|The Fast-Enough Budget Computer: Built and Tested|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 24 March 2011|
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Testing and Results, Continued
We've gotten some pretty good DirectX 10 results, but how will the Fast Enough Computer handle DX11 games? Let's start by looking at the results from Aliens vs. Predator.
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
This game uses the Asura game engine developed by the publisher, Rebellion. Rebellion provides a stand-alone benchmarking tool for this game (I love stand-along benchmarking tools) which I used for testing. So how does our test system handle it?
And the answer is "Pretty well!" The only thing I had to compromise on to get decent frame rates was anti-aliasing; turning it on dropped the frame rates for the stock, single-card configuration below 30fps average. Other advanced visual features like sub-surface ambient occlusion (SSAO) and tesselation add to the visual appeal of the game with a minimal effect on the frame rate, and so I left them on. Overclocking the CPU and video card brought frame rates up about 12 percent, to 47fps, but adding a couple more processor cores actually dropped the frame rate very slightly.
While AvP doesn't make any real use of additional processor cores, it absolutely loves CrossFireX, with perfect 100% scaling (a doubling of frame rates) when another Radeon 6850 is added to the system. In a CrossFireX system, turning on 4xAA still drops the average frame rates significantly, to 57-58 frames per second, but that's still plenty fast enough for a very smooth visual experience.
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I am not a big fan of FPS war games, but Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is good enough to suck me into its world. Although not a "pure" DX11 title (the main rendering is performed in DX10, but some DX11 visual features are added), it still offers highly detailed environments that contain a lot of destructible elements, which adds a lot to a battle game. Throw in a variety of combat locations and scenarios and decent A.I. for your squad mates and you have something that's become one of my favorite FPS games.
I expected this game to be problematic, at least on the base configuration, but a solid 57 frames per second average with 8xAA, horizon-based ambient occlusion (HBAO), and all settings on "high" proved me wrong. What's interesting here is that overclocking the CPU and video card didn't help much, nor did CrossFireX on the dual-core system, or a quad-core processor with a single Radeon 6850. But the combination of quad-core and two HD6850s? Wow! Frame rates virtually doubled. Apparently, the dual-core Phenom II 565BE can't process enough data to keep a CrossFireX system fed in this game. Granted, frame rates still increased a touch over 12% (57 to 64fps) on the dual-core system when moving to CrossFireX, but it's obvious that this game needs multiple cores and multiple video cards for best performance.
BattleForge has a handy built-in benchmark test so you can discover the best settings for your system. With 8x anti-aliasing and all other settings set to "high", the average frame rate was 40fps on the base system. BattleForge has an "auto multithreading" option that I left turned on, but as you can see it made no difference in frame rates, at least in this test.
This was the only game that was completely unaffected by overclocking— note that the frame rates are identical between the stock and overclocked systems. Although just doubling the number of processor cores has no effect on BattleForge performance, it does make more effective use of multiple video cards in CrossFireX. With the dual-core 565 Black Edition CPU, adding another HD6850 video card increases frame rates by just over 32%, but when paired with a quad-core processor (which by itself has no effect on performance), frame rates double, duplicating the 100% scaling we saw previously with the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark.