Benchmarks by definition provide a measure of performance, the challenge however is selecting benchmarks that properly recreate the intended usage scenario each product. Additionally we strive to provide a balanced mix of both synthetic benchmarks and real world gaming scenario benchmarks.
The scope of this review is the battle for supremacy in the $200 graphics card position and as such we are focusing on the performance of these two cards in relation to one another. To focus on the fight for the $200 crown we have only included the performance numbers for these two cards in the following graphs.
• Intel Core i7 2600K Processor at 3.4GHz (Supplied by Intel)
• Intel DP67BG Motherboard (Supplied by Intel)
• 2x 2GB Kingston DDR3-1600 MHz Memory
• 160GB Intel X25-M SSD
• Enermax Revolution 1000W PSU
• Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW 24-inch 1900x1200 (1200p) displaySynthetic Tests
Synthetic benchmarks often prove to be some of the most popular, They allow for direct comparisons between different cards by offering the same exact conditions during each test. These repeatable and consistent tests do not necessarily reflect exact real world usage scenarios but they do offer a glimpse into the hardware’s performance and are often able to illustrate subtle performance differences between varying hardware components and performance tweaks.Futuremark 3DMark 11
The latest benchmark in Futuremark’s long line of synthetic benchmarking tools is 3DMark11. The introduction of 3DMark11 now gives us the ability to test Tessellation, Direct Compute Physics and more. As this is one of the newest full featured benchmarks on the scene it is proving to be somewhat of a system crusher and lower frames per second and the resulting lower 3DMark score is to be expected for the time being.
In our 3DMark testing we run the hardware through two testing cycles. The first test is Performance Mode which offers a moderate test load designed to simulate modern gaming commensurate with most gaming PCs. The second test is Extreme Mode which pushes the hardware even further with a heavy load designed to stress even the highest end gaming PCs.
The outcome of both the performance and extreme tests showed the cards hitting fairly close to each other score-wise with the R6850 just nudging out the N460GTX on both tests. While the R6850 did come out on top, the actual experience with both cards was fairly similar with the Extreme test running achingly and jittery. This is not a detraction from the performance of these cards but more of a statement as to the punishment 3DMark11 is able to hand out as the Extreme test can even bring some enthusiast level cards to their knees. Unigine Heaven (DX11 and DX10)
Unigine was one of the first to offer a true DX11 benchmark and really showcase a graphics card’s DX11 ability. As DX11 cards are just now becoming more common we still test performance in DX10 as well to give a greater overview of performance.
The DirectX 11 test of Heaven unveils some startling results. The R6850 gets soundly trounced by the N460GTX, to the tune of a 58% performance discrepancy. The tests were repeated numerous times to ensure the R6850’s score wasn’t merely a fluke, however the scores repeatedly came in around the same mark. This is also one of reasons for benchmark controversy between AMD and nVidia. For years, we've been hearing that AMD (ex-ATI) has tessellation in 1st, 2nd, 3rd... all the way until today's 8th Generation Tessellator, while Fermi architecture is the first nVidia GPU architecture to really support Tessellation (we'll discard N-patches discussion, as that was a paper feature). What happened was that nVidia put Tessellation engine where the efficiency is highest, while AMD has to battle legacy positioning of Tessellation engine. We've also seen this results in MachStudio Pro, professional rendering tool that uses GPU to render: GeForce and Quadro cards eat Radeon and FirePro cards alive as soon as you crank up the Tessellation load.
However, take a look a the slide below:
We took the cards thru another spin of the Heaven benchmark, this time in DX10. Here we can see that the scores are much closer. Again we see the N460GTX coming out on top, albeit by a much smaller margin. The DX10 tests remove Tessellation from equation and the R6850 catches up. The question "Can Unigine Heaven DirectX 10 and 11 results impact your gaming experience"
is a whole another story.
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