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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Our Skyrim test involved running around the town of Whiterun, starting from the city gates, all the way up to Dragonsreach, and then trotting back down again.

The game was run at 1920x1080 using the "Ultra" detail preset. The high-resolution texture pack was installed, as well.

We noticed something strange during our testing. Two of the Radeons, the 7770 Black Edition and 7850 1GB, suffered from hitching and general sluggishness during the first couple of test runs, but they performed smoothly during the other three runs. We normally base our latency plots on the third run from each card, but in the interest of highlighting the phenomenon, the plots below all show the first runs:


Ooh. We may have finally found a situation where 1GB frame buffers hinder performance at 1080p.

Perhaps that's a hasty connection to make, though. The GeForce GTX 560 has the exact same amount of RAM as the misbehaving Radeons—and lower memory bandwidth than the 7850 1GB—yet it doesn't suffer nearly to the same extent. The GTX 560 only exhibits a single big spike, toward the beginning of the run, and maintains largely consistent latencies the rest of the time. By contrast, the 7850 1GB and the 7770 both see multiple spikes and a general degradation of performance.

The average FPS rankings don't really reflect the problem, but the 99th-percentile numbers do. That said, we should note that these charts are based on data collected from all runs, not just the initial ones. Since hitching wasn't a problem in later runs, the differences here don't appear as stark as in the plots above.


Not even the slower Radeons spend much time above 50 ms. Lowering the "badness" threshold to 33 ms puts the Radeon HD 7700 Black Edition and 7850 1GB at a clear disadvantage, though. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! and Radeon HD 7850 2GB Black Edition are undoubtedly the better performers here.