GTX 480 vs. HD 5870, 8x AA Performance Analysis, Part 3

Batman AA

batmanAA_25x16

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure/stealth video game based on DC Comics’ Batman.  Arkham Asylum as written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini is based directly on the long-running comic book’s Dark Knight character.  The Joker devised an elaborate plot from inside Arkham Asylum that Batman is personally forced to put a stop to. The game’s primary characters are superbly voiced by the actors Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin who reprise their roles as Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn. The game is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with a primary focus on Batman’s combat abilities, stealth, detective skills and complete with an arsenal of gadgets that can be used in both combat and as exploring in “detective mode”.

The game uses a “Freeflow” combat system as well as the ability to use Batarangs and the Bat-Claw.  The player also has access to progressively stronger counter attacks as well as a special attack that can quickly take down a single foe.  Stealth tactics includes silent takedowns by sneaking up on foes including dropping and/or gliding from overhead perches.

Batman: Arkham Asylum uses a highly modified version of the Unreal Engine 3.  It does not support AA natively but must be added in and supported by the game’s developer.  Unfortunately we cannot compare Batman: Arkham Asylum using our GTX 480 directly against the HD 5870 with AA enabled.  Nor can we compare these two video cards with PhysX on.  Because of these unequal settings, we will have separate charts for each video card which are not to be compared against the other; and for the GTX 480, we will also show performance with PhysX on ‘high’ vs ‘off’.

Here we see the settings are different. Using the HD 5870, you will get a warning if you try to set Hardware Accelerated Physics to anything other than ‘off’. Ignoring the warning and setting our HD 5870 to the in-between “normal” physics setting, the frame rates are cut by almost 90% at 1680×1050 resolution – literally down from an average of 200 frames per second to about twenty!!

batmanHD5870_SetWe also see that we need to set anti-aliasing in the ATI control panel to use it at all with our HD 5870 (above).  Of course, if we do that, we will get a much higher performance penalty with this “brute force” AA enhancement than we will with the GTX 480 as it is optimized to run with AA in-game by the developer.  Thus we do not compare the GTX 480 framerates to the HD 5870′s, but instead we look at the relative performance hit of each card; it will of course – in this case – be higher on the ATI card because of the way we have to force AA for it.  Note below that it is quite different with the GTX 480.  Look at the settings which also include enabling PhysX with little performance penalty (contrasted with the massive performance hit the Radeon suffers):

batmanGTX480_Set

Now take a look at the difference in visuals between the Radeon with PhysX ‘off’ (first image) compared to the GTX 480 with PhysX on ‘high’.  We see no fog with the Radeon but will easily see the difference with the GeForce in the second image.

batmanHD5870PhysXoff

Now the GTX with ‘high’ PhysX.

batmanGTX480PhysXHi

There is quite a visual difference.  Now let’s look at the performance of each card, first with the HD 5870.

BAA_5870_noPX

Now the GTX 480, first with no physics:

batmanGTX480PhysXNoRESults

Now the GTX with ‘high’ physics:

batmanGTX480PhysXHiRESults

It is as we predicted.  The GeForce is optimized to run with PhysX and takes a relatively small performance hit, remaining playable at the highest resolution and with 8xAA plus with every detail fully maxed out.  The Radeon cannot run with any physics without killing performance and there is a much higher performance hit by forcing AA in the control panel.  If you are going to play this game and you want the ultimate experience, you will need a GTX 4X0-based video card.

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apoppin

Founder and Senior Editor of ABT.

  • hmmm….

    Please take into consideration that nVidia uses a different version of AntiAliasing starting 8x and up, therefore comparisons are henceforth limited at best. Sadly I don’t have a direct link right now, but please take it into consideration before drawing (final) conclusions.

  • apoppin

    We took special care to make sure that identical AA settings were applied in all of our benchmarks including for Crysis. We even noted that in the full retail game, Just Cause 2, that we observed the benchmark results showed the Radeon was running at 8xCSAA while the GeForce was 8xAA.

    However, we have since learned from AMD that the benchmark results are wrongly identifying 8xMSAA as CSAA. The Radeon is actually running 8xMSAA and this minor issue will be addressed in a future patch.

    Everything we test is “apples to apple” unless it is specified in the review.

  • http://www.googleodkuchni.com SEO Black Hat

    Nice article man. Cheers

  • http://www.yahoo.com mike

    good

  • Ahhroorah

    Amazing how you calculated the % differences and included them in the chart for 4x vs 8x AA! One of the best reviews ever.