Borderlands 3 retained its recognizable visual style, but received a nice graphical upgrade thanks to the new engine. Along the way, system requirements have grown, which can be an incentive to buy new hardware. We will talk about which video cards will provide the best performance in the game in this review. Let’s compare the results of different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce models at the maximum graphics quality. Let’s find out the optimal DirectX for different video cards.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

A key feature of the visual style of Borderlands 3 is a certain «cartoonishness», which is achieved, among other things, through the use of cell-shading with contour strokes. At the same time, the new game has improved detail, textures and lighting, which became possible due to the transition to Unreal Engine 4.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cardsBorderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

The new game is larger than the previous parts and has a large variety of locations. The action takes place not only on Pandora scorched by the sun, but also in the surroundings of a large metropolis, against the backdrop of «eastern» mountain landscapes, on a planet with jungles and swamps, on an asteroid and other locations.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cardsBorderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

The new engine renders juicy effects and flashes from weapons and explosions. During intense skirmishes, the screen blooms with an abundance of bright colors, and such an abundance of effects even makes it difficult to navigate in battle.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

The game supports DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. AMD FidelityFX post-processing technology, which is available on all AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards, is used to improve image clarity.

Test participants

Top solutions, mid-range video cards and budget models have been tested.

The most powerful graphics card is the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition. Recall that for older Turing, the Founders Edition option implies a slight boost in Boost.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

There is the flagship NVIDIA of the old generation — GeForce GTX 1080 Ti in the reference version.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

From AMD’s side, the most powerful solution at the moment is the Radeon VII.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

Full list of participants:

All video cards were brought to the standard frequencies for their series. Acceleration was not used.

Characteristics of test participants

Video adapter GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GeForce RTX 2070 Super GeForce RTX 2060 Super GeForce GTX 1660 GeForce GTX 1650 Super GeForce GTX 1060 GeForce GTX 1060 Radeon VII Radeon RX 5700 XT Radeon RX 5700 Radeon RX 5500 XT Radeon RX 580 Radeon RX 480 Radeon RX 570
Core TU102 GP102 TU104 TU106 TU116 TU116 GP106 GP106 Vega 20 Navi 10 Navi 10 Navi 14 Polaris 20 Polaris 10 Polaris 20
Number of transistors, million pieces 18600 12000 13600 10800 6600 6600 4400 4400 13200 10300 10300 6400 5700 5700 5700
Process technology, nm 12 16 12 12 12 12 16 16 7 7 7 7 14 14 14
Core area, sq. mm 754 471 545 445 284 284 200 200 331 251 251 158 232 232 232
Number of CUDA Stream Processors 4352 3584 2560 2176 1408 1280 1280 1280 3840 2560 2304 1408 2304 2304 2048
Number of texture blocks 272 224 160 136 88 80 80 80 240 160 144 88 144 144 128
Number of render units 88 88 64 64 48 32 48 48 64 64 64 32 32 32 32
Core frequency, MHz: Base-Boost 1350–1635 1480–1582 1605–1770 1470–1650 1530–1785 1530–1725 1506–1708 1506–1708 1400–1750 1605–1905 1465–1725 1607–1845 1257–1340 1120–1266 1168–1244
Memory bus, bit 352 352 256 256 192 128 192 192 4096 256 256 128 256 256 256
Memory frequency, MHz 14000 11008 14000 14000 8000 12000 8000 8000 2000 14000 14000 14000 8000 8000 7000
Memory size, GB 11 11 8 8 6 4 6 3 16 8 8 4 8 8192 4096
Supported version of DirectX 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_1) 12 (12_0) 112 (12_0)
Interface PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 4.0 PCI-E 4.0 PCI-E 4.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0
Power, W 260 250 215 175 120 100 120 120 300 225 180 130 185 150 150

The table shows the official specifications for GPU frequencies. The graphs show the full frequency range, including peak Boost values ​​that are not specified in the specifications. This notation is used both for NVIDIA solutions and for new AMD models.

test stand

The test bench configuration is as follows:

  • processor: Intel Core i7-6950X (3.0@4.2 GHz);
  • cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (two NF-A15 PWM fans, 140 mm, 1300 rpm);
  • motherboard: MSI X99S MPower;
  • memory: G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ (4×8 GB, DDR4-3200, CL14-14-14-35);
  • system disk: Kingston SSDNow KC400 (512 GB, SATA 6Gb/s);
  • secondary drive: WD Red WD30EFRX (3 TB, SATA 6Gb/s, 5400 rpm);
  • power supply: Raidmax Cobra RX-800AE;
  • monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
  • operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
  • Radeon Driver: AMD Adrenalin Edition 20.1.1/19.11.1;
  • GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 441.66/441.12.

The built-in benchmark is used, which was run up to six times on each video card.

To fix the minimum fps, MSI Afterburning monitoring was used as a more adequate means of control. The average frame rate was taken from the results of the built-in counter based on the results of the benchmark.

The tests were carried out in three resolutions with the Ultra maximum quality profile selected in two DirectX.

Test results

First, let’s look at the results of budget and mid-range models at a resolution of 1920×1080. Some low-memory graphics cards had crashes in DirectX 12, so they are excluded from the graph in the second mode.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

AMD and NVIDIA video adapters react differently to the new DirectX 12 API. All Radeon solutions increase performance by 3-9%, while competitors have about the same performance loss — GeForce provides the best performance in DirectX 11. And if the GeForce GTX 1060 overtakes Radeon RX 580 in the old DirectX, then loses to the opponent in the new DirectX. A similar situation is in the confrontation between the GeForce RTX 2070 Super and the Radeon RX 5700 XT. Video memory loading in Full HD can reach 5 GB, NVIDIA video cards with 3 GB seriously sag in DirectX 12 (we look at the younger GeForce GTX 1060), and Radeon with 4 GB has problems with stable operation in the new API. At the same time, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB already works completely stably and perfectly in any API, but with this amount of memory, switching to DirectX 12 also leads to a loss in fps. The Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB gets a slight boost from the new DirectX 12.

It is worth noting that the Ultra-graphics profile does not switch to the maximum settings for reflections in screen space and volumetric fog. If you bring them to the maximum value, then the overall performance will decrease by another 5-10%. For the standard Ultra-mode, the GeForce GTX 1660, GeForce GTX 1650 Super and Radeon RX 5500 video adapters can be called the minimum option. If you want 60 fps, then you need GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and higher solutions. Full comfort at 1920×1080 will be provided by the GeForce RTX 2060 Super and the Radeon RX 5700.

Let’s move on to a higher resolution. Let’s limit the list of participants to those solutions that can show acceptable results in this mode.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

GeForce RTX 2060 Super and Radeon RX 5700 show good fps at 2560×1440. The GeForce RTX 2070 Super and Radeon RX 5700 XT deliver average performance around 60 fps. At the same time, NVIDIA solutions are best used in DirectX 11, and for AMD, the most comfortable mode is DirectX 12. The simple reference version of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has a meager advantage over the GeForce RTX 2070 Super, but has a higher overclocking potential. The Radeon VII has a modest advantage over the Radeon RX 5700 XT. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition outperforms the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti by 30-37%.

Only flagship models have been tested in maximum 4K resolution.

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

Borderlands 3. Comparative testing of video cards

The general dependence on the API manifests itself here as well. Radeon VII has the highest result under DirectX 12, and the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti under DirectX 11. And the difference between them ranges from 45-47% to 17%. At the same time, even in the optimal mode for itself, the average result of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is less than 50 fps. A few more percent can be gained by overclocking. Such indicators are not impressive, but for games based on Unreal Engine 4 this is a standard situation.

If you sacrifice a few minor parameters (choose simple FXAA and turn off motion blur), then the overall performance will be above 50 fps, up to 60 fps in desert regions. This is clearly seen in the demonstration of the gameplay of Borderlands 3 in 4K:


Let’s sum up the general results. For maximum graphics quality at 1920×1080, the previously popular GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580 video cards are no longer enough, although a slight change in parameters and overclocking will allow you to achieve better fps. Acceptable models start with the GeForce GTX 1660 and Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB, and 60 fps can be thought of starting with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. You can play at 2560×1440 on the Radeon RX 5700 XT and GeForce RTX 2070 Super. 4K resolution will require a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and a slight tweak in graphics settings for optimal performance.

For AMD Radeon graphics cards, it is better to use the new DirectX 12 — in this mode they provide maximum performance. An exception should be made for older models with a memory capacity of up to 4 GB, they will work more stable in DirectX 11. For all NVIDIA GeForce video cards, we use only DirectX 11, which will ensure maximum efficiency and best results.