Our synthetic tests will cover most of the features available within the most popular forms of DirectX (DX 9, 10 and 11). 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.
These are some nice looking numbers, aren't they? The issue here is one of diminishing returns. When you look at the scores with PhysX enabled, they look very nice; moving from a single GPU to SLI gives you around a 39% performance boost. Adding in the third card only yields a 15% boost; yet the overall increase from single to three GTX 470 GPUs is almost 50%.
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.
Once again we have some excellent numbers. Even with a single GTX 470 we are getting good results. After that the scores scale well with each extra GPU added on. Even the DX10 testing is way up there which is good to see since we have seen NVIDIA GPUs struggle with the DX10 version of the Heaven 2.0 bench.
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 in both DX11 and DX10 modes. Like the game itself, it 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 record them here.
Wow! Once more we see SLI scaling quite well as we add more GPUs onto the UD9. It looks like the X58A-UD9 and three GV-N470SO-13Is can certainly keep up with the STALKER COP bench.
Our Synthetic testing run has shown us some excellent results. Even with the small issue with 3DMark Vantage and the diminished return we saw with the third GTX 470, the numbers are still very impressive. However, not everyone will be using the X58A-UD9 for benchmarking alone. Let's see if the results we see here will translate into the real world.