I've been spending the last week or so benchmarking my life away, cranking away with The Coalition's recently released Gears of War 4 on the PC - with my last article taking a look at running the game at 8K (7680x4320), on various graphics cards, including the Radeon RX 480 from AMD.
After I was finished benchmarking Gears of War 4 at 8K, I moved down to the normal resolutions like 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 3840x2160 and benchmarked more cards. The game is absolutely gorgeous, so I kept everything on the highest preset and ran the game again at 1080p, 1440p and 4K on the following graphics cards:
- AMD Radeon RX 480
- AMD Radeon R9 Fury X
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
- NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal)
I tested every graphics card that has support for Asynchronous Compute, which saw NVIDIA's last-gen Maxwell graphics cards with the GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti not supporting Async Compute. The benchmarks were completed with the new GTX 10 series cards and the new Titan X, as well as AMD's two latest GPU architectures: Fiji with HBM on the Radeon R9 Fury X, and Polaris with the new Radeon RX 480 graphics card. This gives us a good look at 'right now', as well as what AMD was aiming towards with improved Asynchronous Compute support in the Fiji architecture from over a year ago.
For the benchmark charts, I've split them into 3 charts covering 1080p, 1440p, and 4K - with Asynchronous Compute enabled and disabled in the same chart. This gives you a good look at the Asynchronous Compute performance increases, and how efficient each architecture and graphics card is - which all changes, right up to 4K.
The Coalition has made a game that is worthy of being called an excellent PC version, instead of these lukewarm and clearly not ready PC ports that are shameful. We've become used to expensive games that don't harness the power of our PCs, but Gears of War 4 does.
Gears of War 4 really squeezed our GPUs, pulling all of the available horsepower and making great use of DirectX 12 in Windows 10, and the new GPU architectures from NVIDIA and AMD with Asynchronous Compute support.
At 1080p, AMD's new Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 is capable of just under 70FPS average, a great result considering the card costs $279. We can't judge AMD on the performance graphics cards when talking about the Radeon RX 480, which is why the Radeon R9 Fury X is still here - with 96FPS average at 1080p with Async Compute enabled.
GTX 1060 vs RX 480: Gears of War 4 is a great test for mid-range DX12 performance, with the GTX 1060 beating out the RX 480 by 20% at 1080p, with the GTX 1060 capable of 82FPS average. There's a 29.5% performance lead for the GTX 1060 at 2560x1440, squeezing the RX 480 even more so at 1440p - but Gears of War 4 requires 8GB of VRAM for 4K, but the GTX 1060 has 6GB of VRAM, so NVIDIA loses out with mid-range 4K altogether in Gears of War 4.
NVIDIA's new Pascal-based GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 completely dominate the charts in all resolutions, but the difference between the older Fury X and the newer, much faster GTX 10 series cards is not all that much. When we get to 4K, the difference is only 10% - and that's a big deal.
Gears of War 4 at 4K is where the big boy match is, with the RX 480 capable of 22.9FPS - an unplayable result for me personally, but their Fury X scores 36.2FPS, which is playable - and a good result for 4K.
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070 pushes 36.9FPS at 4K, while the GTX 1080 is slightly higher again with 40.4FPS average. This means there's only 0.7FPS difference between AMD's really quite old Fury X (it's over a year old, and AMD doesn't have a performance-oriented Polaris replacement, we're waiting for Vega). This result is what impresses me the most, that NVIDIA's latest and greatest performance beast in the GeForce GTX 1070 is neck-and-neck with AMD's previous-gen Fury X... and at 4K to boot.
Special mention: NVIDIA's king of the hill $1200 graphics card, the Titan X, completely demolishes everything else - in every resolution. You won't spend $1200 on the Titan X for 1080p, so let's just talk about 4K. The Titan X jumps right up to 52.7FPS average at 4K, a 30% increase over the GTX 1080, and a 45% increase over the Fury X. The Titan X is a massive 130% faster than the RX 480 at 4K, but the Titan X costs 344% more than the RX 480, and the performance gap really closes at 8K - something we recently tested.
Gears of War 4 is an awesome display of the peak of PC gaming right now, with graphics powered by DX12 and the latest GPUs, it's one of the best looking games on the market. But we don't want a game that just looks good, we want it to be great inside as well - and The Coalition has done just that, the studio has built a game that scales incredibly well with PC hardware.
We can see the proof of this in the fact that there is a clear distinguishable difference between each graphics card, and the ability of running DX12 and Asynchronous Compute gives us a new benchmark for our DX12-based testing. It also provides a look into the future of gaming when more developers release games built from ground up for DX12, so let's hope that's what we see more of, especially from Microsoft. Kudos to The Coalition and Microsoft, seriously.
AMD shows its DX12 and Async Compute abilities with both Fiji and Polaris, but their upcoming Vega GPU architecture will be something truly interesting. I'm expecting AMD to continue its great work in DX12, but NVIDIA is catching up with raw horsepower - and now AMD needs to match the GPU horsepower, with its own sprinkle of Vega and HBM2 in 2017. Games like Gears of War 4 are exactly the reason AMD pushed for Mantle, and we're finally seeing the fruits of their labor.