Results: The Witcher 3 And GTA V
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
AMD’s Radeon R9 Nano is slower than the Fury X, of course. It also clearly loses to the factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 980 at 1920x1080. This changes as the resolution increases, though. At UHD, the Radeon R9 Nano comes in slightly ahead of its competition from Nvidia. However, none of the graphics cards deliver a really smooth gaming experience at the highest resolution.
The Radeon R9 Nano’s main competitor (at least according to AMD), Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC), lands well behind the R9 390X. Its frame rates are simply unplayable at 4K. This changes if you're willing to use lower settings or step down to QHD, where the card fares just well enough to provide a playable experience. Full HD doesn't present as much of a challenge; we don't observe any issues at that resolution.
Now lets take a look at the frame times, which are a lot more interesting than the FPS curve with its per-second averages. The GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC)’s longer times between frames and substantial jumps, which can be perceived as frame drops, are easy to spot. Manually overlocking the card makes a big difference in consistency compared to its stock version.
In the last graph, the frame render times were represented by the vertical position. After subtracting the averages from each card's frames, the curves end up on top of each other. This makes it easier to see the differences between them.
We’re now looking at smoothness by comparing the individual frames to each other and plotting the differences (that is, the time variance between individual frames). This makes it even easier to spot larger stutters and jumps.
Grand Theft Auto V
GTA V is one of those games that tends to stutter, or even get stuck, when there’s too much happening at once in the open world. Although this can be difficult to identify when you're looking at average frame rates, let's start with those numbers for our three test resolutions.
There are no surprises to speak of. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980 can’t be beat until it hits 4K. Again, we see why AMD focuses so much on that resolution.
When it comes to frame times, the Radeon R9 390X doesn’t do very well. Just remember that the individual frame render times provide a general overview, and mostly show how much the graphics cards are stressed.
Taking a look at the GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC)’s normalized curve at Ultra HD, it quickly becomes apparent that AMD’s graphics cards encounter much higher frame time variance. This isn’t a new finding, and it does mirror our subjective impressions that the game runs more smoothly on Nvidia hardware.
Jumping straight to the Ultra HD graph, we see that AMD's frame time variances are getting worse. We put the GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC) front and center here again to show the difference.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC) might not be able to handle Ultra HD at maximum settings, but the experience is smoother and more balanced all the way up to QHD. Then again, GTA V is somewhat of a negative outlier. AMD’s driver team should really invest some time here.