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Test Setup And Benchmarks

The Radeon HD 6950 Sweet Spot: Five 1 GB Cards Rounded-Up
Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge): LGA 1155, 3.40 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
Overclocked to 4 GHz at 1.25 V, 40x Turbo Boost, EIST/C1E Enabled
MotherboardAsus P8P67 Deluxe, BIOS 1502 (03/02/2011): Intel P67 Express, LGA 1155
RAMKingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX: 8 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-27
Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series MZ5PA256HMDR, 256 GB SSD 
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 11.8
ChipsetIntel INF

AMD’s reference Radeon HD 6950 2 GB sets the performance standard for comparing less-expensive 1 GB cards. This pacesetter remains at the bottom of our charts, while 1 GB competitors are arranged in order of performance.

Keeping a graphics test honest requires the minimization of performance-hindering influences from the rest of the system. We started by overclocking our CPU to 4.0 GHz, then adding Samsung’s super-fast SSD.

While older games often suffer from latencies higher than CAS 9 at DDR3-1600, those bottlenecks only occur during moderate graphics loads. The graphically-intense settings of today’s comparison shift the bottlenecks back towards our tested GPUs. Setting the baseline for “better than adequate” is Kingston’s 8 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 9 dual-channel kit.

Seasonic’s X760 power supply became a member of our standardized hardware set by offering excellent efficiency, modular cables, and a solid reputation for reliability. Today, its 80 PLUS Gold efficiency aids in a more accurate assessment of system power consumption.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Aliens vs. PredatorAvP Benchmark Version
Test Set 1: Highest Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Quality, 4x AA
F1 2010v1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x AA
H.A.W.X. 2H.A.W.X. 2 Benchmark Version b_v1.04
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, Tesselation On, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, Tesselation On, 4x AA
Just Cause 2Version, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle"
Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA, 16x AF
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 4x AA, 16x AF
Lost Planet 2Lost Planet 2 Benchmark Version
Test Set 1: Highest Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Quality, 4x MSAA
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark v1.02, "Frontline" Scene
Test Set 1: DX11, Medium, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF
Test Set 2: DX11, Medium, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, No DoF
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version:, Benchmark Only
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