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

    Keep in mind that the computer turns are not really doing anything with graphics, so basically Mantle would have little to no impact on speeding up the AI.
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    The built in "lategameview" benchmark does not test turn times. It's entirely a rendering benchmark.
  • ToTTenTranz - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Has AMD ever presented Mantle as a big boost for systems with an overclocked $350 CPU?

    I thought Mantle was supposed to be a performance enabler for low-power and/or cheaper CPUs...
    For your viewers' sake, please repeat the Mantle benchmarks using low-end and midrange CPUs.
  • ajlueke - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    I think the this part of the review captures the intended message.
    "There are definitely quieter Radeon R9 GPUs, but even then I don't think they're going to be hard pressed to match the GTX 970 or 980". So you believe they are going to match the GTX 970 and 980 with ease?
    I believe dropping the "don't" will get across the point you wanted to make. But of course, unless you are testing a MSI R9 290X lightning or Sapphire Vapor-X, perhaps you can leave out speculation in a data driven review entirely.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Yeah, the "don't" was a mistake. Basically, a GPU drawing 250W is going to be hard pressed to match the noise profile of a GPU drawing 160W. That's all I'm saying.
  • BreezeDM - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    is there a Civ: BE computational benchmark like there was for Civ V?
  • TelstarTOS - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Nice article, thanks :)
    Happy to read that my 970 is more than capable at 1440p.
  • siriq - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Well it is not just your 970, my GTX 570 do avg 25 fps in 2560x1440 ultra 4xmsaa. Still ok for strategy. However in 1920x1080 same settings the game fly! Got 45-50 fps. Even in 2048x1080 same settings almost the same result. Like the new nvidia driver. Nice smooth in the game.
  • zeock9 - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Considering most people won't be buying reference model of either brands, and especially so since GTX970 doesn't even have one, we'd very much like to see benchmark done with AIB partner boards with custom coolers that are overcloked right out of the box, because that is, ironically, a much more realistic portrayal of what consumers will be basing their decisions upon.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    I have three reference designs (GTX 980, GTX 770, and R9 280X); everything else is a card purchased at retail. I'm a little leery of overclocking too much, but I know the R9 280 cards in particular can easily hit 950/5600 clocks. I suppose I should also note that all of the cards had their power limits increased, where applicable. (The 280/280X/290X were set to +20%, the GTX 780/970 are +6%, and the GTX 980 is +25%. I didn't actually overclock the cores or RAM, however.)

    Anyway, I generally disagree with testing heavily overclocked cards, as it can give false impressions, and even mild overclocks aren't always guaranteed. The results I'm showing should be achievable with every GPU tested. If you have a card that's overclocked, it should perform better than what we're showing, but as not all cards overclock to the same level that can be a slippery slope. :-)

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