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HAWX 2
As we transition from synthetic benchmarks that measure geometry processing throughput to real-world gaming tests, we'll make a stop at the curious case of HAWX 2. We already commented pretty extensively on the controversy surrounding tessellation and polygon use in HAWX 2, so we won't go into that again. I'd encourage you to read what we wrote earlier, if you haven't yet, in order to better understand the issues. Suffice to say that this game pushes through an awful lot of polygons, but it doesn't necessarily do so in as efficient a way as one would hope. The result is probably something closer to a synthetic test of geometry processing performance than a typical deployment of DX11 tessellation.

The question is: can Cayman's revamped tessellation capabilities make the Radeons more competitive in this strange case?

Well, again, this is progress, but the Radeon HD 6970 still trails the much cheaper GeForce GTX 460 1GB. Suffice to say that four or so years ago, when AMD and Nvidia architects began envisioning these GPU architectures, they had very different visions about what sort of polygon throughput should be required. Then again, in defense of the Radeons and of HAWX 2's developers, the Cayman cards are achieving easily playable frame rates at this four-megapixel resolution, so the point really is academic.

Lost Planet 2
Our next stop is another game with a built-in benchmark that makes extensive use of tessellation, believe it or not. We figured this and HAWX 2 would make a nice bridge from our synthetic tessellation benchmark and the rest of our game tests. This one isn't quite so controversial, thank goodness.

This benchmark emphasizes the game's DX11 effects, as the camera spends nearly all of its time locked onto the tessellated giant slug. We tested at two different tessellation levels to see whether it made any notable difference in performance. The difference in image quality between the two is, well, subtle.

This contest is a little closer, but the GTX 570 still has the upper hand on the 6970 here. The 6970 and 6950 are faster than the 5870, but not by a lot.