Table of Contents
Benchmark System Specs
The tests on the following pages were all conducted in the same manner. Resolution and quality settings were selected within Star Citizen, and no special settings were configured in the video card drivers. Unless otherwise noted, tests were done at Very High quality and 1920×1080.
Each test was performed in the Hornet F7C fighter, on the Broken Moon map, and in Vanduul Swarm mode. I did not yet have access to the multi-player module, and wanted the most demanding option possible. The Swarm mode puts an added load on the system compared to just using the Free Flight mode: there are additional ships and weapon effects for the video card to deal with, as well as the AI for the other pilots (both friendly and hostile) to push the CPU harder.
I had FRAPS running in the background to measure frame rates, and ran its benchmark mode for 300 seconds (5 minutes) starting when the "Game Begins" countdown reached 0. During this time I would engage in combat, and while it is impossible to exactly repeat the same movements during each run I was at least trying to keep the style of play consistent. Here is a video showing what the benchmark segment looks like, along with a couple minutes of the gameplay prior to getting to that point:
I should note that the minimum frame rate numbers on the following pages are somewhat tricky, and I thought about leaving them out entirely. This is because those dips all occurred in non-critical situations. The noticable pauses in gameplay (resulting from momentary frame rate dips) were either when loading a new wave of enemy ships or when crashing… which was usually fatal. The average frame rates definitely convey how playable and smooth the game was in each hardware configuration far more than the minimums, so please keep that in mind as you look over the results.
AMD vs NVIDIA
From other reports on the Star Citizen forums, it appears that most people with dual GPU – either SLI or Crossfire – are seeing similar corruption issues. As such I don't think that it is a hardware problem so much as either drivers that need optimizing for this game or game code that needs to be changed a bit to work properly with dual GPUs. This is one of the pitfalls of benchmarking during the alpha stage of game production, but hopefully the findings help the game developers fix this well before the Star Citizen's full release.
CPU Core Scaling
With Hyperthreading enabled, the 2-core configuration would show up to Windows as actually being 4 cores… and at that point the game was playable, though with noticeably lower performance. Once I reached 4 cores, either with or without Hyperthreading enabled, performance pretty much leveled out. You see some differences above, but they are all reasonably close together. The only thing I might be able to pull out of this is that average frame rates were higher with Hyperthreading disabled, both at 4- and 6-core settings. I have seen similar results in some other games as well, and this is one of the reasons I often recommend a Core i5 (quad-core without Hyperthreading) for gamers, rather than the Core i7 (which adds Hyperthreading).
Recommended Settings for Playing Arena Commander Today
Hopefully the information on the previous pages is helpful and informative! Remember that Star Citizen is in development, and even this Arena Commander dogfighting module is only in early alpha stages. Performance will change over time. However, folks looking to get a new system before the finished game is released, or to upgrade an existing computer, could still use the data here to make an informed decision.
For anyone wanting to purchase a system, rather than build one themselves, we here at Puget Systems would be honored to help design and build such a computer – just call or email us! Oh, and I'll "see you in the 'Verse!"