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Especially in the early stages of a product’s life cycle, synthetic benchmarks give us a glimpse at how well drivers are coming along, as vendors almost always devote lots of time optimizing for those tests. But gamers don’t play synthetics, making real-world metrics much more critical to us enthusiasts. Let’s start with Battlefield 3, one of the most graphically-impressive titles of 2011:
With ultra detail enabled, the Radeon HD 7970 blows past the Radeon HD 6970 and GeForce GTX 580, nipping at the heels of the GeForce GTX 590. It provides smooth Eyefinity performance across three 1080p monitors, too. Note that the GeForce GTX 580 is simply unable to compete in that configuration, as Nvidia’s single-GPU graphics cards require SLI to facilitate at least three cumulative display outputs.
Now let’s make things more interesting by adding 4x MSAA to the mix:
The Radeon HD 7970 doesn’t do as well as the dual-GPU cards with 4xAA at 1080p, but it still manages a playable frame rate, easily surpassing the single-GPU competition.
The triple-monitor Eyefinity result looks impressive, but it’s not really playable on any of these graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 590 couldn’t run in Surround mode consistently without crashing.