Download Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward's Benchmark To Test Your System & See NVIDIA HBAO+ In Action

Featured Stories, NVIDIA GameWorks

If you're a fan of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, or simply want a new tool to measure your system's performance, you should definitely download the freshly-released Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark. Featuring content from the forthcoming, eponymous expansion that raises the MMORPG's max level to 60 and adds a ton of new content, the Heavensward Benchmark also introduces gamers to a new DirectX 11 renderer and new visual effects, which include NVIDIA's HBAO+.

If you're unfamiliar with HBAO+, the DirectX 11-powered technique adds contact shadows where two surfaces or objects meet, and where an object blocks light from reaching another nearby game element. Compared to other ambient occlusion techniques, HBAO+'s shadows are more accurate and more detailed, and have a comparatively low performance impact, making games appear more realistic without a huge hit to your precious framerate.

In the Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark, HBAO+ more accurately shades characters, NPCs, objects, terrain, foliage, and grass, as you can see in the interactive comparison below.

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This comparison also highlights the addition of DirectX 11 tessellation and DirectX 11 Parallax Occlusion Mapping, which add extra detail to surfaces and objects. Tessellation, visible on the bottom right of the above comparison, adds real geometric detail to terrain and other surfaces, immensely improving their visual fidelity. Parallax Occlusion Mapping, in contrast, adds simulated detail, visible only from certain angles, making it suitable for backgrounds and distant detail that won't be viewed up close. Together, the two features add considerable depth and detail to Final Fantasy XIV's lands, game wide.

Our second comparison, below, shows the impact of tessellation, Parallax Occlusion Mapping, and HBAO+ across a wider area, adding geometric depth to the terrain below the characters' feet, improved detail in the background, and realistic ambient occlusion shadowing across the entire scene.

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Tessellation is also applied to the surfaces of water, adding extra depth and detail, and increasing its realism in motion. Furthermore, water caustics have been implemented, which will be particularly visible when fishing on a sunny day.

Click to activate; again, note the improved shadowing courtesy of HBAO+

In addition to beautifying the game with new effects, the upgrade to DirectX 11 also improves performance thanks to DirectX 11's superior CPU multi-threading and reduced CPU overheads, and its superior GPU performance. In a test on this writer's system, Heavensward's benchmark performance score increased from 18,056 with DirectX 9 (average FPS: 158.965) to 21,689 using DirectX 11 and like-for-like settings (average FPS: 190.883), and only decreased slightly to 21,029 (average FPS: 174.873) when tessellation, HBAO+, and other enhancements were enabled and maxed out. Before you begin your own tests, make sure to download and install our latest drivers for optimum performance and a DirectX 11 SLI profile.

Final Fantasy XIV's switch to DirectX 11 is especially beneficial for SLI systems, which are no longer CPU limited in many scenes, increasing multi-GPU performance considerably.

Finally, here's a look at how HBAO+ and tessellation enhance the conclusion to the benchmark. In particular, note the improved accuracy and quality of shadowing around characters' multi-layered armor, and the bumpy terrain.

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If you wish to check out Final Fantasy XIV's new graphical enhancements for yourself, which also include specular floor reflections and enhanced shading, download the Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark. Make sure to share your results in the comments section below, and if you like the look of the MMORPG dive into A Realm Reborn today with a free trial. If you're already an ardent fan, you can instead pre-order Heavensward ahead of its June 23rd release.

3840x2160 NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution Screenshot Gallery

With NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), you can crank up the resolution in the Heavensward Benchmark, further bolstering image quality. Below, you can check out a big batch of 4K, max setting screenshots, and below them you can see the same images downsampled to 1920x1080, giving you an idea of how 4K DSR looks on a 1920x1080 display.

1920x1080 Downsampled NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution Screenshot Gallery

To activate DSR, select the following options in your NVIDIA Control Panel:

NVIDIA Control Panel DSR #1 NVIDIA Control Panel DSR #2