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Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate the gaming performance of our three-way CrossFire 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 versions of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers:

  • Nvidia GeForce 257.21 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 10.6 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 - Gamma correction: On
  • 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)
  • Wolfenstein (1.3, Benchmark)

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Just Cause 2 (1.0.0.1, Benchmark)
  • Resident Evil 5 (1.0.0.129, Benchmark)
  • Street Fighter IV (1.0.0.0, 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)
  • World in Conflict: Soviet Assault (1.0.1.0, Benchmark)

Semi-synthetic and synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (1.0.2.1)
  • 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 updated our test modes and 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.

The triple-way CrossFire graphics configuration from AMD will be competing against the today’s most powerful Nvidia SLI tandems built of GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470. For the purposes of comparison, we will also include the results for the less powerful CrossFire configurations and single-GPU flagship products from AMD and Nvidia.

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 3.1.2. 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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