Battlefield 1 Memory Benchmark - 1600MHz vs. 2400MHz, 3200MHz
This first chart shows Battlefield 1's memory performance when running 1080p with Ultra settings on the test platform. We're seeing largely unfettered performance with the 4 sticks of 3200MHz Corsair Dominator Platinum memory, pushing a 161FPS AVG, about 128FPS 1% lows, and 117FPS 0.1% lows. This is followed next by the DDR4-2400 memory, so we've clocked-down the Platinum series kit to 2400MHz. That's at 158FPS AVG, or about 4FPS behind the 3200MHz kit, with lows at 118FPS and 107FPS.
DDR4-1600 memory might as well not exist, but we're testing it just to learn more about scaling. We're at 150FPS AVG -- now 11FPS slower than the 3200MHz kit. If we create another unlikely scenario, 1333MHz memory is operating at 140FPS AVG, or 20FPS slower than the 3200MHz kit.
This could be compared in some ways to single-channel performance. If you remember our content from ages ago, we didn't see much impact from multi-channel platforms with DDR3 in our gaming tests, but game development has changed and so has memory. With a single-channel platform, memory speeds are effectively halved from the advertised rate, so these 1333 and 1600 results give a simplified glimpse into single-channel performance with BF1. As a quick PSA, keep in mind that there's no such thing as "dual-channel memory" or "single-channel memory." The memory itself is not in charge of how many channels there are, it is the platform. To call memory single or dual channel would be incorrect. The platform and the configuration of memory in that platform dictate channeling, not the individual sticks.
Performance Scaling with Base 2400MHz (100%)
Here's a chart that shows percent scaling as offset from DDR4-2400. Versus a fairly standard 2400MHz kit of DDR4 memory, we're seeing scaling of about 2.5% gains when moving to 3200MHz, and we're seeing a loss of about 5% when stepping down to 1600MHz. The jump from 2400MHz to 1333MHz is about 12%.
Again, remember that running a higher resolution -- like 4K -- would primarily limit us at the GPU, so these differences can largely disappear. We saw almost no change in FPS when running 4K with the 1080 FTW Hybrid and memory at 3200MHz versus memory at 1866MHz. Dx12 also shows almost no scaling from memory. Game performance is too erratic and spotty with Dx12 to see a meaningful gain from just the memory.
Tested with the FX-8370
Just for good measure and to cover another architecture, let's throw AMD's FX-8370 into the mix.
Here, we've tested memory at 2133MHz and 1600MHz, both DDR3 kits, and can see a difference of about 5.5 to 6FPS in the average framerate performance between the two. That's about 6-7% change. Considering that DDR3 kits are priced pretty equally between 1600, 1866, and 2133MHz these days, especially with manufacturers dropping 1600MHz production, it makes sense to spend the extra two dollars for something 6% faster. It also makes sense to run two sticks for Battlefield 1 for dual-channel platforms.
Battlefield 1 Memory Capacity - Is 8GB Enough?
The short answer: Yes. It's enough. Just barely.
Capacity is harder to test for a number of reasons. Memory isn't instantly saturated, so it's easier to test with something more heuristic -- like actually playing the game properly. We tried playing a 64-person multiplayer match for about 40 minutes while running logging utilities to track system memory consumption. Commit and working set memory were both logged, so we had an idea of requested and in-use memory by the application. Memory usage by BF1 goes up quickly, but never exceeds 6-7GB working set. We'd see commits upwards of 10GB, but again, that doesn't mean the memory is used -- it just means that BF1 and Windows agree that 10GB of 32GB available is not an unreasonable commit.
We also played with one stick of 8GB RAM (and separately two sticks of 4GB) for another 64-player match, just to see if any visible stutters or pop-in issues occurred. No, not really. We see pop-in issues, but it's all the same as what you normally see with Battlefield 1 -- nothing specific to memory. A single stick did show an FPS reduction resultant of the slower speed, but not because of the capacity. With 2x4GB sticks clocked at 2400MHz, we didn't run into issues with memory capacity being exceeded and causing artifacting, pop-in delays (beyond normal), or slowdowns. Heuristic testing suggests that 8GB of memory is enough for BF1.
Now, there's a caveat: The working set was approaching 7GB at times (typically closer to 6GB), so users who like to keep applications running in the background may benefit from more memory. Chrome, for example, can easily eat several gigabytes of memory just with a day's worth of tabs open. You'd want to close that to free-up volatile memory if playing BF1 with 8GB of RAM.
But as an application atop an OS, 8GB is sufficient.
Memory has a bigger impact in Battlefield 1 than we've seen with other games. It's not huge -- the GPU and CPU still sort of dictate total performance -- but it's enough to be interesting, and that's what we expected. Increasing resolution to 4K (reasonable with a 1080 FTW Hybrid and i7-6700K OC'd to 4.4GHz) does largely eliminate differences between even 1866MHz and 3200MHz DDR4. Players who seek unrestricted framerate to saturate a high-refresh display, like 120Hz, 144Hz, or 200Hz monitors, will want to begin considering memory as a limitation once the GPU and CPU have been mostly maxed for performance.
Capacity seems to push the 8GB barrier, but after heuristic testing by actually playing the game with 8GB in a 64-player server, it just doesn't doesn't seem necessary to go for 16GB. The main benefit would be if you like to keep a large amount of browser tabs open in the background, Photoshop, or some other application, at which point you'll want that extra memory to juggle background processes.
Editorial: Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke
Video: Andrew "ColossalCake" Coleman