You'll see two different driver revisions listed for most of the cards below. That's because we've carried over many of these results from our Fury X review, but we decided to re-test a couple of games that got recent, performance-impacting updates: Project Cars and The Witcher 3. Both games were tested with newer drivers from AMD and Nvidia that include specific tweaks for those games.
The Radeon driver situation is more complex. The Catalyst 15.15 drivers we used to test the R9 390, 390X, and Fury X wouldn't install on the R9 290 and 295 X2, so we had to use older 15.4 and 15.6 drivers for those cards. Also, AMD dropped a new driver on us at the eleventh hour, Catalyst 15.7, that is actually a little fresher than the Cat 15.15 drivers used for the 390/X and Fury X. (Cat 15.7's internal AMD revision number is 15.20.) We weren't able to re-test all of the Radeons with the new driver, but we did test the R9 Fury with it.
I know some of you folks with OCD are having eye twitches right now. but if you'll look at our results, I think you'll find that the driver differences don't add up to much in the grand scheme, especially since we re-tested the two newest games that have been the subject of recent optimizations.
Also, because some of you expressed a desire to see more testing at lower resolutions, we tested both The Witcher 3 and Project Cars at 2560x1440. Doing so made sense because we had trouble getting smooth, playable performance from all the cards in 4K, anyhow.
Our testing methods
Most of the numbers you'll see on the following pages were captured with Fraps, a software tool that can record the rendering time for each frame of animation. We sometimes use a tool called FCAT to capture exactly when each frame was delivered to the display, but that's usually not necessary in order to get good data with single-GPU setups. We have, however, filtered our Fraps results using a three-frame moving average. This filter should account for the effect of the three-frame submission queue in Direct3D. If you see a frame time spike in our results, it's likely a delay that would affect when the frame reaches the display.
We didn't use Fraps with Civ: Beyond Earth or Battlefield 4. Instead, we captured frame times directly from the game engines using the games' built-in tools. We didn't use our low-pass filter on those results.
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Our test systems were configured like so:
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X99-UD5 WiFi|
|Memory size||16GB (4 DIMMs)|
DDR4 SDRAM at 2133 MT/s
|Memory timings||15-15-15-36 2T|
|Chipset drivers||INF update
Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise 22.214.171.1248
with Realtek 126.96.36.19946 drivers
|Hard drive||Kingston SSDNow 310 960GB SATA|
|Power supply||Corsair AX850|
|OS||Windows 8.1 Pro|
|Asus Radeon R9 290X||Catalyst 15.4/15.6 betas||-||1050||1350||4096|
|Radeon R9 295 X2||Catalyst 15.4/15.6 betas||-||1018||1250||8192|
|XFX Radeon R9 390||Catalyst 15.15 beta||-||1015||1500||4096|
|Asus Strix R9 390X||Catalyst 15.15 beta||-||1070||1500||4096|
|Asus Strix R9 Fury||Catalyst 15.7 beta||-||1000||500||4096|
|Radeon R9 Fury X||Catalyst 15.15||-||1050||500||4096|
|GeForce GTX 780 Ti||GeForce 352.90/353.30||876||928||1750||3072|
|Asus Strix GTX 970||GeForce 353.30||1114||1253||1753||4096|
|Gigabyte GTX 980 G1 Gaming||GeForce 352.90/353.30||1228||1329||1753||4096|
|GeForce GTX 980 Ti||GeForce 352.90/353.30||1002||1076||1753||6144|
|GeForce Titan X||GeForce 352.90/353.30||1002||1076||1753||12288|
Thanks to Intel, Corsair, Kingston, and Gigabyte for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. AMD, Nvidia, and the makers of the various products supplied the graphics cards for testing, as well.
Unless otherwise specified, image quality settings for the graphics cards were left at the control panel defaults. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.
The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.
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