The line-up of cards in our graph today is nearly identical to our launch coverage on the R9 290X 4GB. Of course one of the main cards we want to compare our overclocked R9 290X 4GB is the reference clocked one. Alongside that, though, we've also got the PowerColor PCS HD 7950 2GB with its core running at over 1100Mhz, the reference AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition, the Sapphire R9 280X 3GB TOXIC and the MSI R9 280X Twin Frozr Gaming OC in CrossFire. Our R9 290X 4GB is of course running in "Uber Mode" and not Quiet mode to make sure the best performance is tested.
On the NVIDIA side of things, we've got the reference GTX 770 2GB, our heavily overclocked MSI GTX 780 3GB Lightning with the core at 1020MHz and the 3GB of GDDR5 at 6540. We finally round off the NVIDIA side of things with the EVGA GTX TITAN 6GB SuperClocked.
Before we get into the performance side of things, we need to cover overclocking. Firing up MSI Afterburner, we found ourselves disappointed to see no voltage adjustment was available. We knew straight away this would impact our maximum overclock. We're expecting a new version of MSI Afterburner soon; unfortunately all we know is that it's bringing voltage adjustment to the MSI R9 270X 2GB HAWK.
We're not sure if it also brings voltage adjustment to other models. If it does, overclocking the model is something we'll be revisiting soon.
Saying that, it didn't stop us from overclocking. Looking above, you can see we pushed the core from 1000MHz to 1065MHz. As for the 4GB of GDDR5, that went from the stock 5000MHz QDR to 5252MHz QDR. This isn't the greatest overclock by any means, but we knew the lack of voltage adjustment was always going to be an issue. We really hope that voltage adjustment comes to the model when we get the new MSI Afterburner. For now, though, let's see what kind of performance bump we get from this increase in clock speeds.
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.
Why are some graphs incomplete?
Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.
Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.