The State of DirectX 11 - Image Quality & Performance
Aliens vs Predator: Performance & Verdict
When it comes to system requirements, Aliens vs Predator is a relatively demanding game. The recommended systems requirements call for a Core 2 class processor or a newer Athlon X2. While the 2GB memory requirement should be easily met, the 17GBs of free hard drive space the game will require is quite steep. The recommended graphics requirements call for a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 class card or an ATI Radeon HD 2900. This is roughly equivalent to current generation mid-range cards.
For our benchmarks, all graphics settings were turned up to their highest levels. It's worth noting that AvP seems to perform its anti-aliasing using compute shaders and the operation is tied to lighting. As a result, anti-aliasing is not available in DirectX 9 and you will need Dx10 or Dx11 to enable it. This isn't as large a disadvantage as it may first sound, since the game does not suffer from especially obvious aliasing to begin with. For our performance tests, we used anti-aliasing where available and we did not force it for Dx9 through the drivers, although this may be an option for end-users. We chose not to disable anti-aliasing in the performance benchmarks, since the point here is to compare the performance of the two rendering paths at their respective maximum image quality settings.
Aliens vs Predator does not have a built-in automated benchmark. Instead we manually ran through a level while recording the game's performance with the Fraps application's benchmarking function. The benchmark numbers presented below are the average frame rates recorded by Fraps during our benchmark runs. We chose the first level of the alien campaign as our benchmark.
Throughout the first level of the alien campaign are multiple enemies and rendered in-game cut-scenes. This created a very dynamic setting for the benchmark and each run invariably ended up slightly different from the next, despite our best efforts. In light of this, each benchmark setting shown below is the average of the results of 5 separate benchmark runs. Benchmark runs that resulted in strange values that did not correlate with the rest of the results were discarded and attempted a second time. This process, though painstaking, allowed us to generate relatively accurate and repeatable benchmark results.
The results from our testing are presented above. The large performance delta between DirectX 9 and 11 is immediately apparent. No doubt a large share of the performance difference is due to the application of anti-aliasing. With anti-aliasing enabled in Dx11, the game benchmarked at nearly half the performance of the Dx9 rendering path. However it's worth noting that even despite the handicap largely created by enabling anti-aliasing, both video cards tested were able to produce playable numbers.
As we've previously mentioned, our primary goal here is to compare the performance of the two rendering paths at their respective maximum image quality settings. However, we did experiment with benchmarking DirectX 11 with anti-aliasing disabled. We found that, in all three resolutions, AvP's Dx11 rendering path actually performed slightly better than Dx9. For example, the Radeon 5770 at 1920x1200 performed 6.32 frames per second better in Dx11 than Dx9, when anti-aliasing was disabled.
AvP Dx11 Verdict: We noted in our image quality comparison on the previous page that Aliens vs Predator does gain a noticeable image quality improvement from using the Dx11 rendering path with all its bells and whistles. While the performance delta between Dx9 and Dx11 at their respective maximum settings is large, we must consider that many of the game's graphical bells aren't available in Dx9. It's also important to note that despite the precipitous performance drop, Dx11 performance remains playable with our mid-range card, the Radeon 5770. Overall, we would recommend enabling Dx11 in Aliens vs Predator if possible. The image quality gained is worth the considerable performance drop and the game remains playable in nearly all cases except possibly with budget and integrated graphics chips.