PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was officially released on PC this past December, but it’s been playable via Steam Early Access for nearly a year now. In all that time, none of us have played the game, despite many requests for benchmarks. Games that are in active development don’t make for easy testing, and neither do exclusively multiplayer games with tons of variance. Even Overwatch has the ability to play against bots.
Now that PUBG is 1.0 on PC and sort-of-released on Xbox, though, we have extra motivation to buckle down and start testing. We chose to start with the Xbox One X version, since the lack of graphics options makes things simpler. It’s listed as both 4K HDR ready and Xbox One X Enhanced, so our primary testing was done at 4K, with additional Xbox One X benchmarking at 1080p for PUBG. Technically, it’s a “Game Preview,” but the list of other titles in this category makes it look like something that was created expressly for PUBG. It also costs full PC price, $30.
This deep-dive looks at PUBG framerate and frametime performance (which is shockingly bad for a console), along with graphics analysis of the game’s visuals. Although the article covers testing and benchmarking in slightly more depth, we’d also strongly recommend watching the video, as it contains visual representation of what’s happening in-game.
To everyone’s confusion, a review copy of Dragon Ball FighterZ for Xbox One showed up in our mailbox a few days ago. We’ve worked with Bandai Namco in the past, but never on console games. They must have cast a wide net with review samples--and judging by the SteamCharts stats, it worked.
It’d take some digging through the site archives to confirm, but we might never have covered a real fighting game before. None of us play them, we’ve tapered off doing non-benchmark game reviews, and they generally aren’t demanding enough to be hardware testing candidates (recommended specs for FighterZ include a 2GB GTX 660). For the latter reason, it’s a good thing they sent us the Xbox version. It’s “Xbox One X Enhanced,” but not officially listed as 4K, although that’s hard to tell at a glance: the resolution it outputs on a 4K display is well above 1080p, and the clear, bold lines of the cel-shaded art style make it practically indistinguishable from native 4K even during gameplay. Digital Foundry claims it’s 3264 x 1836 pixels, or 85% of 4K in height/width.
Today, we’re using Dragon Ball FighterZ to test our new console benchmarking tools, and further iterate upon them for -- frankly -- bigger future launches. This will enable us to run console vs. PC testing in greater depth going forward.
PC versus console is an ancient debate, long discussed by the wisest and most scholarly of YouTube commenters. PCs are described as expensive, bulky, and difficult to assemble or work with, while consoles are called underpowered, underperforming systems that hold game development back for the duration of each generation. The pro-console responses to our first Xbox One X tests usually boiled down to: “it’s still better than a $500 PC.”
It’s a reasonable argument, and it’s the basis on which consoles are sold these days. By popular demand*, then, we’ve built a $500 PC to compare to the Xbox One X (list price: $500) in performance. We tested whether the 4K-capable Xbox One X is “better” than an equivalently priced PC, judging by framerates in two of the Xbox’s first batch of 4K-enabled games, Destiny 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Origins.
Given the recent insanoland surge in RAM and GPU prices, the argument is more poignant than ever. DIY PCs stand to lose marketshare if people can’t afford to build a cheap machine, and so we thought we’d use our new in-house software to benchmark a low-end PC and an Xbox One X.
Testing the Xbox One X for frametime and framerate performance marks an exciting step for GamersNexus. This is the first time we’ve been able to benchmark console frame pacing, and we’re doing so by deploying new, in-house software for analysis of lossless gameplay captures. At a very top-level, we’re analyzing the pixels temporally, aiming to determine whether there’s a change between frames. We then do some checks to validate those numbers, then some additional computational work to compute framerates and frametimes. That’s the simplest, most condensed version of what we’re doing. Our Xbox One X tear-down set the stage for this.
Outside of this, additional testing includes K-type thermocouple measurements from behind the APU (rear-side of the PCB), with more measurements from a logging plugload meter. The end result is an amalgamation of three charts, combining to provide a somewhat full picture of the Xbox One X’s gaming performance. As an aside, note that we discovered an effective Tcase Max of ~85C on the silicon surface, at which point the console shuts down. We were unable to force a shutdown during typical gameplay, but could achieve a shutdown with intentional torture of the APU thermals.
The Xbox One X uses an AMD Jaguar APU, which combines 40 CUs (4 more than an RX 480/580) at 1172MHz (~168MHz slower than an RX 580 Gaming X). The CPU component is an 8C processor (no SMT), and is the same as on previous Xbox One devices, just with a higher frequency of 2.3GHz. As for memory, the device is using 12GB of GDDR5 memory, all shared between the CPU and GPU. The memory operates an actual memory speed of 1700MHz, with memory bandwidth at 326GB/s. For point of comparison, an RX 580 offers about 256GB/s bandwidth. The Xbox One X, by all accounts, is an impressive combination of hardware that functionally equates a mid-range gaming PC. The PSU is another indication of this, with a 245W supply, at least a few watts of which are provided to the aggressive cooling solution (using a ~112mm radial fan).
Microsoft has, rather surprisingly, made it easy to get into and maintain the Xbox One X. The refreshed console uses just two screws to secure the chassis – two opposing, plastic jackets for the inner frame – and then uses serial numbering to identify the order of parts removal. For a console, we think the Xbox One X’s modularity of design is brilliant and, even if it’s just for Microsoft’s internal RMA purposes, it makes things easier for the enthusiast audience to maintain. We pulled apart the new Xbox One X in our disassembly process, walking through the VRM, APU, cooling solution, and overall construction of the unit.
Before diving in, a note on the specs: The Xbox One X uses an AMD Jaguar APU, to which is affixed an AMD Polaris GPU with 40 CUs. This CU count is greater than the RX 580’s 36 CUs (and so yields 2560 SPs vs. 2304 SPs), but runs at a lower clock speed. Enter our errata from the video: The clock speed of the integrated Polaris GPU in the Xbox One X is purportedly 1172MHz (some early claims indicated 1720MHz, but that proved to be the memory speed); at 1172MHz, the integrated Polaris GPU is about 100MHz slower than the original reference Boost of the RX 480, or about 168MHz slower than some of the RX 580 partner models. Consider this a correction of those numbers – we ended up citing the 1700MHz figure in the video, but that is actually incorrect; the correct figure is 1172MHz core, 1700MHz memory (6800MHz effective). The memory operates a 326GB/s bandwidth on its 384-bit bus. As for the rest, 40 CUs means 160 TMUs, giving a texture fill-rate of 188GT/s.
Our hardware news round-up for the past week is live, detailing some behind-the-scenes / early information on our thermal and power testing for the i9-7900X, the Xbox One X hardware specs, Threadripper's release date, and plenty of other news. Additional coverage includes final word on Acer's 21X Predator, Samsung's 64-layer NAND finalization, Global Foundries' 7nm FinFET for 2018, and some extras.
We anticipate a slower news week for non-Intel/non-AMD entities this week, as Intel launched X299/SKY-X and AMD is making waves with Epyc. Given the command both these companies have over consumer news, it's likely that other vendors will hold further press releases until next week.
Find the show notes below, written by Eric Hamilton, along with the embedded video.
In the most recent update to the DFC Intelligence Forecast for the games industry, the metrics group notes that a $36 billion industry growth to $100 billion is expected by 2018. This is right in line with what we've been told previously, but new statistics suggest that thirty percent of the entire games industry will be owned by the mobile gaming space.
2013 saw the explosion of mobile gaming, bringing in $10 billion in total revenue from the industry's 1.17 billion gamers. The intelligence firm projects a $19 billion mobile growth -- a total of $29 billion -- by 2018, comprising 30% of total game software revenue. This expansion doesn't come without its growing pains, though:
Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox One launched on November 22, 2013 in 13 geographic locations. The company initially reported 1.2 million units shipped in 3Q13 with 5 million units in 1Q14, for a total of 6.2 million Xbox One units shipped to-date; these metrics are sales to retail channels and do not tell us how many have been put into consumers' hands. Microsoft previously noted in the end of January that 3 million units had been delivered to customers.
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