Pixel acceleration on Pandora

Borderlands technics test: Graphics cards benchmarks with Unreal Engine 3 - Geforces ahead

The benchmark test with 12 graphics cards will demonstrate which model is the best for the modified Unreal Engine 2 of Borderlands.
Borderlands is set in the post-apocalyptic future on Planet Pandora. As soldier, Siren, berserker or hunter (alternatively in a foursome in seamless coop!) you will be searching for a legendary treasure. The story is simple but the gameplay is highly addictive: Borderlands is a mix of a classical First Person Shooter and an RPG like Diablo 3. The result is speedy and violent combat including leveling and finding more and more weapons - the only downer is the old-fashioned repeating mission design.

Borderlands: UE3 meets Concept-Art
As with former titles, developer Gearbox relies on Epic's Unreal Engine 3 again which was heavily modified, though. The biggest difference compared to most of the UE3 games is the exceptional concept art style: Hand-drawn textures in combination with black lines result in a Cel Shading look which is unique in this form and makes Borderlands stand out from the crowd. The rather simple optics - which plays up during fights, though - is backed up by an impressive technology package: The modified UE3 boasts with Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Soft Shadows, HDR-Rendering, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion and adaptive Depth of Field - the latter is a matter of taste but we like it. DirectX 10 can be activated via the .ini file and Multi and Super Sampling via the driver (the execution file has to be renamed as "UT3.exe” first).

Borderlands: Benchmark and general performance
As test sequence we use the game chapter "Headstone Mines” which is much more demanding than e. g. Badlands. As you can see from the following chart this scene does not present the worst case: The first 12 seconds show our benchmark; the rest of the time we fight against a dozen enemies with a magnum, electric shock shotgun and a rocket launcher. The more enemies and the more effects are visible on the screen the more does the frame rate decrease. While a Geforce GTX 285/1G in 1680 x 1050 with 4x MSAA and 16:1 AF mostly achieves 40 fps the frame rate in 1920 x 1200 with 4x MSAA and 16:1 AF drops below 30 fps and the aiming becomes spongy. However, without MSAA Borderlands runs absolutely smooth.
Borderlands: Verlaufsdiagramm mit Geforce GTX 285
Borderlands: Verlaufsdiagramm mit Geforce GTX 285 [Source: view picture gallery]
Borderlands: Benchmark results
Gearbox‘ Shooter-RPG displays - typical for UE3 - a considerable fps decrease after activating 4x MSAA. Without anti-aliasing the frame rate rises between 30 and more than 100 percent, in average about 50 percent. A further peculiarity: Nvidia's Geforce models perform much better, a GTX 260-216 easily beats AMD's current flagship Radeon HD 5870. The UE3 basically favors Geforces but in this case we assume that AMD has not optimized their drivers - even though we use the latest driver Catalyst 9.10 WHQL. We stay in contact with the Canadians, the test presents the current situation.

Nvidia's current Geforce 195.39 Beta offers SLI support for Borderlands.

More interesting articles about Borderlands:
Borderlands: Amazing screenshots plus details about Unreal Engine 3
Borderlands: System requirements revealed
Borderlands: New screenshots of the DirectX 10 shooter - Update: Behind the Scenes trailer

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Marc Sauter (Oct 30, 2009)

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