Battlefield 3 Open Beta Performance and Image Quality

Author:Mark Warner

Editor:Brent Justice

Date: Monday , October 03, 2011

The limited time open beta for Battlefield 3 started last week, and we've spent some time with it. Performance is quite a wild ride in this beta, and it doesn't even have the full graphics the retail version will, but we'll examine it closely to show you how your video cards might stack up when Battlefield 3 finally launches in a few weeks.


DICE's Battlefield franchise is one of the best know shooter series in PC gaming. Beginning in 2002 with the World War II shooter Battlefield 1942, the series has had at least six full-length games, several smaller downloadable games, and several expansion packs. In about three weeks, the next big title in the series, Battlefield 3, will be released. In lieu of a pre-release demo, EA has made access to a beta build of the game public. The beta began on September 29th and is set to end on October 10th.

Battlefield 3 Public Beta

Though the code appears to be of early beta (or even alpha) quality, and it is missing some graphics features, the game is surprisingly demanding of processing horsepower, including CPU and GPU. We know the performance situation is very likely to change once the retail game is released, but we wanted to get some data and screenshots for our readers for the public beta.

The Technology

Battlefield 3 is powered by EA/DICE's Frostbite 2 engine. The PC version of the Frostbite 2 engine supports 64-bit processors and Microsoft's DirectX 11 technology. In fact, DirectX 9 is not supported at all, and so the game will not run in Windows XP. Battlefield 3, and its beta, require either Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Frostbite 2 and Battlefield 3 support such graphics features as tile-based deferred shading via DirectCompute, Morphological AA (MLAA) also via DirectCompute, radiosity lighting, bokeh depth of field (DoF), and ambient occlusion in both SSAO and HBAO formats. One of the most anticipated graphical features of the game is its supposedly more realistically destructible environments.

We will have more detailed information when the retail game launches. For now, what is important is that (1.) Battlefield 3's premium platform is the PC, (2.) Frostbite 2 is native to DirectX 11 on the PC, and (3.) this public beta is one of the most graphically demanding DX11 games we've seen in a while.

Test Setup

For our test system platform we are using an ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution motherboard with an Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.6GHz, and 6GB of Corsair DDR3-1600. For the power supply, we will be using a CoolerMaster Real Power Pro 1250W.

For all three NVIDIA-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using NVIDIA's GeForce/ION Driver 285.38 Beta package, dated 26 September 2011. For the three AMD-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using AMD's Catalyst 11.10 Preview driver package, dated 26 September August 2011. These driver versions were specifically launched to improve performance in the BF3 open beta.