Mantle Showdown: Does Mantle outperform DirectX 11?

Yes. Yeeeessss. Yuss. Okay?

Chips Summary (1 of 3)

In Part 5 of this series we’ll be looking at the benefits of AMD’s Mantle API over Microsoft’s DirectX 11. This is a five part series; in part 5 we’ll be taking a holistic look at all of our testing in this series. For information on the Mantle API and DirectX 11 please read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of this series.

So far we’ve taken a platform by platform look at our DirectX versus Mantle match up. We started at the high-end with a six core CPU and an R9 290X. Then we looked at the entry-level space with AMD’s top APU. For some perspective on the midrange we plugged in an R9 270X and then to see what budget APU performance looked like we dusted off our Athlon 5350. Now we’re going to take a step back and look at the differences between DirectX and Mantle performance across all our platforms.

Radeon Chips (1 of 1)

Our Testing

To recap our testing condition rather quickly we looked at five games: Civilization: Beyond Earth, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Thief, Sniper Elite 3, and Battlefield 4. All of these games have both Mantle and DirectX 11 based rendering engines and enable us to create a comparison that is as apples to apples as is technically possible. All of our tests were run at 1080P with varying quality settings on a per platform basis. Quality settings and resolution were kept the same between the Mantle and DirectX version of all our games.

For the sake of transparency we want you to know that AMD provided us with quite a few of the components used for this article. Our R9 290X, R9 270X, A10-7850K, Athlon 5350, Radeon Memory, assorted Fm2+ and AM1 motherboards were all provided by AMD. We also received game keys from AMD to most of these games. Corsair provided our DDR4 memory. Gigabyte provided our X99 motherboard and Intel the i7-5690X. All of the other components we’re using were purchased at retail without the knowledge or consent of those companies. None of the games or hardware used in this series were sent to us specifically for this series. As always you can find our raw testing data on OneDrive. We took no outside input on this article other than the suggestions and support coming from our lovely forums, thanks guys.

Mantle platform advantage

By taking the results of our testing on each platform and averaging them we can see that on the balance Mantle improves performance by nearly 20 percent over DirectX in the five games we tested. If you were looking for clear proof that Mantle is a worthwhile effort on AMD’s part then look no further than this. Merely by implementing a Mantle version of their rendering engine game developers can increase the performance of their games by 8 to 31 percent.

For midrange gaming PCs Mantle is the difference between playable and unplayable frame rates in full HD with high quality settings. On high-end PCs Mantle offers a solid performance boost and on APU based systems Mantle can modestly improve frame rates.

Chips Summary (3 of 3)

Mantle looks to the future

Mantle is the only publicly available API of its kind. DirectX 12 and OpenGL NG are still underdevelopment and will be for the forseeable future. If Mantle is the canary in the coal mine for future graphics APIs then we can safely say that things are looking up for everyone. Mantle is here now and it’s providing real world performance gains.S|A\

UPDATE 11/21 1:05 PM PST: Intel CPUs were used in this article, and this is part 5, not 4.

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.