The 2018 GPU Benchmark Suite & the Test

Another year marks another update to our GPU benchmark suite. This time, however, is more in line with a maintenance update than it is a complete overhaul. Although we've done some extended compute and deep learning benchmarking in the past year, and even some HDR gaming impressions, our compute and synthetic lineup remains largely the same. But before getting into the details, let's start with the bulk of benchmarking, and the biggest reason for these cards anyhow: games.

Joining the 2018 game list is Far Cry 5, Wolfenstein II, Final Fantasy XV and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. We are also bringing in F1 2018 and Total War: Warhammer II. Returning from last year is Battlefield 1, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, and Grand Theft Auto V. All-in-all, these games span multiple genres, differing graphics workloads, and contemporary APIs, with a nod towards modern and relatively intensive games.

AnandTech GPU Bench 2018 Game List
Game Genre Release Date API(s)
Battlefield 1 FPS Oct. 2016 DX11
(DX12)
Far Cry 5 FPS Mar. 2018 DX11
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation RTS Mar. 2016 DX12
(DX11, Vulkan)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus FPS Oct. 2017 Vulkan
Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition JRPG Mar. 2018 DX11
Grand Theft Auto V Action/Open world Apr. 2015 DX11
Middle-earth: Shadow of War Action/RPG Sep. 2017 DX11
F1 2018 Racing Aug. 2018 DX11
Total War: Warhammer II RTS Sep. 2017 DX11
(DX12)

That said, Ashes as a DX12 trailblazer may not be as hot and fresh as it once was, especially considering that the pace of DX12 and Vulkan adoption in new games has waned. The circumstances are worth an investigation on their own, but the learning curve required in modern low-level API and the subsequent return may not be convincing right now. As a more general remark, most developers and publishers tend not to advertise or document DX12 support as much as they used to, nor is it clearly labelled in game specifications as many times DX11 is the unmentioned default.

Particularly for NVIDIA and GeForce RTX, pushing DXR and raytracing means pushing DX12, of which DXR is a component. The API has a backstop in the form of Xbox consoles and Windows 10, and if multi-GPU is to make a comeback, whether that's via compatible workloads (VR), flexible usage (ray tracing workload topologies), or just the plain old inevitability of Moore's Law. So this is less likely to be the slow end of DX12.

In terms of data collection, measurements were gathered either using built-in benchmark tools or with AMD's open-source Open Capture and Analytics Tool (OCAT), which is itself powered by Intel's PresentMon. 99th percentiles were obtained or calculated in a similar fashion, as OCAT natively obtains 99th percentiles. In general, we prefer 99th percentiles over minimums, as they more accurately represent the gaming experience and filter out any artificial outliers.

We've also swapped out Blenchmark, which seems to have been abandoned in terms of updates, in favor of a BMW render from the Blender Institute Cycles Benchmark, and a more recent one from a Cycles benchmark developer on Blenderartists.org. There were concerns with Blenchmark's small tile size, which is not very applicable to GPUs, and in terms of usability we also ran into some GPU detection errors which were linked to inaccurate Blenchmark Python code.

Otherwise, we are also keeping an eye on a few trends and upcoming developments:

  • MLPerf machine learning benchmark suite
  • Blender Benchmark
  • Futuremark's 3DMark DirectX Raytracing benchmark
  • DXR and Vulkan raytracing extension support in games

Another point is that we do not have a permanent HDR monitor for our testbed, which would be necessary to incorporate HDR game testing in the near future; 5 games in our list actually support HDR. And as we look at technologies that enhance or alter image quality (e.g. HDR, Turing's DLSS), we will want to find a better way of comparing differences. This is particularly tricky with HDR as screenshots are inapplicable and even taking accurate photographs will most likely be viewed on an SDR screen. With DLSS, there is a built-in reference quality based on 64x supersampling, which in deep learning terms is the 'ground truth'; an intuitive solution would be to use a neural network based method of analyzing quality differences, but that is likely beyond our scope.

The following tech demos and test applications were provided via NVIDIA:

  • Star Wars 'Reflections' Demo (includes real time ray tracing and DLSS support)
  • Final Fantasy XV Official Benchmark (includes DLSS support)
  • Asteroids Demo (features mesh shading and variable LOD)
  • Epic Infiltrator Demo (features DLSS)

The Testbed

Because NVIDIA is not productizing any other reference-quality GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 card besides the Founders Editions, which are non-reference by specifications, we've gone ahead and emulated the true reference specifications with a 90MHz downclock and lowering the TDP by roughly 10W. This is to keep comparisons standardized and apples-to-apples, as we always look at reference-to-reference results.

In a classic case of Murphy's Law, our usual PSU started malfunctioning around the time of the review, but given the time constraints we couldn't do a 1:1 replacement in time. As it is a digital PSU, we were beginning to use it for PCIe power readings to augment system measurements, but for now we will have to stick power draw at the wall. For the time being, we've swapped it out with another high-quality and high-wattage PSU.

CPU: Intel Core i7-7820X @ 4.3GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 (F9g)
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i
EVGA 1000 G3
Hard Disk: OCZ Toshiba RD400 (1TB)
Memory: G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3200 4 x 8GB (16-18-18-38)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: LG 27UD68P-B
Video Cards: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 (Air Cooled)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 411.51 Press
AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.9.1
OS: Windows 10 Pro (April 2018 Update)
Spectre/Meltdown Mitigations Yes, both
Meet The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti & RTX 2080 Founders Editions Cards Battlefield 1
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  • Vayra - Friday, September 21, 2018 - link

    Why would I want a feature like DLSS when current AA methods do the job fine and we can also just run at native, higher resolution anyway and not use any AA whatsoever?

    And why would anyone care about vaporware like RTRT?
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Saturday, September 22, 2018 - link

    No DLSS, NO.

    Blur.

    Not capable of raytracing, just raytrace small parts of a frame on selected scenes on selected games...
    Reply
  • Gastec - Thursday, September 27, 2018 - link

    You must be joking right? What do we care if the price of manufacturing increased for Nvidia. We are mot supporters, we are clients. We don't have to support their pricing because WE ARE NOT SOCIOS! Let Nvidia reduce their costs by cutting the salaries of their CEOs and other wortless corporate officers. Then I will BUY their 2080Ti product, at the consumer-friendly price of €750 Reply
  • Andrew LB - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Except for the fact that the non founders edition is $999, not $1200. And the GTX 1080ti released at $699 but for the better part of the past two years cost substantially more. Reply
  • eva02langley - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Then find one at that price, genius.

    3rd parties are OC their cards and offering additional cooling solutions, they will all be over the MSRP and close to the FE.

    Also, they use GDDR6... you didn't learn anything from Vega and HBM2?
    Reply
  • jeffcd57 - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Agree the cost is ridiculous. I haven't paid it and won't. Got to many children to raise. I've never seen them at the above mentioned. Reply
  • jeffcd57 - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    1080 Ti for $600, where, when? Reply
  • ezridah - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    A month ago.

    https://www.theverge.com/good-deals/2018/8/21/1776...
    Reply
  • TheJian - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    So buy a 1080ti. For some the new features are worthy and boost perf quite massively making it truly worth it if those technologies are the new way forward. At worst, a good 25 games are already coming with NV's new tech. Many are huge titles most would like to play surely.

    Also as Hexus noted a while back, the price to make these things is just below MSRP. Note the small chip is as large as a titan, and the larger chips...WOW. That's a lot of transistors for a game card. Also apples vs. oranges here, as said by others 1080 etc can't do raytracing or dlss.

    https://nvidianews.nvidia.com/news/nvidia-rtx-plat...
    27 games coming with NV tech. Will they look the same on 1080ti or less? NOPE. Will they be faster and BETTER looking on RTX...YEP. Value is in the eye of the beholder ;)
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, September 21, 2018 - link

    The problem is, you just counted twice when you said "will they be faster and better looking on RTX".

    The absolute truth of it from what little we can glean so far (after the official launch!!!) is that you can have RTX effects /OR/ you can have your better performance, not both. That's a heavy caveat!

    It would be one thing if it were a proposition of waiting a couple of months for some amazing features that will knock your socks off and have few drawbacks. It's another to be paying over the odds for a card now to maybe get some cool stuff that will DEFINITELY run slower and at a lower res than you're used to.
    Reply

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