AMD has won this battle, and Nvidia is going to have to step up its Battlefield 5 optimisations if it wants to win the war. In our testing the RX 580 massively outperforms the supposedly equivalent GTX 1060, despite BF5 now being a bought and paid for GeForce game.
The Battlefield 5 closed-alpha has just closed this very afternoon and we’ve spent a good while playing, killing, capturing, and testing graphics cards. It’s a tough life. The most interesting thing to come out of our closed alpha playtime, however, is just how differently the two mainstream GPUs from Nvidia and AMD perform.
If you want to know what the best graphics card around is, you know where to come.
In general graphics testing the GTX 1060 and RX 580 regularly trade benchmark wins, but normally only by the slightest of margins. With the Battlefield 5 closed alpha, however, there is a sizeable disparity in performance, with the RX 580 some 33% faster in our tests. That’s not the only bad news for Nvidia either, as the DirectX 12 implementation in the game does its GPUs no favours either.
It does really look like all the efforts that AMD put into making sure its GPU architecture was catered for, with Battlefield 1 being a flagship Radeon Gaming title, are still paying off with Battlefield 5. It’s true that as a closed alpha this is still pretty early days in terms of GPU optimisation, so GeForce gamers shouldn’t really panic too much - especially as, with the GTX 1180 launching by then, we might be closing in on new mainstream Nvidia cards too.
But it’s Nvidia that is going to have to be putting the efforts into optimisation for the old Pascal generation of GPUs if these early benchmarks are anything to go by. The current showing isn’t too bad considering, but it’s the performance delta between them which should be cause for concern among Nvidia’s embedded game team.
The other cause for concern is the DirectX 12 performance. Now, admittedly, it does say that enabling DX 12 might impact performance - and considering the limited obvious benefits of running with DX 12 you’d be forgiven for picking the higher performance mode. But it’s still interesting that we’re a long way past the launch of DX 12 and still we can’t get improved performance over the existing DX 11 standard.
With the GTX 1060 the DX 12 performance is 9% down compared with the card running under the DX 11 API with the exact same system settings. That’s not a huge amount, but is still a problem given that there is practically zero difference between DX 12 and DX 11 performance when you throw an RX 580 into the mix.
Still, at least the GTX 1080 Ti is still nailing gaming performance - it was delivering a pleasing 114fps at 1080p Ultra settings. Though it too was struggling with DX 12, losing around 14fps on average compared with the DX 11 performance.
But yes, these are early days for Battlefield 5, and I’m sure things will improve as Nvidia’s engineers get to grips with the code/the devs going forward, but unless something untoward happens between now and the October 19 release date then AMD is going to be well set in the performance stakes even before its engineers start working on things.