Batman: Arkham City
We did a little Batman-style free running through the rooftops of Gotham for this one.
Several factors converged to make us choose these settings. One of our goals in preparing this article was to avoid the crazy scenario we had in our GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 review, where every card tested could run nearly every game adequately. We wanted to push the fastest cards to their limits, not watch them tie a bunch of other cards for adequacy. So we cranked up the resolution and image quality and, yes, even enabled DirectX 11. We had previously avoided using DX11 with this game because the initial release had serious performance problems on pretty much any video card. A patch has since eliminated the worst problems, and the game is now playable in DX11, so we enabled it.
This choice makes sense for benchmarking ultra high-end graphics cards, I think. I have to say, though, that the increase in image quality with DX11 tessellation, soft shadows, and ambient occlusion isn't really worth the performance penalty you'll pay. The image quality differences are hard to see; the performance differences are abundantly obvious. This game looks great and runs very smoothly at 2560x1600 in DX9 mode, even on a $250 graphics card.
The GTX 680 again takes the top spot in the FPS sweeps, but as you can see in the plots above, all of the cards produce some long frame times with regularity. As a result of those higher-latency frames, the GTX 680 ties the 7970 in the 99th percentile frame time metric.
A broader look at the latency picture shows that the GTX 680 generally produces lower-latency frames than the 7970, which is why its FPS average is so high. However, that last 1% gives it trouble.
Lots of trouble, when we look at the time spent on long-latency frames. What happened to the GTX 680? Well, look up at the plots above, and you'll see that, very early in our test run, there was a frame that took nearly 180 ms to produce—nearly a fifth of a second. As we played the game, we experienced this wait as a brief but total interruption in gameplay. That stutter, plus a few other shorter ones, contributed to the 680's poor showing here. Turns out we ran into this problem with the GTX 680 in four of our five test runs, each time early in the run and each time lasting about 180 ms. Nvidia tells us the slowdown is the result of a problem with its GPU Boost mechanism that will be fixed in an upcoming driver update.