Meet The 2013 GPU Benchmark Suite & The Test

Having taken a look at the compute side of Titan, let’s finally dive into what most of you have probably been waiting for: our gaming benchmarks.

As this is the first major launch of 2013 it’s also the first time we’ll be using our new 2013 GPU benchmark suite. This benchmark suite should be considered a work in progress at the moment, as it’s essentially incomplete. With several high-profile games due in the next 4 weeks (and no other product launches expected), we expect we’ll be expanding our suite to integrate those latest games. In the meantime we have composed a slightly smaller suite of 8 games that will serve as our base.

AnandTech GPU Bench 2013 Game List
Game Genre
DiRT: Showdown Racing
Total War: Shogun 2 Strategy
Hitman: Absolution Action
Sleeping Dogs Action/Open World
Crysis: Warhead FPS
Far Cry 3 FPS
Battlefield 3 FPS
Civilization V Strategy

Returning to the suite will be Total War: Shogun 2, Civilization V, Battlefield 3, and of course Crysis: Warhead. With no performance-demanding AAA strategy games released in the last year, we’re effectively in a holding pattern for new strategy benchmarks, hence we’re bringing Shogun and Civilization forward. Even 2 years after its release, Shogun 2 can still put an incredible load on a system on its highest settings, and Civilization V is still one of the more advanced games in our suite due to its use of driver command lists for rendering. With Company of Heroes 2 due here in the near future we may finally get a new strategy game worth benchmarking, while Total War will be returning with Rome 2 towards the end of this year.

Meanwhile Battlefield 3 is still among the most popular multiplayer FPSes, and though newer video cards have lightened its system-killer status, it still takes a lot of horsepower to play. Furthermore the engine behind it, Frostbite 2, is used in a few other action games, and will be used for Battlefield 4 at the end of this year. Finally we have the venerable Crysis: Warhead, our legacy entry. As the only DX10 title in the current lineup it’s good for tracking performance against our oldest video cards, plus it’s still such a demanding game that only the latest video cards can play it at high framerates and resolutions with MSAA.

As for the new games in our suite, we have added DiRT: Showdown, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, and Far Cry 3. DiRT: Showdown is the annual refresh of the DiRT racing franchise from Codemasters, based upon their continually evolving racer engine. Meanwhile Hitman: Absolution is last year’s highly regarded third person action game, and notably in this day and age features a built-in benchmark, albeit a bit of a CPU-intensive one. As for Sleeping Dogs, it’s a rare treat in that it’s a benchmarkable open world game (open world games having benchmarks is practically unheard of) giving us a rare chance to benchmark something from this genre. And finally we have Far Cry 3, the latest rendition of the Far Cry franchise. A popular game in its own right, its jungle environment can be particularly punishing.

These games will be joined throughout the year by additional games as we find games that meet our needs and standards, and for which we can create meaningful benchmarks and validate their performance. As with 2012 we’re looking at having roughly 10 game benchmarks at any given time.

Meanwhile from a settings and resolution standpoint we have finally (and I might add, begrudgingly) moved from 16:10 resolutions to 16:9 resolutions in most cases to better match the popularity of 1080p monitors and the recent wave of 1440p IPS monitors. Our primary resolutions are now 2560x1440, 1920x1080, and 1600x900, with an emphasis on 1920x1080 at lower setting ahead of dropping to lower resolutions, given the increasing marginalization of monitors with sub-1080p resolutions. The one exception to these resolutions is our triple-monitor resolution, which stays at 5760x1200. This is purely for technical reasons, as NVIDIA’s drivers do not consistently offer us 5760x1080 on the 1920x1200 panels we use for testing.

As for the testbed itself, we’ve changed very little. Our testbed remains our trusty 4.3GHz SNB-E, backed with 16GB of RAM and running off of a 256GB Samsung 470 SSD. The one change we have made here is that having validated our platform as being able to handle PCIe 3.0 just fine, we are forcibly enabling PCIe 3.0 on NVIDIA cards where it’s typically disabled. NVIDIA disables PCIe 3.0 by default on SNB-E systems due to inconsistencies in the platform, but as our goal is to remove every non-GPU bottleneck, we have little reason to leave PCIe 3.0 disabled. Especially since most buyers will be on Ivy Bridge platforms where PCIe 3.0 is fully supported.

Finally, we’ve also used this opportunity to refresh a couple of our cards in our test suite. AMD’s original press sample for the 7970 GHz Edition was a reference 7970 with the 7970GE BIOS, a configuration that was more-or-less suitable for the 7970GE, but not one AMD’s partners followed. Since all of AMD’s partners are using open air cooling, we’ve replaced our AMD sample with HIS’s 7970 IceQ X2 GHz Edition, a fairly typical representation of the type of dual-fan coolers that are common on 7970GE cards. Our 7970GE temp/noise results should now be much closer to what retail cards will do, though performance is unchanged.

Unfortunately we’ve had to deviate from that almost immediately for CrossFire testing. Our second HIS card was defective, so due to time constraints we’re using our original AMD 7970GE as our second card for CF testing. This has no impact on performance, but it means that we cannot fairly measure temp or noise. We will update Bench with those results once we get a replacement card and run the necessary tests.

Finally, we also have a Powercolor Devil13 7990 as our 7990 sample. The Devil13 was a limited run part and has been replaced by the plain 7990, the difference between them being a 25MHz advantage for the Devil13. As such we’ve downclocked our Devil13 to match the basic 7990’s specs. The performance and power results should perfectly match a proper retail 7990.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.3GHz
Motherboard: EVGA X79 SLI
Power Supply: Antec True Power Quattro 1200
Hard Disk: Samsung 470 (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1867 4 x 4GB (8-10-9-26)
Case: Thermaltake Spedo Advance
Monitor: Samsung 305T
Video Cards:

AMD Radeon HD 7970
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
PowerColor Radeon HD 7990 Devil13
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan

Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 314.07
NVIDIA ForceWare 314.09 (Titan)
AMD Catalyst 13.2 Beta 6
OS: Windows 8 Pro

 

Titan’s Compute Performance, Cont DiRT: Showdown
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  • ponderous - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Cannot give kudos to what is a well performing card when it is so grossly
    out of order in price for the performance. $1000 card for 35% more performance
    than the $450 GTX680. A $1000 card that is 20% slower than the $1000 GTX690.
    And a $1000 card that is 30% slower than a $900 GTX680SLI solution.

    Meet the 'Titan'(aka over-priced GTX680).

    Well here we have it, the 'real' GTX680 with a special name and a 'special'
    price. Nvidia just trolled us with this card. It was not enough for them to
    sell a mid-ranged card for $500 as the 'GTX680', now we have 'Titan' for twice
    the price and an unremarkable performance level from the obvious genuine successor
    to GF110(GTX580).

    At this irrational price, this 'Titanic' amusement park ride is not one worth
    standing in line to buy a ticket for, before it inevitably sinks,
    along with its price.
    Reply
  • wreckeysroll - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    now there is some good fps numbers for titan. we expected to see such. shocked to see it with the same performance as 7970ghz in that test although!

    much too much retail msrp for the card. unclear what nvidia was thinking. msrp is sitting far too high for this unfortunately
    Reply
  • quantumsills - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Wow....

    Some respectable performance turn-out here. The compute functionality is formidable, albeit the value of such is questionable in what is a consumer gaming card.

    A g-note though ? Really nvidia ? At what degree of inebriation was the conclusion drawn that this justifies a thousand dollar price tag ?

    Signed

    Flabbergasted.
    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Compute functionality is nothing special. Still can't bitcoin mine well, sucks at OpenCL (http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/grafikkarten/20... and if you need double precision, well a $500 Asus Matrix Platinum @ 1300mhz gives you 1.33 Tflops. You really need to know specific apps you are going to run on this like Adobe CS6 or very specific CUDA compute programs to make it worthwhile as a non-gaming card. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Really? People are going to trot out Bitcoin still? I realize AMD does well there, but if you're serious about BTC you'd be looking at FPGAs or trying your luck at getting one of the ASICs. I hear those are supposed to be shipping in quantity some time soon, at which point I suspect prices of BTC will plummet as the early ASIC owners cash out to pay for more hardware. Reply
  • RussianSensation - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - link

    It's not about bitcoin mining alone. What specific compute programs outside of scientific research does the Titan excel at? It fails at OpenCL, what about ray-tracing in Luxmark? Let's compare its performance in many double precision distributed computing projects (MilkyWay@Home, CollatzConjecture), run it through DirectCompute benches, etc.
    http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/grafikkarten/20...

    So far in this review covers the Titan's performance from specific scientific work done by universities. But those types of researchers get grants to buy full-fledged Tesla cards. The compute analysis in the review is too brief to conclude that it's the best compute card. Even the Elcomsoft password hashing - well AMD cards perform faster there too but they weren't tested. My point is it's not true to say this card is unmatched in compute. It's only true in specific apps. Also, leaving full double precision compute doesn't justify its price tag either since AMD cards have had non-gimped DP for 5+ years now.
    Reply
  • maxcellerate - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    I tend to argee with RussianSensation, though the fact is that the first batch of Titans has sold out. But to who? There will be the odd mad gamer who must have the latest most expensive card in their rig, regardless. But I suspect the majority of sales have gone to CG renderers where CUDA still rules and $1000 for this card is a bargain compared to what they would have paid for it as a Quadra. Once sales to that market have dried up, the price will drop.
    Then I can have one;)
    Reply
  • ponderous - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    True. Very disappointing card. Not enough performance for the exorbitant cost.

    Nvidia made a fumble here on the cost. Will be interesting to watch in the coming months where the sure to come price drops wind up placing the actual value of this card at.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    LOL - now compute doesn't matter - thank you RS for the 180 degree flip flop, right on schedule... Reply
  • RussianSensation - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - link

    I never said compute doesn't matter. I said the Titan's "out of this world compute performance" needs to be better substantiated. Compute covers a lot of apps, bitcoin, openCL, distributed computing projects. None of these are mentioned. Reply

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