When looking at the HD 7970 we want to ultimately see how it compares against three cards on the market at the moment. The first is of course the HD 6970, we want to see just want kind of performance increase we get over the previous generation card from AMD.
The second card is of course the GTX 580, the faster single GPU card in the GTX 580 vs. HD 6970 war that has been going on for months. We don't doubt for a second that AMD are going to beat it, but the question is by how much and is it enough for us to upgrade to a HD 7970 if we're a current GTX 580 user.
The final card, and probably a little bit of a weird one is the HD 6990. Sure it's a dual GPU card and the chances are the HD 7970 is going to lag behind it in every instance because we know that the HD 7970 isn't 90% - 100% faster than the HD 6970. None the less, though, it's going to be interesting to see what the performance is like of the dual GPU beast from AMD against its new single GPU beast.
Along with those cards we've also got a GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti 448 included in our graphs today, the main cards we'll be looking at, though, are no doubt going to be the three above. On the benchmarking side of things we'll start off with some synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark 11 and Heaven before we move into our real world games which include a spread of game engines and emphasis on different technologies. Something we'll be looking closely at today is the improvements AMD have made in tessellation, and that is going to be seen best in Heaven and Lost Planet 2.
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.