Test System And Graphics Hardware
We strive to represent game performance across a wide range of graphics hardware. Today, we're including cards ranging from the low-end Radeon HD 6450 and GeForce 210 to the powerful Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 670.
Gigabyte Radeon 6670 DDR3: GV-R667D3-1GI
Because Gigabyte sells a broad range of graphics cards up and down the product stacks of AMD and Nvidia, we chose to use the company's boards for testing. The first, which we consider ideal for gamers on a budget, is the Radeon HD 6670 DDR3. This is the minimum discrete card that we deem viable in Guild Wars 2. It's able to handle many titles at 1920x1080 or 1280x720.
Gigabyte's GV-R667D3-1GI comes equipped with 1 GB of fast-enough DDR3 memory and an aftermarket 100 mm cooler to keep noise low and temperatures down under load. Despite its entry-level billing, this Radeon HD 6670 board represents a good choice for upgrading a desktop PC without a big power supply, since it doesn't need an auxiliary input. The GV-R667D3-1GI draws all of the power it needs from a PCI Express slot.
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7770 Overclocked: GV-R777OC-1GD
AMD's Radeon HD 7770 is a powerful sub-$150 piece of hardware, and Gigabyte's GV-R777OC-1GD takes it a step further with a 100 MHz core overclock (to 1100 MHz) and a 125 MHz memory overclock (to 1250 MHz). Like the GV-R667D3-1GI, a 100 mm fan keeps the card cool and quiet under load.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 Super Overclocked: GV-N580SO-15I
With an 855 MHz core and 1025 MHz memory, Gigabyte's GV-N580SO-15I is one of the fastest GeForce GTX 580s-based graphics cards available. Its Windforce 3x cooler delivers excellent thermal performance, helping ensure longevity and quiet operation under overclocked conditions.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Overclocked: GV-N670OC-2GD
The newest card in this story, GV-N670OC-2GD features Gigabyte's Windforce 3x cooler with what the company calls its Triangle Cool technology (a specialized inclined-fin design that Gigabyte claims lowers air turbulence and increases cooling efficiency). The card's 980 MHz base clock is overclocked by 65 MHz compared to Nvidia's reference spec, and it's rated for around 1058 MHz under GPU Boost.
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Overclocked: GV-R797OC-3GD
Gigabyte's GV-R797OC-3GD features a 1 GHz core clock (75 MHz over stock) and 3 GB of RAM. Like the company's specially-tuned GeForce GTX 670, a Windforce 3x cooler equipped with Triangle Cool technology offers better-than-reference acoustics and temperatures. That's particularly important on a Radeon HD 7970 board, since AMD's own cooler is so loud.
Although many of these boards ship overclocked from Gigabyte, we configured them to run at their reference speeds in order to represent a greater majority of cards available on the market.
With no in-game benchmark tool available to test Guild Wars 2, we created our own sequence for measuring performance. We figured out that the game's Norn starting area was among the most taxing, probably as a result of its lush forest detail. Then, we ran the same pre-set path with Fraps running for 20 seconds. Our results are repeatable, and suffer very little variance.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz @ 4.25 GHz , Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled.|
|Motherboard||ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express|
|Networking||On-Board Gigabit LAN controller|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T|
|Graphics||GeForce 210 1 GB DDR3GeForce GT 440 512 MB GDDR5GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB GDDR5GeForce GTX 460 192-bit 768 MB GDDR5GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB GDDR5GeForce GTX 670 2 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 6870 1 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR5Radeon HD 7970 3 GB GDDR5|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 470-series 256 GB (SSD)|
|Power||ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V|
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1|
|Graphics Drivers||Catalyst 12.7 Beta, Nvidia 301.42 WHQL|
|Guild Wars 2 Beta||Norn starting area, Fraps run|