Battlefield 3 Single Player Performance and IQ Review

Battlefield 3 was released last week to throngs of anxious, eager gamers. The PC version shows PC gamers some love with some awesome lights and DirectX 11 effects. In this article, we're looking at Single Player Campaign gameplay performance and image quality with 8 of the best video card solutions on the market right now.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing based on real gameplay as well.

Test System Setup

For our test system platform we are using an ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution motherboard with an Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.6GHz, and 6GB of Corsair DDR3-1600. For the power supply, we will be using a CoolerMaster Real Power Pro 1250W.

We use the 3.6GHz overclocked quad-core processor in an attempt to keep from putting our evaluation into a position of being CPU limited. We make every effort to not use CPU limited games for video card evaluations, but the 3.6GHz processor seems to put many peoples’ minds at ease when it comes to that subject.

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For all three NVIDIA-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using NVIDIA's ForceWare 285.62 WHQL package, which was the latest driver at the time of testing.

For all three AMD-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using AMD's Catalyst 11.10 Preview 3 driver package, which was the latest driver at the time of testing. We waited until the newest AMD Catalyst Application Profile (CAP) was released, for testing AMD video cards and CrossFireX. We are using 11.9 CAP4 which is the latest and recommended CAP to be used on AMD video cards in BF3.

We are aware that Catalyst 11.10 WHQL was just released on October 31st. When we began testing on October 18th, Catalyst 11.10 Preview 3 was the latest driver. We ran a quick test to see if 11.10 WHQL's performance changed from the 11.10 Preview 3 driver we used. The graph below shows a direct comparison in BF3 between these two drivers.

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As you can see, there was no difference, the new 11.10 WHQL that was released on October 31st yields no improvement in BF3 over 11.10 Preview 3 released on October 18th. The tiny average fps difference you see above can be attributed to margin of error for testing real-time run-throughs. Therefore, all of our results are valid and relevant showing the best performance possible in BF3.