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GPU Memory

The more complex a game is, and the higher the resolution it is being played at, the more memory a video card needs in order to keep track of all the data involved. More specifically, the memory is per GPU (graphics processing unit), not card. For example, the Radeon R9 295X is a single video card with two GPUs. While it is advertised as having 8GB of memory, that is more accurately put as 4GB of memory for each GPU; it is effectively the same thing as having two separate cards, each with a single GPU and that much video memory.
With Star Citizen being a very graphically complex game - ship models with polygon counts in the hundreds of thousands, and the potential for multiple ships on-screen at once - the amount of data needed to display it could be a big factor for performance. To find out, we have pitted a GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB card against a GeForce GTX Titan 6GB. The 780 Ti is technically a slightly faster card, so if it outperforms the Titan then 3GB of memory is sufficient… but if the Titan wins, then 3GB is not sufficient. Many cards have even less than 3GB of memory, of course, but lets start here and see how it goes.

At 1920x1080, it looks like the cards are neck and neck for average frame rates... but the 780 Ti never dips as low on the minimum FPS. That may be an anomoly - as I have mentioned previously, the minimum frame rates in this testing are not incredibly reliable - but it could also mean that the slightly faster GPU on that card keeps it from ever dropping quite as low. Since the 780 Ti is also cheaper than the Titan, though, this is definitely the card to get if you want great performance in Arena Commander and will be playing at this resolution.
As expected, scaling the resolution up to 4K reduces performance on both cards... but the GTX 780 Ti manages to take the lead in both average and mininum frame rates, despite only having half the amount of video memory. Looking at GPUz during the testing showed that virtually all of the 780 Ti's memory was being used, so I had expected it to take a performance hit from that... but it comes out ahead, showing that even at higher resolutions the 780 Ti may be the better choice for gaming. Of course neither individual GPU was able to maintain smooth gameplay: it looked amazing at 4K, but actually playing at these lower frame rates was definitely frustrating.

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Tags: star, citizen, benchmark, performance, hardware, specs, space, simulator, arena, commander
Avatar Anonymous

On what setting was this tested on? Also, what graphics card was used? This is important info that I felt was left out.

Posted on 2014-06-12 22:32:19
Avatar Anonymous

For the CPU cores test, that is.

Posted on 2014-06-12 22:36:40

The info is there, but it is a little hidden on the second page:

"Unless otherwise noted, tests were done at Very High quality and 1920x1080."

I guess I didn't do a good job of spelling out the video card, though - on the CPU core testing it was a single GTX Titan 6GB.

Posted on 2014-06-12 23:39:24
Avatar Mihael Keehl

Using area commander v1.0 I'm getting an average of 55 FPS in broken moon against bots, they must have optimized the game a lot! Considering I've got a R9 280X 3GB and it runs faster than both R9 295X 4GB and GTX Titan 6GB running area commander v0.8, I guess doing benchmarks on an unfinished game is pretty much pointless.

Posted on 2015-01-09 21:48:33

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of dips and gains in FPS in my own playtime. However, I'd not quite say it is 'pointless'. It gives a good idea of where the game is starting out in terms of performance requirements, and if you needed to get a computer before the full release but wanted to be in good what when it launches then it could be helpful.

I plan to test again in the future, probably when multi-crew ships come out. Those will be bigger and even more complex models, so it may put some additional strain on the video cards... we'll see :)

Posted on 2015-01-09 21:54:09
Avatar Mihael Keehl

Thanks for getting back so quickly. It definitely was not pointless at the time, but it can be very confusing for someone who does not know the game at all. I can definitely see someone reading this and deciding not to get the game. We need as many people as we possibly can to join us in SC, more tests (and perhaps a comparison to the old tests) will be awesome! :-)

PS: I was surprised to see that Crytek dropped their normal release cycle in favour of a rolling release system.

Posted on 2015-01-09 22:17:57