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Test System Setup, Benchmarks, And 3DMark

Three Factory-Overclocked, High-End Graphics Cards

We are testing all of the cards against reference models to quantify the benefit of spending extra on these factory-overclocked offerings. We have a GeForce GTX 480 on hand, but are simulating a reference Radeon HD 5870 by using a PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS, based on a Radeon HD 5870 PCB. We also swapped the PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS’ water block with a reference Radeon HD 5870 cooler.

These cards are overkill for resolutions of 1680x1050 and below, so we'll stick with 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. We're making a conscious effort to supply relevant benchmark results here, so we won't opt for high levels of anti-aliasing (AA) unless the frame rates allow for it. Our goal is to get average frame rates close to 60 FPS and minimum frame rates above 30 frames per second.

Graphic Test System
Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8 MB L3 Cache, Overclocked to 3.06 GHz @ 153 MHz BCLK
ASRock X58 SuperComputer, Intel X58, BIOS P1.90
Onboard Realtek Gigabit LAN controller
Kingston PC3-10700, 3 x 1024 MB, DDR3-1225, CL 9-9-9-22-1T
Reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1536 MB GDDR5
Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition 1536 MB GDDR5
PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS 1 GB GDDR5
Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5
HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X 1 GB GDDR5
Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA,
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s
Thermaltake Toughpower 1200 W
1200 W, ATX 12 V 2.2, EPS 12 V 2.91
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers
ATI Catalyst 10.5, Nvidia GeForce Driver 197.45
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 32-bit executable, Benchmark Tool, High Settings, No AA, No AF
Far Cry 2
DirectX 10, in-game benchmark, Ultra-High Settings, 8x AA, No AF
Aliens vs Predator
DirectX 11 Default Benchmark, no AA, No AF
World In Conflict: Soviet AssaultDirectX 10, Timedemo, Very High Details, 4x AA/4x AF
DiRT 2
DirectX 11, Timedemo, Ultra Details, 8x AA/4x AF
3DMark Vantage
Version: 1.01, Total System score

3DMark is most useful when comparing Radeons to Radeons and GeForces to GeForces because the benchmark definitely favors certain drivers and architectures. This chart shows us some interesting info as far as how the overclocked cards compare to their reference models, but don't assume the performance in games will reflect the Radeon vs. GeForce results.

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