How We Test Mass Effect: Andromeda
|Motherboard (LGA 1151)||Asus Z170-Deluxe|
|RAM||Klevv DDR4-2133 8GB|
|Controller||Intel Z170 PCH SATA 6 Gb/s|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master G450M|
|Case||Haf XB EVO|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 Pro 1607 (14393.969)|
|Graphics Drivers||Nvidia GeForce Game Ready 378.92AMD Radeon Crimson Edition 17.3.3|
We're using a fairly mid-range gaming PC that we hope represents what a lot of our readers are running. If you're lucky enough to own faster hardware, you'll naturally enjoy higher frame rates. Steam's survey of hardware and software configurations offers us a view of the most prevalent components and settings (the data comes from February 2017):
- Windows 10 64-bit representing 47.7% of the market.
- 8GB RAM, present in 34% of surveyed gaming PCs (our configuration has 16GB).
- Full HD (1920x1080) is used by 43% of gamers, while 24% are still at 1366x768. QHD (2560x1440 pixels) is used by less than 2% of gamers, and 4K is anecdotal. As a result, we're testing at 1920x1080.
- Quad-core CPUs are installed in almost half of the examined systems (47.7%). Logically, our configuration is loaded with a mid-range quad-core Intel CPU.
Graphics Card Selection
We picked eight graphics cards to test. They're mostly mid-range, and they represent popular choices from current- and previous-generation architectures. Here are the competing cards:
The Radeon RX 480 “Core” from XFX is at a disadvantage, given its stock clock rate, compared to the Asus Strix OC and its GPU frequency of 1645 MHz. We're overclocking it +4% to the level of a factory-tuned model, yielding a 1340 MHz GPU and 2 GHz memory.
These two cards represent where the mid-range segment starts. The Radeon RX 470 should have an advantage with its additional gigabyte of memory.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 and AMD's Radeon R9 390 are previous-gen cards, but they'll no doubt remain popular in mid-range gaming PCs for months to come. We picked them more for their popularity in existing gaming machines, rather than their retail prevalence, which is quite variable.
In past game performance stories, readers asked for even lower-end cards to gauge whether entry-level hardware is good enough for playable frame rates. As such, we're adding a couple.
All performance data is collected using the PresentMon tool and our own custom front-end.
In order to represent graphics card performance accurately, each test subject is warmed up to a stable temperature before measurements are collected. Most GPUs employ mechanisms to optimize clock rates based on variables like power and temperature. So, tests run during the warm-up period would convey better performance than you'd see in the real world.
We therefore run the benchmark sequence twice to warm up each card. Then we gather the data for our charts. For graphics options, we tested the game at Full HD with Medium and High settings. We also tested the RX 480 and GTX 1060 6GB with the Ultra preset, and the RX 460 and GTX 1050 with Low preset.
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