The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Prior to the launch of our new benchmark suite, we wanted to include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is easily the most popular RPG of 2011. However as any Skyrim player can tell you, Skyrim’s performance is CPU-bound to a ridiculous degree. With the release of the 1.4 patch and the high resolution texture pack this has finally been relieved to the point where GPUs once again matter, particularly when we’re working with high resolutions and less than high-end GPUs. As such, we're now including it in our test suite.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 2560x1600 - Ultra Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1920x1200 - Very High Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1680x1050 - High Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

Skyrim presents us with an interesting scenario. At anything less than 2560 we’re CPU limited well before we’re GPU limited, and yet even though we’re CPU limited NVIDIA manages to take a clear lead while the 680 still finds room to push to the top. For whatever the reason NVIDIA would appear to have significantly less driver overhead here, or at the very least a CPU limited Skyrim interacts with NVIDIA’s drivers better than it does AMD’s.

In any case 2560 does move away from being CPU limited, but it’s not entirely clear whether the difference we’re seeing here is solely due to GPU performance, or if we’re still CPU limited in some fashion. Regardless of the reason the GTX 680 has a 10% lead on the 7970 here.

Starcraft II Civilization V
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  • SlyNine - Sunday, March 25, 2012 - link

    Well, the driver themself can take more CPU power to run. But with a quad core CPU the thought is laughable. Back in the single CPU/core days it was actually an issue. And before DX9 (or 10) Drivers were only capable of accessing single cores I believe. Reply
  • SlyNine - Sunday, March 25, 2012 - link

    Then look for an overclocked review. Anandtech is always going to do an out of the box for the first review.

    This is what they(amd/nvidia) are promising you, nothing more.
    Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    USELESS !

    YESSS OMFG i cant wait to play the latest crappy kinect port with this!.... at 600.000.000 FPS and in 3-D! GTFO GUYS! REALLY....

    just put this ridiculously large, ugly, noisy, silly, and overpriced, toxic waste where it belongs: faaar away from me, ( sensible user) inside one bulky OnLive cloud server. (and pushing avatar 2 graphics, no HDps2 ports)
    Reply
  • henrikfm - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    Most monitors have 60Hz refresh rate, you can't benefit from higher frame rates because only 60 frames are drawn.

    By looking at the benchmarks and considering a resolution of 1920, the latest cards fail in 3 games to deliver at least 60fps: Crysis, Metro and BF3. In the first two games the HD7970 beats de GTX680, only loses in BF3 where nVidia has a clear advantage (in my opinion AMD has to work in drivers for BF3).

    So, the GTX680 is faster when the speed really doesn't matter because you're already around 100fps. The guys who are running multiple monitors and higher resolutions will have also money to buy multiple GPU setups, and that is another story.

    Still the GTX680 is a better card, but for $500 I would expect a card to deliver at least 60fps at 1920 for a 2008 released videogame like Crysis. Neither nVidia nor AMD can do that with a single GPU, it's disappointing.
    Reply
  • gramboh - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    I'll agree about Metro because there is a sequel (Last Light) coming out in Q1-2013 which will presumably be similar in the graphics department.

    Crysis is irrelevant other than for benchmarking, who still plays it? Single player campaign is entertaining for the eye candy once through (in 2008).

    BF3 is the game that matters because of the MP component, people will be playing it for years to come. AMD really really has to improve performance on the 7950/7970 in BF3, I won't even consider buying it (vs. the 680) unless they can make up some significant ground.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - link

    I just have to do it, sorry.
    You forgot Shogun 2 total war, the hardest game in this bench set, that Nvidia wins in all 3 resolutions.
    You also forgot average frames are not low frames, so you need far above 60 fps average before you don't dip below 60 fps.
    Furthermore, all the eye candy is not cranked, driving the average and dips even lower when it is.
    You got nothing right.
    Reply
  • b3nzint - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    back in 7970 review, its got cool stuffs tech. like PRT, MST hubm, DDMA and bla bla bla. why gtx680 dont have sh** like that. pardon my english. its like this thing is built only for 1 purpose only and thats a success. thanks Reply
  • mpx - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    This new Nvidia card supposedly has an architecture that burdens CPU with scheduling etc. It may mean that it requires a faster CPU than ATI cards to reach similar performance. And since fast CPUs are expansive it may mean it's actually more expansive. Reply
  • BoFox - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    The key word in your first sentence is "supposedly".

    I see no evidence of this. It actually does far better in Starcraft 2, a game that already burdens the CPU. It also excels in Skyrim, while still doing just fine in Civilization V, which are also the most CPU-intensive games out there.
    Reply
  • BoFox - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    In SC2 which is a very CPU-dependent game, the card still does amazingly well against the rest of others. The same also goes for Skyrim, beating the red team by a whopping percentage. Reply

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