Testbed and Methods
Here is the list of components we use in our testbed.
- Mainboard: Intel Siler DX79SR (Intel X79 Express, LGA 2011, BIOS 0590 dated 17.07.2013)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3970X Extreme Edition 3.5/4.0 GHz (Sandy Bridge-E, C2, 1.1 V, 6x256KB L2 cache, 15MB L3 cache)
- CPU cooler: Phanteks PH-TC14PЕ (2xCorsair AF140 fans, 900 RPM)
- Thermal grease: ARCTIC MX-4
- Graphics cards:
- HIS Radeon R9 270 iPower IceQ X² Boost Clock (2 GB, 952/5600 MHz)
- MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III (2 GB, 1033-1098/6008 MHz)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti (2 GB, 1020-1085/5400 MHz)
- AMD Radeon R7 260X (2 GB, 1100/6500 MHz)
- ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II (1 GB, 1075/6400 MHz)
- System memory: DDR3 4x8GB G.SKILL TridentX F3-2133C9Q-32GTX (XMP: 2133 MHz, 9-11-11-31, 1.6 volts)
- System disk: SSD 256GB Crucial m4 (SATA 6 Gbit/s, CT256M4SSD2, BIOS v0009)
- Games/software disk: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-2, 300 GB, 10000 RPM, 16 MB cache, NCQ) in a Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5" enclosure
- Backup disk: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI (SATA-2, 2 TB, 5400 RPM, 32 MB cache, NCQ)
- Sound card: Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD
- Computer case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: three Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe S-Series MF12-S2 fans at 1020 RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilentPRO PL-1 fans at 1020 RPM; top panel: one preinstalled 200mm fan at 400 RPM)
- Control & monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3
- Power supply: Corsair AX1200i (1200 W), 120mm fan
- Monitor: 27" Samsung SA850 (DVI-I, 2560x1440, 60 Hz)
Even at its recommended price the new GeForce GTX 750 Ti will find itself among some strong opponents. It replaces the GeForce GTX 650 Ti but is meant to compete with the faster and somewhat cheaper GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. We include the latter into this test session along with the even faster and more expensive Radeon R9 270. These two cards are represented by their versions from HIS and MSI clocked at the standard frequencies:
We also include a cheaper Radeon R7 260X 2GB (in its reference version) and an ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II 1GB (it’s slightly pre-overclocked):
Thus, we have a total of five graphics cards and we’ll test the GeForce GTX 750 Ti both at its default frequencies and in the overclocked mode.
In order to lower the dependence of the graphics cards’ performance on the overall platform speed, we overclocked our 32nm six-core CPU to 4.8 GHz by setting its frequency multiplier at x48 and enabling Load-Line Calibration. The CPU voltage was increased to 1.38 volts in the mainboard’s BIOS:
Hyper-Threading was turned on. We used 32 GB of system memory at 2.133 GHz with timings of 9-11-11-20_CR1 and voltage of 1.6125 volts.
The testbed ran Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all critical updates installed. We used the following drivers:
- Intel Chipset Drivers – 184.108.40.2066 WHQL dated 21.09.2013
- DirectX End-User Runtimes, dated 30 November 2010
- AMD Catalyst 14.1 Beta 1.6 (13.350.1005.0) dated 18.12.2013
- GeForce 334.69 Beta dated 19.01.2014
Considering the relatively low performance of the tested products, we only use the resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. There were two visual quality modes: “Quality+AF16x” means the default texturing quality in the drivers + 16x anisotropic filtering whereas “Quality+ AF16x+MSAA 4x” means 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x antialiasing. In some games we use antialiasing algorithms other than MSAA as indicated below and in the diagrams. We enabled anisotropic filtering and full-screen antialiasing from the game’s menu. If the corresponding options were missing, we changed these settings in the Control Panels of the Catalyst and GeForce drivers. We also disabled Vsync there. There were no other changes in the driver settings.
The graphics cards are tested in two benchmarks and 12 games updated to the latest versions.
- 3DMark (2013) (DirectX 9/11) version 220.127.116.11: Cloud Gate, Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme scenes.
- Unigine Valley Bench (DirectX 11) version 1.0: maximum visual quality settings, 16x AF and/or 4x MSAA, 1920x1080.
- Total War: SHOGUN 2 – Fall of the Samurai (DirectX 11) version 1.1.0: integrated benchmark (the Sekigahara battle) with maximum visual quality settings and 8x MSAA.
- Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark (DirectX 11) version 1.05: Adrenaline Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark Tool v18.104.22.168 BETA with maximum graphics quality settings (“Ultra” profile), Advanced Shadows: HIGH, Ambient Occlusion: ON, Stereo 3D: OFF, Supersampling: OFF, two sequential runs of the test.
- Sleeping Dogs (DirectX 11) version 1.5: Adrenaline Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Tool v22.214.171.124 with maximum image quality settings, Hi-Res Textures pack installed, FPS Limiter and V-Sync disabled, two consecutive runs of the built-in benchmark with quality antialiasing at Normal and High levels.
- Hitman: Absolution (DirectX 11) version 1.0.447.0: built-in test with Ultra settings, enabled tessellation, FXAA and global lighting.
- Crysis 3 (DirectX 11) version 126.96.36.1990: maximum visual quality settings, Motion Blur – Medium, lens flares – on, FXAA and MSAA 4x, two consecutive runs of a scripted scene from the beginning of the “Swamp” mission (110 seconds long).
- Tomb Raider (2013) (DirectX 11) version 1.1.748.0: Adrenaline Benchmark Tool, “Ultra” image quality settings, V-Sync disabled, FXAA and 2x SSAA antialiasing enabled, TessFX technology activated, two consecutive runs of the in-game benchmark.
- BioShock Infinite (DirectX 11) version 188.8.131.5218: Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool with “High” and “Ultra” quality settings, two consecutive runs of the in-game benchmark.
- Metro: Last Light (DirectX 11) version 184.108.40.206: we used the built-in benchmark for two consecutive runs of the D6 scene. All image quality and tessellation settings were at “High”, Advanced PhysX technology disabled, with and without SSAA antialiasing.
- GRID 2 (DirectX 11) version 220.127.116.1179: we used the built-in benchmark, the visual quality settings were all at their maximums, the tests ran with and without MSAA 4x antialiasing with eight cars on the Chicago track.
- Company of Heroes 2 (DirectX 11) version 18.104.22.16858: two consecutive runs of the integrated benchmark at maximum image quality and physics effects settings.
- Batman: Arkham Origins (DirectX 11) version 1.0 update 8: Ultra visual quality, V-Sync disabled, all the effects enabled, all DX11 Enhanced features enabled, Hardware Accelerated PhysX = Normal, two consecutive runs of the in-game benchmarks.
- Battlefield 4 (DirectX 11) version 1.4: Ultra settings, two successive runs of a scripted scene from the beginning of the “Tashgar” mission (110 seconds long).
As you can see, we don’t use the highest possible visual quality settings in some games. We do this to ensure that the frame rate is more or less at a playable level.
We publish the bottom frame rate for games that report it. Each test was run twice, the final result being the best of the two if they differed by less than 1%. If we had a larger difference, we reran the test at least once again to get repeatable results.