How We Test
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge), 3.4 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 95 W, Overclocked to 4.5 GHz|
|CPU Cooler||Prolimatech SuperMega + Noiseblocker Multiframe|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z68X-UD5 B3, Z68 Express, LGA 1155|
|Memory||2 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600|
|Hard Drive||Kingston V100+ 256 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX1200|
|Operating System And Graphics Driver||Windows 7 x64 SP1GeForce 301.33Catalyst 12.4|
Here in the U.S., we're in the habit of testing with high-end X79 Express-based platforms that give multi-card configurations enough PCI Express connectivity to circumvent any possible bottlenecks. Our European editorial teams often take a more power-friendly approach, given the price of electricity over there.
Previously, they were using an older Core i5-based setup for testing graphics cards. But, not surprisingly, that started to inhibit performance. The latest round of 28 nm-based GPUs pushed them over the edge, and they upgraded to a Core i7-2600K-based machine overclocked to 4.5 GHz, which yields plenty of speed without the gratuitous consumption of our Sandy Bridge-E-based machine.
The motherboard and memory in the German lab remain the same as they were last year. Their power supply is newer, though, now able to handle four graphics cards in four-way CrossFire or SLI arrangements. Also, the new build employs a 256 GB Kingston SSD, to which all games and benchmarks are installed.
The whole setup is installed on a rolling table, so that it can be moved between a climate-controlled room, which is kept at 72° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius), and our noise-dampened room, eliminating the need to take out the graphics cards and put them in a second system. Our climate-controlled room is not suitable for noise measurements below 32 dB(A) due to the proximity of several other machines in it.