Click on the buttons above to cycle through plots of the frame times from one of our three test runs for each graphics card. You'll notice that the lines for the multi-GPU solutions like the R9 295 X2 and two GTX 780 Ti cards in SLI are "fuzzier" than the those from the single-GPU solutions. That's an example of multi-GPU micro-stuttering, where the two GPUs are slightly out of sync, so the frame-to-frame intervals tend to vary in an alternating pattern. Click on the buttons below to zoom in and see how that pattern looks up close.
The only really pronounced example of microstuttering in our zoomed-in plots is the GTX 780 Ti SLI config, and it's not in terrible shape, with the peak frame times remaining under 25 ms or so. The thing is, although we can measure this pattern in Fraps, it's likely that Nvidia's frame metering algorithm will smooth out this saw-tooth pattern and ensure more consistent delivery of frames to the display.
Not only does the 295 X2 produce the highest average frame rate, but it backs that up by delivering the lowest rendering times across 99% of the frames in our test sequence, as the 99th percentile frame time indicates.
Here's a broader look at the frame rendering time curve. You can see that the 295 X2 has trouble in the very last less-than-1% of frames. I can tell you where that happens in the test sequence, when my exploding arrow does its thing. We've seen frame time spikes on both brands of video cards at this precise spot before. Thing is, if you look at the frame time plots above, Nvidia appears to have reduced the size of that spike recently, perhaps during the work it's done optimizing this new 337.50 driver.
These "time spent beyond X" graphs are meant to show "badness," those instances where animation my be less than fluid—or at least less than perfect. The 50-ms threshold is the most notable one, since it corresponds to a 20-FPS average. We figure if you're not rendering any faster than 20 FPS, even for a moment, then the user is likely to perceive a slowdown. 33ms correlates to 30 FPS or a 30Hz refresh rate. Go beyond that with vsync on, and you're into the bad voodoo of quantization slowdowns. And 16.7 ms correlates to 60 FPS, that golden mark that we'd like to achieve (or surpass) for each and every frame.
Per our discussion above, the GTX 780 Ti SLI aces this test by never crossing the 50-ms threshold. The R9 295X X2 is close behind—and solidly ahead of a single Hawaii GPU aboard the Radeon R9 290X. That's the kind of real-world improvement we want out of a multi-GPU solution. This is where I'd normally stop and say we'll want to verify the proper frame delivery with FCAT, but in this particular case, I'll skip that step and call it good. Subjectively speaking, Crysis 3 on the 295 X2 at 4K is amazingly fluid and smooth, and this game has the visual fidelity to make you appreciate the additional pixels.
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