Battlefield V with GeForce RTX DirectX Raytracing Review 237

Battlefield V with GeForce RTX DirectX Raytracing Review

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Conclusion

Update: On December 5th 2018, DICE released an update to their DXR implementation in Battlefield V. The new update brings a massive uplift for framerates and fixes the bug we pointed out in our articles. We tested DXR with RTX in the "Tides of War" update: https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Performance_Analysis/Battlefield_V_Tides_of_War_RTX_DXR_Raytracing/

DirectX Raytracing and NVIDIA RTX are as ambitious a technology as Ageia PhysX (which NVIDIA later acquired and popularized). Much like PhysX, DXR is facing a lot of teething problems with initial adoption. It requires you to not only have Windows 10, but also the latest "October Update". When we managed to get it off the ground, we were greeted by some astounding results. Performance of the flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was cut by half in our first run at 1920 x 1080; we weren't aware DICE added another setting called "DXR reflections quality," which by default was set to "Ultra" (other settings include Low, Medium, and High).

It is very important to realize that DXR will not take over rendering of the whole scene. Everything in Battlefield V, with DXR enabled, is rendered exactly the same way, looking exactly the same as with the regular DirectX 12 renderer. The only exception are surfaces that are marked as "reflective" by the developer during model/level design. When one of these surfaces is rendered, it will be fed with raytraced scene data to visually present accurate reflections, that do look amazing and more detailed than anything we've ever seen before.

However, given most Battlefield V maps are not set in an urban scenario, the likelihood of you encountering reflective surfaces in nature is fairly slim; the exception is the Rotterdam city map, which has plenty of those on cars and shop windows, for example. The performance hit for DXR seems to always be there, no matter if shiny surfaces are visible on screen or not.

Subjectively, we found DXR to only bring small differences to the overall production design of the game, which looks great even with DXR off. There is no tangible visual difference between the DXR Ultra and Low settings, and you can check our screenshots out for yourself. On the other hand, this means that you can enable "RTX Low" for better performance while still getting RTX effects. Objectively, the RTX implementation on Battlefield V is kind of meeting just the minimum: raytraced reflections are present and look fantastic, but raytracing offers many more capabilities; for example, shadows and lighting can be handled using RTX (other developers are working on that already).

For the RTX 2080 Ti, performance drops by over 58% just by flicking on DXR, and it does not improve at all when switching from "Ultra" to "High" and "Medium." You only begin to see some performance improvements at the "Low" setting (44% performance impact). RTX impacts performance by over 50% at 1080p resolution, and the card only manages to keep frame rates in the high 60s. Moving on to the 1440p resolution, the trend of "Low" improving performance tangibly repeats; however, the overall frame-rates of "Ultra," "High," and "Medium" remain at around 45 fps, and we're still only talking about the RTX 2080 Ti! Switch to the 4K UHD resolution, and you begin to realize the gravity of the situation. The game is barely playable with twenty-something frames-per-second in DXR Ultra/High/Medium and improves to 44 fps in the "Low" setting. Without RTX, we were cruising at 88 fps!

The GeForce RTX 2080 similarly loses 60% of its frame-rate at 1080p, as it drops from a 120 Hz-friendly 138 fps down to 54 fps, which barely keeps 60 Hz displays happy. At 1440p, frame rates drop from 111 fps to around 39 fps, which is still playable, although it is a massive 64% performance loss. 4K UHD hovers around unplayable levels, such as 22 fps, which is downright unsuitable for online multiplayer gameplay. The RTX 2070 drops down to GTX 970 kind of frame rates when RTX is turned on. It is somewhat playable at 1080p, barely playable at 1440p, and practically unplayable at 4K UHD, which is highly disappointing as the RTX 2070 is being touted as the most popular SKU of its generation owing to its affordability.

Another thing that's problematic, specifically for Battlefield, is that DirectX Raytracing is built upon DirectX 12, a rendering mode that experiences some stuttering in Battlefield 5, something that was present even in BF1, and that the developer has been unable to completely fix.
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