Introduction & Testing Method
It took me a while to get through the 4-way Fury X testing, but we made it. Our fun with the 4-way Fury X cards is over, where we got to see how the four cards perform and scale at 11,520 x 2160. It's time to test some Team Green cards to see how they compare.
We've only got two Titan X cards at our disposal, so we'll be looking at 2-way GPU performance at 11,520 x 2160. We know that scaling beyond two GPUs is pretty useless for 90% of games these days, so we'll stick to two GPUs until we can secure some more hardware from NVIDIA.
There are some large differences between the Titan X and Fury X, which we're excited to see. NVIDIA has strapped 12GB of GDDR5 onto the Titan X, where AMD opted for the next-gen High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) on the Fury X, but only 4GB of it. 4GB of framebuffer is not very much for 4K gaming, let alone anything past that - like 11,520 x 2160, for example.
In our testing on the 4-way Fury X cards, we noticed that 4GB of framebuffer was being used virtually instantly in all of our games. There were only a few titles that weren't jumping right up to 4GB, such as Tomb Raider (2.1GB) and Heaven (2.7GB). We'll talk about this later in the review.
As for comparing the two multi-GPU setups, there are two big differences. We have the Fury X with just 4GB of HBM while the Titan X has 300% more framebuffer with 12GB of GDDR5. But the bigger difference is in the pricing. You can pick up a Fury X on Amazon right now for around $650 - $680 while the Titan X is just under $1000.
If you buy two Titan X cards, you're paying a $700 premium - but is the $700 premium worth it when it comes to performance? This is a 54% premium on the GPUs alone, but we already know not to expect a 54% performance jump on the Titan X cards in SLI. There are other benefits, though, which is something we'll go into later on in the review.
I've played Battlefield 4 on a 64-player server to provide some real-world performance numbers. I've found this is one of the best ways to provide the most realistic performance numbers, as it involves actual gameplay in a large server that strains most setups.
For now, I'm going to be using the same suite of benchmarks I've been using on my Tweakipedia articles, which uses a mix of synthetic benchmarks with Futuremark's 3DMark and Unigine Heaven. After that, we have a bunch of titles with built-in benchmarks (which does not represent actual in-game performance) but they are repeatable for you at home to gauge the performance of your PC or GPU.
Over time, I will be adding in new benchmarks and a new section that will concentrate solely on real-time gaming benchmarks. This will take more time per review, as I'll have to invest time into actually physically playing the games, but it'll be worth it in the long run. For now, let's get right into the synthetic benchmarks and see how this video card performs.
Battlefield 4 Testing
This is one game that we did differently, as it does not feature a built-in benchmarking feature. When it comes to Battlefield 4, there are countless ways you can benchmark it. Some find a spot in the single player campaign which is easily repeatable and use that. For our testing, we've chosen to use a 64-player online multiplayer server for real-time performance statistics.
We joined a 64-player map and played for five minutes using FRAPS, pulling our minimum/average and maximum FPS. We did this for each test, and we run the game for 5 minutes at 1080p/1440p and 4K. We are using a custom Ultra preset (disabling AA). It's time-consuming, but it gives us a perfect look at true real-world performance.
Test System Configuration
We have shifted to a high-end Core i7-5960X to remove any potential CPU bottlenecks. Corsair sent us over their kick-ass AX1500i PSU, which provides 1500W of power for our 3- and 4-way GPU testing that we have coming very soon.
Anthony's Video Card Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Rampage V Extreme - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 5960X - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Cooler: Corsair H110 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Kingston 16GB (4x4GB) HyperX Predator DDR4 3000MHz - Buy from Amazon
- Storage #1: SanDisk Extreme II 240GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage #2: Intel 730 Series 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Lian Li PC-T80 Open-Air - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1500i - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Drivers: NVIDIA GeForce 355.65 and AMD Catalyst 15.7.1
Just How Many Pixels Are We Rendering at 11,520 x 2160?
The Answer? A Lot
Let's clarify that: 11,520 x 2160 in landscape, or 6480 x 3840 in portrait. This results in us rendering 1,492,992,000 pixels per second. 1.4 billion pixels every second. Compare this to 1920x1080 (Full HD, or 1080p) which is rendering 124,416,000, or 124 million pixels per second - our system is rendering over 10x that of the 1080p resolution.
Instead of writing about how many pixels are being rendered, we've put them into a chart so you can better understand just how many pixels we're driving here today. Right now, the 'next-gen' consoles are rendering games at around 720p - 900p. If they were running at 60Hz (or 60FPS) which most of the time they aren't, it's usually 30FPS or so, they would be rendering 55 million pixels per second.
Jumping up to 1080p that number climbs to 124 million while 1440p has it jump to 221 million. At 4K, the pixels rendered per second at 60Hz start to get serious, with 497 million, but 4K Surround has this catapult to 1.49 billion. 8K, which is in the not-too-distant future, sees 1.99 billion pixels being rendered per second.
Benchmarks - Synthetic @ 11,520 x 2160
Heaven - 11,520 x 2160
Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.
AMD loses out on our synthetic testing at 11,520 x 2160 in Heaven, where the Fury X cards in Crossfire only reach 77% scaling, while the two GeForce GTX Titan X cards hit 90% scaling at 11,520 x 2160.
Benchmarks - 11,520 x 2160
Battlefield 4 makes great use of DICE's incredible Frostbite 3 engine, with some great dynamic destructible environments in both the single-player and multiplayer sides of the game. The same engine has been deployed into many other games made by publisher EA, such as the new Need for Speed, and Mirror's Edge Catalyst.
You can buy Battlefield 4 at Amazon.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is one of the best looking open-world games on the market, with Rockstar Games making great use of the power of the PC by offering an optional first-person mode, and the huge upgrade in graphics over its console counterparts.
You can buy Grand Theft Auto V at Amazon.
GRID Autosport is powered by Codemasters' own in-house 'EGO 3.0' engine, and while it was released last year, it is still one of the best looking driving games on the market. This is in the face of Forza Motorsport 6, Project CARS, and other driving games. While it looks great, it also runs beautifully even on modest hardware.
Metro: Last Light
We recently changed over to Metro: Last Light Redux, with developer 4A Games making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.
Tomb Raider is still such a gorgeous game, with developer Crystal Dynamics using their own 'Foundation' engine to build Lara Croft into the new world. One of the best parts about Tomb Raider is the absolutely stellar multi-GPU scaling, so this is an important test to see how well our NVIDIA GeForce SLI and AMD Radeon Crossfire setups scale.
You can buy Tomb Raider at Amazon.
You can find our performance summary of all of our gaming tests later in the review.
Performance at 11,520 x 2160
I'm an enthusiast who loves 60FPS+ gaming, anything below this isn't good enough. If you're going to be spending close to $10,000 on a gaming PC, you're going to want to hit at least 60FPS, right? Well, even with four of the fastest GPUs on the planet, you're not going to be able to do that in most games at 11,520 x 2160 with the details maxed out.
BF4 at 11,520 x 2160 requires a dual-GPU setup, with the single card setups not managing even 30FPS average. The Fury X in Crossfire pushes out 42FPS average which is okay, but not great - while the Titan X is barely better with 44FPS average.
The two Fury X cards scaled well in GRID: Autosport with 60FPS average, compared to the 44FPS average on the Titan X cards. When it comes to Metro: Last Light, the Titan X SLI setup is 25% faster. While in Shadow of Mordor the Titan X reigns champion with a 7% lead over the Fury X Crossfire configuration.
One of our favorite multi-GPU tests is Tomb Raider, with the AMD cards coming out on top. The Fury X Crossfire setup is 13% faster than the Titan X cards in SLI.
Moving on to GTA V, where the VRAM is being put to the test. A single Titan X achieves 62FPS average at 11,520 x 2160 which is great, but when in SLI the scaling isn't so good, and it drops to 47FPS, beating the Fury X CF rig by 1FPS. However, the AMD cards have 0FPS minimum and have major stuttering issues whereas the Titan X SLI setup is buttery smooth in comparison.
VRAM & Power Consumption
Note: There is no perfect way of measuring VRAM consumption. We've used GPU-Z to measure the VRAM consumption, but GPU-Z only reports the amount of VRAM the game has requested to use at any given time, and not the actual VRAM being used at that time. It's close, but it's not precise.
For our testing, we found that the most VRAM intensive game is Grand Theft Auto V using a huge 6.1GB of VRAM. Coming in second was Shadow of Mordor consuming 5.4GB while Battlefield 4 used 4.1GB. In all of these games, the Fury X cards were exhibiting bad stuttering, as we were blowing way past the 4GB of framebuffer on AMD's card.
NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture is much more power efficient compared to AMD's Fiji architecture, even with the power savings that HBM provides to the Fury X. Given that, take a look at the power consumption numbers yourself.
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan X cards in SLI are using around 540W of power, compared to the 530W used by the Fury X - a 10W win to AMD. With the single-card solution, the Titan X beats the Fury X by quite a margin - 50W to be exact.
2-way GPUs is the Way to Go, For Now
Deciding on your video cards for a multi-monitor system is the most important thing you'll do. The monitors are something separate to the PC, but these days you're going to buy G-Sync or FreeSync compatible screens if you're pumping $2000+ into some displays.
With that in mind, which side do you go for? NVIDIA, or AMD? The Titan X performs around the same as the Fury X, with fewer problems, and more framebuffer, but costs $700 more. That $700 doesn't translate to better performance per dollar at all, but you do have a more future-proof set of GPUs.
The biggest benefit of deciding to buy NVIDIA cards is that they can be installed and forgotten about, unlike the Fury X cards from AMD. AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X cards have AIO watercoolers that need to be installed somewhere in your case, and not all cases have room for them. On the other hand, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan X cards have a reference cooler, so you can just slot them in and go.
I think that even with the increase in price, I'd still recommend the Titan X cards purely because you're not going to run into any performance problems with the 12GB of frame buffer. The ease of use and operation of the reference cooler wins serious points in my book.
If you're a diehard AMD fan, the Fury X cards are good - but only that, good - not great. The 4GB of HBM is a huge limitation with 11,520 x 2160, and the AIO water cooler? Don't even get me started on that. Beyond 2-way Fury X, the 3- and 4-way setups would be impossible to install in most cases.
Where to From Here?
Next up, we'll be taking a look at the GTX 980 Ti cards in SLI against the Titan X SLI and Fury X Crossfire. The GTX 980 Ti represents a much better price match to the Fury X, with most GTX 980 Ti cards being priced at the same $650-$700 mark as the Fury X. They also have a closer amount of VRAM, with 6GB of framebuffer compared to the 4GB on the Fury X, and the crazy 12GB on the Titan X.
We're also going to take a look at 3-way Titan X performance versus 3-way Fury X in a future article - but we're still waiting on securing that fourth Titan X for a true 4-way GPU showdown.
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