Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 arrived on PC at midnight, bringing with it high-fidelity graphics that stress PC components – all the way down to the memory. We set forth on benchmarks for Call of Duty: Black Ops III immediately, with our first FPS tests focusing on GPU performance, alongside some RAM & VRAM insights. More tests are forthcoming, so be sure to follow us for those.
Before jumping into the BLOPS 3 benchmarks, let's explain the game's graphics settings. Until our graphics optimization guide for Call of Duty arrives, this detailed list of game settings should assist in determining which options can be disabled or tuned for a higher framerate.
Update: Our Black Ops III graphics optimization guide is now live for per-setting analysis.
Explaining CoD: Black Ops 3's Settings
Below is the entire list of graphics settings in Call of Duty: Black Ops III:
Texture Quality: Pretty straight-forward. Texture Quality changes texture resolution in-game. This changes the apparent depth and grit present in a surface.
Texture Filtering: Filtration effect quality as applied to in-game textures and textured elements.
Mesh Quality: LOD (level of detail) adjustment for meshes. Changes apparent object detail and smoothness. Primarily impacts detail level of large objects and environment elements.
Shadow Map Quality: Resolution of shadow maps. Increased shadow map quality will create smoother shading/shadow effects with fewer stand-out pixels and jagged edges.
Dynamic Shadows: This is a toggle setting. Enabling this setting will allow non-static objects to cast shadows, like grenades and other dynamic elements.
Subsurface Scattering: Subsurface scattering is a lighting effect that creates more realistic skin. This is done when light propagates (think: sort of like capillary action) through thinner skin – ears, hands, etc. – and casts a slight red glow from the underlying blood.
Order Independent Transparency: This setting is required on for volumetric lighting effects. Order Independent Transparency controls the count of transparency FX and controls transparent object sorting.
Volumetric Lighting: Creates “godrays” and other sunbeam or cascading light effects. Proliferates through smoke or other volumetric particles. Requires Order Independent Transparency.
Anti-Aliasing: Tested loosely below. More testing later. Primary setting is Filmic SMAA, which creates a more cinematic (read: film-like) smoothing of object edges. This is a temporal setting that analyzes multiple frames during application, making its impact very difficult to showcase in still screenshots. Filmic is disabled for multi-GPU configurations.
Ambient Occlusion: Screen-space ambient occlusion impacts the realism with which light interacts with world objects, including reflectivity and proliferation of light as it bounces from reflective surfaces.
Motion Blur: As the name indicates.
Render Resolution: Scales game graphics rendering up or down, allowing for super- and down-sampling.
Screen Resolution: Scales user interface (HUD) up or down. Useful for users seated farther from the screen or using high-resolution displays.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III at Max Graphics (60FPS)
The below video represents our in-game benchmark course. This walkthrough was designed following analysis of load level in various areas of the game; we selected a course that represented a few of the more intensive aspects of the game. The video shows Black Ops 3 at its maximum graphics settings, 1080p and 60FPS.
We tested using our 2015 GPU test bench, detailed in the table below. Our thanks to supporting hardware vendors for supplying some of the test components.
The latest AMD Catalyst drivers (15.11 beta) were used for testing, including the Battlefront and Call of Duty patches. NVidia's 358.87 drivers were used for testing, including the Battlefront and Call of Duty patches. Game settings were configured to "Extra" (effectively “Ultra”), "High," and "Medium" presets at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions. Once we determined which settings provided a reasonable level of load for appropriate video cards, we forged forward testing those configurations on our suit of GPUs.
Each scenario was tested for 30 seconds identically, then repeated three times for parity. We tested on Redwood. The reasoning for this specific map is below.
Our above video shows the course we used. This was chosen for its reproducability and reliability during test. Benchmarks which do not precisely emulate our course taken may vary in results, depending on what area of the game they were executed.
|GN Test Bench 2015||Name||Courtesy Of||Cost|
This is what we're testing!
|CPU||Intel i7-4790K CPU||CyberPower
|Memory||32GB 2133MHz HyperX Savage RAM||Kingston Tech.||$300|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1||GamersNexus||$285|
|Power Supply||NZXT 1200W HALE90 V2||NZXT||$300|
|SSD||HyperX Predator PCI-e SSD||Kingston Tech.||TBD|
|Case||Top Deck Tech Station||GamersNexus||$250|
|CPU Cooler||Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3||Be Quiet!||~$60|
Average FPS, 1% low, and 0.1% low times are measured. We do not measure maximum or minimum FPS results as we consider these numbers to be pure outliers. Instead, we take an average of the lowest 1% of results (1% low) to show real-world, noticeable dips; we then take an average of the lowest 0.1% of results for severe spikes.
The below GPUs were tested:
- MSI R9 390X Gaming 8GB ($430)
- PowerColor R9 290X 4GB (Deprecated)
- XFX R9 285 2GB ($206)
- AMD R9 270X 2GB Reference (Deprecated)
- ASUS R7 250X 1GB ($117)
- NVidia GTX 980 Ti 6GB Reference (& SLI) ($660)
- MSI GTX 980 4GB Gaming ($515)
- EVGA GTX 970 SSC 4GB ($315)
- EVGA GTX 960 SSC 4GB ($225)
- ASUS GTX 960 Strix 2GB ($200)
- ASUS GTX 950 Strix 2GB ($170)
- EVGA GTX 750 Ti 2GB ($125)
We tested the game using these settings:
- 4K, all items enabled and set to “High” or “Extra.” Anti-aliasing Filmic.
- 1440p, all items enabled and set to “High” or “Extra.” Anti-aliasing Filmic.
- 1080p, all items enabled and set to “High” or “Extra.” Anti-aliasing Filmic.
- 1080p, all items set to “Medium,” anti-aliasing OFF.
Continue to the second and final page for our benchmark results!