How We Tested
The subject of today’s evaluation is Asus’ Strix RX 470 OC Edition. Whereas the RX 470 is specified at a 926 MHz base and 1206 MHz boost frequency, Asus operates its model at a 1270 MHz boost clock rate. This figure drops to an average of 1143 MHz during our 10-loop Metro: Last Light Redux stress test. Asus arms the board with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, which we’d consider the right amount for a 1920x1080 target.
The rest of the field consists of a Radeon RX 480, Radeon R9 380, Radeon R9 280X, GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition, GeForce GTX 970, GeForce GTX 960, and GeForce GTX 770, covering multiple generations of popular gaming cards capable of playable 1080p performance. Of course, in this space, reference-class boards aren’t always available, so some of the competing products come from add-in partners as well:
|Core Clock (Reference)||Memory Clock (Reference)|
|Asus Strix RX 470 OC Edition||1270 MHz (1206 MHz)||1650 MHz (1650 MHz)|
|AMD Radeon RX 480||1266 MHz (1266 MHz)||2000 MHz (2000 MHz)|
|MSI R9 380 Gaming 4G||1000 MHz (970 MHz)||1425 MHz (1425 MHz)|
|XFX Radeon R9 280X Double Dissipation||1080 MHz (1000 MHz)||1550 MHz (1500 MHz)|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition||1708 MHz (1708 MHz)||2000 MHz (2000 MHz)|
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 G1 Gaming OC||1178 MHz (1050 MHz)||1752 MHz (1752 MHz)|
|MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G||1190 MHz (1127 MHz)||1752 MHz (1752 MHz)|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 770||1085 MHz (1085 MHz)||1752 MHz (1752 MHz)|
As we shift from big GPUs that beg for potent platforms to more mainstream graphics cards, the editors start debating whether to use lower-end hardware in our reviews. This is particularly relevant with low-level APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan in play. For now, though, in the interest of fairness, we’re sticking with our Core i7-6700K-based test bed. After all, we’ve already benchmarked everything from Nvidia’s Titan X to AMD’s RX 480 on the same configuration. But rest assured we’ll circle back once AMD and Nvidia slow down with these launches to explore the topic in more depth. By then we hope to have one or two more shipping DX12-based titles to test with, too.
Drivers and Benchmarks
That’s not to say our methodology isn’t evolving. For instance, we’re increasing the graphics load imposed by Project CARS by switching to DS4X mode with SMAA set to High. Based on our findings in the Titan X review, we anticipate that more anti-aliasing will increase visual fidelity (especially at 1920x1080) and better balance any utilization-based differences between platforms running AMD and Nvidia graphics.
We do the same thing in GTA V, adding 2x MSAA to already-taxing Very High graphics settings. Doom is in there at the Ultra quality preset under Vulkan, just as it was in our Titan X review. Hitman now benefits from SMAA, in addition to running under DirectX 12 mode. And Rise of the Tomb Raider also gets the SMAA/DirectX 12 treatment. Finally, we turn SSAA on in Metro: Last Light Redux.
Of course, the Vulkan/DX12 testing necessitates a new approach to measurement. From our Titan X review, “…this involves shifting away from Fraps-based testing and adopting PresentMon, an Event Tracing for Windows-based frame rate monitor. By default, PresentMon records all running processes. But we specifically filter out the process we want to evaluate, generating a record of time between Present commands, similar to Fraps.”
All of the cards in our Radeon RX 470 review are tested using the most current drivers available to press: AMD sent over Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.8.1, and Nvidia gave us GeForce 368.98.
|DirectX 12, Extreme quality preset, built-in benchmark|
|DirectX 11, Ultra quality preset, custom Tom’s Hardware benchmark (Tashgar jeep ride), 100-second Fraps recording|
|Vulkan, Ultra quality preset, custom benchmark, 100-second PresentMon recording|
|DirectX 11, Very High quality settings, 2x MSAA, built-in benchmark (test five), 110-second Fraps recording|
|DirectX 12, Ultra level of detail, SMAA, High texture quality, built-in benchmark, 95-second PresentMon recording|
|DirectX 11, Very High detail preset, SSAA, 16x AF, Normal Motion Blur, Normal Tessellation, built-in benchmark, 145-second Fraps recording|
|DirectX 11, Ultra quality settings, DS4X/SMAA anti-aliasing, High texture resolution, Nürburgring Sprint, 100-second Fraps recording|
|DirectX 12, Very High quality preset, SMAA, built-in benchmark, 80-second PresentMon recording|
|DirectX 11, Ultra quality preset, Supersampling temporal AA, built-in benchmark, 90-second Fraps recording|
|DirectX 11, Highest quality settings, HairWorks disabled, custom Tom’s Hardware benchmark, 100-second Fraps recording|
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