings. We set the game to 2560x1600 and set all in-game options to "Ultra" to max it out. Antialiasing Deferred was set to "Off," this is traditional MSAA and that is a huge drain on performance. Instead, we used Antialiasing Post which is FXAA, we set this to "High." We had 16X AF enabled and HBAO enabled.

Looking at single-GPU performance we find the GeForce GTX 580 and Radeon HD 6970 to match exactly for performance. There doesn't seem to be any perceptible differences between the two video cards in terms of performance. We also experienced no stuttering, and completely smooth gameplay on both AMD and NVIDIA video cards. Keep in mind, the Radeon HD 6970 is still much less expensive than GeForce GTX 580, so you get the same performance as GTX 580 for a much lower price in BF3.

DanUK DanUK said:

Nice review! The game only got release here last night at mindnight. But it took me a whole hour to get through the crap that is origin/EA servers. Eventually got in an hour of gaming between 1 and 2am before deciding to crash out for the night as to avoid being a zombie at work today (kinda failed).

Anyway from what I did see.. wow! The game is beautiful. Still not a fan of the web front end at all however once you're past that and in the game it's just stunning. I'm running an i7 920 with a GTX 580 and 12gb DDR3 ram, so am lucky enough to enjoy some pretty high settings. Might crack them all up to ultra later and see how it copes (runing 1920 x 1200)

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Running a i7 920 at stock speed, 9gb 1066mhz ddr3, 460gtx. Settings on auto, all looks very smooth and sexy. No ultra for me but the difference between the beta and the release is massive. Very happy.

fimbles fimbles said:

Phenom 9850 BE, 8 Gb 1066 ddr2, gtx 275 sli

Ultra settings -41 fps avg

High - 58 fps avg

According to nvidia my system would be not be able to even run it.. i smell bs

fimbles fimbles said:

As a side note, both gpus never push past 85% useage.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Phenom 9850 BE, 8 Gb 1066 ddr2, gtx 275 sli

Ultra settings -41 fps avg

High - 58 fps avg

According to nvidia my system would be not be able to even run it.. i smell bs

for one, your cards are not DX 11 capable, and the DX 11 features (tessellation for one) use a lot of horsepower. your GPU's are not rendering any of those.

Minimum requirements for Battlefield 3

OS: Windows Vista or Windows 7

Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or Althon X2 2.7 GHz

RAM: 2GB

Graphic card: DirectX 10 or 11 compatible Nvidia or AMD ATI card, ATI Radeon 3870 or higher, Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT or higher.

Graphics card memory: 512 MB

Sound card: DirectX compatibl sound card

Hard drive: 15 GB for disc version or 10 GB for digital version

where are you seeing Nvidia saying 2 x GTX 275's wont run BF3?

fimbles fimbles said:

There is very little tessalation on the flat deck of the aircraft carrier, im pretty sure its limited to the mountain regions, And a few enviromental objects. The videos linked above confirm this.

Even at ultra settings the terrain lod is set to medium at default, After comparing directly with my brothers 580 he and i both agree there is very little diffrence in most levels with just a few obviously tessalated objects.

Im seeing 2 x gtx 275s wont run battlefield 2 on the official nvidia website. Theres a " is your pc ready for bf3" advert. Says im not and reccomends a gtx 460.......

fimbles fimbles said:

After more research i have found the performance diffrence between dx10 and 11 in BF3 is approximatley 4%.

Adjust my fps accordingly.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Well that doesn't make any sense. The system requirements are much less than a pair of 275's.

DX 11 has more than just tessellation. as far as the 4% difference, either your source is incorrect, or the lead developer doesn't know what he is talking about. as long as it's working for you.

princeton princeton said:

Why is the 560 Ti not included in the Ultra settings benchmark yet the last gen HD 5870 is?

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Great review.

With my single GTX 560 ti I can easily run this game on ultra settings with HBAO/SSAO turned off. I overclocked my core clock up to 1Ghz, my shader clock to 2 Ghz, and my memory clock to 2.2 Ghz. I run this game with everything in ultra and average 43-46 fps on big maps such as Operation Firestorm, and 50+ fps indoors at 1920 x 1080. If I enable HBAO (not OC) it drops to about the same as this benchmark: 37+ outdoors, 45+ indoors. Not too bad for the Ti; at least until I save enough for the 6990, or until Kepler comes out.

And BTW, my OriginID is: ImpureSoldier. Add me on Battlelog.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nice review.

I think it's GPU upgrade time for me, the ultra screenshots look awesome

Guest said:

Any ideas why ATI Radeon HD 4890 sucks too bad there? I mean, it is a great card, runs Crysis 2, Lost Planet 2, CoD: BlackOps and ... pretty smooth (something like Radeon HD 6870 in most benchmarks).

Can anybody else please confirm these low frame rates with their Radeon HD 4890?

SkitzoPhr3nia said:

I don't suppose they had time to play a few hours with each setup while running these test, but I keep having my display drivers crash while i'm playing. I am running 2 6970's in crossfire with 11.10 drivers with and without CAP 3. Anyone else having this problem? Sometimes I can play for hours no problem, and sometimes it only takes minutes. The only fix I have found is not running crossfire, then it works perfect.

Guest said:

Nice review. Love this game. I'm running it @ 1920x1080 with a 2500K @ 4.5GHz, Two overclocked HD 6950 2GB in Crossfire, and 8GB G.Skill RipjawsX 1600MHz @ 1866MHz, playing on ULTRA.

Now I gotta get my friend to buy a 6870 or 560 Ti so he can game too. His GTS 250 won't cut it. Get this game... NOW!

Guest said:

Nice. I know it's usually not the norm of this website to do 5760x1080 resolutions, but would have been very interesting to see. Just looking at 2560x1600 UltraQ Settings I can only guess at 5760x1080 judging from the data here and seeing past extreme games at this resolution.

I can't wait to see how BF3 performs when Kepler and Tahiti are released.

Guest said:

For the 4890's poor showing, it's a combination of the level being testing (why that aircraft one, it's not exactly typical for MP play now is it) and the fact that the reviewing left on High Ambient Occlusion to be fair to the other cards.

With AO set to off, Motion Blur off (for taste really), no AA and AF x16 you should get about 30-45 FPS on all High with a 4890 DX10 1GB card (plus a good CPU, i.e. 4 core)

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Good review Steve. So far performance wise I'm extremely pleased and running significantly better than I assumed. Getting slightly higher averages than reported here on my 6850 same as the beta but that's nothing to complain about . Going to mess around with some OC's to see how much more I can squeeze out but I'm pretty satisfied with my lows being in the 40's on my system during intense multiplayer fights.

Guest said:

Nobody should rely on these benchmarks for bf3. Battlefield games are very tough on video cards and this benchmark comes nowhere near the maximum loads your cards will experience in a 64 player game with lots of action.

Go to [link] for real benchmarks of bf3. use google to translate the site.

To the person who did this piece, don't take this the wrong way but sp benchmarking doesn't not produce useful results in this game. 10 minutes of real gameplay will. use that average fps and avoid spending much time on spawn screen.

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

Guest said:

this article is just horrible. absolutely useless!

nobody should rely on these benchmarks for bf3.

Battlefield games are very tough on video cards and this benchmark comes nowhere near the maximum loads your cards will experience in a 64 player game with lots of action.

go to [link] for real benchmarks of bf3. use google to translate the site.

to the person who did this piece, don't take this the wrong way but sp benchmarking doesn't not produce useful results in this game. 10 minutes of real gameplay will. use that average fps and avoid spending much time on spawn screen.

Umm, based on the findings of this article it is actually pretty accurate. Even on the full 64 player maps when all things go to hell, my FPS doesn't dip below 40 with highs up to 60+. This is running on a stock GTX 580 (no OC) @1920x1080 resolution on ULTRA.

CPU is irrelevant seeing as any modern decent CPU will run this game.

And to those looking for the best overall settings, I think setting the Post anti-aliasing to HIGH or MED while deferred anti-aliasing to 2xMSAA. It's the best balance of visual and performance for me.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

this article is just horrible. absolutely useless!

nobody should rely on these benchmarks for bf3.

Battlefield games are very tough on video cards and this benchmark comes nowhere near the maximum loads your cards will experience in a 64 player game with lots of action.

go to [link] for real benchmarks of bf3. use google to translate the site.

to the person who did this piece, don't take this the wrong way but sp benchmarking doesn't not produce useful results in this game. 10 minutes of real gameplay will. use that average fps and avoid spending much time on spawn screen.

To the troll that made this post, thanks for the advice.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

this article is just horrible. absolutely useless!

nobody should rely on these benchmarks for bf3.

Battlefield games are very tough on video cards and this benchmark comes nowhere near the maximum loads your cards will experience in a 64 player game with lots of action.

go to [link] for real benchmarks of bf3. use google to translate the site.

to the person who did this piece, don't take this the wrong way but sp benchmarking doesn't not produce useful results in this game. 10 minutes of real gameplay will. use that average fps and avoid spending much time on spawn screen.

Actually its spot on...and you don't have to translate Steve!....mostly :p

Guest said:

Whoa Whoa Whoa. Something is very wrong with your 4890 benches! You have the 4890 listed as 20 FPS avg at high settings at 1920X1200.

This has to be very wrong, I'm running a 1GB 4890, at 1980X1020. It does have a factory overclock to 950 mhz, but that shouldn't make a huge difference as I believe default 4890 clock was 850. Anyways, I'm playing the campaign at all ULTRA settings, mind you, NOT high, with the exception of terrain quality locked to medium (as with all DX 10 cards), and SSAO instead of HBAO, no MSAA, FXAA set to HIGH, motion blur on, 16X AF (settings because I heard HBAO and MSAA are performance killers).

And I'm getting, in the early parts of the campaign, oh I would say a solid 30 FPS. Very playable. Sometimes in less demanding areas I even sometimes see the FPS shoot up to 45-50, though it often dips to the mid-upper 20's as well in firefights. I havent run a fraps average, but my guess is it would be averaging perhaps 35 FPS, and no lower than 30. That's fully playable for me, I find 30 FPS to be fine (and I console game a lot too where 30 is the norm).

And the rest of my rig is weak too, it's a Q6600@2.8, 4GB of DDR2.

So yeah, 20 FPS on lower settings than I'm using, something is wrong. By your chart 4890 is unplayable at high settings+1080P, yet I'm playing it very nicely at mostly ultra 1080p, forget high!

It could be something to do with the level, as I said I'm early and have not reached the "Go hunting" level yet. Still, I'm doubting it's so much more demanding than the rest of the game.

Another clue is that the 6850 should have similar grunt to my 4890. My 4890 is 800 shaders @950, a 6850 is 960 shaders @775. That's almost exactly equal in power when I did the math (I know shaders arent everything but it should give us an idea). So for 6850 to be averaging 40 and 4890 averaging 20 again is a red flag. And as I showed, I would guess my 4890 is averaging maybe 35, which would put it close to 6850 where it belongs.

So yeah, imo your 4890 benchmarks are wrong, I'm playing at 1080P mostly ULTRA at 30-35 FPS with a 4890.

I did notice you have HBAO on as well where I'm using SSAO (then again I have multiple settings at ultra versus your high!), but again I'm not sure that would kill performance that much.

I'll revisit this comments section in a day or two, double check everything, get a fraps avg to be exact, maybe see if HBAO makes the difference, but as of now must disagree with your 4890 bench.

Guest said:

Hmm, I hadnt read the comments before my last post, and I see somebody else had brought up the 4890 issue before I wrote my long post above about it.

And he's right. The 4890 may not have the DX 11 bells and whistles but is flat fast as hell due to it's extremely high clocks and I guess, lack of DX 11 overhead. Even today it runs most games on "high" (or above) and is one of the best value cards I've ever owned.

But yeah, other guest, my 4890 runs the game pretty well, as it's all laid out in my post above, and as us 4890 owners would expect given it's good performance in other games.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Once AMD release a certified driver I will retest but I agree our results for the Radeon HD 4890 seem too low. I was unable to work out why the card was so slow.

Guest said:

Will my 1 gb version of hd 5870 give same performance and why my pci express 2.0 x16 running only at x8?

Guest said:

OK, same guest as above, I already ran some very quick benches. Again my settings and PC:

PC:

Q6600@2.8 ghz, 4GB DDR2, HD 4890 1GB @950.

BF3 campaign mission was operation swordbreaker, the checkpoint where you start underground after the QTE-fistfight, make your way uptop to a firefight, then get on the bridge and grab the LMG for more firefight. So, a good mix with lots of firefight should be pretty stressful. Ran two main benchmarks. Using FRAPS. Settings, everything Ultra, no MSAA, high FXAA, 16AF, Motion blur on, SSAO. Ran two benches one with SSAO one with HBAO. Oh and 1080P resolution of course.

First bench (SSAO)

5825 frames, min 24, max 72, avg 37.629

Second bench (HBAO)

3442 frames, min 22, max 53, avg 31.063

So there you have it. HBAO did seem to make a big hit, but I'm a little suspicious just because this type of benchmark is very random, and it's possible the 2nd run was just a lot more stressful in terms of "firefighting". But yeah overall HBAO took a hit, but it's still WELL faster than your bench. Even allowing say an extra 10% for my 4890 overclock too. And remember most of my settings are higher. I'll run some more and post them in the next couple days here, short on time now. The only other variable is the level, and I'm not at "go hunting" yet.

But again if "go hunting" was that much more stressful and 6850 ran it at 40 FPS, then a 6850 should be running the parts I just benchmarked at like 80 FPS, which probably isn't the case.

Like I said I'll be back for more benchmarks cause this is fun. Like to run one at your "high" settings too for direct comparison.

Guest said:

nice review there. its very good to see bulldozer scaling benchmarks, but i noticed that athlon x3 was left out,i am hoping that in the future it will be included again as it would be interesting to see if games scale beyond 3 cores, especially in games that are not as GPU demanding as bf3

Guest said:

Guest: "will my 1 gb version of hd 5870 give same performance and why my pci express 2.0 x16 running only at x8"

Maybe you have too many ports/slots/ enabled on your motherboard (ie. USB3.0 and/or "too many" expansion cards that are eating up your PCIe lanes. Check your bios, read the motherboard manual, or google, to see if this is the case.

I'm using two video cards on my ASUS P8P67 EVO, and if i want to use USB 3.0, then i cannot use one or both of my PCIe x1 slots, and i can only use my 3rd PCIe slot @ x1 instead of x4, if i remember correctly without looking. Also if i want that slot to remain at x4, then i cannot use 2 of my standard USB slots on the back of my case.

Guest said:

Frames, Time (ms), Min, Max, Avg

3566, 60000, 48, 68, 59.433

@High preset 1680x1050.

Core i5-760 (@stock)

GTX460 Hawk (875/1750/1900)

Did the same test as this site.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

How about some screenshots without MSAA per the conclusion, so we can see what it looks like & compare.

Guest said:

Excellent article.

Will come in handy when I'm ready to build my new rig next month.

Guest said:

Really?... no 2500K tested? no Core 2 Duo/Quad? So many AMD's tested i'd think.......

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Really?... no 2500K tested? no Core 2 Duo/Quad? So many AMD's tested i'd think.......

ummm...I forgot my glasses in the car...could you make out the CPU second down from the top for me?

so much like a troll post ...i'd think....

Just kidding!...I don't wear glasses

Guest said:

i mean in CPU utilization. ;)

Guest said:

you did all that for nothing. did you find my C2D/Q? no? aw too bad. must be nice to have all your free time.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

i mean in CPU utilization.

no you didn't

.

you did all that for nothing. did you find my C2D/Q? no? aw too bad. must be nice to have all your free time.

yeah ..C&P'ing that was really labor intensive.

why would you expect that every two or three old gen CPU under the sun would be/ should be on the list anyway? If you think that (like you inferred) he is an AMD shill, you should read, well...the review for one.

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