Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark II DX12 Testing

Stardock and Oxide Games released the Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark I in the Fall of 2015 and we ran some tests with the first non-synthetic Direcxt12 benchmark test and found some very interesting results.  Ashes of the Singularity uses the Nitrous Engine that is capable of using many CPU cores, so this benchmark should be a good way to look at how current video cards from AMD and NVIDIA will perform on a DX12 game title that has parallel rendering, asynchronous compute and even explicit multi-GPU support.  Last week we were given access to the new Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark II tool that has been updated to better replicate real world user scenarios. Here’s what’s new:
  1. Explicit Multi-GPU. You can now insert an additional video card into your PC and increase performance by up to 2x. Explicit Multi-GPU allows gamers to use an AMD card and an Nvidia card in the same system.
  2. Significant general performance optimizations.
  3. The addition of the game’s Substrate faction in the benchmark.
  4. Increased the benchmark's overall load to test expanded gameplay features.
  5. New graphics effects.
  6. Advanced use of D3D12 multi queue and signaling mechanisms. This is often referred to as asynchronous compute.
Ashes of the Singularity We started to benchmark a handful of video cards on the new Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark II tool, but AMD was late to the driver game again and that Radeon Software Edition 16.2 video card drivers were optimized for this benchmark. Once we got done running the AMD benchmark numbers NVIDIA released GeForce 362.00 WHQL drivers, so we went back and updated all of our numbers again to ensure both AMD and NVIDIA were given a fair shake with the latest drivers. Since we were holding the article to ensure we were using the latest drivers from AMD what harm was there in delaying it a couple more days for NVIDIA. [caption id="attachment_179572" align="aligncenter" width="645"]DX12 GPUs Tested The six video cards that we tested on DX12[/caption] For testing we pulled out six video cards that we wanted to look at with three being from AMD and two being from NVIDIA. We tried to pair cards together at price points to show DX12 performance at three different price points on current video cards. Flagship Video Cards - $599+ High-End Graphics Cards - $300 - $350 Mainstream Graphics Cards - $189 - $229 Let's take a look at the test system and then see how these cards performed at 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440 and 3840 x 2160 screen resolutions!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.  There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Oxide recommends 16-32GB of RAM to benchmark Ashes. If you have less than 16GB of memory, your benchmark results might be lower due to disk paging. Oxide recommends testing on at least a quad-core system, since the number of CPU cores in your system will impact the benchmark results. The Nitrous game engine is capable of using many cores – though evidence of this many not be visible unless the CPU is the bottleneck of the system. The benchmark is designed specifically to place a heavy game load on the CPU, to simulate large game situations. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing: test system

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1704 that came out on 05/08/2015. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-13-13-30 2T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements. Test System Settings Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X79 Test Platform



Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-4960X
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
Cooling Intel TS13X (Asetek)
Power Supply Corsair AX860i
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit
Monitor Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K
  Let's move on to the Battlefield 4 benchmark results!

DX12 Benchmark Results - 1080P, 1440P & 4K

Ashes Video Card Options We ran the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark utility with the 'High' Image Quality Profile and disabled VSync and Free Sync. If you live VSync or FreeSync enabled it will cap your frame rate. Ashes of the Singularity 1080P Performance Benchmarks 1080P Benchmark Results: It was a bit shocking to see only the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti were able to average better than 60 FPS at 1920 x 1080 as we tested using just the 'High' image quality settings. There are options for Extreme and Crazy image quality settings, so this is a game title that will benefit greatly from a powerful video card if you want to turn the eye candy up. AMD had a pretty good performance lead over NVIDIA at each of the three price points that we looked at. The AMD Radeon R9 380X had a 25% performance lead over the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC for example. Ashes of the Singularity 1440P Performance Benchmarks 1440P Benchmark Results: At 2560x1440 the flagship cards were still performing close to one another, but the performance gap widened on the other two sets of cards to the benefit of AMD. The AMD Radeon R9 380X had a 27% performance lead over the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC at this resolution. Ashes of the Singularity 4K Performance Benchmarks 4K Benchmark Results: Not one of the six video cards that we benchmarks could average more than 60 FPS when running the benchmark at 3840x2160 with High image quality settings. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X came close at 57 FPS and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti was at 52.6 FPS. The 8% performance gap between the Fury X and GTX 980 Ti was the largest of the three benchmark resolutions that we tested at. The Zotac GeForce GTX 970 was nearly 25% slower than the XFX Radeon R9 390 and the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 was roughly 30% slower than the Sapphire Radeon R9 380X.

DX12 Benchmark Results - Explicit Multi-GPU

Explicit Multi-GPU Testing Ashes of the Singularity is the first game title that uses the explicit multi-GPU abilities of D3D12. In previous APIs, the existence of multi-GPUs was largely hidden to the application and there was no way for the application to drive multiple GPUs. D3D12 enables us explicit control over all GPUs in the system and Ashes of the Singularity has the ability to do arbitrary AFR (alternate frame rendering) on multiple GPUs. The really exciting thing about this feature is that this can occur even if the GPUs are from different vendors! Mixed GPU DX12 Testing We tested mixed multi-GPU performance on Ashes of the Singularity with the AMD Radeon R9 380X and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video cards. We've seen other sites compare the flagship cards, but not too many have taken a look at the more mainstream cards. Windows 10 Device Manager We had no problem getting both GPU's running on the latest Windows 10 64-bit drivers (Crimson 16.2 and GeForce 362.00) and were off and benchmarking in just a couple minutes. multi-gpu settings We checked the multi-GPU box in the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark tool and both GPU's were listed under the hardware configuration as shown in the image above. Ashes of the Singularity 1080P Performance Benchmarks 1080P Benchmark Results: It looks like DirectX 12's explicit multi-GPU support works pretty well as our 2-way mixed card setup from AMD and NVIDIA gave us nice performance gains at 1920 x 1080. We were able to basically double the performance of the single EVGA GeForce GTX 960 and went from 33.9 FPS to 66.9 FPS on average when we combined the AMD Radeon R9 380X and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960. The benchmark ran smoothly and looked great! Ashes of the Singularity 1440P Performance Benchmarks 1440P Benchmark Results: At 2560 x 1440 we were able to go from a low of 28.5 FPS on the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC to 53.7 FPS with the two cards working together. This put the Radeon R9 380X and GeForce GTX 960 combo performing ahead of the XFX Radeon R9 390, but not by much and the this combination of two cards costs way more than the single card. Ashes of the Singularity 4K Performance Benchmarks 4K Benchmark Results: It didn't come as a surprise to us, but as we increased the resolution the paired up mainstream cards lost the performance gains it once had over the high-end Radeon R9 390 card. Just not enough horse power in the smaller GPU's to compete with the larger ones and the 4GB memory is also likely a limiting factor here at 4K resolutions. It is still very cool to see that mixing GPUs from totally different vendors works on DX12! Final Thoughts and Conclusions We are going to conclude with that as this benchmark is still on a game title that is in development and these numbers will likely change more before the final build of Ashes of the Singularity is released on March 22nd, 2016.