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How We Tested Watch Dogs

Benchmarked: How Well Does Watch Dogs Run On your PC?
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I wanted to test Watch Dogs in Surround and Eyefinity configurations, using three monitors, but wasn't able to get the aspect ratio correct using either GeForce or Radeon cards. Hopefully this is something the developers address in a patch. For now, we'll focus on single-monitor performance.

As always, we strive to represent results across a wide range of graphics hardware. Unfortunately, I don't have a GeForce GTX 780 Ti in our Canadian lab, so I did the next best thing and overclocked a GeForce GTX Titan to 780 Ti-like performance levels. This took a 1750 MHz memory clock rate (equal to the 780 Ti) and a 994 MHz GPU Boost clock to compensate for the CUDA core deficiency. I also set the power envelope to its maximum 106% setting in Afterburner. Resulting performance should come close to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti.

Drivers are a huge deal when a game first comes out, and we made it a point to test using the very latest software from both companies. Nvidia gave us early access to its 337.88 build, while AMD sent over Catalyst 14.6 Beta, both including optimizations for Watch Dogs. Indeed, AMD's performance went up quite a bit under the new driver; it was fairly dismal with 14.4.

Also, the texture detail setting is kept at Medium across our benchmarks, ensuring graphics memory doesn't affect our results too severely. The texture detail option is separate from the game's detail presets, so it's adjustable on its own.

Graphics cards like the Radeon R9 290X require a substantial amount of power, so XFX sent us its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12 V rail rated for 70 A. XFX claims continuous (not peak) output of up to 850 W at 50 degrees Celsius.

We've almost exclusively eliminated mechanical disks in the lab, preferring solid-state storage for alleviating I/O-related bottlenecks. Samsung sent all of our labs 256 GB 840 Pros, so we standardize on these exceptional SSDs.


Test System
CPU
Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled.
Motherboard
ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
Networking
On-Board Gigabit LAN controller
Memory
Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
Graphics
GeForce GT 630 512 MB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 650 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 660 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 760 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3 GB GDDR5

Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5
Radeon R7 240 1 GB DDR3
Radeon R7 250X 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon R7 260X 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon R9 270 2 GB GDDR5
Radeon R9 280 3 GB GDDR5
Radeon R9 290X 4 GB GDDR5
SSD
Samsung 840 Pro, 256 GB SSD, SATA 6Gb/s
Power
XFX PRO850W, ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics Drivers
AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta, Nvidia GeForce 337.88 WHQL
Benchmarks
Watch Dogs
Custom Tom's Hardware Benchmark, 90-second Fraps run, Driving
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