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Testbed and Methods

We are going to test Gigabyte GV-N430OC-1GL in conditions that are as close to real life gameplay as possible 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:

  • ATI Catalyst 10.11 for ATI Radeon HD;
  • Nvidia GeForce 262.99 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce.

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

ATI Catalyst:

  • Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Standard Filter
  • Morphological filtering: Off
  • Texture Filtering Quality: High Quality
  • Surface Format Optimization: Off
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Anti-Aliasing Mode: 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 (Ranger Pack, 1.02, Benchmark)
  • 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

  • Fallout: New Vegas (1.01, Fraps)
  • Mass Effect 2 (1.01, Fraps)

Simulators

  • Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (1.1, Benchmark)
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 (1.01, 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. If the application supported tessellation, we enabled it for the test session.

For settings adjustment, we used 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, and 1920x1080, because the first resolution matches the category of the tested graphics accelerators and is standard for today’s inexpensive monitors, and the second one meeting Full HD requirements is mostly popular among those users who have monitors and TV sets with large diagonal dimension. In some resource-hungry games we only ran the tests in 1600x900.

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 Gigabyte GeForce GT 430, we also tested the following products:

  • Nvidia GeForce GT 240
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • ATI Radeon HD 5570 GDDR5
  • ATI Radeon HD 5550 GDDR5

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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