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Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate the gaming performance of Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 SLI graphics cards configuration using the following universal testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor (3.33 GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Scythe SCKTN-3000 Katana 3 CPU cooler;
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T);
  • Samsung Spinpoint F1 HDD (1 TB, 32 MB buffer, SATA II);
  • Ultra X4 850 W Modular power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.

We used the following ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers:

  • Nvidia GeForce 260.63 Beta for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 10.9 for ATI Radeon HD.

The ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Smoothvision HD: Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Box Filter
  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • AAMode: Quality
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • Texture filtering – Quality: High quality
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • CUDA – GPUs: All
  • Set PhysX configuration: Auto-select
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Other settings: default

Below is the list of games and test applications we used during this test session:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Aliens vs. Predator (1.0.0.0, Benchmark)
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (1.0.1.0, Fraps)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (1.0.182, Fraps)
  • Crysis Warhead (1.1.1.711, Benchmark)
  • Far Cry 2 (1.03, Benchmark)
  • Metro 2033 (1.0.0.1, Fraps)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (1.6.02, Fraps)

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Just Cause 2 (1.0.0.1, Benchmark)
  • Lost Planet 2 (1.1, Benchmark)

RPG

  • Mass Effect 2 (1.01, Fraps)

Simulators

  • Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (1.1, Benchmark)
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (1.03, Benchmark)

Strategies

  • BattleForge (1.2, Benchmark)
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (1.0.2, Fraps)

Semi-synthetic and synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (1.0.2.1)
  • Final Fantasy XIV Official Benchmark (1.0.0.0, Fraps)
  • Unigine Heaven benchmark (2.0)

We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. The games configuration files weren’t modified in any way, because the ordinary user doesn’t have to know how to do it. We ran our tests in the following resolutions: 1600x900, 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. Unless stated otherwise, everywhere, where it was possible we added MSAA 4x antialiasing to the standard anisotropic filtering 16x. We enabled antialiasing from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers.

Besides Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 SLI, we also tested the following solutions:

  • Nvidia GeForce GTS 450
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 470
  • ATI Radeon HD 5850
  • ATI Radeon HD 5870

Performance was measured with the games’ own tools and the original demos were recorded if possible. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed of the cards where possible. Otherwise, the performance was measured manually with Fraps utility version 3.2.3. In the latter case we ran the test three times and took the average of the three for the performance charts.

 
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