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AMD Dual Graphics Analysis: Better Benchmarks; Same Experience?

Video Demos, Test System And Benchmark Setup

We've always wanted to show you exactly what we see when we're comparing the output of different graphics cards. The problem was that a lossless capture at 60 Hz and 1920x1080 yields a colossal video file that's too large to download, really. On the other hand, putting the same file on YouTube cut its frame rate to 30 FPS, conveying half of the information from our original capture. Fortunately, we have a workaround thanks to YouTube's HTML5 trial. Enable this beta feature by going to this page and clicking the "Join HTML5 Trial" button:

Once you're in, close and relaunch your Web browser. You should now have access to HTML5-based speed controls through the settings button on the bottom-right of the video playback window:

We encoded our results at half-speed. So, at the YouTube "normal" speed setting (30 FPS), you can scrutinize the result at slower-than-real-time and get a great sense of the differences. Then, if you want to see the output as it appears when we're testing, set the speed to 2x (60 FPS). Thanks to this technique, we have a powerful way to demonstrate the experience at 60 Hz, and you're able to see what we do when we're creating our benchmark results.

First, a few suggestions about the HTML5 trial. Make sure that the video loads completely before playing it back at 2x. This naturally requires more bandwidth, and you don't want hiccups in the stream affecting your perception of the capture. Also, we've seen cases where YouTube doesn't register a speed setting change until the page is reloaded. Finally, we recommend watching the video at normal speed before speeding it up. It's much easier to see differences in frame rate smoothness this way.

You'll notice that we're using the Catalyst 13.6 Beta 2 driver instead of Catalyst 13.8 Beta, which adds a frame pacing feature for smoother, more consistent output. AMD tells us that the new driver does not affect Dual Graphics configurations. It only works with multiple discrete GPUs. Rest assured that the configuration we're presenting is as up to date as possible.

Socket FM2
CPUAMD A10-6800K (Richland) 4.1 GHz Base, 4.4 GHz Turbo Core w/ integrated Radeon HD 8670D (844 MHz)
MotherboardASRock FM2A85X, Socket FM2, Chipset: AMD A85
NetworkingOn-Board Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryAMD Gamer Series Memory, 2 x 4 GB, 1866 MT/s, CL 13-13-13-34
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 6670 DDR3800 MHz GPU, 1 GB GDDR5 at 800 MHz (1600 MHz effective)
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 750 GB 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
PowerePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst 13.6 Beta 2
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Metro: Last LightVersion 1.0.0.0, DirectX 10, Built-in Benchmark
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimVersion 1.6.89.06, Version 1.5.26.05, 25-Sec. Fraps
Tomb RaiderVersion 1.04, Custom THG Benchmark, 60-Sec. Fraps
F1 2012Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark, 60-Sec. Fraps
BioShock InfiniteVersion 1.0.1441711, Built-in Benchmark, Fraps
Company Of Heroes 2Version 3.0.0.9804, Built-in Benchmark, Fraps
  • beta212
    Hmm, IDK, I feel like there is definitely a performance boost in certain games that are just bordering on playability. That said, if you want really good graphics, why not buy the Athlon with disabled GPU cores? Same goes for the intel P series. Just add a discrete card.
    Reply
  • 17seconds
    "That's just not right."

    If I had just paid good money for a new graphics card for Dual Graphics, I'd be feeling pretty well cheated out of my money right now.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    The drivers tested in this analysis are a tiny bit too old, just before the Crossfire Frame Pacing fix was released.

    Could we see this performed again with Catalyst 13.8?

    Reply
  • cleeve
    11356019 said:
    The drivers tested in this analysis are a tiny bit too old, just before the Crossfire Frame Pacing fix was released.
    Could we see this performed again with Catalyst 13.8?

    See page 2:

    "You'll notice that we're using the Catalyst 13.6 Beta 2 driver instead of Catalyst 13.8 Beta, which adds a frame pacing feature for smoother, more consistent output. AMD tells us that the new driver does not affect Dual Graphics configurations. It only works with multiple discrete GPUs. Rest assured that the configuration we're presenting is as up to date as possible."

    Reply
  • Calculatron
    Despite the bad news, I think this article was just what a lot of people needed. It helps clears up a lot of confusion and hearsay about AMD Dual Graphics options, like the being able to enable the Radeon HD 7750, or if GDDR5 makes any difference or not. More importantly, it shows how important software optimization is for product performance, and hopefully AMD strives to eliminate similar issues in the future.

    As this issue unfolds, I hope there are as informative follow-ups to accompany them. Good job!
    Reply
  • joytech22

    Ah - my apologies.. Thanks for the response.
    Reply
  • rpgplayer
    Well, now I see that my Llano box I built for a media center 2 years ago will be completely rebuilt rather than getting an add in card. If AMD's next gen APU will use the FM2+ boards as well I may go that route. If not, I'll probably wind up dumping AMD all together and go with an Intel rig.
    Reply
  • edwd2
    thanks for the clarification
    Reply
  • killerchickens
    Can frame pacing be forced?
    Reply
  • If only AMD spent more of their time and their resources on software optimization rather than on those competition-bashing ads. Seeing some silly ads or reading about some flip/flopping (I now get paid by a different overlord) salesman, bashing Intel or nVidia products, does not instill the confidence in buying AMD products, specifically their APUs and (professional) GPUs. I really do want to buy your stuff AMD; less marketing more software development...pleeease.
    Reply