Our testing methods
As always, we did our best to deliver clean benchmarking numbers. Our test system was configured as follows:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-6700K|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z170 Extreme7+, BIOS version 3.10|
|Memory size||16GB (2 DIMMs)|
|Memory type||Corsair Vengeance LPX
DDR4 SDRAM at 3200 MT/s
|Chipset drivers||Intel Management Engine 188.8.131.525
Intel Rapid Storage Technology V 184.108.40.2061
|Audio||Integrated Z170/Realtek ALC1150
Realtek 220.127.116.1125 drivers
|Hard drive||OCZ Vector 180 480GB SATA 6Gbps|
|Power supply||Corsair RM850|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro with Anniversary Update|
We used the following graphics cards and drivers to represent the GeForces and Radeons chosen for our benchmarks:
|Driver revision||GPU base
|Sapphire Radeon RX 460||Radeon Software 16.8.1 beta||-||1250||1750||4096|
|Asus Strix Radeon R7 370||Radeon Software 16.8.1 beta||-||1050||1400||4096|
|XFX Radeon R7 360||Radeon Software 16.8.1 beta||-||995||1400||2048|
|Asus GeForce GTX 950 2G||GeForce 368.81||1026||1190||1653||2048|
|MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti N750TI-2GD5||GeForce 368.81||1058||1216||1750||2048|
This review marks the first time we've formally gathered DirectX 12 and Vulkan frame-time data for our Inside the Second testing methods. To make this happen, we've set aside Fraps in favor of PresentMon, a utility that monitors an application's calls to the Present method using a facility called Event Tracing for Windows. PresentMon gives us a nice file full of frame times that we then plug straight into our data-digestion tools.
For the moment, we're not running a three-frame moving average on this data before passing it into our internal tools, as we have with all of our Fraps frame-time info. PresentMon can be used to capture information from DirectX 11 and OpenGL applications, as well, so we've used it to gather all of the data you see on the following pages.
As you can see from the table above, we use custom-cooled, factory-boosted graphics cards in our testing. Whenever you see "GeForce GTX 950" or "Radeon R7 370" in our tests, for example, just remember we're referring to these hopped-up cards rather than a reference design.
The Asus GTX 950-2G goes commando
No graphics card review is complete without some healthy competition. To represent the GeForce GTX 950, we picked up one of Asus' GTX 950-2G cards. This is one of the much-ballyhooed GTX 950s that does without a six-pin power connector, and it's available on Newegg for $134.99 right now.
See, I figured we would be getting a power-plug-less RX 460, as well, given the card's frugal board power, and I guessed there'd be no better way to pit apples against apples than to get a similarly-provisioned GTX 950. That plan didn't work out, of course, but we still have a nice GTX 950 to work with for the trouble.
Since this card can't rely on external power to support a gratuitous factory clock-speed boost, Asus clocks it at near-reference 1026 MHz base and 1190 MHz boost speeds in its "gaming mode" clock profile. An "OC Mode" pushes those figures to 1051 MHz base and 1228 MHz boost speeds. We left the card in its Gaming Mode profile for our tests. Asus' twin-fan cooler doesn't spin down its fans at idle, but as you'll see later on, that's hardly an issue.
Now that we've set the stage, let's get to testing.