With DiRT 3 we figured that we would pick an AMD promoted title which also shares the same engine as the Formula 1 games which are also Codemaster's games. As such, we knew what kind of frame rates we could expect, so we of course turned up all the settings to their absolute maximums once again.
When it came to average frame rates, the GTX 590 slightly edged out the GTX 680 with an average of 96 FPS while the GTX 680 ran at 92, a relatively negligible amount. The HD 7970 came trailing in 3rd place at 80 FPS, which we found extremely odd considering that this is an AMD promoted title and DiRT has consistently been a launch title for all of AMD's GPU lines. So, when we found these frames we were very confused until we realized that for some reason, as AMD has been updating their drivers the performance of DiRT 3 has been dropping by a few frames per update until you realize that the difference can be over 10 frames... The minimum frame rates were very close to their average frame rates with the GTX 680 and GTX 590 actually being tied at 85 FPS and the HD 7970 coming in at 74.Metro 2033
Traditionally, we have considered Metro 2033 to be the test that brings all videocards to their knees, especially at absolute maximum settings. With Metro 2033, we were confident that we would put quite a bit of stress on the GTX 680 as well as the GTX 590 and HD 7970. We once again, like in all of our other previous tests, set the game to absolute maximum settings and attempted to play the same level.
In our testing of Metro 2033, we found something extremely interesting. The HD 7970 actually had the best average frame rate as well as the highest minimum frame rate, which we found extremely interesting since Metro 2033 is a TWIMTBP title. Admittedly, the difference between the three cards was so narrow that the margin of error should be taken into account since the HD 7970 had an average frame rate of 55 FPS while the GTX 680 had 54 and the GTX 590 had an average frame rate of 53. So, a delta of 2 frames really doesn't mean that there's really any winner. We would've expected the GTX 680 to have performed faster than the HD 7970, but we could chalk that up to the fact that these are the first drivers for the GTX 680 and there could be significant performance improvements in the future.
Also, when looking at the minimum frame rates, we noticed that both the GTX 590 and the GTX 680 reported a minimum frame rate of 24 FPS while the HD 7970 reported a minimum of 28, admittedly all three cards are under our target of 30 FPS, but the HD 7970 and GTX 680 did not have any noticeable lag. The GTX 590, on the other hand, lagged like crazy and was, at parts, almost unplayable which we found extremely interesting especially after we looked at the data and noticed relatively close all three cards were to each other in terms of performance.
Frankly, we'd call Metro 2033 to be a tie, but nevertheless, a very weird result and we really expected more out of the GTX 680 in such an NVIDIA promoted title. Perhaps they put the majority of their driver optimization for this round into Battlefield 3 and other games and not something as old as Metro 2033? We just hope they improve the frame rates a bit, even though we really didn't notice any lag.Skyrim
If you've read our previous benchmarks, then you know what to expect from us in this benchmark. We once again ran Skyrim at 1920x1080 resolution with absolutely everything maxed out and made sure that we had a comparable setting across all three cards. We also tested FXAA on the GTX 680 just to see the performance hit.
In this test, the GTX 680 absolutely pulls away from the other two graphics cards by a quite noticeable margin. When it came to average frame rate, the GTX 680 came in at 84 FPS while the HD 7970 came in at 60 FPS and the GTX 590 at 59 FPS. Interestingly, when it came to minimum FPS, the cards were much closer with the GTX 680 running at 43 FPS and the HD 7970 at 43. Even though we don't really consider maximum FPS a huge factor in gaming, the GTX 680 hit a max FPS of 155 while both the GTX 590 and HD 7970 ran at a max of 64. Mind you, we had to go into the game files and modify a text document in order to disable Active Sync in order to measure FPS beyond 60 since the game doesn't actually come with an option to disable Active Sync.
We also tested Skyrim with FXAA on and the GTX 680 had a minimum frame rate of 39 (instead of 44) and an average frame rate of 76 (instead of 84). So, it does appear that FXAA when compared to standard 8x MSAA did put more of a toll on the card, but still played extremely well.
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