General Graphics Performance

The 3DMark series of benchmarks by Futuremark are among the most widely used tools for benchmark reporting and comparisons. Although the benchmarks are very useful for providing apples-to-apples comparisons across a broad array of GPU and CPU configurations, they are not a substitute for actual application and gaming benchmarks. In this sense we consider the 3DMark benchmarks to be purely synthetic in nature but still valuable for providing consistent measurements of performance.

Graphics Performance - General

Well, the results of this test are confusing on the surface although driver maturity and memory sensitivity across the DMI interface has a great deal to do with the P35 results. The P35 chipset scores about 2% better in single card operation than in CrossFire mode and also leads the 975X CrossFire setup. We found in testing that the P35 CrossFire scores in each scene were slightly higher until the Nature test where the single card scored about 12% better. The 975X CrossFire setup just barely ekes by its single card performance results. This benchmark is currently a better indicator for CPU, chipset, and memory performance. In this regard, we can see that the P35 single card performance leads the 975X slightly in platform performance as our game benchmark testing will indicate shortly. The fact is, in unbuffered memory testing the P35 was generally about 5% faster than the 975X across the board with CPU throughput testing being higher with a quad core processor.

Graphics Performance - General

Graphics Performance - General

The DirectX 8 centric tests in 3DMark05 benefited greatly from the improved chipset throughput performance of the P35 chipset at stock settings with our quad core processor. The P35 CrossFire results are up to 7% faster than the 975X results with the single card P35 setup once again finishing ahead of the 975X CrossFire setup. Although we have found the P35 chipset to be a fierce competitor to the 975X in initial testing we think some additional BIOS and driver tuning would allow the 975X performance to improve by a few percent in these tests.

In our more strenuous graphics test utilizing 3DMark06 we find the P35 results once again leads the 975X chipset but the margin of difference is a negligible 1~2%. We decided to see why the results were so close in this particular test. We looked over the results and found in the SM2.0 tests the P35 solution was about 2% behind the 975X scores, the P35 CPU score was slightly better, and the HDR/SM3.0 tests showed a 4% advantage for the P35. Since the HDR/SM3.0 tests heavily stress both the CPU and graphics bus we figured the x4 PCI Express lane limitation would cause a bottleneck in this test.

Our initial assumptions turned out to be incorrect. After working with ASUS we discovered in their internal testing they noticed the same issue, and they decided to see what would happen on the 975X if the MCH was programmed at x16/x4 operation between the two GPU slots instead of x8/x8. Their test results revealed a surprise as the difference in throughout in all areas of testing was less than 1%. The issue lies in the limited bandwidth and speed of the Direct Media Interface between the P35 MCH and ICH9R. The time required to simultaneously move the data between the two chipsets imposes a significant overhead and bandwidth issue in memory sensitive applications, hence our issues in the memory sensitive 3DMark01 benchmark. Of course, 3DMark performance doesn't necessarily have anything to do with actual game performance anyway, so these results are only mildly interesting.

While ASUS has optimized this link and will continue to do so, it appears we are now near the maximum efficiency of this interface. This simply means that as games become increasingly complex and data bandwidth increases then the differences between the P35 and 975X in CrossFire operation will widen. Let's see how this potential issue and driver maturity affects our initial gaming benchmarks. We would like to stress once again that synthetic benchmark results do not necessarily correlate into real application results.

Test Setup Gaming Performance
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  • wjmbsd - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Are there any benchmarks out there yet for the HD 2900 XT from Diamond (the $499 version w/ 1GB of DDR4)??? Anyone know when to expect to see some? Diamond says this is "The World's Fastest Graphics Card" and I was told by Maingear that the 1GB version of this card is much faster than even the Nvidia 8800 Ultra, at a fraction of the cost. Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    In our more strenuous graphics test utilizing 3DMark06 we find the P35 results once again leads the 975X chipset but the margin of difference is a negligible 1~2%. We decided to see why the results were so close in this particular test. We looked over the results and found in the SM2.0 tests the P35 solution was about 2% behind the 975X scores, the P35 CPU score was slightly better, and the HDR/SM3.0 tests showed a 4% advantage for the P35. Since the HDR/SM3.0 tests heavily stress both the CPU and graphics bus we figured the x4 PCI Express lane limitation would cause a bottleneck in this test.


    ?
    Reply
  • Verdant - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    Thanks for including the RTS scores; they are really the only games I play.


    This sentence doesn't seem to work grammatically:
    quote:

    There is a significant amount of smoke, explosions, and vehicle usage as this a very GPU intensive Battlefield 2 benchmark.
    (pg 4)
    Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 18, 2007 - link

    The choice of words is fine, it's just not divided in a clear way.

    Add a comma after "usage" and the meaning is a lot clearer. I agree with you that it could have been worded a little more clearly, just replacing "as" with "making" would have done it. Even without changing the words, by moving vehicle usage first, it would have added clarity since it is a phrase, and smoke and explosions both are words, making the seperation a little more distinct. But, that's kind of nit-picking, isn't it (not that I'm above nit-picking, I just try to act like I am)?
    Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 18, 2007 - link

    Ugggh, "as" would have to be replaced with "making it", not "making". Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 18, 2007 - link

    Nevermind, why isn't there an edit button or delete button so I can delete idiotic posts of mine like the previous one? Reply
  • BLHealthy4life - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    What has ATI been doing all of these months?? Sure as hell hasn't been taking Nvidia seriously.

    Nvidia has to be pointing its finger at ATI, calling it a loser, and laughing its ass off...

    Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    Gary,

    "We are not here to single handily knock AMD"

    should be

    "We are not here to single-handedly knock AMD"

    Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/single-handedly">http://www.thefreedictionary.com/single-handedly
    Reply
  • vijay333 - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    completely OT, but it seems it is anal-retentive and not anal retentive.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anal-retentive">http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anal-retentive
    Reply
  • nicolasb - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    When exactly are we expecting X38, anyway? Does "this summer" mean "July", or is it just another way of saying "Q3"? Reply

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