|MSI R6870 Radeon HD 6870 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Friday, 05 November 2010|
Page 9 of 18
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Test Results
The Battlefield franchise has been known to demand a lot from PC graphics hardware. DICE (Digital Illusions CE) has incorporated their Frostbite-1.5 game engine with Destruction-2.0 feature set with Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 features destructible environments using Frostbit Destruction-2.0, and adds gravitational bullet drop effects for projectiles shot from weapons at a long distance. The Frostbite-1.5 game engine used on Battlefield: Bad Company 2 consists of DirectX-10 primary graphics, with improved performance and softened dynamic shadows added for DirectX-11 users. At the time Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was published, DICE was also working on the Frostbite-2.0 game engine. This upcoming engine will include native support for DirectX-10.1 and DirectX-11, as well as parallelized processing support for 2-8 parallel threads. This will improve performance for users with an Intel Core-i7 processor.
In our benchmark tests of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the first three minutes of action in the single-player raft night scene are captured with FRAPS. Relative to the online multiplayer action, these frame rate results are nearly identical to daytime maps with the same video settings.
The MSI R6870 puts in a very good performance with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, beating out the GTX460 and the HD 5830 easily and getting close to a 60 FPS frame rate. This is not as tough a benchmark as some others; the developers trod a fine line between juicing up the visuals and keeping the performance levels up. As much as people may Oooh and Aaah over some newer titles like Mafia II that have more exacting graphics, no one is complaining about the look and feel of BF:BC2. The maps are all loading at normal speed nowadays, too. This benchmark does not utilize tessellation, so as in our DX10 testing, the strength of the newest GPUs in this area are not having an impact here. Don't worry; we'll see some results later that will show clear differences between the generations with some tessellation-heavy titles.
Having expressed my appreciation for the balancing act that the company did with the graphic design, I have to mention that BF:BC2 has been playing some tricks on us lately. There is a little-documented feature in the basic setup that allows the game to choose which DirectX API it uses during the session. The default behavior is for the program to choose the highest mode that the current installed hardware supports. There are no options available in the user interface to choose manually, and no indication anywhere of which API is in use during game play. The problem is: we have been assuming that this is primarily a DX10 game, and benchmarking it accordingly. It actually switches back and forth between DX11, DX10 and DX9, depending on the capabilities of the installed graphics card.
There have been many examples in the literature about the performance "penalty" of DX10 compared to DX9, although they can be minimized in development. The problem has always been that there is no free lunch; you want added realism, you pay for it with extra GPU cycles, plain and simple. The same applies to DX11, although it has some efficiencies built into it that ease the load. The issue is that you have to do the development with DX11, you can't just bolt it on at the end and expect to gain all the benefits of the improved coding routines that were baked in by Microsoft. As BF:BC2 is cycled between the three DirectX APIs, keeping all the other settings the same, a card that forces the program to revert to DX10 mode has an advantage of between 10% and 20% better FPS. THIS is why my NVIDIA GT200 cards always did so well in this benchmark, compared to the ATI 5xxx series. They were running in DX10 mode and the ATI cards were running in DX11. Admittedly, there are only minimal DX11 features incorporated in BF:BC2, like softened shadows, but that one visual enhancement takes a measureable toll on frame rates.
In the next section we use one of my favorite games, DiRT-2, to look at DX11 performance. Life isn't ALL about shooting aliens; sometimes you just need to get out of the city and drive...!