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Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

All graphics cards were benchmarked in a closed system case with the following configuration:

Besides four above discussed graphics cards we also included a reference AMD Radeon HD 6970 1GB:

In order to lower the dependence of the graphics cards performance on the overall platform speed, I overclocked our 32 nm six-core CPU with the multiplier set at 25x and “Load-Line Calibration” (Level 2) enabled to 4.5GHz. The processor Vcore was increased to 1.46875V in the mainboard BIOS:

The 6 GB of system DDR3 memory worked at 1.44 GHz frequency with 7-7-7-16_1T timings and 1.64V voltage. Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies were disabled during our test session.

The test session started on August 12, 2011. All tests were performed in Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all critical updates as of that date and the following drivers:

The graphics cards were tested only in one today’s most popular resolution: 1920x1080. The tests were performed in two image quality modes: “Quality+AF16x” – default texturing quality with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and “Quality+ AF16x+AA4(8)x” with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and full screen 4x anti-aliasing (MSAA) or 8x if the average framerate was high enough for comfortable gaming experience. We enabled anisotropic filtering and full-screen anti-aliasing from the game settings or configuration files. If the corresponding options were missing, we changed these settings in the Control Panel of Catalyst and GeForce drivers. There were no other changes in the driver settings.

The list of games and applications used in this test session included two popular semi-synthetic benchmarking suites, one technical demo and 13 games of various genres. Here is the complete list of tests used with the settings (all games listed in their release order):

  • 3DMark Vantage (DirectX 10) – version 1.0.2.1, Performance and Extreme profiles (only primary tests);
  • 3DMark 2011 (DirectX 11) – version 1.0.1.0, Performance and Extreme profiles;
  • Unigine Heaven Demo (DirectX 11) – version 2.5, maximum graphics quality settings, tessellation at “normal”, AF16x, 1280x1024 resolution without MSAA and 1920x1080 resolution with MSAA 4x;
  • BattleForge: Lost Souls (DirectX 11) – version 1.2 (06.16.2011), maximum image quality settings, shadows enabled, SSAO technology enabled, two runs of the built-in benchmark;
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (DirectX 11) – version 1.6.02, Enhanced Dynamic DX11 Lighting profile with all parameters manually set at their maximums, we used our custom cop03 demo on the Backwater map;
  • Left 4 Dead (DirectX 9) – version 2.0.8.1, maximum image quality, we used our own d81 demo (two runs) on Gold Stream (Beta) map of Alpine Greek scenario;
  • Metro 2033: The Last Refuge (DirectX 10/11) - version 1.2, maximum graphics quality settings, official benchmark, “High” image quality settings; tesselation, DOF and MSAA4x disabled; AAA aliasing enabled, two consecutive runs of the “Frontline” scene;
  • Just Cause 2 (DirectX 11) - version 1.0.0.2, maximum quality settings, Background Blur and GPU Water Simulation enabled, two consecutive runs of the “Dark Tower” demo;
  • Aliens vs. Predator (2010) (DirectX 11) – Texture Quality “Very High”, Shadow Quality “High”, SSAO On, two test runs in each resolution;
  • Lost Planet 2 (DirectX 11) – version 1.0, maximum graphics quality settings, motion blur enabled, performance test “B” (average in all three scenes);
  • StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty (DirectX 11) – version 1.0, all image quality settings at “Ultra”, Physics “Ultra”, reflections On, two 2-minute runs of our own jt1 demo;
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization V (DirectX 11) – version 1.0.1.217, maximum graphics quality settings, two runs of the “diplomatic” benchmark including five heaviest scenes;
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 (DirectX 11) – version 1.04, maximum graphics quality settings, shadows On, tessellation Off (not available on Radeon), two runs of the test scene;
  • Crysis 2 (DirectX 11) – version 1.9, Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool v1.0.1.12 beta, “Ultra High” graphics quality profile, High-Definition textures enabled, two runs of the demo in “Times Square” scene;
  • Total War: Shogun 2 (DirectX 11) – version 2.0, built in benchmark (Sekigahara battle) at maximum graphics quality settings;
  • DiRT 3 (DirectX 11) – version 1.1, built-in benchmark at maximum graphics quality settings on the “Aspen” track.

If the game allowed recording the minimal fps readings, they were also added to the charts. We ran each game test or benchmark twice and took the best result for the diagrams, but only if the difference between them didn’t exceed 1%. If it did exceed 1%, we ran the tests at least one more time to achieve repeatability of results.

 
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