Civilization: Beyond Earth Testing Notes

Along with discussions of the performance, there are also a few bugs and other quirks in many games that could use fixing. In the case of Civilization: Beyond Earth, my testing has uncovered a few issues. First and foremost, the problem with the MSI GS60 running at higher than 1080p definitely needs a fix (most likely from NVIDIA's or Intel's drivers, though possibly it's something specific to the laptop that MSI would need to fix, or perhaps it's something with the game itself).

Another issue I encountered (which might be hardware specific) is that the game always drops to a 24Hz refresh rate on my Acer XB280HK LCD; the monitor supports 3840x2160 at 60Hz, and if I change the refresh rate after the game has started everything is fine. When I exit and restart, unfortunately, the game is back to 24Hz even though the settings claim it's at 59Hz.

Of course I'd also love to see the support for Mantle SFR "just work" without requiring any manual tweaking of configuration files. Fixing Mantle support for users with more than two GPUs is a known issue, though it only likely affects a handful of users. Another known issue is that if Windows is set to anything other than 100% scaling, the game basically breaks right now – your mouse cursor doesn't map properly to the screen coordinates so you can't click on buttons or units. And let me just say that a 28" display running at 3840x2160 does not result in particularly legible text (in Windows) for my tired old eyes at 100% scaling.

While I'm here talking about fixes, it would also be great if Firaxis improved the usefulness of the benchmark results. Right now, all it generates is a CSV file with one long line of comma separated values containing the frame rendering times (in milliseconds). That's certainly better than nothing, but I had to create a macro to convert the row into a column, calculate the total time and number of frames (and thereby the average FPS), as well as determining the instantaneous frame times. In some ways it's easier to just use FRAPS to log the performance during the benchmark, but of course FRAPS only works with Direct3D and OpenGL and not Mantle.

Being able to launch the benchmark from a command prompt without Steam complaining about the extra command line parameters (see above dialog) and being able to launch the Mantle version of the game from the command prompt would also be appreciated. The latter is a Firaxis issue, while Steam now appears to complain about any command line parameters on the games I've tested. Basically, if you're going to include a built-in benchmark, generating data in a more useful format and providing tools to automate testing multiple settings helps the people that will actually use the benchmark (i.e. hardware reviewers like me).

AMD CrossFire Performance Closing Thoughts
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Okay, I added a third page where we investigate minimum FPS. Mantle actually helps here quite a bit, so I need to tweak the conclusion a bit. (CrossFire on the other hand is still not working right with Mantle, at least in my testing.)
  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately, Mantle doesn't really shine on mid/high-end hardware, it's the low-end stuff that it really helps.

    Would be nice to see to see how a Pentium Anniversary, Core i3, AMD FX Octo, Core i7 5930K and 5960 handle it.
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Agreed! Especially FM2+ chips. You'll naturally be testing lower settings and resolutions in such a scenario, however.
  • doronnac - Friday, October 24, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the data Jarred.

    I'm using an average cpu with an above average gpu.
    Some games choke my cpu but only at new levels / checkpoints so it doesn't bother me, but others stress my cpu enough to cause occasional slowdowns.

    Either way, your interpretation of min.fps is the most accurate and least misleading that I've seen. Love it!
  • Iketh - Saturday, October 25, 2014 - link

    even more reason for min frame rate
  • Gich - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Try Mantle "with an AMD APU or a Core i3 processor" and NOT a "hundreds of dollars GPU"?
    Like an i3 + R7 260.
  • dragosmp - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    I'm also a big fan of Civ5 and I'll get this game as soon as possible, but I wonder.

    Maybe the "upgrader" would be a more realistic use-case, like: I have 300$, what do I get? Do I upgrade the ye-old Phenom II to an i5 and stay with the same 7950 (Mantle can't help much) or I get a 290 with the old CPU and count on Mantle to relieve the CPU load?
  • Drasca - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Personally since the TBS is CPU-bound when hitting 'end turn', as the GPU won't help make turns faster, I would go with the CPU upgrade and keep the 7950. Unless you're trying to go 2k-4k resolution, you won't get much GPU benefit. CPU overhead for GPU usage is not very much.
  • looncraz - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Upgrade the CPU. I am running a 7870XT (a.k.a. 7930) with an i7 2600k @ 4.5GHz and nothing slows me down.

    Investing in a good SSD, however, may make even more sense.
  • looncraz - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    I should also note, that the 7950 is helped by Mantle, as is my 7870XT. Any GCN graphics card works.

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