Looking above you can see our testbed which is described fairly clearly. If you've looked at any of our VGA reviews over the last almost year now you won't find anything too surprising as we continue to use the X79 platform for our VGA testbed.
As for the cards that are in our graphs today we've got some of the meanest single GPU video cards we've looked at starting with the AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition. Along with that we've got the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC and the Vapor-X offering overclocked to over 1200MHz.
On the NVIDIA side of things we've got the Gainward GTX 680 Phantom, Palit 4GB JetStream offering and the Inno3D Black Series clocked at over 1200MHz on the core. While we would've loved to have included a GTX 690, as we mentioned in the introduction, NVIDIA haven't sent us one and partners are not sampling due to the reference card nature of the model.
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.