Testing Mantle and TrueAudio in Thief



Company: AMD
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: March 20th, 2014

Mantle, TrueAudio, conclusion

Mantle

Mantle is AMD's proprietary, open API, which aims to drastically reduce technical filters between games and hardware, resulting in better performance, particularly in CPU limited circumstances. It's currently in public beta, but results so far show promise.

Before I dive into benchmarks, it must be noted a future patch is planned for Thief which will improve Mantle performance on 2GB cards, and also add support for Crossfire use in combination with Mantle.

Testing Mantle, I ran each preset with Mantle on and off through the in-game benchmark. Each test was run a minimum of three times to eliminate anomalies.

The results show Mantle offers major performance increases for minimum, maximum, and average values at all settings except Very High, where gains are smaller for maximum and average values (2-5 fps). In almost all cases, a 10-20 fps increase is observed. These are very consistent and welcome results.

Unfortunately FRAPS doesn't support Mantle at the moment, so I was unable to parse frame time latency data, but I can say Mantle did not introduce any stuttering whatsoever (unlike with Battlefield 4, which is currently seeing the occasional bit of it).

TrueAudio

Update 03/25/14: It turns out the driver inside the Corsair Vengeance 1500 headset was affecting our test results with TrueAudio previously, so the section below has been rewritten to reflect significantly different impressions with stereo settings on the same headset.

TrueAudio is AMD's hardware-level tech designed to enhance audio in games, and lighten CPU load in the process. Currently, it's supported on the 200 series. In Thief, TrueAudio enhances “convolution reverb”, a technique intended to replicate true-to-life echoes/reverberation in areas like alleyways and cathedrals. The technique is available to all at the software level, but TrueAudio takes it further.

In practice, TrueAudio's effect was most noticeable in my testing when listening to characters speak, particularly in enclosed areas, like a small house, as featured in the video above.

Off, the character's voice sounds very much unaffected by its environment; enabling the Software setting introduces a considerably more realistic effect, with a somewhat subtle echo; TrueAudio increases the level of reverb significantly, such that the character sounds like he's in a much larger, more open room than he is. It's pretty aggressive, which some may prefer, if only after getting used to it. Myself, I'll more likely stick to the more subtle effect Software offers.

Conclusion

Mantle offers consistent and often major performance boosts in Thief, and while TrueAudio will be less appreciated, it's good to see developments in audio -- hopefully this is the start of more to come. Future patches and drivers are bound to improve the experience on both fronts even more.