PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is an incredibly fun, but it crushes your PC into dust. Here's some analysis.

9 minutes & 47 seconds read time

Who Is PLAYERUNKNOWN & Introduction


PLAYERUNKNOWN is actually Brendan Greene, who is the Creative Director at Bluehole, which developed PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Greene is the man responsible for the Battle Royale genre, and I owe him my utter gratitude. The Battle Royale game mode is incredibly fun, and Battlegrounds has now become my favorite first-person shooter - totally blowing away games like Battlefield, at least IMO.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 07

Greene started off working on the Battle Royale game mode when he was working on ARMA, after which is licensed the game mode to Sony Online Entertainment, which is now Daybreak Games, who used the mode in H1Z1. H1Z1: King of the Kill was my first personal taste of Battle Royale, but PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds takes it to an entirely new level.

In Battlegrounds, Greene serves as the Creative Director, where he had the full control of being able to make an entire game on the Battle Royale game mode. Greene explains: "From when I first started making the Battle Royale game mode in ARMA 2, I have always wanted to make a good game. With Bluehole and their philosophy of creating "well made" games, I am confident that together we can create a great game."

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds broke into the gaming world in March 2017 and has been purchased by over 2 million gamers so far. If you haven't heard about Battlegrounds, or PUBG (with a name as long as PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS - yeah, it's meant to be in ALL CAPS) nicknames have already taken over.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 11

Battlegrounds throws you into a huge Battle Royale game mode that sees up to 100 players parachuting onto a remote island, where you can choose to play in solo, duo, or team modes of up to 4 players. The winner takes it all, as well as a chicken dinner, where you're in a constant race for weapons, meds, ammo, or a vehicle - and sometimes, just sometimes, you want a place to relax as the game can be beyond hectic.

The game zone is constantly shrinking, where you only have a few minutes to find your bearings - as well as weapons, armor, ammo, medical supplies, and more before the zone shrinks.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 12

In Battlegrounds, there are two zones: the white zone which is always shrinking - but it's safe. You need to stay in there and adjust your gameplay to the constantly moving white zone, while the blue zone is an invisible wall that will shrink after time to the current white zone. Once the blue zone zeroes down into the white zone, a new zone will be defined. So if you're a camper, you'll have to keep moving or die.

There are 17 weapons in Battlegrounds, with a huge 35 attachments for them all. There's a mix of stabilizers and silencers, as well as extended and quick change mag clips. There are plenty of cars to drive, but there are no helicopters or planes - so you're stuck on the ground.

Battlegrounds Development & Game Details

Battlegrounds Development

Bluehole has been working hand-in-hand with the gaming community, asking Battle Royale gamers to offer suggestions and feedback of what they wanted in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. The developer explains on the official Battlegrounds website that "ever since we started our pre-alpha testing, we have worked with them to implement suggestions, get feedback about gameplay, and ask their help when we ran alpha and beta testing."

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 03

Battlegrounds supports custom games, something that is even in the Early Access version of the game. This is a great thing to see, as even some of the biggest AAA games with hundreds of millions of dollars behind them launch without allowing gamers to make custom games.

Custom games are important, as they can be run on private servers with tweaks to what is in the game itself. This is perfect for what I hope to see as eSports tournaments with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Bluehole had their pre-alpha of Battlegrounds in June-September 2016, the alpha in October-December 2016, the closed beta in February-March 2017 before launching in Steam Early Access on March 23 - where they have enjoyed over 2 million sales since. The team is aiming for a September 2017 release for the full game.

Powered By Unreal Engine 4

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is in very Early Access form right now, with the game powered by Unreal Engine 4, meaning it looks great - but needs much more optimization before it's buttery smooth.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 04

I've pumped around 100 hours into it so far, and I've found that with each patch, the team is delivering more and more performance. The recent change from v2.2.33 helped in a huge way, smoothing out the average performance of the game - so instead of dropping down to 50FPS in a house randomly, I'm seeing a much smoother PUBG experience.

Open To The World Of Mods

Battlegrounds has been developed from the ground up for gamers to mod the world, with content creators open to using their developing skills to either change the world of Battlegrounds, or use assets in other games.

Battle Rigs: Core i5 vs Ryzen 5

Intel Core i5 vs. AMD Ryzen 5

I was going to start off with our series of Battlegrounds articles using my trusty Core i7-7700K processor, but I thought I would tackle this from a more mainstream perspective. Not everyone has access to the latest and greatest hardware, so I thought I would test it with mid-range hardware.

For all of our testing in this article, I've used an Intel Core i5-7600K and AMD Ryzen 5 1600X processor. This gives us a look at the 4C/4T processor from Intel, and the multi-threaded price/performance king 6C/12T chip in the form of AMD's new Ryzen 5 1600X.

Battlegrounds is incredibly CPU bound, so even with a high-end graphics card like the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, you'll still need a fairly beefy CPU to go alongside it. But throwing additional CPU threads like the Ryzen 5 1600X and its 6C/12T isn't going to help, something that isn't exclusive to PUBG, but more Unreal Engine.

Battlegrounds loves CPU frequency over CPU cores, so the 4C/4T processor at up to 4.2GHz screams in PUBG, while the 6C/12T processor with Ryzen 5 1600X clocks in at 4GHz under turbo. AMD might have improved the IPC improvement on Ryzen, but it's not that clear in PUBG. If I were AMD, I'd be reaching out directly to Bluehole and working with them hand-in-hand to provide Ryzen specific optimizations, especially with so many threads available on mid-range chips like the 1600X.

On the side of our testing I was using a Ryzen 7 1800X vs. Core i7-7700K, and trust me - you'll want to see the numbers on that. You'd be surprised at who the winner is there. But for our mid-range testing, we also only tested a few graphics cards instead of the whole suite of cards.

The testing on Battlegrounds is going to morph and change over time, without benchmark run soon to change - and Bluehole is continuously updating PUBG, with performance optimizations in each update. So take the benchmarks with a 10% variance or so, if not 10-15%.

Testing Methodology

For our initial testing of Battlegrounds, we played 15 minutes or so in a fully-loaded 100-player map. People are dying left, right, and center - so it might start with 100, and dwindle down to 50-70 in the first 10 minutes or so.

This testing method will be changing to a more fixed path, but I find that 'real' testing would require actual run-and-gun gameplay. A predetermined path is an easily repeatable benchmark but is not representative of real-world performance... especially in a game like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

For now, we will use our 15-minute runs - but we're testing new ways in the background. If you have suggestions, or like our benchmarking method - please let me know in the comments below. I'd love to have as much feedback on our PUBG testing as possible.

We're also only testing two resolutions for now: 1080p and 1440p, which are the two most popular resolutions. Even a GTX 1080 Ti struggles to maintain 60FPS at 4K, but we'll also have some 3440x1440 benchmarks coming soon - as there's not as much GPU grunt required for 21:9 @ 3440x1440 versus 4K.

Radeon RX 580 vs GeForce GTX 1060

For our first step in PUBG benchmarking, I've tested the two mainstream mid-range GPUs alongside the two mainstream mid-range CPUs. For the purposes of this article, I've used SAPPHIRE's current RX 580 Nitro+ graphics card - and overclocked custom RX 580. I've versed this against NVIDIA's own GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition, which is a stock card.

Future articles will include MSI's overclocked and custom GTX 1060 with 9Gbps GDDR5, as well as the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Ti, Titan X, and even the Radeon R9 Fury X. In the very near future, I will be testing AMD's new Radeon RX Vega on PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, so we'll be able to test the full spectrum of current-gen cards.

If there are any other graphics cards that you want to see tested, again - let me know, and I'll round up the cards and test them.

Battle Rig Specs

Core i5-7600K System

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-7600K @ stock (4C/4T @ 4.2GHz)
  • Cooler: Noctua U12S
  • MB: GIGABYTE Gaming B8
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Kingston HyperX Fury 3000MHz DDR4
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i
  • Chassis: Lian Li P60T

Ryzen 5 1600X System

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X (6C/12T)
  • Cooler: AMD Wraith Cooler
  • MB: ASRock AB350 Gaming K4
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) GEiL EVO X 3200MHz DDR4
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: be quiet! Dark Power 1200W
  • Chassis: In Win X-Frame

Benchmarks - 1080p

Both CPU setups handle Battlegrounds at 1080p damn well, offering 60FPS+ without a problem on Medium detail.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 01
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 02

We'll talk about the performance of these results on the final page.

Benchmarks - 1440p

This is a much harder resolution for our mid-range graphics cards, but it shows how the CPU scales on both the graphics cards, with Intel coming out on top in every single benchmark.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 03
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 04

We'll talk about the performance of these results on the final page.

Intel Wins Itself A Chicken Dinner

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

If you haven't already noticed, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is considerably CPU bound, even with a decent mid-range graphics card inside. Starting at 1080p, the GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition is pushing 66FPS average on the Medium preset, which is perfect. I'm aiming for 60FPS average, and the GTX 1060 meets that and exceeds it by 10%. Even with a 10% variance for the way we've done our real-time gameplay benchmark method, you're looking at 60FPS average.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 10

AMD's new Radeon RX 580 is capable of 62FPS average at 1080p, but only in the Intel Core i7-7600K. AMD's own Ryzen 5 1600X might have 6C/12T compared to 4C/4T on the 7600K, but that doesn't mean squat in Battlegrounds. The Ryzen 5 1600X-powered rig with the RX 580 was only capable of 47FPS, a huge drop from the 62FPS on the 7600K, a difference of 32%.

Now, remember, this is on the Medium preset - the Ultra preset starts pulling way more performance on the Ultra setting of Battlegrounds.

Playing Battlegrounds on the Ryzen 5 1600X is a much better showcase of AMD's new multi-threaded beast, with closer to - but still not matching Intel's Core i5-7600K. The GeForce GTX 1060 is 23% faster on the 7600K, while the RX 580 is only 9% faster on the 7600K.

Everything changes for AMD when we started benchmarking Battlegrounds at 2560x1440, starting on the Medium preset, with the Ryzen 5 1600X + GTX 1060 combo beating out the Core i5-7600K. It might just be 1FPS average, but it's a win, yet the Intel system smashes the AMD system at 1440p with minimum FPS. Minimum FPS are just as important, and while Battlegrounds can drop to 6-18FPS, it's not often.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 12

The Radeon RX 580 performs at the level of the GTX 1060, offering just under 50FPS average at 1440p. AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X is only 6.5% slower than the 7600K setup, and both systems are only a few FPS slower than the GTX 1060 at 1440p overall.

Our last benchmark of Battlegrounds is at 2560x1440 and Ultra details, with AMD actually winning these runs. The Ryzen 5 1600X is 1FPS average superior, and just 1FPS behind the 7600K's minimum FPS performance. The same goes for the Radeon RX 580, with AMD and its Ryzen 5 1600X coming out on top by 1FPS, and it was beating the 1FPS of the 7600K with 3FPS total.

As you can see, the GTX 1060 and RX 580 will provide an average of 30FPS in either the Ryzen 5 1600X or Core i5-7600K. Not bad for mid-range CPU and GPU combos, that's for sure. 60FPS is ideal, but 30FPS is enough for some gamers - and this is at Ultra. Dropping to Medium provides a much smoother 50FPS average, and with a few adjustments to low (like textures, shadows, foliage) and you're pushing 60FPS without a problem.

Final Thoughts

If you wanted to play PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on a 2560x1440 monitor with a 60Hz refresh, then you'll need the GTX 1060 or RX 580 on the Medium preset with some other details adjusted to low detail. If you want to scale higher than that and push up to 1440p @ 144/165Hz, then you're going to need a GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti, and still have the details on low/medium. We will have a follow-up article soon with GTX 1070, GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Ti, Titan X, and even the Radeon R9 Fury X.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Benchmarked: CPU & GPU War 15

For gamers with a 1920x1080 native resolution with 60Hz, you'll be fine with even Ultra detail. This is impressive, considering Battlegrounds still looks great even on Medium detail - and really stands out at Ultra. 60FPS+ is something you want in a game like this, but for 120/144Hz+ refresh rates, then the GTX 1060/RX 580 both become a bit wobbly. Again, I'd recommend the GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti for anything 120Hz+.

The most interesting thing comes from the test between the Ryzen 5 1600X and Core i5-7600K, with Battlegrounds being so CPU limited, the Ryzen grunt comes into play at 1440p. 1080p is a much less CPU intensive resolution, which is why we see AMD falling behind at 1080p, but bringing itself back up at 1440p.

It will be interesting to see how the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X and Intel Core i5-7600K go at 4K and 3440x1440, and again with the higher-end graphics cards with GTX 1070/1080/1080 Ti. After that, we've got some Intel Core i7-7700K and AMD Ryzen 7 1800X benchmarks, covering PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds from top to bottom.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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