Test Hardware: Graphics Cards And Platform
As always, we strive to represent game performance across a wide range of graphics hardware. We include cards ranging from the low-end Radeon HD 6450 and GeForce GT 210 to the powerful Radeon HD 7870 and GeForce GTX 580, plus GeForce GTX 460s in SLI and Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire.
We had a couple of holes in our hardware lineup, though, and Zotac was kind enough to send over the GeForce cards we needed to fill them. Here are the models we used:
Zotac Synergy GeForce 210 DDR3
This entry-level card is strictly for budget users. However, armed with DDR3 (instead of DDR2) memory, the GeForce 210 can often produce playable game performance at low resolutions. Boasting a 520 MHz core and 1066 MT/s DDR3 memory, Zotac's Synergy model is passively cooled and completely silent.
Zotac GeForce GT 440 GDDR5
Most GeForce GT 440s come equipped with DDR3 memory. But a select few manufacturers offer the card with double-bandwidth GDDR5 memory, and Zotac is one of them. With an 810 MHz core and 3200 MT/s GDDR5 memory, this card is good competition for the DDR3-equipped Radeon HD 6670. Plus, it doesn't need a PCIe power connector.
Zotac AMP! GeForce GTX 550 Ti
As with all of the AMP! edition cards, Zotac's GeForce 550 Ti sports an exceptionally high factory overclock. In this case, the board employs a 1000 MHz core and 4400 MT/s GDDR5 memory. According to our research, this is highest factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 550 Ti available (along with Palit's Sonic Edition, which offers the same frequencies).
Zotac Synergy GeForce GTX 460
Zotac's Synergy edition consists of a GeForce GTX 460 matched up to a 192-bit memory bus. Its core clock matches Nvidia's reference at 675 MHz, as does its 3600 MT/s GDDR5 memory.
Note that we're using this product to demonstrate single-card performance, since the supply of 256-bit GeForce GTX 460s is drying up. Because we only have one of these boards, SLI performance is represented by two 256-bit GeForce GTX 460 cards.
Zotac AMP²! GeForce GTX 580
Factory overclocked to an 815 MHz core and 4100 MT/s GDDR5 memory, Zotac's AMP²! represents one of the fastest GeForce GTX 580s you can buy. Not only that, it sports twice the standard amount of memory (3 GB) and comes equipped with a Zalman VF-3000 cooler to keep noise and temperatures down.
Keep in mind that we set all overclocked cards to reference specifications in order to represent the majority of products on the market.
With no in-game benchmark tool available, we had to devise one of our own. The best way to get reliable and repeatable performance was to run around the edge of Old Tristram, from the portal and back again, and record the frame rate with Fraps.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz @ 4.25 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 210 1 GB DDR3GeForce GT 440 512 MB GDDR5GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB GDDR5GeForce GTX 460 192-bit 768 MB GDDR5GeForce GTX 580 3 GB GDDR52 x GeForce GTX 460 256-bit 1 GB GDDR5 in SLIRadeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3Radeon HD 6770 1 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR52 x Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5 in CrossFire|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 470-series 256 GB (SSD)|
|Power||ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V|
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1|
|Graphics Drivers||Catalyst 12.4 WHQL, Nvidia 296.10 WHQL|
|Diablo III Beta||Old Tristram area, 40 second FRAPS run|