Our synthetic tests will cover most of the features available within the most popular forms of DirectX (DX 9, 10 and 11). Each of these is intended to give an idea on how well the A and N-Modes will operate for you when you want to take it for a spin. These tests are included as the repeatable "static" numbers to ensure that we are not getting results that are out of the normal range. Our tests used for this were 3DMark Vantage, Unigine's Heaven 2.0 Bench and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat bench.
For synthetic gaming tests we used the industry standard and overlockers bragging tool 3DMark Vantage. This is a test that strives to mimic the impact modern games have on a system. Futuremark went a long way to change from the early days of graphics driven tests to a broader approach including physics, AI and more advanced graphics simulations.
3DMark Vantage uses the DX10 API in addition to having support for PhysX. For testing we use the Performance test run.
3DMark in both A-mode and N-mode show a boost when over the single card speeds. For the N-mode we see a 25% boost when PhysX is off and a 32% boost when it is on. A-mode manages an 18% increase which is actually less than what we saw with X-mode while the N465GTX was in the lead and PhysX was on (31% boost). So far N-mode is looking like it could have some promise; but as we always say, one synthetic test does not tell the whole story.
Unigine Heaven Bench
Unigine's Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk. It offers a good combination of features like; Support of DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0, tessellation, Advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), volumetric cumulonimbus clouds, changing light conditions and dynamic sky with light scattering.
We ran the Heaven bench in both DX10 and DX11 modes to see where things landed.
For the DX11 Heaven bench we saw some impressive leaps in performance. The lowest jump was from the single R5870 Lighting to X-mode with a 40% jump. A-mode with the two ASUS EAH5870 V2 cards showed a 47% leap while N-mode still picked up 43%. It looks like no matter the pairing, a dual card configuration and the DX11 mode of Heaven is a winning deal.
Unfortunately the DX10 mode of the Heaven bench does not do so well. The best performance gain is with the N465GTX in X-mode (24%) while the N-mode with the GV-N470SO-13I only yields 7.8%. The A-mode locked up continuously and would not complete the test. This issue is more than likely down to drivers and could be resolved in the next release or two.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Bench
The game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat is based off of the XRAY 1.6 engine. This same engine runs the benchmark and in both DX11 and DX10 modes. Like the game is can simulate hard contact shadows and tessellation. The benchmark runs through several lighting conditions, Day, Night, Rain and Sun Streaks. These compromise the bench four runs. We take the average frame rates for each and recorded them here.
I wish I had more to report on here, but it still looks like there is not much of a boost when running Fuzion and the Stalker bench. In fact, the N-mode was a hair slower than the stock GV-N470SO-13I. A-mode did show a small performance increase in three of the four tests (between 8 and 19 FPS), but was less than 2 FPS faster in the Sun Shafts test.
The DX10 test again sees the AMD configurations as the winner (both A-mode and X-mode with the HD 5870 in the lead).
We see something interesting here. We have found that the current Fuzion drivers do not like to run our DX10 synthetic benches. This has to be an issue with the Fuzion driver seeing the same engine running different levels of DX. We will be looking into this to see if this is the case, but for now we see that 3DMark Vantage and Heaven Bench 2.0 (DX11) enjoy the largest performance increase out of our synthetic tests.