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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  • ToTTenTranz - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Let's say I don't want to take your word.
    Let's say I want to see a credible, hands-down test (like the ones I enjoy reading in Anandtech) and then decide for myself.
    Reply
  • looncraz - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    +1 I want to know how this game can play on an A8-7600 (my HTPC which games surprisingly well - Hitman: Absolution is killer on a 65" LED TV!). Reply
  • sinisterDei - Friday, October 24, 2014 - link

    Gich,
    I've run a couple benchmarks- one on a system similar to your recommendation- an i3 running a 7850. Results as follows:

    -benchmark lateGameView

    i3-3240 @ 3.4GHz / XFX 7850 2GB
    Windows 8.1 Pro, 8 GB DDR3 @ 1600
    1920x1200 Fullscreen Ultra@4xMSAA
    VSYNC Off
    Mantle Avg FPS: 36.67187776
    DX11 Avg FPS: 31.26703968
    Reply
  • Gich - Friday, October 24, 2014 - link

    Thanks.
    Well here we have a 17% difference...
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Hi Jarred

    An early Happy Birthday from me too! :-)

    Thanks for the review. This looks like a good excuse to motivate an upgrade to my E6750 and 6670...

    On the last page I'm seeing placeholder text for an image:
    "
    frankly I'll believe it when I see it.

    {gallery 4008}

    As far as the game itself is concerned,
    "

    Thank you
    Andrew
    Reply
  • Essence_of_War - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    "I suspect if I were to retest everything with an AMD APU or a Core i3 processor, Mantle might prove more efficacious"

    I'd certainly be interested in those results, and results from intel's igpu w/ DX as well, of course.

    Happy Birthday in advance!
    Reply
  • MikeMurphy - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Why incur the performance penalty of 4x MSAA when it's absolutely wasted at ultra high resolutions like 4K?

    I'm curious what the results are without MSAA.
    Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Human eyes can see the jagged edges really easily, so you still want AA. Less AA than 2K, but you still want some. I mean, I can see jagged edges on my Xpera Z2 (over 400ppi) at the same distance as my monitor when I run a game with AA off (I have 4x MSAA forced on for everything OpenGL though dev options) Reply
  • mkozakewich - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    There's no correlation between ultra-high resolution and ultra-high density. Different screens will have their own mix of the two.

    For a desktop system, you have A) a bigger monitor with less density and B) extra power to throw at your graphics systems, so it makes sense to anti-alias.

    (I can pick out aliasing of an anti-aliased rotating line on a 200ppi screen from several feet away.)
    Reply
  • Artuk - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    I would have liked to see the impact of mantle on lower end CPUs.

    I also disagree that these represent an "average" gaming machine if you are running an OC 4770K.
    Reply

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