Fable Legends Early Preview: DirectX 12 Benchmark Analysisby Ryan Smith, Ian Cutress & Daniel Williams on September 24, 2015 9:00 AM EST
Update 2016/03/07: Well so much for that. Fable Legends has been canceled. So it will ultimately be another game that gets to claim the right as the first Unreal Engine 4 based DX12 game.
DirectX 12 is now out in the wild as a part of Windows 10 and the updated driver model WDDM 2.0 that comes with it. Unlike DX11, there are no major gaming titles at launch - we are now waiting for games to take advantage of DX12 and what difference it will make for the game playing experience. One of the main focal points of DX12 is draw calls, leveraging multiple processor cores to dispatch GPU workloads, rather than the previous model of a single core doing most of the work. DX12 brings about a lot of changes with the goal of increasing performance, offering an even more immersive experience, but it does shift some of the support requirements to the engine developers such as SLI or Crossfire. We tackled two synthetic tests earlier this year, Star Swarm and 3DMark, but due to timing and other industry events, we are waiting for a better time to test the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark as the game nears completion. Until that point, a PR team got in contact with us regarding the upcoming Fable Legends title using the Unreal 4 engine, and an early access preview benchmark that came with it. Here are our results so far.
Fable Legends is an Xbox One/Windows 10 exclusive free to play title built by Lionhead Studios in Unreal Engine 4. The game, styled as a ‘cooperative action RPG’, consists of asymmetrical multiplayer matches with attackers trying to raid a base and the defender playing more of a tower defense position.
The benchmark provided is more of a graphics showpiece than a representation of the gameplay, in order to show off the capabilities of the engine and the DX12 implementation. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any gameplay in this benchmark as a result, which would seem to focus more on combat. This is the one of the first DirectX 12 benchmarks available - Ashes of the Singularity by Stardock was released just before IDF, but due to scheduling we have not had a chance to dig into that one yet. This will be our first look at a DirectX 12 game engine with a game attached as a result.
This benchmark pans through several outdoor scenes in a fashion similar to the Unigene Valley benchmark, focusing more on landscapes, distance drawing and tessellation rather than an upfront first-person perspective. Graphical effects such as dynamic global illumination are computed on the fly, making subtle differences in the lighting and it shows the day/night cycle being accelerated, similar to the large Grand Theft Auto benchmark. The engine itself draws on DX12 explicit features such as ‘asynchronous compute, manual resource barrier tracking, and explicit memory management’ that either allow the application to better take advantage of available hardware or open up options that allow developers to better manage multi-threaded applications and GPU memory resources respectively. The updated engine has had several additions to implement these visual effects and has promised that use of DirectX 12 will help to improve both the experience and performance.
The software provided to us is a prerelease version of Fable Legends, with early drivers, so ultimately the performance at this point is most likely not representative of the game at launch and should improve before release. What we will see here is more of a broad picture painting how different GPUs will scale when DX12 features are thrown into the mix. In fact, AMD sent us a note that there is a new driver available specifically for this benchmark which should improve the scores on the Fury X, although it arrived too late for this pre-release look at Fable Legends (Ryan did the testing but is covering Samsung’s 950 Pro launch in Korea at this time). It can underscore just how early in the game and driver development cycle DirectX 12 is for all players. But as with most important titles, we expect drivers and software updates to continue to drive performance forward as developers and engineers come to understand how the new version of DirectX works.
With that being said, there does not appear to be any stability issues with the benchmark as it stands, and we have had time to test graphics cards going back a few generations for both AMD and NVIDIA. Our pre-release package came with three test standards at 1280x720, 1920x1080 and 4K. We also attempted to test a number of these combinations multiple CPU core and thread count simulations in order to emulate a number of popular CPUs in the market.
|CPU:||Intel Core i7-4960X in 3 modes:
'Core i7' - 6 Cores, 12 Threads at 4.2 GHz
'Core i5' - 4 Cores, 4 Threads at 3.8 GHz
'Core i3' - 2 Cores, 4 Threads at 3.8 GHz
|Motherboard:||ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional|
|Power Supply:||Corsair AX1200i|
|Hard Disk:||Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)|
|Memory:||G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)|
|Case:||NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition|
|Video Cards:||AMD Radeon R9 Fury X
AMD Radeon R9 290X
AMD Radeon R9 285
AMD Radeon HD 7970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 (EVGA)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
|Video Drivers:||NVIDIA Release 355.82
AMD Catalyst Cat 15.201.1102
All the results in this piece are on discrete GPUs. The benchmark outputs a score, which is merely the average frame rate multiplied by a hundred, but it also dumps an extensive data log where it tracks over 186 different elements of the system every frame, such as compute time for various effects for each frame. Our testing takes on three roles – direct GPU comparison of average frame rates at 1080p and 720p in our i7-4960X mode, CPU scaling at each resolution with the GTX 980 Ti and AMD Fury, X and then a deep analysis of the percentile data of these two graphics cards at each resolution and each CPU configuration.
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anubis44 - Friday, October 30, 2015 - linkThe point is not whether you use DP, the point is that the circuitry is now missing, and that's why Maxwell uses less power. If I leave stuff out of a car, it'll be lighter, too. Hey look! No back seats anymore, and now it's LIGHTER! I'm a genius. It's not because nVidia whipped up a can of whoop-ass, or because they have magic powers, it's because they threw everything out of the airplane to make it lighter.
anubis44 - Friday, October 30, 2015 - linkAnd left out the hardware based scheduler, which will bite them in the ass for a lot of DX12 games that will need this. No WAIT! nVidia isn't screwed! They'll just sell ANOTHER card to the nVidiots who JUST bought one that was obsolete, 'cause nVidia is ALWAYS better!
Alexvrb - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkNot every game uses every DX12 feature, and knowing that their game is going to run on a lot of Nvidia hardware makes developers conservative in their use of new features that hurt performance on Nvidia cards. For example, as long as developers are careful with async compute and you've got plenty of CPU cycles, I think everything will be fine.
Now, look at the 720p results. Why the change in the pecking order? Why do AMD cards increase their lead as CPU power falls? Is it a driver overhead issue - possibly related to async shader concerns? We don't know. Either way it might not matter, an early benchmark isn't even necessarily representative of the final thing, let alone a real-world experience.
In the end it will depend on the individual game. I don't think most developers are going to push features really hard that kill performance on a large portion of cards... well not unless they get free middleware tools and marketing cash or something. ;)
cityuser - Sunday, September 27, 2015 - linkquite sure it's nvidia again do some nasty work with the game company that descale the performance of AMD card !!!
Look at where the nvidia cannot corrupt, futuremark's benchmark tells another story!!!
Drumsticks - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkAs always, it's only one data point. It was too early to declare AMD a winner then, but it's still too early to say they aren't actually going to benefit more from DX12 than Nvidia. We need more data to say for sure either way.
geniekid - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkThat's crazy talk.
Beararam - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkMaybe not ''vastly superior'', but the gains in the 390x seem to be greater than those realized in the 980. Time will tell.
justniz - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkSuch a large gain only on AMD just from DX12 (i.e. accessing the GPU at a lower level and bypassing AMD driver's DX11 implementation) is yet more evidence that AMD's DX11 drivers are much more of a bottleneck than nVidia's.
Gigaplex - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkThat part was pretty obvious. The current question is, how much of a bottleneck. Will DX12 be enough to put AMD in the lead (once final code starts shipping), or just catch up?
lefty2 - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - linkI wonder if they were pressurized not to release any benchmark that would make Nvidia look bad, similiar to the way they did in ashes of the singularity