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 scenario benchmarks.
In addition to pure strict motherboard performance we will also focus on testing Lucid's Virtu solution to determine whether it can deliver on its performance promises. In order to test the performance of Virtu and also determine what overhead the technology imparts you will see a different approach to this series of testing. For each benchmark we will attempt to isolate the various scenarios supported by the x68A and the Virtu software. The motherboard and software are GPU agnostic in that they can run either NVIDIA or ATI graphics in their respective multi-GPU configurations. The discrete cards for this review will be a reference NVIDIA GTX 560Ti and a MSI Radeon R6850 Cyclone. While these cards are in slightly different classes, we are not looking to compare the cards against each other, rather we will be comparing them against themselves. For comparison purposes we will provide results from each discrete running by itself as well as the results from each card running under Virtu and outputting to the iGPU. This should bring to light and performance discrepancies and reveal any possible Virtu-induced overhead. Testbed Configuration
- Intel Core i7 2600K Processor at 3.4GHz (Supplied by Intel)
- MSI Z68A-GD80 B3 Motherboard (Supplied by MSI)
- 2x 2GB Kingston DDR3-1600 MHz Memory
- MSI R6850 Cyclone (Supplied by MSI)
- nVidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Supplied by NVIDIA)
- 160GB Intel X25-M SSD
- Enermax Revolution 1000w PSU
- Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW 24-inch 1900 by 1200 pixel resolution display
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.Our initial 3DMark 11 testing is based on Performance preset, i.e. 720p resolution
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.3DMark 11 in Extreme mode confirms a slight overhead of Virtu due to lack of DX11 support on Intel's hardware
It was clear to see that Virtu was working when we fired up 3DMark11. The iGPU on the 2600K does not support DX11. Any attempt to run 3DMark11 with the monitor plugged into the onboard video port without Virtu turned on resulted in a warning screen from 3DMark11 stating that there was no DX11 hardware detected. Simply clicking the "On" button in the Virtu control panel allowed us to fire up 3Dmark11 right away with the monitor still plugged into the onboard graphics port. In our first test we can already see that Virtu does impose some overhead with each card's score dropping somewhat when utilized under Virtu. 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.
We continue to see the same performance degradation with both Heaven benchmarks but it is important to note that the degradation is very minute. In both cases there is less than a 1fps drop. Game Synthetics
Synthetic game benchmarks hit a little closer to the core usage scenario of a graphics card. These benchmarks are built upon the game itself and generally run a scene or series of scenes from the game in order to garner a performance score. As these benchmarks are built upon current popular gaming titles they offer a better picture of the video cards real world performance .Metro 2033
Metro 2033 is a game set in the post-apocalyptic former Soviet Union. Metro 2033 has become the new Crysis and while it is one of the most visually stunning games on the market it is also one of the most punishing, bringing even high end video cards to their knees. The benchmark is run at 1900x1200 resolution with all the eye-candy turned up. The test is repeated three times with the end result being an overall average frame rate measured in frames per second.Metro 2033 runs in DirectX 10 mode only - software limitation by Lucid Virtu?
With the standard framerates for both of these cards hovering in the mid twenties we expected to see a noticeable difference in performance during this test. When you are already running at sub 30fps, every frame counts. The MSI R6850 seems to take a larger hit than the GTX 560Ti in this performance test. We attempted to run the DX11 version of this test as well, however with Virtu enabled the benchmark would not give us any DX11 options. Just Cause 2
Despite Just Cause 2 being included on the approved game list for Virtu, we were never able to successfully play the title when the monitor was connected to the iGPU. Instead the game would load and run very poorly at roughly 8fps, indicating that Virtu had never moved the workload to the discrete card, instead tasking it to the iGPU. We expect to see Lucid fixing this issue with one of future drivers.
© 2009 - 2013 Bright Side Of News*, All rights reserved.