by Rob Williams on February 2, 2011 in Graphics & Displays
AMD and NVIDIA released $250 GPUs last week, and both proved to deliver a major punch for modest cash. After testing, we found AMD to have a slight edge in overall performance, so to see if things change when OCing is brought into the picture, we pushed both cards hard, and then pit the results against our usual suite.
At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a detailed look at how we conduct our testing.
The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the graphics card. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used. Each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective category on our site for that product.
When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:
- No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s BIOS.
- Internet is disabled.
- No virus scanner or firewall is installed.
- The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
- Hard drives affected are defragged with Diskeeper 2010 prior to a fresh benchmarking run.
- Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.
To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing inaccurate test results. For example, disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.
The most important services we disable are:
- Diskeeper 2010
- Windows Defender
- Windows Error Reporting Service
- Windows Event Log
- Windows Firewall
- Windows Search
- Windows Update
The full list of Windows services we assure are disabled is large, but for those interested in perusing it, please look here. Most of the services we disable are mild, but we go to such an extent to have the PC as highly optimized as possible.
At this time, we benchmark with three resolutions that represent three popular monitor sizes available today, 20″ (1680×1050), 24″ (1920×1080) and 30″ (2560×1600). Each of these resolutions offers enough of a variance in raw pixel output to warrant testing with it, and each properly represent a different market segment: mainstream, mid-range and high-end.
Because we value results generated by real-world testing, we don’t utilize timedemos. The possible exceptions might be Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage and Unigine’s Heaven 2.1. Though neither of these are games, both act as robust timedemos. We choose to use them as they’re a standard where GPU reviews are concerned.
All of our results are captured with the help of Beepa’s FRAPS 3.2.3, while stress-testing and temperature-monitoring is handled by OCCT 3.1.0 and GPU-Z, respectively.
For those interested in the exact settings we use for each game, direct screenshots can be seen below:
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Just Cause 2