How We Tested
We recently standardized our testing platform across Tom’s Hardware editors and offices, locking down consistent specifications for 2015. As such, all of today’s benchmarks are run on an Intel Core i7-5930K processor complemented by 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory. Stepping up to 500GB SSDs helps accommodate large benchmark suites, while our 850W power supply offers ample headroom to test even AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2.
Because the GeForce GTX Titan X launched just a couple of months ago, most of our results were generated for that story. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan X, 980, Titan, and 780 Ti are predominantly tested using driver build 347.84. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is benchmarked with 352.90. Similarly, the results for all Nvidia cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt employ 352.90.
AMD’s cards are measured using the 14.12 Omega update posted in December of 2014. The numbers for Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt come from the 15.4 Beta posted in April.
Update: In the days before Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti launch, AMD published Catalyst 15.5 Beta with specific optimizations for The Witcher 3 and Project Cars. We re-tested both the Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 295X2 using this build, finding that the 290X's performance didn't change at all, while the 295X2 improved by an average of around 3 FPS at 3840x2160, continuing to underperform one Hawaii GPU.
Looking for an explanation, we ran across the following in AMD's release notes: "To enable the best performance and experience in Crossfire, users must disable Anti-Aliasing from the games video-post processing options. Some random flickering may occur when using Crossfire. If the issue is affecting the game experience, as a work around we suggest disabling Crossfire while we continue to work with CD Projekt Red to resolve this issue". Our benchmark run does employ anti-aliasing, and the 295X2 can't really avoid its CrossFire-based architecture. We're waiting for a comment from AMD explaining what might be happening from a technical perspective.
This was a more prominent issue back when AMD launched its Radeon R9 290X, but we continue to pre-heat graphics cards with benchmark runs prior to recording our actual results. This is done to avoid non-representative clock rates on both companies’ hardware.
Software And Drivers
|Graphics Drivers||GeForce GTX 980 Ti: Nvidia 352.90 Beta DriverAll GeForce Cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt:Nvidia 352.90 Beta DriverGeForce GTX Titan X, 980, Titan, and 780 Ti in all other games: Nvidia 347.25 Beta DriverAll Radeon Cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt: AMD Catalyst 15.4 BetaAll Radeon Cards in all other games: AMD Catalyst Omega 14.12|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor||Built-in benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultra preset|
|Battlefield 4||Custom THG Benchmark, 100-sec Fraps, Ultra preset|
|Metro Last Light||Built-in benchmark, 145-sec Fraps, Very High preset, 16x AF, Normal motion blur|
|Thief||Version 1.7, Built-in benchmark, 70-sec Fraps, Very High preset|
|Tomb Raider||Version 1.01.748.0, Custom THG Benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultimate preset|
|Far Cry 4||Version 1.9.0, Custom THG benchmark, 60-sec Fraps, Ultra preset|
|Grand Theft Auto V||Build 350, Online 1.26, In-game benchmark sequence #5, 110-sec Fraps, FXAA: On, MSAA: 2x, Texture Quality: Very High, Shader Quality: Very High, Shadow Quality: High, Reflection Quality: Very High, Water Quality: High, Particles Quality: Very High, Grass Quality: High, Soft Shadows: Softer, Post FX: Very High, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt||Version 1.03, Custom THG Benchmark, 110-sec Fraps, Post-processing Preset: High, Graphics Preset: Ultra, HairWorks: Off|