Test System Setup
Normally I would not cover the testbed, and just move into talking about the cards in our graphs, but because we're dealing with a total upgrade today, I'll quickly go over some of the major changes. Of course, the biggest change is the move to the X99 platform, which brings the X99 based ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME. This is paired with DDR4 RAM, which, in this case, is the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800MHz DDR kit.
In the center of all this sits the Intel i7 5960X Extreme Edition, which is overclocked to a solid 4.4GHz. Finally, the other major change to the system comes in the form of the SanDisk Extreme PRO 960GB SSD. Not only is this SSD damn fast, but it's also got an absolute ton of storage. With some games coming in at 40GB+ these days, our aging 256GB SSD just couldn't keep up.
As for what's included in our graphs here today, they're a little on the light side as our ASUS GTX 970 4GB STRIX OC sits alongside the HIS R9 290X 4GB. Thanks to recent price drops on the AMD video card line, the R9 290X 4GB now comes in at the mid $300 price range, which lines up with the GTX 970 4GB. There's really not a fairer contender, as these two cards are almost the exact same price.
As we mentioned in our introduction, alongside the testbed upgrade, the benchmark lineup has also been modified to remove some older games and bring in some newer ones. While our benchmark line up is constantly changing, this is the biggest upgrade we've had to do in some time. However, instead of going into any more detail on the changes, let's just see them as we move forward with the review.
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 Second (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 - This is the newest 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. For that reason, we have always just reevaluated 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 quickly grow. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up-to-date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.
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- Page 1 [Introduction and Package]
- Page 2 [Video Card Details and Specifications]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup & FPS Numbers Explained]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks - 3DMark]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - Catzilla & Unigine Heaven]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Unigine Valley & Just Cause 2]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Metro: Last Light & Sleeping Dogs]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Hitman: Absolution & Tomb Raider]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite & Battlefield 4]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - GRID Autosport]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - 4K - 3840 x 2160 Testing]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - 4K - 3840 x 2160 Testing Continued]
- Page 15 [Temperature & Sound Testing]
- Page 16 [Power Consumption Testing]
- Page 17 [Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts]