Around two months before Starfield’s launch, Bethesda Game Studios revealed that it had partnered with AMD to optimize the open world sci-fi roleplaying game for Ryzen and Radeon hardware on both PC and Xbox Series S|X.
The announcement also confirmed that Starfield would support AMD FSR 2 and started a whole controversy surrounding the presumed lack of NVIDIA DLSS integration. For its part, AMD said Bethesda was free to add DLSS if they so chose.
Surely enough, NVIDIA’s upscaler was indeed missing at launch, though modders quickly took care of that. Even setting aside the whole upscaler issue, however, AMD hardware outperformed NVIDIA hardware at the game’s release on PC.
An in-depth analysis conducted by ChipAndCheese suggested that AMD might be exploiting certain architectural advantages in this game:
Higher occupancy and higher L2 bandwidth both play a role, as does RDNA 3’s higher frontend clock. […] Lower utilization is by design in Nvidia’s architecture. Nvidia SMs have smaller register files and can keep less work in flight. They’re naturally going to have a more difficult time keeping their execution units fed.
However, the Starfield beta update released by Bethesda this week radically changed the situation. As shown by the creator of the CapFrameX benchmarking software, the NVIDIA flagship GPU, the GeForce RTX 4090, now handily outperforms AMD’s equivalent by 23%, whereas it trailed the Radeon RX 7900 RTX by 8% at launch. The benchmark was conducted at native 1440p resolution without any upscaling.
This result is more in line with the usual performance difference between the two graphics cards. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Bethesda didn’t work as hard with NVIDIA as it did with AMD to optimize for their hardware ahead of launch.
Between the Game Ready driver that enabled Resizable Bar and this beta update’s various GPU optimizations, the most powerful GeForce graphics card is finally shining as it should, and that’s without taking upscaling into consideration. The beta patch also added NVIDIA DLSS Super Resolution and Frame Generation support. With those enabled, Starfield runs even faster.
For the record, the maker of CapFrameX also benchmarked the fastest CPUs from AMD and Intel, with the RTX 4090 as the baseline GPU. The Ryzen 9 7950X3D came out slightly on top, although the difference with the Core i9-13900K is very small.
As a reminder, Bethesda said the Starfield beta update will go live on the main branch later this month.