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Skyrim overtime: return to Whiterun
Some of you lamented the fact that our latest round of tests changed all of the games and test scenarios wholesale, so one couldn't compare to familiar tests from past reviews to see whether the Radeon's latency problems were introduced by recent driver updates or some other change. With that in mind, we've returned to our familiar test scenario where we make a loop around Whiterun. We're using the same image quality settings that we did in our initial GTX 660 Ti review, although the OS and graphics driver revisions have changed.


Interesting. There isn't much change from our older review. Let's line up the numbers for a quick comparison:

Zotac GTX 660 Ti AMP! Zotac GTX 660 Ti AMP! Radeon HD 7950 Boost Sapphire HD 7950 Vapor-X Sapphire HD 7950 Vapor-X
Win7 Win8 Win7 Win7 Win8
GeForce
305.37 beta
GeForce
310.54 beta
Catalyst
12.7 beta
Catalyst
12.11 beta 8
Catalyst
12.11 beta 8
Average FPS 87 88 91 86 86
99th percentile frame time (ms) 17.8 16.5 17.7 18.3 18.0

The Radeon HD 7950 appears to have regressed a bit with the move to newer drivers, with a slight drop in FPS averages and a corresponding increase in 99th percentile frame times. That's true even though we've switched to a Sapphire 7950 card with a 25MHz higher Boost clock in our recent tests. Meanwhile, the Zotac GTX 660 Ti has improved somewhat with newer software and the move to Windows 8. The biggest change may be in its frame time plot, which looks tighter, with less variance than in our prior review.

However, the differences overall are very minor, and they appear to affect FPS averages and 99th percentile latency to similar degrees. As a bridge to the past, I think this outcome tells us nothing too major has changed, other than the way we're testing Skyrim. Our basic hardware configs are working as expected, and the OS and driver changes haven't introduced any new frame latency problems in this older test scenario.

The larger takeaway is that the results from both test scenarios are very likely valid. They're just different. The Radeon HD 7950 handles the graphics workload in our Whiterun loop quite competitively, essentially matching the GeForce GTX 660 Ti, with nice, low frame latencies and relatively minor variance from frame to frame. However, the 7950 doesn't process the more difficult workload in our cross-country test nearly as gracefully as its GeForce rival does.