The Test & Gaming Performance

For our testing we are using both AMD and NVIDIA’s latest drivers where suitable. For AMD this means the 11.1a Hotfix, and for NVIDIA this means the 266.58 drivers for the GTX 400 and 500 series, 266.56 for the new GTX 560 Ti, and 262.99 for the GTX 200 series. Compared to our previous benchmarks NVIDIA Civilization V performance is way up, and SmallLuxGPU performance is up for both AMD and NVIDIA. There are no significant performance improvements elsewhere.

For NVIDIA cards all tests were done with default driver settings unless otherwise noted. As for AMD cards, we are disabling their new AMD Optimized tessellation setting in favor of using application settings (note that this doesn’t actually have a performance impact at this time), everything else is default unless otherwise noted.

CPU: Intel Core i7-920 @ 3.33GHz
Motherboard: Asus Rampage II Extreme
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
Hard Disk: OCZ Summit (120GB)
Memory: Patriot Viper DDR3-1333 3 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Cards: AMD Radeon HD 6970
AMD Radeon HD 6950 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB
AMD Radeon HD 6870
AMD Radeon HD 6850
AMD Radeon HD 5970
AMD Radeon HD 5870
AMD Radeon HD 5850
AMD Radeon HD 5770
AMD Radeon HD 4870
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 262.99
NVIDIA ForceWare 266.56 Beta
NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58
AMD Catalyst 10.10e
AMD Catalyst 11.1a Hotfix
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

For our look at gaming performance we’re going to skip our running commentary at this time. In practice the 1GB 6950 is just as fast as the 2GB 6950 at 1920x1200 and 1680x1050 – the essential resolutions for a $260 card. It’s only at 2560x1600 and Eyefinity resolutions that the 2GB card makes a difference with most games at this time. This is likely to change in the near future, but for the time being –and as you’ll see – there’s little disadvantage to a 1GB 6950 right now.

Meanwhile we’re also including the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition in these charts. In general it’s around 5% faster than a stock-clocked 6870, which isn’t enough to cut in to the GTX 560 Ti’s 10-15% lead. At $20 less than the GTX 560 Ti this makes it a potential value spoiler, but not a direct competitor.

AMD’s Catalyst 11.1a Hotfix Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • johnsonx - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    first page Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Maybe the site should have a "report an error" link at the end of the page for readers to quietly submit problems. I'm all for accuracy, but these "correction posts" don't really make for conversation. The first 3-4 posts are all correction notices! Hardly the dialog I was looking for. ;) Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - link

    +1 Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - link

    +2

    PS

    There should be a way to report 1. errors in technical info (which is important) and 2. grammatical errors (which is not so important) separately. (or exclusively)
    I can just picture the editors trying to sort though hordes of emails detailing grammatical minutiae.
    Reply
  • buzznut - Sunday, January 30, 2011 - link

    All great suggestions. Now I'm certain I'm not the only one who finds the anal retentive "spelling police" weenies annoying! Reply
  • TSnor - Sunday, May 08, 2011 - link

    +1 anal retentive "spelling police" weenies annoying! Reply
  • Kaboose - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    The chart on the first page shouldn't it read 6950 1gb as opposed to 6870 1gb? Currently it shows both the 6950 and 6870 with all the same specs (except the vRAM) Reply
  • sanityvoid - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Great information for the up and coming 'upgraders', it's good to know that competition is still good between both AMD & Nvidia.

    On a side note, I'm loving the two color comparison vs blue field for the charts. It makes it really easy to see what is going on for the tests.

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • KamikaZee - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Last page

    "there aren’t any games that can exploit this advantage at the common resolutions of 1920x1200, 1920x180, or 1680x1050."

    1920x1080 missing a 0
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    I can only recommend that you get the card that performs best in the games you play, and whilst the 560 Ti will obviously have the edge over the 6950 1GB in tesselation, it's going to use more power overall. Either is great.

    The 6870 BE isn't bad either, really. Good time to be in the market... though I'm still waiting for the 6990 to rear its ugly head. ;)
    Reply

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