How much difference does Mantle make in Thief?

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Mantle

The very first game to support AMD’s Mantle API was Battlefield 4. Mantle was sold as an API that would give developers low-level access to hardware, similarly to how consoles work. As we saw with the performance differences in Battlefield 4 with Mantle enabled, it really only delivered significant benefits on lower end, CPU-bound scenarios. With its latest patch, Eidos Montreal’s middling Thief becomes the second major game to support Mantle. How much difference does it make?

Once again, it entirely depends on what sort of hardware you’re packing – but it’s quickly becoming clear; Mantle is nearly worthless to Pc gaming enthusiasts. Instead, the biggest gains to be had come from the lower to middle brackets, which can see gains of up to 36%. that’s nothing to be sneezed at, especially for lower-priced PC systems – which are exactly the sort that would be competing with today’s new consoles.

Here are some graphs, courtesy of Anandtech. Here’s the system they used for the test:

  • CPU:
    Intel Core i7-4960X @ 4.2GHz
  • Motherboard:
    ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional
  • Power Supply:
    Corsair AX1200i
  • Hard Disk:
    Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)
  • Memory:
    G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)
  • Case:
    NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
  • Monitor:
    Asus PQ321
  • Video Cards:
    AMD Radeon R9 290X
    AMD Radeon R7 260X
  • Video Drivers:
    AMD Catalyst 14.3 Beta 1
  • Headphones:
    Sennheiser PC 360
  • OS:
    Windows 8.1 Pro

They switched from using High settings, which is more GPU intensive, to using low settings, which are far more taxing on CPU. As we can see, the biggest gains came from CPU intensive tasks – while the gains on the sort of enthusiast settings, on high spec machines are negligible. 

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In the end, Mantle certainly demonstrates performance gains in its intended scenarios, though how much use the API will get depends on what happens with Microsoft’s DirectX 12, which they’re debuting at GDC this week. If it also provides low level access, as rumours suggest, its familiarity amongst developers could put an end to Mantle before its even matured.

Last Updated: March 18, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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