Meet The 2012 Graphics Charts: How We're Testing This Year

Selecting A Monitor And Choosing Resolutions

Selecting a Monitor

Based on usage statistics, we standardized on a 16:9 aspect ratio for the charts (don't worry, you'll still see 2560x1600 in our reviews). We also expanded the number of screen resolutions that get benchmarked, testing at 1280x720, 1920x1080, and 2560x1440. At each resolution, we use a suitable combination of quality settings for entry-level, performance, and extreme usage scenarios. Those all get explained on the next page. In order to objectively assess image quality, we switched to a fast H-IPS panel, which achieves a broader color range than common TN-based panels, along with a larger viewing angle and higher brightness.

After careful analysis, we chose Dell's U2711 as the basis for our test platform.

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Technical Data
Make / ModelDell U2711
Pixel Size (mm)0.233
Default Resolution:2560x1440 (16:9)
Actual Screen Size/ Diagonal (inches)23.5x13.2 / 27.0
FPS (Hz)56-75 (HDMI: 24 / 48 / 50 / 60)
Max. Line Frequency / Video Bandwidth (kHz/MHz)30-89 / 165
Color Spaces Preset/User:7/1 and 4/1

Due to the noticeably increased performance of current and to-be-released high-end graphics cards, testing at 2560x1440 becomes more important. The ubiquitous 1080p resolution with 1920x1080 pixels, typically offered by LCD monitors in the 22” to 24” range, is the new mid-range charts setting. At the low end, we also test with the relatively smaller 720p resolution with 1280x720 pixels. Obviously, we can't test with all possible resolutions, but feel free to interpolate test results using this handy resolution table:

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DesignationWidth in PixelsHeight in PixelsTotal PixelsAspect Ratio
SVGA800600480 0004:3
XGA1024768786 4324:3
XGA+1152768884 7363:2
HD7201280720921 60016:9
WXGA1280768983 04016:9
12808001 024 00016:10
13667681 049 08816:9
SXGA128010241 310 7205:4
WSXGA14409601 382 4003:2
SXGA+144010501 512 0004:3
WSXGA+168010501 764 00016:10
UXGA160012001 920 0004:3
HD1080192010802 073 60016:9
WUXGA192012002 304 00016:10
HD1440256014403 686 40016:9
WQXGA256016004 096 00016:10

With our monitor choice established, let's have a look at the three different preset levels that we use to benchmark entry-level, mid-range, and high-end graphics cards.

  • johnny_utah
    While I love the new techniques, using BITCOIN to bench GPUGPU performance instead of Folding @ Home? Um, okay.
  • Still with the bar charts? Would *love* to see scatter plots with price/score on the axes... So much more useful in picking out a card.
  • AznCracker
    Man the charts are dying to be updated. Too bad it isn't done more often since it takes a lot of work.
  • You havent added how many cheese wheels it can run in skyrim as a benchmark... wth?
  • DjEaZy
    ... i like the pile of card's @ the end of the article.... a beautiful pile...
  • pharoahhalfdead
    johnny_utahWhile I love the new techniques, using BITCOIN to bench GPUGPU performance instead of Folding @ Home? Um, okay.
    I agree. I know Tom's spends a lot of time benchmarking, but Folding@home is something that is a bit more common. I would love to see F@H in some articles.

    BTW, I appreciate all the work you guys do.
  • randomkid
    Where's the 5760x1080? In the area where I come from, 3x 1920x1080p 22" monitor cost around the same or even less than a single 2560x1440/1600 27" monitor so this is a more likely configuration among gamers.

    The 5760x1080 resolution will also push the GPU's harder than a 2560x1440/1600 could so why limit the resolution there?
  • We'll add up to 20 new boards each month until the lower end of the performance range is filled out, too.
    How far back in GPU generations are you going to test, if at all? I saw the power consumption charts and could only see GTX 500, 600 and Radeon 6000, 7000 series. I have an EVGA GTX 480 SC for two years and do like to know how it compares to the newer series of GPUs. Much appreciated.
  • Yargnit
    MMO FanYup no surprise here typical Nvidia benchmark suite fuck sakes.
    So what would YOU like to see used then? If they were trying to push Nvidia wouldn't Hawx 2 be in the suite?
  • shinym
    For Starcraft II you say "This game doesn't stress the CPU, and is thus well-suited for GPU benchmarking." Looks like you got CPU and GPU mixed up there.