Civilization V

The other new game in our benchmark suite is Civilization 5, the latest incarnation in Firaxis Games’ series of turn-based strategy games. Civ 5 gives us an interesting look at things that not even RTSes can match, with a much weaker focus on shading in the game world, and a much greater focus on creating the geometry needed to bring such a world to life. In doing so it uses a slew of DirectX 11 technologies, including tessellation for said geometry and compute shaders for on-the-fly texture decompression.

We have always considered Civ 5 an interesting game both for its near-complete use of the DX11 feature set, and because of its interesting performance characteristics. 2 weeks ago we called it CPU limited based on the fact that once we had sufficiently powerful cards, AMD and NVIDIA results tended to clump together despite any difference in their respective cards’ speed. With the Forceware Release 265 drivers, NVIDIA has blown this assumption apart, with NVIDIA’s more powerful cards launching ahead at 1920 and lower. We appear to be quite GPU limited on the NVIDIA side all of a sudden, which is about as drastic change as we could expect. Furthermore NVIDIA is holding their cards close to their chest on this – they’ve obviously found a wonder optimization, but they aren’t ready to say what it is.

In any case while AMD has always trailed NVIDIA in single card performance in Civ 5, with these driver changes it’s quite monumental. The GTX 560 Ti is 44% faster than the 6950 at 1920, 80% faster at 1680, and even the GTX 460 768MB can edge out the 6970 at 1920. Whatever NVIDIA has done, it has made Civilization V quite a lot faster and smoother at 1920 and 1680, particularly when a large number of units are on screen.

Among NVIDIA’s own cards the lead has actually shrunk some compared to our earlier games. The GTX 470 has an edge on the GTX 560, and the 560 in turn is down to a 25%-30% lead over the GTX 460 1GB. We don’t seem to be ROP or memory bandwidth limited, so perhaps this is a case of the GF104/GF114 architecture’s shaders underperforming?

HAWX Battlefield: Bad Company 2
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  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Page one, first chart, the 560 Ti is "$149" instead of "$249".

    Although, I kinda prefer the former.
    Reply
  • alcortez - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    ...wow a 460 for negative $160.
    I want in on that. ;)
    Reply
  • loubarouba - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    lol thats definitely an approximately sign (~)...unless of course i was late and has already been edited to that.. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Listed at $149 when you meant to write $249. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    1st chart to clarify. Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    I think ImSpartacus beat you to it ;) Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Yeah, I was secretly hoping to be the first to mention that. I feel special!

    .)
    Reply
  • Rocket321 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    pg. 16 - Series Load Voltage chart has wrong title. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    what's crazy is that when I posted and refreshed the page I was the only comment. It wasn't until page 3-4 of this review (as I was reading after the comment post) that I noticed yours was there so there is some lag between when a post is made and when others see it (even though you see it right away). I wish we had a time stamp feature on the post! :) Reply
  • maniac5999 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    So the GTX 560 Ti has a 4004mhz DATE rate? Wow, it sure gets around. (chart on P1) ;-) Reply

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