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Gaming At 3840x2160: Is Your PC Ready For A 4K Display?

How Do We Benchmark Graphics At 4K Resolutions?

Benchmarking At 4K

Unfortunately, we can’t use the DisplayPort interface for our testing. The whole point of FCAT is recording video from the display output, which is then used by a combination of Perl scripts to analyze frame rates. As it stands, capturing video at 2560x1440 already maxes out the Datapath Ltd. card responsible for that task. By splitting the stream into two HDMI signals, however, creating a pair of 1920x2160 outputs, we keep the capture manageable.

The rest of what we do remains very similar to the FCAT-based analysis we adopted months ago. Even though only one panel’s output is memorialized in video, because the graphics subsystem is still rendering to two, the performance measured by our capture card still reflects the complete experience.

Today’s exploration only involves one GeForce GTX Titan, two GeForce GTX 770s, two GeForce GTX 780s, and two GeForce GTX Titans. This is by design.

AMD is now up to its Catalyst 13.10 beta driver, which incorporates the company’s frame pacing functionality that was so warmly received in Radeon HD 7990 Vs. GeForce GTX 690: The Crowd Picks A Winner. We also quantified the benefit of frame pacing in Dual-GPU Battle: Does Frame Pacing In Catalyst 13.8 Turn The Tide? The caveat was that AMD only supports this feature at resolutions up to 2560x1600. Eyefinity, which is needed by Asus’ tiled PQ321Q, isn’t yet enabled either. So, rather than publishing a bunch of graphs that remind everyone what a lot of dropped and runt frames look like, we’re simply omitting multi-GPU configurations in CrossFire for the time being. AMD is fully aware of the issues preventing a good experience at 3840x2160, and we’re now hoping to get our hands on its phase-two frame pacing driver before the end of the year. That’ll be the release expected to add support for higher resolutions, Eyefinity, DirectX 9, and OpenGL.

Test Hardware And Software

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-4960X (Ivy Bridge-E) 3.6 GHz Base Clock Rate, 4 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardASRock X79 Extreme5 (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS 2.40
MemoryG.Skill 32 GB (8 x 4 GB) DDR3-2133, F3-17000CL9Q-16GBXM x2 @ 9-11-10-28 and 1.65 V
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Pro SSD 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX Titan 6 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2 GB
Power SupplyCorsair AX860i 860 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 327.19
Benchmarks And Settings
Battlefield 3Ultra Quality Preset, v-sync off, 3840x2160, DirectX 11, Going Hunting, 90-Second playback, FCAT
Arma 3Ultra Detail Preset, DirectX 11, 2x FSAA, v-sync off, 3840x2160, Infantry Showcase, 30-Second playback, FCAT
Grid 2Ultra Quality Preset, v-sync off, 3840x2160, Built-In Benchmark, FCAT
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUltra Quality Preset, FXAA Disabled, 3840x2160, Custom Run-Through, 25-Second playback, FCAT
BioShock InfiniteHigh Quality Settings, DirectX 11, 3840x2160, Custom Built-in Benchmark Sequence, 75-Second playback FCAT
Crysis 3High System Spec, SMAA MGPU (2x), High Texture Resolution, 3840x2160, Custom Run-Through, 60-Second Sequence, FCAT
Tomb RaiderUltra Quality Preset, FXAA Enabled, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, TressFX Hair, 3840x2160, Custom Run-Through, 45-Second playback, FCAT
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.