For this test, we used our reference configuration, and as usual tested the games exclusively with Fraps and under real gaming conditions. Most of the games used previously were used again, and updated as always (with the latest patches installed), but two new items have been included: Mass Effect, the space opera RPG by Bioware, which despite its Xbox 360 origins has been successfully ported and which we felt we simply had to use (also since it fills the gap left in our protocol since we dropped Fable). There’s also Race Driver: GRID, which despite its interface, is still a tester’s nightmare (like the earlier Colin McRae Dirt from the same publisher, Codemasters). The title is also visually very attractive and inaugurates the latest version of the Ego Engine.
All the synthetic DirectX 9 tests were run under Windows XP because of their instability under Vista (Fillrate Tester, RightMark 1050, ShaderMark 2.1 and SPECviewperf 10). RightMark 3D 2.0 (DirectX 10) was of course run under Windows Vista (without SP1 due to its instability with it), and Vista SP1 was used for all the games, CUDA tests, environmental measurements and overclocking. UAC, Aero, SuperFetch and indexing were disabled to ensure stable results.
We used only two resolutions for this test, 1920*1200 (24/26"), and of course the 2560*1600 used by 30" monitors – in this case a Samsung 305T. That’s because we feel that they’re the only two resolutions this type of very-high-end card will be running. Below them (up to 22"), you wouldn’t need to cough up the price of this breed of 3D card to get a good, fluid display on the majority of current games, as we noted during our latest tests
- Asus P5E3 Deluxe (Intel X38)
- Intel Core 2 Quad QX6850 (3 GHz)
- Crucial 2 x 1 GB DDR3 1333 MHz 7-7-7-20
- Western Digital WD5000AAKS
- Asus 12x DVD player
- Cooler Master RealPower Pro 850W
- Windows XP, Vista, Vista SP1
- ForceWare 177.34 beta (GTX 260 and GTX 280 under Vista)
- ForceWare 177.26 beta (GTX 280 under XP)
- ForceWare 175.16 WHQL (9800 GTX, 9800 GX2, 8800 Ultra)
- Catalyst 8.5 WHQL (HD 3870 X2)