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Testbed and Methods

The graphics cards were benchmarked in a closed system case with the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: ASUS P5K Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P35, LGA775, BIOS v0812)
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 1.25V, 2x6MB L2 cache, 4x333MHz FSB, Yorkfield, C0 revision)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5
  • CPU cooler: ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Premium (~1320rpm)
  • System memory:
    • 2 x 1024MB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D DDR2 SDRAM (Specs: 1142MHz, 5-5-5-18, 2.1V)
    • 2 x 1024MB CSX DIABLO CSXO-XAC-1200-2GB-KIT DDR2 SDRAM (Specs: 1200MHz, 5-5-5-16, 2.4V)
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung HD501LJ (500GB, SATA-II, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • HDD cooling and sound insulation system: Scythe Quiet Drive
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L DVD-burner (SATA-II)
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver (with 120mm 960rpm Scythe Slip Stream system fans for intake and exhaust and another such fan, at 800rpm, on the side panel)
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy DXX (EGA1000EWL, 1000W, a 135mm exhaust and an 80mm intake fan)
  • Monitor: 24-inch Acer P243WAid (1920x1200@60Hz)

To minimize the CPU’s influence on the graphics cards’ performance I overclocked the CPU to 4.04GHz at 1.6V voltage during the tests.

The system memory worked at a frequency of 1077MHz with 5-5-5-12 timings and 2.1V voltage.

The tests were run under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x64 preSP1. I installed Intel Chipset Drivers version 9.0.0.1007, DirectX 9.0c (dated March 2008), and Nvidia ForceWare 175.16.

The graphics cards were tested at three resolutions: 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. The graphics card driver was set at High Quality (i.e. driver optimizations were all disabled). I turned full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering on from the menu of each game. If the game didn’t provide such options, I enabled FSAA and AF from the ForceWare control panel. The Transparency Antialiasing (multisampling) option was turned on.

The cards were benchmarked in the following games and applications:

  • 3DMark 2006 (Direct3D 9/10) – build 1.1.0, default settings
  • 3DMark Vantage (Direct3D 10) – v1.0.1, “Perfomance” profile (basic tests only)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl (Direct3D 9) – game version 1.006, dynamic lighting on, 16x AF, and highest graphics quality settings
  • Call of Juarez Bench (Direct3D 10) – Shadowmap size: 1024x1024, Shadows quality: Low, Audio: Disable
  • World in Conflict (Direct3D 10) – version 1.0.0.7(b87), “Very High” graphics quality profile, UI texture quality = Compressed; Water reflection size = 512; DirectX 10 rendering enabled
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (OpenGL 2.0) – version 1.4, highest graphics quality settings
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare MP (Direct3D 9) – version 1.4, “Extra” quality of visuals
  • Unreal Tournament 3 (Direct3D 9) – version 1.2, highest graphics quality settings, a 90-second flyby of the “DM-ShangriLa” map
  • Crysis (Direct3D 10) – game version 1.2.1, “High” quality profile, Shadows Quality: Medium, Crysis Benchmark Tool version 1.05
  • Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark (Direct3D 10) – “Super High” quality settings, the final result is the average frame rate in the four scenes of the benchmark

I added the results of an Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT into this review for the sake of comparison. I guess this card is the required minimum for today’s gamer. Sysconn’s version of GeForce 9600 GT with 512MB of memory was benchmarked at its default (650/1625/1800MHz) as well as overclocked (738/1902/2106MHz) frequencies. Cheaper and slower graphics cards cannot ensure a comfortable frame rate without your lowering the graphics quality settings in games. This is the reason why I didn’t include them into this review.

 
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