GPU Scaling

Switching gears, let’s take a look at performance from a GPU standpoint, including how well Star Swarm performance scales with more powerful GPUs now that we have eliminated the CPU bottleneck. Until now Star Swarm has never been GPU bottlenecked on high-end NVIDIA cards, so this is our first time seeing just how much faster Star Swarm can get until it runs into the limits of the GPU itself.

Star Swarm GPU Scaling - Extreme Quality (4 Cores)

As it stands, with the CPU bottleneck swapped out for a GPU bottleneck, Star Swarm starts to favor NVIDIA GPUs right now. Even accounting for performance differences, NVIDIA ends up coming out well ahead here, with the GTX 980 beating the R9 290X by over 50%, and the GTX 680 some 25% ahead of the R9 285, both values well ahead of their average lead in real-world games. With virtually every aspect of this test still being under development – OS, drivers, and Star Swarm – we would advise not reading into this too much right now, but it will be interesting to see if this trend holds with the final release of DirectX 12.

Meanwhile it’s interesting to note that largely due to their poor DirectX 11 performance in this benchmark, AMD sees the greatest gains from DirectX 12 on a relative basis and comes close to seeing the greatest gains on an absolute basis as well. The GTX 980’s performance improves by 150% and 40.1fps when switching APIs; the R9 290X improves by 416% and 34.6fps. As for AMD’s Mantle, we’ll get back to that in a bit.

Star Swarm GPU Scaling - Extreme Quality (2 Cores)

Having already established that even 2 CPU cores is enough to keep Star Swarm fed on anything less than a GTX 980, the results are much the same here for our 2 core configuration. Other than the GTX 980 being CPU limited, the gains from enabling DirectX 12 are consistent with what we saw for the 4 core configuration. Which is to say that even a relatively weak CPU can benefit from DirectX 12, at least when paired with a strong GPU.

However the GTX 750 Ti result in particular also highlights the fact that until a powerful GPU comes into play, the benefits today from DirectX 12 aren’t nearly as great. Though the GTX 750 Ti does improve in performance by 26%, this is far cry from the 150% of the GTX 980, or even the gains for the GTX 680. While AMD is terminally CPU limited here, NVIDIA can get just enough out of DirectX 11 that a 2 core configuration can almost feed the GTX 750 Ti. Consequently in the NVIDIA case, a weak CPU paired with a weak GPU does not currently see the same benefits that we get elsewhere. However as DirectX 12 is meant to be forward looking – to be out before it’s too late – as GPU performance gains continue to outstrip CPU performance gains, the benefits even for low-end configurations will continue to increase.

CPU Scaling DirectX 12 vs. Mantle, Power Consumption
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  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    ??? Eh? The computer, with DX12, is working harder AND offering better results.
  • bitcrazed - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Windows 7 will remain in broad use in businesses for a while yet, but given that Win10 will be a free upgrade for everyone else means that we should see far faster upgrades to Win10 than prior OS'.

    Put it this way - who here with a gaming rig or a machine they game on regularly is going to say - "No, I don't want a free upgrade to this new fangled Win10 + DX12 nonsense - I prefer to play my games at 10 fps and to gradually fade into obscurity"?
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, February 8, 2015 - link

    Gamers also seem to upgrade at a much faster rate. windows 8+8.1 make up 30% of steam windows users, while they only make up 12% of the general market. given that its FREE, windows 10 will probably become very popular very quickly.
  • wolrah - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Why would you say that? Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for anyone on a DX11 compatible system and so far has been a great OS to use. At the moment there's literally no reason not to upgrade.

    If Microsoft doesn't screw it up and the users aren't change-hating morons about it, Windows 7 and 8 should be fading memories in a year or two as far as the gaming community is concerned. Corporate users will still be themselves and be slower to upgrade, but corporate users' relevance to new gaming APIs is minimal.
  • aliquis - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    Another stab at Valve and their SteamOS.

    OpenGL NG is quite a bit away and this will likely make Linux lag behind Windows in gaming again. For now.

    Also with Xbox for Windows 10 I assume they may have some competition (which is likely why they wanted to migrate to Linux in the first place, because app-stores on any OS have become the standard.)
  • eanazag - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    I'd like to see an integrated graphics version of this. Intel and AMD APU. If you're feeling fiesty, an AMD APU with a second card in Crossfire.

    Question I would have in an APU related article. With APUs, does it now make even more sense to go with higher bandwidth RAM? Some suggestions for the CPUs: AMD 7850K (duh), AMD A-6, AMD A-8, Haswell (Intel 7, 5, and 3 plus a crappy Pentium), AMD Kabini (top sku), and the Crystalwell Pro.

    I think this has big mobile implications. I'd like to see a choice of a performance cap at 30-60 fps and the remainder of what's left on the table delivered in less heat and longer battery life.
  • SparkySamza - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    what do you mean under windows 10; are you talking about windows 7 or even windows 8.1 ?
  • tviceman - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    Ryan I appreciate the depth and analysis of all your reviews. Anandtech is always my first stop for analysis of new video cards and tablets. That said, the continued tardiness of the GTX 960 review, as well as the lack of any 970 memory performance investigations is really disheartening. Especially the 960, since it's now 2 weeks today since the NDA was lifted.

    Keep up the analysis, and hire extra help if needed. ;)
  • Stuka87 - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    Uhm, they had an article on the 970 memory issues:
  • tviceman - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    They did have an article, but they didn't do any extensive investigations into performance when going over 3.5gb but staying within 4gb.

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