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Our testing methods
Many of our performance tests are scripted and repeatable, but for a couple of games, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Metro 2033, we used the Fraps utility to record frame rates while playing a 60-second sequence from the game. Although capturing frame rates while playing isn't precisely repeatable, we tried to make each run as similar as possible to all of the others. We raised our sample size, testing each FRAPS sequence five times per video card, in order to counteract any variability. We've included second-by-second frame rate results from Fraps for those games, and in that case, you're seeing the results from a single, representative pass through the test sequence.

As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and we've reported the median result.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Core i7-965 Extreme 3.2GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte EX58-UD5
North bridge X58 IOH
South bridge ICH10R
Memory size 12GB (6 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Dominator CMD12GX3M6A1600C8
DDR3 SDRAM
at 1600MHz
Memory timings 8-8-8-24 2T
Chipset drivers INF update 9.1.1.1025
Rapid Storage Technology 9.6.0.1014
Audio Integrated ICH10R/ALC889A
with Realtek R2.51 drivers
Graphics Radeon HD 5750 1GB
with Catalyst 10.8 drivers & 10.8a application profiles
Sapphire Radeon HD 5750 1GB Vapor-X
with Catalyst 10.8 drivers & 10.8a application profiles
Sapphire Radeon HD 5750 1GB Vapor-X + Radeon HD 5750 1GB
with Catalyst 10.8 drivers & 10.8a application profiles
Gigabyte Radeon HD 5770 1GB
with Catalyst 10.8 drivers & 10.8a application profiles
XFX Radeon HD 5830 1GB
with Catalyst 10.8 drivers & 10.8a application profiles
EVGA GeForce GTS 250 Superclocked 1GB
with ForceWare 260.52 drivers
GeForce GTS 450 1GB
with ForceWare 260.52 drivers
Asus ENGTS450 TOP 1GB
with ForceWare 260.52 drivers
Dual GeForce GTS 450 1GB
with ForceWare 260.52 drivers
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 OC 768MB
with ForceWare 260.52 drivers
Hard drive WD RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB SATA
Power supply PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Watt
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Edition
DirectX runtime update June 2010

Thanks to Intel, Corsair, Western Digital, Gigabyte, and PC Power & Cooling for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. AMD, Nvidia, XFX, Asus, Sapphire, Zotac, and Gigabyte supplied the graphics cards for testing, as well.

Unless otherwise specified, image quality settings for the graphics cards were left at the control panel defaults. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.