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nV News - Benchmarking Diablo 3 - Page 1 of 1


Introduction

Developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo 3 is an action role playing video game and the third installment of the series. Released in North America on May 15, 2012, Diablo 3 set a new record for the fastest-selling PC game by selling over 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release. The game received 88 out of 100 at Metacritic.

Diablo 3

Blizzard kept Diablo 3 compatible with DirectX 9 and Windows XP/Vista/7 to retain a larger customer base. The game uses an isometric view and relies on a custom 3D engine that features destructible environments and in-game damage effects.

Old Tristam Gameplay
Click to enlarge - 2560x1600

Graphics Settings

The graphics settings used to benchmark Diablo 3 consist of the information shown in the following table. In-game high quality settings were all enabled.

In-Game Graphics and Physics Benchmark Settings
Texture Quality High
Shadow Quality High
Physics High
Cluster Density High
In-Game Antialiasing Off, On
Low FX Off
Override Antialiasing 4x MSAA, 8x CSAA, 8x MSAA*, 16x CSAA, 16xQ CSAA, 32x CSAA

* A bug prevented from testing.

The in-game graphics menu appears below.

In-Game Graphics Settings
Click to enlarge - 2560x1600

Test System

The following table lists the key PC system components that were used to benchmark Diablo 3.

Test System Components
Processor Intel Core i7 940 Quad Core @2.93GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5
System Memory 6GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 @1333MHz
Graphics Procesing Unit NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
Monitor Dell 3007WFP
Operating System Windows 7
Direct X 11
GeForce Driver 310.64 Beta
Diablo 3 Version 1.0.6.13644

As Diablo 3 does not feature an in-game benchmark, gameplay and Fraps were used to determine these results. Gameplay begins at the start of the game following Overlook Road and concludes when the player crosses the New Tristam bridge. Please refer to the video clip below to view actual gameplay footage.

Gameplay Benchmark

Gameplay walkthroughs were done three times per benchmark to ensure consistent results were achieved.

Benchmark Results

The first set of benchmarks were run at the resolution of 2560x1600 with in-game antialiasing disabled and enabled.

Diablo 3 Performance - 2560x1600

Frame Time Performance

Fraps provides another measure of performance referred to as frame times. This value is the number of milliseconds (ms) that it takes to render a particular frame and can illustrate significant deviations from the average and minimum frame rates.

The formula for computing frame times is as follows:

  • 1,000 milliseconds (ms) per second / frame rate = milliseconds per frame.
For example, there are 1,000ms in a second and suppose the target frame rate is 60 frames per second (fps).
  • 1,000ms per second / 60 fps = 16.667ms per frame.

In this example, a 16.667ms frame time roughly equals 60 fps.

Let's examine the frame times with in-game antialiasing enabled where the average frame rate was 111 fps and the minimum was 81 fps. In the following table, the delta change for each frame time was calculated within the Fraps frame time output file, sorted ascending by the delta change from frame to frame, and then grouped into the respective millisecond category.

Frame Times (16,998 Frames) - In-Game Antialiasing On
0.000 - 9.999ms 12,600 Frames
10.000 - 19.999ms 4,359 Frames
20.000 - 29.999ms 26 Frames
30.000 - 39.999ms 7 Frames
40.000 - 49.999ms 2 Frames
>= 50.000ms 4 Frames

The 4 frames in the >= 50.000ms category contained values of 68.183ms, 77.883ms, 218.932ms and 261.247ms. The great news here though is that virtually every frame was within the example target of 60 fps, which provided exceptionally smooth game play from frame to frame on the GeForce GTX 680.

Override Antialiasing Performance

In order the stress the GeForce GTX 680 graphics sub-system, NVIDIA's driver control panel was also used to override in-game antialiasing. This feature is a value-add and offers a significant number of higher quality levels of antialiasing at the expense of performance. Note that in-game antialiasing remained enabled during these tests.

Override Antialiasing Performance

Continuing the example of a 60 fps target, the results from 16x Coverage Sampling Antialiasing (CSAA) should contain the supporting frame times. Let's find out as we did previously with in-game antialiasing enabled.

Frame Times (10,795 Frames) - 16x Coverage Sampling AA
0.000 - 9.999ms 1,087 Frames
10.000 - 19.999ms 9,637 Frames
20.000 - 29.999ms 52 Frames
30.000 - 39.999ms 4 Frames
40.000 - 49.999ms 9 Frames
>= 50.000ms 6 Frames

As expected, most of the frame times took place within the 10.000 - 19.999ms category due to the lower average and minimum frame rate of using 16x CSAA versus in-game antialiasing only.

Wrap Up

The time invested in creating a Diablo 3 benchmark was well spent. Credit goes out to HardwareVantage for the inspiration to do so. This particular benchmark also tested out the override antialiasing setting as well. Frame time reporting will be done on as needed in future articles.

I would also thank Scott Wasson at The Tech Report for shedding more light on frame times.

Last Updated on January 6, 2013


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