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Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis

We check out the latest Batman game, Batman: Arkham City and find out how it runs on a number of video cards.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Nov 25 2011 7:48 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Batman: Arkham City

Introduction

Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis 02 | TweakTown.com
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Batman: Arkham Asylum was a great benchmark. The built-in benchmark gave us a fantastic idea of what's going on with performance under the game and while performance has always been quite strong, the game looked fantastic as well. The other benefit was it included PhysX support which gave us a good idea of how PhysX would impact performance.

Outside of all that, though, one of the best things about Batman: AA was the simple fact it was a really good game. It's one of the few super hero games in recent years that offered a fantastic story and the dark setting behind it all made for a really enticing experience.

Jump forward a few years and we're staring at Batman: Arkham City, the much anticipated sequel to Batman: AA. Like its predecessor, we've got another built in benchmark and no doubt a game that's going to be more intensive than its predecessor.

With Batman: AC in hand, a bunch of video cards and our 30" monitor, we'll today be checking out the performance with a number of cards to see how the new Batman game runs on our X79 testbed.

We'll start off by looking at our Test System Setup and just cover the cards and setups we'll be using today. Once we've done that we'll simply just get straight into the performance side of things. The settings we're testing at we'll cover on the next page, so really, that's just about everything that needs to be said. Let's check out our testbed!

Test System Setup

Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis 99 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

On the testbed side of things you shouldn't see anything that you haven't seen out of recent reviews with our 3960X at 4.7GHz and our ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard. Before we get into the performance side of things, though, we want to take a little bit of a closer look at what exactly we're doing today in terms of video cards and graphics settings.

On the video card side of things we've got a strong lineup of setups from both NVIDIA and AMD. Starting off with NVIDIA, we're going to be looking at the GTX 580 in SLI, GTX 580, GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti. On the AMD side of things we've got the HD 6970 in CrossFire, HD 6990, HD 6970, HD 6950, HD 6870 and HD 6850.

On the graphics side of things we're going to be using the "High" preset which is second to the "Very High" one. DirectX 11 features will be turned on and Tessellation is set to "Normal".

We messed around with a bunch of settings including Tessellation on "High" and the detail level set to "Very High", but we think at the moment with the current crop of cards from AMD and NVIDIA, the "High" / "Normal" preset is the best place to sit.

We'll talk about that a bit more when we wrap everything up in our final thoughts. Before we do that, though, we need to get into the benchmarking side of things. Outside of the cards and the settings, we'll be testing Batman: AC under the three normal resolutions we test at; that means 1680 x 1050 which has become one of the most common resolution for gamers, 1920 x 1200, that sweet spot albeit some are 1920 x 1080, and finally 2560 x 1600, that ultra-high resolution that we see on high end 30" monitors.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Batman: Arkham City (1680 x 1050)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Patch

Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com/

Product Homepage: http://community.batmanarkhamcity.com/

Buy It Here

Arkham City is an open world action video game that incorporates elements of stealth and predator tactics. All of the gadgets previously obtained in the first game are present at the start of Arkham City (with the exception of the Line Launcher and the Ultra Batclaw, which is replaced with the regular Batclaw and Sonic Batarangs). The game incorporates more puzzle elements; the use of Batman's "Detective Mode", which highlights elements such as enemy skeletons and clues on-screen, is used to perform forensic activities such as tracing the origin of a sniper round.

Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

- NVIDIA Cards

Across the board you can see strong performance out of the NVIDIA line-up with no cards having an issue dealing with Arkham City under 1680 x 1050. You should find at these settings a GTX 560 onwards will be perfectly fine.

- AMD Cards

Straight away you can see that CrossFire support in the game is broken with a drop in performance compared to the single GPU options. The HD 6850 offers us an average of 59 FPS, so we're right on the edge of that playable number we talk about often. The HD 6870 to HD 6970 you can see doesn't have an issue with the game at all.

Batman: Arkham City (1920 x 1200)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Patch

Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com/

Product Homepage: http://community.batmanarkhamcity.com/

Buy It Here

Arkham City is an open world action video game that incorporates elements of stealth and predator tactics. All of the gadgets previously obtained in the first game are present at the start of Arkham City (with the exception of the Line Launcher and the Ultra Batclaw, which is replaced with the regular Batclaw and Sonic Batarangs). The game incorporates more puzzle elements; the use of Batman's "Detective Mode", which highlights elements such as enemy skeletons and clues on-screen, is used to perform forensic activities such as tracing the origin of a sniper round.

Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

- NVIDIA Cards

We start to see some FPS shaved off as we move to 1920 x 1200. We can see that the GTX 560 Ti manages to break that 60 FPS barrier we aim for. Moving to a standard GTX 560 would bring with it the need to drop detail at this resolution. A GTX 560 Ti onwards, though, won't have an issue under these situations.

- AMD Cards

Nothing changes on the CrossFire side of things again with serious performance issues at the moment. We can see that the HD 6850 also drops below that 60 FPS average which comes as no surprise since we found ourselves at 59 FPS under 1680 x 1060. The HD 6870 manages to scrape in with the HD 6950; you can see the HD 6970 continues to offer us strong FPS, though.

Batman: Arkham City (2560 x 1600)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Patch

Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com/

Product Homepage: http://community.batmanarkhamcity.com/

Buy It Here

Arkham City is an open world action video game that incorporates elements of stealth and predator tactics. All of the gadgets previously obtained in the first game are present at the start of Arkham City (with the exception of the Line Launcher and the Ultra Batclaw, which is replaced with the regular Batclaw and Sonic Batarangs). The game incorporates more puzzle elements; the use of Batman's "Detective Mode", which highlights elements such as enemy skeletons and clues on-screen, is used to perform forensic activities such as tracing the origin of a sniper round.

Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com

- NVIDIA Cards

Batman AC becomes really intensive at 2560 x 1600 and you can see the only setup that's able to break the 60 FPS average at this resolution is the GTX 580 SLI one. Everything below that is below the 60 FPS average we aim for.

- AMD Cards

At 2560 x 1600 you can see across the board the whole AMD line-up struggles to bring us playable FPS. With the CrossFire issues as well, it is pretty much impossible at the moment until we get a new patch or driver update.

Final Thoughts

Batman: AC is significantly more intensive than its predecessor and that is extremely obvious from the benchmarks today. Considering the GTX 580 SLI setup is the only one that can break the 60 FPS mark at 2560 x 1600 when we still have options to increase detail, this paints the perfect picture of just how intensive this game is.

On the CrossFire front we can see that Batman: AC is seriously broken when it comes to supporting it with not only CrossFire bringing no extra performance to the table, but the setup actually reducing performance when compared to its single GPU counterpart.

AMD are going to be right on this, though, and I'm sure we'll see a new driver version or a new Applications Profile in mere days that will adjust this issue.

The best thing about Batman: AC is the intensity, though. The only reason we dropped Batman: AA from the lineup was because completely maxed out, we saw huge numbers from it on just about every card we tested. Combined with the fact that a sequel wasn't too far away either, we'd figure Batman: AC was going to be a worthy replacement, and looking at the results here today, it is!

The problem is at the moment the game is slightly broken when it comes to testing with DX 11. While we get a good idea of the overall average FPS, every run will see the minimum drop down to 0 FPS - 6 FPS at some point making the use of a minimum score pretty pointless.

We will start to work Batman: AC into our graphics orientated reviews and hopefully over time see some optimization from Rocksteady, AMD and NVIDIA to help fix some of the performance issues. The game has been reviewing really well from a story side of things, so if you got hooked into Batman: AA, the chances are you'll want to jump on this one.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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