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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  • Billstpor - Friday, September 21, 2018 - link

    Wrong. It's already known that the tensor cores have enough juice to run ray-traced effects and DLSS at the same time:
    https://youtu.be/pgEI4tzh0dc?t=10m55s
    Reply
  • Vayra - Monday, September 24, 2018 - link

    Wrong, the tensor cores need DLSS to run ray tracing at somewhat bearable FPS - that is, 30 to 60.

    DLSS is a way to reduce the amount of rays to cast.
    Reply
  • Vayra - Monday, September 24, 2018 - link

    Hence the non-existant improvement, or even worse position in terms of quality compared to SSAA x4 or better.

    In other words, running at native 4K is miles sharper and will perform miles better than a DLSS+RTRT combination still.
    Reply
  • IUU - Sunday, September 23, 2018 - link

    While your argument is solid, these days are just so weird that even $1200 cards seem to make a hell of a lot sense. This is also valid for similar desktop cpus.
    Why? Well , go buy a high-end iphone or a high end android phone... Enough said.

    PS. For those who may use arguments like geekbench and such , it is just insulting to put it very very kindly!
    Reply
  • Gastec - Thursday, September 27, 2018 - link

    So basically buying high-priced electronics make sense because the companies selling them just increase the prices every year to make profits and a certain type of consumers are supporting those companies by purchasing no matter what the price (call them fanbois). The question is: Why, why are those people acting like that? What drives them? Reply
  • watek - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Consumers paying these premium prices for features that are not even fully developed or finished is mind boggling!! People are being bent over and screwed by Nvidia hard yet they still pay $1500 to be beta testers until next Gen. Reply
  • V900 - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Mindboggling? I suppose it would be for a time traveller visiting from the 19th century, but for everyone else it’s perfectly normal.

    There is always a price premium for those early adopters who want to live on the cutting edge of technology.

    When DVD players came out, they cost over a 1000$ and the selection of movies they could watch was extremely small. When Blu-ray players came out, they also cost well over 1000$ and the entire catalogue of Blu-ray titles was a dozen movies or so.

    And keep in mind, that the price that Nvidia charges for joining the early adopter club is really shockingly low.

    When OLED or 4K televisions first came out, people paid tens of thousands of dollars for a set, and the selection of 4K entertainment to watch on them was pretty much zero.

    With the 2080, early adopters can climb aboard for 600-1000$.

    Games that take advantage of DLSS and RTX will be here soon and in the meantime they have the most powerful graphics card on the market that will play pretty much anything you can throw at it, in 4K without breaking a sweat.

    It’s not a bad deal at all.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Again, two technology that have not even seen the real light of day, let alone to be proven worth it at all. Early adopters of the other techs you listed at least got WORKING TECH from the start as promised. Reply
  • V900 - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Ok, you’re either deliberately spreading untruths and FUD, or you just haven’t paid attention.

    There are games NOW that support RTX and DLSS. Games like Shadow of the Tombraidet, Control and PUBG.

    And there are more games coming out THIS YEAR with RTX/DLSS support: Battlefield 5 is one of them.

    The next Metro is one of many games coming out in early 2019 that also support RTX.

    So tell me again how this is different from when Blueray players came out?
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    THose games you listed don't have it now, they are COMING. lol Even then the difference is not even worth it considering the games don't hardly take a hit for the 1080TI. You are the nvidia shill on here and forums as everyone knows. Reply

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