As part of a feature for AlienBabelTech, this editor is comparing the performance of 30 benchmarks with the last week’s 13.1 WHQL Catalyst driver release versus the latest Geforce 310.90 WHQL divers which also promise good performance increases.
This driver performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance improvements for the GTX 680 versus the HD 7970 at GHz speeds. Both sets of WHQL drivers were recently released and we naturally ask ourselves if the performance improvements for the Radeon HD 7970 in games will keep the GHz edition ahead of the GTX 680.
ABT has recently begun to explore frame time measurement which charts the relative “smoothness” of our test video cards. In examining 11 benchmarks including nine games, we generally found in those benches that stutter or “jitter” was more noticeable on the HD 7970 compared to the GTX 680, and especially in Hitman: Absolution. We’ll revisit that game in this evaluation to see if AMD has made any progress.
We are going to test Catalyst 13.1 and GeForce 310.90 using our current benchmark suite of 27 games plus 3 synthetic benchmarks, Heaven 3.0, 3DMark 11 and Vantage. Our testing platform is Windows 7 64-bit, using Intel Core i7-3770K at 4.50GHz, EVGA Z77FTW motherboard and 8GB DD3, and the settings and hardware are identical except for the video cards.
The HD 7970 and the GTX 680 are tested at higher settings and resolutions generally than we test the midrange cards as noted on the chart. All of our games are tested at two resolutions: 2560×1600 and 1920×1080 at 60Hz, and we use DX11/10/10.1 whenever possible with an emphasis on DX11 games.
Changes to the benching
We made changes with this evaluation to drop evaluating at 1920×1200 resolution in favor of 1920×1080 since all of our benching eventually will include frame time latency charts to support frame rate (fps) charts and will be unified. Some of our benches were updated including Borderlands 2 (to a better benchmark) and Crysis is now run on the 32-bit exe instead of 64-bit. Where the benchmark was changed, we went back and retested with the older drivers. We did not retest 1920×1200 although our two newest games – Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution – were benched with both the older and newer drivers at 1920×1080.
Let’s get right to the test configuration, the driver release notes and the tests.