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Gaming Performance Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate the gaming performance of three Radeon HD 6670, HD 6570 and HD 6450 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 F3 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 AMD Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers:

  • AMD Catalyst 11.5 for ATI Radeon HD
  • Nvidia GeForce 275.33 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce

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

AMD Catalyst:

  • Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/4x/Standard Filter
  • Morphological filtering: Off
  • Tesselation: Use application settings
  • Texture Filtering Quality: High Quality
  • Enable Surface Format Optimization: Off
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Anti-Aliasing Mode: Adaptive Multi-sample AA
  • 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, DX11)
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (1.0.5, Fraps, DX9)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (1.04, Fraps, DX9)
  • Crysis 2 (1.8.0.0, Fraps, DX10)
  • Metro 2033: The Last Refuge (1.02, Benchmark, DX11)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (1.6.02, Fraps, DX11)

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Just Cause 2 (1.0.0.1, Benchmark/Fraps, DX11)
  • Lost Planet 2 (1.1, Benchmark/Fraps, DX11)

RPG

  • Dragon Age II (1.02 + Hi-Res Texture Pack, Fraps, DX11)
  • Mass Effect 2 (1.01, Fraps, DX9)

Simulators

  • F1 2010 (1.01, Fraps, DX11)

Strategies

  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (1.3, Fraps, DX9)
  • Total War: Shogun 2 (1.2, Fraps, DX11)

Semi-synthetic and synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (1.1, DX10)
  • Futuremark 3DMark 11 (1.0.2, DX11)
  • Unigine Heaven Benchmark (2.5, DX11)
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 Benchmark (1.04, Benchmark/Fraps, DX11)

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 two multimedia resolutions: 720p 1280x720 and 1080p 1920x1080. We were primarily looking at performance in HD resolution, because it is currently the most popular format. If the graphics card’s theoretical performance was sufficient for acceptable results we also looked at a much more demanding Full HD mode.

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 AMD Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers.

Besides the three testing participants described above, we also tested the following products:

  • AMD Radeon HD 5670
  • AMD Radeon HD 5450
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 430

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 3.4.5. 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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