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This week we were finally able to jump into Battlefield V for the first time, and of course, we spent more time benchmarking than we did enjoying the gameplay, so we have a few results for you... which we'll call a preview since we are testing the 'open beta' version of the game. The full thing is slated for release across major platforms in two months' time.
The purpose of the open beta is to test technical aspects like server stability, latency levels, and matchmaking, as well as gameplay elements such as weapon balancing.
For those that pre-ordered the game – and we never recommend you to pre-order until reviews are out – but the point of our pre-order is to tell you how well the game does or doesn't run in its current condition. Anyway those pre-ordered the game now have early access, while those that haven't will get access two days later.
We won't waste time explaining what Battlefield V is or provide any kind of introduction, we're simply going to assume if you're reading this you know what it's all about (let alone the amazing RTX enhanced graphics that we're unable to test just yet). We'll just say that like 2016's Battlefield 1 and 2013's Battlefield 4 – yeah the naming is confusing – Battlefield V uses the same third iteration of the Frostbite engine. Countless other quality games have also made use of the engine over the years.
Battlefield V's PC beta allows players to adjust textures quality and filtering, lighting, effects, post-processing, mesh, terrain, undergrowth, anti-aliasing and ambient occlusion. The beta also includes options for resolution scaling, UI scaling, FOV sliders, motion blur, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, vignette and more.
As you might expect there are limited maps and game modes available in the open beta, but this doesn't matter for testing as we'd only be using a single map anyway. Getting into a game was quite difficult as all the servers were constantly full, but we did manage to get to where we needed to be for testing each time.
We chose the "Grand Operations" mode on the Narvik map and had to keep loading into games until we ended up on the right team at the right section of the match, so that we could run the proper pass for each GPU. It was messy but we managed to test almost a dozen of the latest generation GPUs at three resolutions. We have some quality scaling data to go over as well.
We're using our GPU test rig which is powered by a Core i7-8700K clocked at 5 GHz with 16GB of DDR4-3400 memory. For the GeForce GPUs the 399.07 WHQL driver was used and for AMD, the Radeon Adrenalin 18.8.2 driver.
Before getting too deep into the testing we decided to check out how the DX11 and DX12 APIs compare in this new title. After all, if AMD worked best with DX12 and Nvidia with DX11, that's how we would test GPUs from each company going forward. However we quickly discovered that DirectX 11 was the way to go for both teams.
Using DX12 the game suffered major stuttering with both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. This is something we saw with Battlefield 1 upon release, so we guess it's not entirely surprising. Developer EA DICE clearly isn't prioritizing the low level API. So for the rest of this article we'll be testing with DirectX 11.
First up we have the 1080p results using the ultra quality preset and here the RX 580 was up to 14% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB, the Radeon graphics card also maintained above 60 fps in our test. Vega 56 was also 8% faster than the GTX 1070 for the average frame rate but suffered a larger disparity between the average and 1% low result making it 5% slower for the frame time performance.
This weaker than expected frame time performance was seen for the Vega 64 models as well as both were down on the GTX 1070 Ti, despite beating the 1080 for the average frame rate. So some driver work still to come from AMD, but no surprises there as we are only testing the Beta version of the game.
The GTX 1080 Ti also sees a rather large difference between the frame time and average frame rate result, that said we're likely running into some kind of system bottleneck here as the 1% low figure broke the 100 fps barrier.
Moving to 1440p and we see that the gap between the 1% low and average frame rate for the 1080 Ti has shrunk, likely due to the fact that we are more GPU bound here and that's taking pressure off whatever the performance limiting component was previously, perhaps the CPU or memory.
Again we see that the Vega series is a little lacking when it comes to frame time performance which is a shame as we are seeing competitive average frame rate results, hopefully AMD can address this before the games official release.
At 1440p the RX 580 and GTX 1060 are able to deliver playable performance though the RX 580 was noticeably better. Still if you seeking around 60 fps for the 1% low result then the GTX 1070 will have you covered and for smooth game play at this resolutions that's really all you require.
Then at the extreme 4K resolution you'll either have to dial down the quality settings or bring at least a GTX 1080 Ti, but even then performance wasn't amazing, playable, just not amazing.
Here we have a quick look a how the presets compare using four of the previously tested GPUs. Please note we had to manually configure the preset each time as for some reason the developer decided to embed the vsync option within the presets and for some of them it's forced on, very strange and we hope they address that before release.
Anyway the results are a little unexpected, going from ultra to high only boosted the performance of the RX 580 and GTX 1060 by about 8-9%. We saw a slightly larger 11% bump for the GTX 1080 and a much larger 23% bump for Vega 64, though the frame time performance was still lower than that of the GTX 1080 using the same quality settings.
Then from high to medium we saw around a 40% increase for all GPUs tested and now Vega 64 and the GTX 1080 were able to maintain over 100 fps at all times during our test.
Battlefield 1 was one of the first games to really kill the quad-core CPU, 64-player multiplayer Battlefield 1 to be precise. As expected Battlefield V is no easier on quad-cores, we regularly saw my Core i7-8700K test system which features all cores clocked at 5 GHz exceed 70% utilization and at times peak at over 80%, so good luck with four threads.
VRAM usage wasn't that extreme, with a GTX 1080 Ti we saw just 3.4 GB's allocated at 1080p and and about 3.8 GB's at 1440p, this explains why the 3GB 1060 did so well at 1080p. You will want to ensure that your gaming rig has 16 GB of RAM as we saw memory usage exceed 8GB. Again we saw the same situation with Battlefield 1, where 8GB of memory would cause stuttering when playing the multiplayer portion of the game.
The good news is game looks great and plays very well on mid-range hardware. Even the 3GB GTX 1060 offered a solid gaming experience at 1080p. We didn't have time to test more lower end GPUs such as the GTX 1050 Ti and RX 570 for example, we'll save the big 50-something GPU bash for when the game is finalized and out.
For now though it's nice to know that those rocking a GTX 1060 or RX 580 have a lot to look forward to. Even at 1440p the game can be enjoyed in all of its glory with Vega 56 or a GTX 1070, and we expect things to only improve from here, unless you're using Ray Tracing :)
As we observed, you can reduce the quality settings to increase frame rates though going from ultra to high didn't offer big gains for the most part. For that you will need to go down to medium. It's hard to anticipate if we'll see any big performance gains by the game's release, whether the current performance is what you could consider "beta," if the display drivers will improve things, or if that's just how it's going to be. Another variable is that multiplayer is less consistent than single player, despite reporting a three run average.
The stuttery DirectX 12 performance was unexpected but not totally surprising as we found this exact issue when we tested Battlefield 1 for the first time in 2016. We'd hoped the developer would be more on top of it, but we're sure we'll see that addressed before too long. For those of you wondering, we've yet to try out multi-GPU technology like SLI, but that along with more CPU testing (8600K, 8400, and then a range of Ryzen CPUs) will wait for the in-depth CPU testing we're cooking for the game's official release.