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

Synthetic Graphics Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic benchmarks tend to exercise graphics functionality at a level that is unlikely to be seen in a typical game. Consequently, they're often regarded as worst-case scenarios, and should thus be part of any benchmark suite to provide a baseline, ideally uninfluenced by IHV interference. Apart from the obligatory 3DMark 11, we also added Unigine Heaven 2.5 and Unigine Sanctuary, which we first used in 2011.

Synthetic: 3DMark 11

3DMark is one of the oldest, most widely-used synthetics, and it has been subject to its own controversies and abuses over time. Its current iteration is 3DMark 11, which provides some of the most rigorous performance testing available today. Consequently, it's the only benchmark where we loosen our resolution requirements, as there is no graphics card on the market that can tackle more than 1080p in 3DMark 11. Since our goal is to only assess graphics speed, we don't both with the CPU scores in our final result, only tallying graphics tests one through four.

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Preset LevelResolutionSettings
Entry1024x600Advanced-Mode: Entry Preset
Performance1280x720Advanced-Mode: Performance Preset
Extreme1920x1080Advanced-Mode: Extreme Preset

Unigine Heaven 2.5

This benchmark is a classic for assessing tessellation, and it is also excellent for assessing shader performance. It's well-suited to illustrate architectural changes and other technological advancements.

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Preset LevelResolutionSettings
Entry1280x720DirectX 11Shaders: LowTessellation: ModerateAnisotropy: x8Anti-aliasing: Off
Performance1920x1080DirectX 11Shaders: MediumTessellation: NormalAnisotropy: x16Anti-aliasing: x4
Extreme2560x1440DirectX 11Shaders: HighTessellation: ExtremeAnisotropy: x16Anti-aliasing: x8

Unigine Sanctuary 2.3

Unigine Sanctuary is good for evaluating dynamic lighting, HDR rendering, parallax occlusion mapping, ambient occlusion mapping, translucence, volumetric light and fog, particle systems, and post-processing. Consequently, it can stand in for older DirectX 10 games, which we're now dropping from the charts in order to keep our game selection current.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Preset LevelResolutionSettings
Entry1280x720DirectX 11Shaders: LowAmbient occlusion: OffAnisotropy: x8Anti-aliasing: Off
Performance1920x1080DirectX 11Shaders: MediumAmbient occlusion: OnAnisotropy: x16Anti-aliasing: x4
Extreme2560x1440DirectX 11Shaders: HighAmbient occlusion: OnAnisotropy: x16Anti-aliasing: x8
  • 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.