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Single-Card Results: Battlefield 3

Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Review: Titan’s Baby Brother Is Born
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I explained a lot of the methodology we’re using in AMD Radeon HD 7990: Eight Games And A Beastly Card For $1,000. But again, our GeForce GTX 780 review is going to have a lot of data to comb over.

As we might expect, the GeForce GTX 780 falls in just behind Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan. In that context, the $650 card offers quite a bit more value at its price point than the flagship. However, AMD’s $450 Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition board isn’t far behind either, outpacing the more expensive GeForce GTX 680.

What’s going on with the Radeon HD 7990? Well, if we were to believe our hardware-based numbers, AMD’s dual-GPU beast would be the winner in this benchmark. But after we remove dropped and runt frames from the analysis, one of the card’s GPUs appears to be doing very little useful work, yielding a frame rate you can actually see just above a single Radeon HD 7970.

Here’s what that average frame rate chart looks like plotted over time. Although we illustrated hardware and practical performance last time, we’re cleaning the data up as much as possible, giving you just the numbers that matter: practical frame rate.  

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 780, in red, trails the Titan ever so slightly, just ahead of the Radeon HD 7970, but far more consistent than the Radeon HD 7990.

Our attempts to simplify result in a less complex frame time variance chart, too. As a reminder, this is a reflection of the latency between consecutive frames, not the absolute time it takes to render a frame. Rather than average, 75th, and 95th percentile numbers, we have the average and 99th (worst-case) results.

On average, none of those cards are terrible in Battlefield 3. Based on the real-world experiential stuff I’ve done with gamers, it seems like 5 ms of difference is the point where folks start consistently picking the card with lower variance over the other. Conversely, we see that the Radeon HD 7990 can get pretty bad when we look at the entire run, minus the worst 1%. We already know this, though—until AMD can work out its multi-GPU pacing issues, examples like this should give gamers a moment of pause about spending $1,000 on a Radeon HD 7990.

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