One testbed you should well and truly be accustomed to these days. Our ASRock X58 / 980X testbed has served us extremely well since we started using it, but we feel that with a maximum overclock a whole GHz shy of what our Z68 platform can offer, it might be time for a change.
The other testbed consists of the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z and i7 2600k. There are of course more components, but really, we don't need to get into all of that for the time being. You can also see a rundown of all the major components above in our Test System Setup image.
With our X58 / 980X setup clocked at 4.2GHz and our Z68 / 2600k setup clocked at 5.2GHz, it's time to see, with two GTX 580s in SLI, what is the better setup, and if we should be making the transition over to latest Intel chipset while we wait for the next generation LGA 2011 setup to hit our labs later this year or early next.
Along with throwing the two machines at each other, we'll be using our new benchmark line up today which includes some of the most intensive games on the market over the last year. New additions include the likes of Metro 2033 and Just Cause 2 to name a couple. Heaven has also made the jump to version 2.5 while a couple of other games have been removed, including the retirement of 3DMark Vantage finally.
Let's get started!
The FPS Numbers Explained
When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.
30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.
60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.
120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.