Summary and Conclusions
Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons. Here is the schedule:
- 3/27: Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing
- 3/27: Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition vs GeForce GTX 680 (Single and Dual GPU)
- 3/30: AMD Radeon HD 7990 vs GeForce GTX 690 vs GeForce GTX Titan
- 4/2: Radeon HD 7950 vs GeForce GTX 660 Ti (Single and Dual GPU)
- 4/5: Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition vs GeForce GTX 660 (Single and Dual GPU)
Now that we are a few articles into this series called Frame Rating, it is important to go back and start to evaluate these results, compare them to previous ones and look for trends, patterns and anything that stands out. We are hoping to find some answer as to WHY AMD's CrossFire and Eyefinity are having so many problems in hopes that they can address it sooner rather than later.
In a very similar result to the HD 7970 and GTX 680 results we launched Frame Rating with, the AMD card here has done well when compared to the GTX 660 Ti in terms of single GPU performance. Both NVIDIA and AMD are doing great with single GPU frame rates, frame times and frame variances, especially in our 1920×1080 and 2560×1440 testing. Since the release of the GTX 680, and after it the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, AMD has been careful to position its products, based on pricing, so that they offer better performance per dollar than NVIDIA. That was the case when we tested with FRAPS exclusively and that continues to be the case with our new capture-based method, called Frame Rating.
The Radeon HD 7950 3GB (with Boost) is faster than the GeForce GTX 660 Ti in basically all six of our games tested today. Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, DiRT 3, Sleeping Dogs, Skyrim and Far Cry 3 all showed benefits in frame rates and frame times when run on the HD 7950 at single monitor resolutions. In many cases though the GTX 660 Ti was close; very close. At multi-monitor testing (5760×1080) the 3GB frame buffer of the HD 7950 seemed to stretch out the lead that AMD had in single card results, particularly in games like Skyrim and Battlefield 3. Having 50% more memory at that kind of resolution is definitely an advantage that AMD is holding on to.
The issue of multi-GPU gaming on AMD crept up again with CrossFire – AMD's HD 7950s in a pair were consistently resulting in runt frames and dropped frames that caused lower observed frame rates than found with the GTX 660 Ti in SLI. In fact, it occurred more often here with the HD 7950s than it did with the HD 7970s – both DiRT 3 and Skyrim had problems in our review today when they did not appear to have any issues with the initial launch article. This tells me that as performance of the GPU is starting to go down (as we step down the product stack) the bottleneck of the GPU is going to cause more of these problems, not less.
This doesn't paint a very good picture for the Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 with multiple graphics cards if the pattern holds.
(Just a reminder as to why the GeForce GTX 670 was left out of this article. The GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB ($289) and the Radeon HD 7950 3GB ($299) are much closer in price! The GeForce GTX 670 ($359) will be included in a future Frame Rating article.)
There isn't much left to say here but to reiterate what I have written on the last two articles: AMD presently has the better hardware (just in terms of raw performance) when looking at single GPU options. (Though that is debatable with the inclusion of the GeForce GTX Titan at the high end.) But gamers that are or are thinking of using multiple-GPUs will without a doubt find the issues discussed here with Radeon GPUs in CrossFire mode troublesome.
AMD is aware of the issues, and has been since before the release of our first full article on Frame Rating, and is trying to figure out the answer for gamers. The current line of thinking is that they will release a driver some time in the summer that will give the user the option of enabling frame metering or not, rather than forcing it on as NVIDIA is doing today. Whether or not that will work out as well for AMD as currently does for NVIDIA will have to be seen.
I welcome your thoughts and comments below!!