Battlefield 4 Benchmark – Multiplayer CPU and GPU W7 vs W8.1 Milos Milosevic November 4, 2013 Benchmarks The long wait is over, Battlefield 4 is here! (and our BF4 Benchmark that is) . DICE has managed to pull off another miracle with this title and delivered probably the best FPS game ever, with server crashes, bad net code and glitches that came with it. We must apologize for the delay, but there were more than a few issues that stopped us from delivering this benchmark on time. First of all after the launch DICE released a 677 MB update which killed the frames per second by around 5-10 on average, which forced us to redo the whole thing again although we finished half of the job. Also after the official launch for Europe it was impossible to enter any server with AMD cards. AMD reacted promptly and delivered a new driver which fixed those issues, but in all good conscience we had to repeat the benchmarks again since it was a new driver. However server crashing continued even after the new driver , but this wasn’t AMD’s fault it was EA and DICE’s and until now server crashing has not been fixed completely, although there have been at least 5 patches that took place. We could have just done Single Player benchmarks (which all of the other sites do) but we as Battlefield players know that SP benchmarks don’t mean squat when it comes to real world multiplayer performance, and lets face it people buy Battlefield because of the multiplayer, not singleplayer and we refused to go along with this meaningless trend that is being forced by other sites. But then again that is why we started HardwarePal. Since alot of readers asked why we didn’t include the i3 CPU in our BF4 Beta Benchmark we decided to go along with it (although honestly no one likes i3 CPU’s), since DICE recommends the GTX 660 and AMD 7870 on there pc requirements chart we added them as well. Win7 vs Win8.1 was one of the biggest questions in BF4 Beta, since we had reports of Windows 8 actually performing much better than Windows 7. At that point , as Windows 8.1 wasn’t officially released and since we had issues earlier with Windows 8 we decided to leave it out of the beta benchmark. Windows 8 brings more features that utilizes CPUs with multiple cores more effectively, especially for AMD’s FX CPUs but for Intel CPUs also to some point. Since Win 8.1 has been officially released we added one more category which doubled the amount of work, add to that 2 more GPU’s and one more CPU and get the idea of how enormous this task of actually completing the benchmark was. Compared to BF4 Beta this was almost 5 times more work for us in order to get the benchmarks out. All this in order to provide one of the most complete game benchmarks that we have ever seen and done. On their blog, DICE has acknowledged the issues we reported in BF4 Beta concerning the FX 6300 and FX 4300, we expected that they will fix the issues with these AMD CPUs but also expected that issues with the i7 CPU will be resolved as well. Just to remind you the i7 4770K in our beta benchmark was performing the same as a i5 4670k most of the time and sometimes even worse. High system memory usage was one more thing we expected to be fixed by launch, in Beta the system memory usage was around 9-10GB, 25% more than DICE recommended. With that in mind we decided to directly compare Bf4 Beta W7 performance with BF4 Official Release on W7 and W8.1 operating systems. Make sure to read all of the pages from this benchmark, lots of weird things will occur again so reading all the material is a must in order to understand what’s going on in Battlefield 4 now, when it comes to system requirements and performance. Short disclaimer: We tested the CPUs, GPUs and operating systems on the same map where we had already with our BF4 Beta benchmark (The Siege of Shanghai) at the exact same location in order to get the most accurate results when we compared data. The benchmark was done on an empty server, since when you do testing of this scale you need absolutely the most stable surroundings as possible as every little variable can affect the results. System memory usage was done on a full 64 man server. You might get better or even worse performance on similar setups (not by alot though), so take this benchmark only as general guideline when it comes to comparing performance of specific pieces of hardware on specific settings, and this is not the actual result that you might find in the game it self on a 64 man full server. PC Spec Requirements by DICE Battlefield 4 Benchmark Rigs and Components CPU i7 4770K – i5 4670K – i3 4340 FX 8350 – FX6300 – FX4300 Motherboard Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5, Asus Gryphon Z87 RAM 2x 8GB@ 2133 Mhz Kingston HyperX Beast : KHX21C11T3K2/16X HDD/SSD 2 x Intel 520 Series 240 GB GPU GTX770 4GB , GTX660 , 7970GHZ Edition, 7870 GHZ Edition Monitor Shimian QH270-IPSMS 2560x1440p 27″ PSU Thermaltake ToughPower XT 775W OS Windows 7, Windows 8.1 Drivers AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta V8, Nvidia ForceWare 331.65 Battlefield 4 2560 x 1440 Ultra Settings DICE wasn’t lying when they said that optimization for the FX 6300 and FX 4300 will be finished by launch. The FX 6300 an FX 4300 perform excellently, from a 50%-500% performance increase compared to the Beta. Optimization for the FX 6300 was so good that it even out performs the FX 8350. One more surprise came from the i3 which performs as well as AMD CPU’s which have much more cores. Of course Intel’s cores/threads and AMD cores/modules are not the same thing but this was one of the things we found interesting. We also must note large amounts of stuttering on the Windows 7 OS, in some cases the game was unplayable. When we switched to Windows 8.1 the stutter was gone, and all CPU’s got a nice boost in FPS, especially the FX ones. Don’t you be fooled by the same amount of Max fps on W7 and W8. We had the feeling that 60 fps on W7 was like 30 fps on W8. The GTX 770 performs well having 5-10% better performance on average. The GTX 660 and AMD 7870 perform more or less the same. These GPU’s have only 2GB of RAM and they are being bottlenecked in that sense, as well as being lacked in sheer horsepower for this high a resolution. At such low frame rates the difference between CPU’s is almost non existent, although we do see the FX 4300 trailing from the rest of the pack. On Windows 8.1 all CPU’s except the FX 4300 got a nice boost of around 20% in terms of frames and enormous playability since we said earlier stuttering under W7 was sometimes unbearable. Battlefield 4 2560 x 1440, High Settings At these settings you could have seen it earlier that the GTX 770 will be performing around 10% better than the Radeon 7970 GHz Edition. Also all of the CPUs get a nice 10-20% boost under W8.1 (smoothness as well). But we also notice that the i7 4770k still under performs compared to the i5 4670k. The i3 4340 even performs similarly to the i7 which should not be the case by any means, but this is also one of the good examples about how Intel’s HyperThreading works ( with the i3 ). As we said earlier at this frame count the differences are hard to notice, but again the i7 under performs and its being beaten again by the i5 and i3 as well. With this problem we will deal a bit later. If you watch closely you will see that FX 6300 performs as well as the FX 8350 which kind of gave us an idea about what was really going on . When it comes to the GTX 660 and Radeon 7870, the 7870 performs better at these settings at around 10-15%. Battlefield 4 2560 1440 Medium Settings The lower the settings the bigger the frame rates. With bigger frame counts CPU power and optimization have the biggest saying. Since W8.1 utilizes CPU cores more efficiently you can see big gains in FPS especially with the GTX 770 (around 50%). Strangely, we didn’t get that boost on the 7970 with the FX CPU’s (take a note of that!). The i7 and FX 8350 continue to under perform where the i7 trails in W7 but manages to catch up with the i5 4670k under Windows 8.1. The FX 6300 still has the same performance as the FX 8350 and sometimes even better. The i3 plays out phenomenally. The 7870 in these settings performs better, especially under W8.1. Even here the i7 under performs, almost the same as the i3. The 4670k blows it out of the water in W7, however it recovers under Windows 8.1. Battlefield 4 2560 x 1440 Low Settings When you look at benchmarks from BETA you will see that the difference is so big that is ridiculous. Better optimization paired with better drivers gives at least 50% more performance. With AMD’s FX CPU the gains are even much bigger , but if you switch to Win 8.1 you get an even higher 20% performance increase. Notice that GTX 770 beats the AMD 7970 at around 10-20% overall. We also must note that with the GTX 770 the FX CPU’s perform much better than with the 7970. After some extensive research we noticed that GPU usage on AMD 7970 drops to around 65%, and this is not the first time you will be able to see this. However in this scenario AMD 7870 does very well and although being on par with the GTX 660 on Windows 7 it gets a big boost on Windows 8.1. The i7 continues to trail behind the i5 and i3 even on W7 but manages to catch up again on Windows 8.1. This is an optimization issue since you can see that FX 8350 also trails behind the FX 6300 and only manages to be on par with it on Windows 8.1 . BF4 1920×1080 Ultra Settings As we continue we see again that the i3 and i5 beat the i7 as well as the FX 6300 beating the FX 8350. We concluded that this is an optimization issue, since Frostbite 3 Engine employs CPU’s with an amount of load that a quad core CPU can handle. Don’t get us wrong, this doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t utilize extra cores or threads, it means that for example the FX 8350 is working at ~50% load while the FX 6300 works at 66%. Non of them work at 100%, however since data is being more efficiently processed with less cores/threads you will get a weird situation where the i7 and FX 8350 are performing worse than the slower CPU’s. As we go with our lower ranged cards, we see that the GTX 660 performs identically in W7 and W8.1 in terms of frames, however the stuttering under W 8.1 was non existent. When it comes to the 7870 although trailing behind the GTX 660 on W7, it catches up on W8.1. BF4 1920×1080 High Settings To state the obvious, the i7 and FX 8350 are again trailing on Windows 7 and only manage to catch up on Windows 8 with the slower CPU’s. The GTX 770+Cpu combos get a massive 50% boost on Windows 8.1 while with the AMD 7970 +CPU combos get only a 10% boost. Again we noticed GPU usage drop on the 7970 to around 65% on Windows 8.1 which resulted to this discrepancy against the GTX 770. We see similar results with 1920×1080 on high as we did with ultra. The 7870 seems to be alot stronger with the i3 shining on both cards against the rest of the CPU’s. Battlefield 4 1920×1080 Medium Settings Here we see again something that has now begun to be a standard, the i7 and FX 8350 again manage to perform well only at Windows 8.1, while in Windows 7 they fall behind. Again GPU usage on the 7970 drops when working in Windows 8.1 to 65%, this is by no means a CPU bottleneck by FX CPU’s since as you can see they perform quite well with the GTX 770. This is more likely a video driver issue. Something similar happens with the 7870 , its on par in terms of frames with the GTX 660, but again GPU usage drops in Windows 8.1 performing almost identically as in Windows 7. And yet again the i7 and FX 8350 don’t do as good as they should, managing to give somewhat expected performance with Windows 8.1. Do we need to mention again that there was no stuttering with Windows 8.1? Battlefield 4 1920×1080 Low Settings The crescendo of this roundup comes at the lowest resolutions that we tested on the lowest settings, this is where differences in performance started to get truly ridiculous. The AMD 7970 again does OK in W7, but completely disappoints in Windows 8.1. CPUs running under the GTX 770 perform 50% better than the same CPU’s running under tge AMD 7970.The i5-4670k is again king of the hill being the only CPU which reached the 200 fps mark , where as the i7 only manages to provide slightly less performance of around 10% . The i3 again performs excellently and this CPU is one of the biggest surprises of this benchmark where at most times performed as well as the i7 or maybe even better. The FX 8350 again is under performing compared to the FX 6300. Same problem that occurs with the 7970 continues with the 7870. As we go down with the settings we go down with GPU usage as well which of course affects the overall framerate. AMD needs to fix this asap. BF4 GPU RAM Usage As we can see, compared to Beta, Vram usage has increased on all resolutions if you want to play at max settings. DICE has apparently added more high resolution textures which resulted with the increased need for memory usage. 3GB of dedicated video memory is a must have if you want to play at the 2560×1440 resolution at maxed out settings. When it comes to the 1920 x 1080p resolution we were kinda surprised that 2GB wasn’t quite enough, however we think that 2GB might do the job just as well since 200 MB won’t make that much of a difference. Battlefield 4 System Memory Usage When it comes to system memory usage we see that DICE has fixed memory leakage problems and that memory needed to run fluid gameplay has been considerably reduced. Less than 7 GB of RAM is needed on full 64 man servers for your game to run at 2560×1440 at maxed out settings. As we go down with to smaller resolutions we see something very interesting. Apparently lower resolution does not affect the amount of memory you need. Although the difference in RAM usage between the BF4 Beta 2560×1440 and 1920×1080 was around 1GB we see that the results in the official version are quite different.We see exact same or close enough system ram usage in both resolutions. We tested this on multiple servers and the result were always the same. Conclusion And boy, its going to be a big one, but in order for you to keep track it will be divided into sections. Game optimization- as we saw at this point in time it doesn’t really matter which CPU you have. The game is optimized to fully utilize only CPU’s with 4 cores or threads and, that work load is being replicated to other more powerful CPU’s. To be exact this is the average CPU usage for all CPU’s. We believe that DICE is having trouble taming the beast called Frostbit Engine 3.0 and at this point when the game is still at its early release stages they decided to restrain the engine by default in drawing too much CPU power so the smaller and slower CPU’s don’t get overwhelmed as was the case with the FX 6300 and FX 4300 in Beta. Although the problem with FX CPU’s was another thing since if you remember the i7 was under performing in Beta as well, compared to i5 4670k which suggests that the game or the engine itself clearly doesn’t use all the CPU power it has at its disposal. This is not directly connected with Intel’s Hyperthreading since we saw the i3 (which has HT) doing remarkably well. This is one of the rare situations (if not the only one) that we have seen in gaming where having a stronger CPU doesn’t really help, heck, its quite the opposite. People who bought cheaper CPUs have a reason to cheer about it although I am sensing some rage on the side of i7 users who paid top dollar for their processors. It would be nice from DICE to fix this optimization issue (after they fix server crashing, net code, etc…) and you can be sure that we will inform DICE about our findings as soon as possible. Users that already have the i7 might want to try and disable Hyperthreading in the BIOS, they could get better performance than leaving it on. Operating Systems – results clearly show that the game runs much better on Windows 8.1 than on Windows 7. When releasing Windows 8’s vanilla version, Microsoft announced better performance with multicore CPU’s, especially with AMD’s FX CPUs. What Microsoft said, Microsoft delivered. It is perfectly fine that new operating system brings better performance but we do not know why there is so much stuttering with Windows 7 OS. When we say stuttering we are not referring to frame drops or even Frametiming, we tested all that and it brought us nothing. We believe that Framerating techniques would show what the users and we as well have experienced, however at the time of testing we didn’t have adequate equipment to prove these claims but you can be sure that this is something we are going to be dealing with in the future. Battlefield 3 runs perfectly well with W7 without even a hint of stutter and we really do not understand why this happens in Battlefield 4. Unless, someone has found a way to show his new OS as a much superior one to the previous, and in order for them to do that, found a way for the older one to fail. We are not pointing any fingers, just saying. At this point , since there is not even a hint of a patch that would improve performance on W7 (DICE is being awfully quiet about that), if you are planning on upgrading your computer for Battlefield 4 the first thing you should change is your operating system and switch to Windows 8.1 (64-bit). GPU’s and Drivers – as we saw GPU usage on AMD cards drops as we lowered the resolution and settings, you can be sure that we will inform them as well about the issues we have encountered. AMD really needs to do a better job when it comes to driver support, after all, this game should be optimized for AMD cards, right? System Memory Usage – we are glad that initial fears when it comes to memory needed for this game are now gone, if we don’t get anymore “RAM eating features” 6-8GB of ram is more than enough for you to play at a full scale 64 man server. Vram Usage- if you want to play on Ultra at 1440 or 1600p, you need at least a 3 GB card, for 1080/1200p 2GB card MIGHT do the job. We will be returning to benching Battlefield 4 when DICE integrates AMD’s mantle on December 15th, so make sure you subscribe to our news letter in order to get your information on time. Also the next game we will be benching is Call Of Duty: Ghosts that will be released on November the 5th , so you would might want to stick around and see what we make of it. See Pricing If you have any questions about the benchmark please ask in the comment section below and I will be glad to answer.