Online projects occupy a significant part of the modern gaming industry, and tank MMOs have already become a separate genre. The developers of World of Tanks launched a new direction, which was successfully supported by other companies. A variety of «tanks» are very popular with a wide audience, including those who were previously far from computer games. In this article, we will examine performance in the three main tank MMOs — Armored Warfare, War Thunder and World of Tanks.

Tanks vs Video Cards

These games have a wide range of settings, which allows them to be adapted to any computer system. But you will get the maximum impressions with the maximum quality of graphics. It is this mode that we are interested in. Let’s find out which graphics solutions can provide high performance at Ultra-quality, for which we compare a number of video cards from AMD and NVIDIA at 1920×1080, 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 resolutions. In the case of Armored Warfare, we will additionally find out the impact of different anti-aliasing modes on overall performance.

Test participants

17 video adapters of different generations and different graphic architectures will take part in testing. We will compare current representatives of the middle class, old flagships and budget solutions from different years.

The list of test participants is as follows:

All participants are tested at nominal and overclocked. The upper bar is represented by direct competitors — the GeForce GTX 1060 and the Radeon Radeon RX 480. There is also a higher level representative in the face of the GeForce GTX 1070, but it was tested only at standard frequencies.

It so happened that we have more NVIDIA representatives, so we will place them at the top in all lists and performance charts. All video adapters were brought to standard frequencies in order to be as close as possible to the reference versions in terms of performance. The tables show the official graphics card specifications, the charts show the full GPU frequency range, including short-term Boost values.

Specifications for NVIDIA graphics cards

Video adapter GeForce GTX 1070 GeForce GTX 1060 GeForce GTX 780 Ti GeForce GTX 780 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GeForce GTX 1050 GeForce GTX 960 GeForce GTX 950 GeForce GTX 760 GeForce GTX 580 GeForce GTX 750 Ti
Core GP104 GP106 GK110 GK110 GP107 GP107 GM206 GM206 GK104 GF110 GM107
Architecture Pascal Pascal Kepler Kepler Pascal Pascal Maxwell Maxwell Kepler Fermi Maxwell
Number of transistors, million pieces 7200 4400 7100 7100 3300 3300 2940 2940 3500 3000 1870
Process technology, nm 16 16 28 28 14 14 28 28 28 40 28
Core area, sq. mm 314 200 561 561 132 132 228 228 294 520 148
Number of stream processors 1920 1280 2880 2304 768 640 1024 768 1152 512 640
Number of texture blocks 120 80 240 192 48 40 64 48 96 64 40
Number of render units 64 48 48 48 32 32 32 32 32 48 16
Core frequency, MHz 1506–1683 1506–1708 875–926 863–900 1290–1392 1354–1455 1126–1178 1024–1188 980–1033 772–1544 1020–1085
Memory bus, bit 256 192 384 384 128 128 128 128 2560 384 128
Memory frequency, MHz 8000 8000 7010 6008 7012 7012 7010 6610 6008 4010 5400
Memory size, MB 8192 6144 3072 3072 4096 2048 2048 2048 2048 1536 2048
Supported version of DirectX 12.1 12 11.1 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 11.2
Interface PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 2.0 PCI-E 3.0
Power, W 150 120 250 250 75 75 120 90 170 244 60

Specifications for AMD graphics cards

Video adapter Radeon RX 480 Radeon R9 290 Radeon RX 460 Radeon R9 270X Radeon R9 270 Radeon HD 7870 Radeon HD 6970
Core Polaris 10 Hawaii Polaris 11 Curacao Curacao Pitcairn Cayman
Architecture GCN 1.3 GCN 1.1 GCN 1.3 GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0 VLIW4
Number of transistors, million pieces 5700 6020 3000 2800 2800 2800 2640
Process technology, nm 14 28 14 28 28 28 40
Core area, sq. mm 232 438 123 212 212 212 389
Number of stream processors 2304 2560 896 1280 1280 1280 1536
Number of texture blocks 144 160 56 80 80 80 96
Number of render units 32 64 16 32 32 32 32
Core frequency, MHz 1120–1266 to 947 1090–1200 1050 925 1000 880
Memory bus, bit 256 512 128 256 256 256 256
Memory frequency, MHz 8000 5000 7000 5600 5600 4800 5500
Memory size, MB 8192 4096 4096 2048 2048 2048 2048
Supported version of DirectX 12 11.2 12 12 12 12 11.1
Interface PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 2.1
Power, W 150 275 75 180 150 175 190–250

The test bench configuration is as follows:

  • processor: Intel Core i7-6950X (3.0@4.1 GHz);
  • cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (two NF-A15 PWM fans, 140 mm, 1300 rpm);
  • motherboard: MSI X99S MPower (Intel X99);
  • memory: G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ (4×8 GB, DDR4-3200, CL14-14-14-35);
  • system disk: Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB (240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s);
  • secondary drive: Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 (1 TB, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm);
  • power supply: Seasonic SS-750KM (750 W);
  • monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
  • operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
  • GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 378.78;
  • Radeon driver: AMD Crimson Edition 17.3.1.

Test Methodology

Let’s briefly consider the features of games and the nuances of testing. In all applications, the main tests were carried out at a resolution of 1920×1080 and 2560×1440. Only the older GeForce GTX 1070, GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 480 graphics cards have been tested in 4K Super Heavy Mode. Participants are ranked in the charts according to their performance level.

Armored Warfare: Project Armata

A tank action game from Mail.Ru Group, developed and supported by the well-known Obsidian Entertainment team until recently. Against the background of similar projects, the game is distinguished by modern technology and style, here you can get the latest generation of combat vehicles under your control. Armored Warfare is based on the CryEngine technology engine and runs in the DirectX 11 environment.

Tanks vs Video Cards

The graphical potential of the game is high, however, it still depends on the level design. Having launched the game a year and a half after the first acquaintance, it seemed to me personally that the picture had become worse. Perhaps the only reason is that I had to play entirely at foggy and cloudy levels. But there is a suspicion that it was not without experiments on «optimization».

Tanks vs Video Cards

For testing, a recording of the PvE battle «Operation Cobra» was played. This battle takes place on a gaming location with saturated vegetation under difficult weather conditions, which ultimately creates an increased load compared to other maps. 7–8 runs were performed. The test game segment is shown below.

The game has the ability to upgrade to an HD client with improved textures. In reality, the difference in image quality is minimal, but the video memory usage is different. The simplest video cards are comparable in normal mode, the rest will be tested in the HD client.

The highest quality (Ultra) presets are selected for FXAA, which is always offered by default. Anti-aliasing plays an important role in this game, the jagged edges of objects are clearly visible here. MSAA provides the best image quality, so additional tests were carried out for older video cards with MSAA 4x anti-aliasing instead of FXAA.

Tanks vs Video Cards

War Thunder

This project by Gaijin Entertainment initially started with air battles, and here War Thunder still has no adequate competitors in the online segment. Tank battles were added later, and by analogy with World of Tanks, military equipment of the «classic» period of the 30-50s is presented. War Thunder is distinguished by a more complex physical model of tanks and an advanced damage system, which takes into account many parameters — the characteristics of the projectile, the material of the armor, the place of impact, and so on.

Tanks vs Video Cards

War Thunder is based on its own Dagor Engine, which has already reached version 4.0. In the course of the development of the project, the graphic component has developed and improved. The game pleases with an excellent study of military equipment with textured armor material, highly detailed environment and embossed surfaces. The ground under the tracks is subject to deformation, which is not in any other game in this direction. Among all tank action games, this is the best lighting system.

Tanks vs Video Cards

The physics of the environment is also the best — individual structures are destroyed, brick fences break through, breaking into pieces, metal sections of fences fly off.

For testing, the built-in benchmark «Tank battle» was used. Among the set of built-in tests, it is the heaviest. This test gives a fairly reliable idea of ​​​​real-world performance in the game, although at levels with abundant vegetation, fps can be lower than what you get in the benchmark. This must be taken into account when evaluating the results.

The benchmark was run seven times for each video card and each test mode.

The game has a lot of graphic settings. When you select the Standard Maximum Quality profile, some parameters are not set to the highest value. We manually increased all the parameters to the limit, and among the anti-aliasing modes, the heaviest mode AA 4x was chosen. These settings are labeled Ultra+.

Tanks vs Video Cards

World of Tanks

The most famous and most massive MMO game about tank battles. More arcade-like than War Thunder, but also more dynamic. Military equipment is represented by machines of the 30-60s of the last century. The game started back in 2010, the BigWorld engine has been radically transformed over the past years and brought the graphics to a completely different level, eventually transferring rendering under DirectX 11.

Tanks vs Video Cards

The game has good detail, relief land and pleasant landscapes. Among the anti-aliasing modes, only the FXAA algorithm is supported. The game as a whole looks simpler than War Thunder, but quite worthy for a modern online project.

Tanks vs Video Cards

For testing, among the replays posted in public access, a recording of the battle was selected on a large detailed map of the Fjords. Additionally, a test segment with intense action and explosions was chosen to create a heavier load, which will better evaluate performance in active combat.

The two-minute test was repeated 4–5 times for each video card. The maximum graphics settings are selected, all quality sliders are raised to the limit, FXAA anti-aliasing is active, the viewing angle is standard.

Tanks vs Video Cards
Tanks vs Video Cards

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