NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 560 Ti: Upsetting The $250 Marketby Ryan Smith on January 25, 2011 9:00 AM EST
The other new game in our benchmark suite is Civilization 5, the latest incarnation in Firaxis Games’ series of turn-based strategy games. Civ 5 gives us an interesting look at things that not even RTSes can match, with a much weaker focus on shading in the game world, and a much greater focus on creating the geometry needed to bring such a world to life. In doing so it uses a slew of DirectX 11 technologies, including tessellation for said geometry and compute shaders for on-the-fly texture decompression.
We have always considered Civ 5 an interesting game both for its near-complete use of the DX11 feature set, and because of its interesting performance characteristics. 2 weeks ago we called it CPU limited based on the fact that once we had sufficiently powerful cards, AMD and NVIDIA results tended to clump together despite any difference in their respective cards’ speed. With the Forceware Release 265 drivers, NVIDIA has blown this assumption apart, with NVIDIA’s more powerful cards launching ahead at 1920 and lower. We appear to be quite GPU limited on the NVIDIA side all of a sudden, which is about as drastic change as we could expect. Furthermore NVIDIA is holding their cards close to their chest on this – they’ve obviously found a wonder optimization, but they aren’t ready to say what it is.
In any case while AMD has always trailed NVIDIA in single card performance in Civ 5, with these driver changes it’s quite monumental. The GTX 560 Ti is 44% faster than the 6950 at 1920, 80% faster at 1680, and even the GTX 460 768MB can edge out the 6970 at 1920. Whatever NVIDIA has done, it has made Civilization V quite a lot faster and smoother at 1920 and 1680, particularly when a large number of units are on screen.
Among NVIDIA’s own cards the lead has actually shrunk some compared to our earlier games. The GTX 470 has an edge on the GTX 560, and the 560 in turn is down to a 25%-30% lead over the GTX 460 1GB. We don’t seem to be ROP or memory bandwidth limited, so perhaps this is a case of the GF104/GF114 architecture’s shaders underperforming?