BF4 AMD Mantle Video Card Performance Review Part 1

AMD's Mantle API has been with us for just over a month now, and we have strapped a variety of video cards to the test bench to see what real world differences are being delivered to gamers within Battlefield 4. We will compare D3D11, Mantle, on various GPUs, looking at highest playable settings, frame times, and discuss our experiences.


Test Setup Specific to Battlefield 4

Our current philosophy for testing Battlefield 4 is to use multiplayer mode and target an average of 60FPS while playing in a full 64 player server on the Siege of Shanghai map. While the results are not as consistent as using the Test Range or a Single Player campaign, these represent the way that our readers will be playing the game thus reflecting real-world scenario of gaming. Given this, we spent a significant amount of time both thinking through and validating our test setup concept for this evaluation.

We ultimately decided that we would first test DirectX 11 performance to see if there has been improvement to best playable settings from the numerous patches and driver updates that have been released since our initial Battlefield 4 Performance and IQ Review for both AMD and NVIDIA cards.

For the next step, we would test at those settings using the Mantle API to see the amount of performance improvement that it provided. In cases where the performance increases would allow us to select better in-game graphics settings, we also test the Mantle API using the upgrade in-game settings.

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During the course of testing and data collection, Catalyst 14.2 Beta driver was released by AMD. The driver primarily addressed bug fixes as well as fixed CrossFire running in Mantle. No other performance enhancements were made, thus for single cards, the 14.1 Beta driver we started evaluating with will provide the same performance as the 14.2 Beta driver.

Since CrossFire support was added with the 14.2 driver, we did use Catalyst 14.2 for the AMD R9 290X CrossFire testing. So single-cards are using Catalyst 14.1 Beta, and R9 290X CrossFire is using Catalyst 14.2 Beta, since that driver was specifically for that combination. There are no performance differences on single-cards between Catalyst 14.1 Beta and Catalyst 14.2 Beta.