How We Tested
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.
- CPU: Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2 GHz, 1,600 MHz FSB, 12 MB L2 memory cache).
- Motherboard: EVGA nForce 790i Ultra SLI (P05 BIOS)
- Memories: Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000 2 GB kit (BL2KIT12864BE2009), running at 2,000 MHz with 9-9-9-28 timings.
- Hard disk drive: Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS (300 GB, SATA-300, 10,000 rpm, 16 MB cache).
- Video monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 305T (30” LCD, 2560×1600).
- Power supply: OCZ EliteXStream 1,000 W.
- CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TMG i1
- Optical Drive: LG GSA-H54N
- Desktop video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz
- Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
- Service Pack 1
- nForce driver version: 15.17
- AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.5
- AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.6 + hotfix (8.501.1.0, 6/21/2008) (Radeon HD 4850, HD 4870)
- AMD/ATI video driver version: 8.520.0.0 (Radeon HD 4870 X2)
- AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.10 (Radeon HD 4830)
- AMD/ATI video driver version: 8.542.0.0 (Radeon HD 4850 X2)
- AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.11 (FarCry 2, Fallout 3)
- NVIDIA video driver version: 175.16
- NVIDIA video driver version: 177.34 (GeForce GTX 260, GTX 280)
- NVIDIA video driver version: 177.79 (GeForce 9800 GT, 9800 GTX+)
- NVIDIA video driver version: 178.24 (FarCry 2, Fallout 3)
- 3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 + October 2007 Hotfix
- 3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1
- Call of Duty 4 – Patch 1.6
- Crysis – Patch 1.2.1 + HardwareOC Crysis Benchmark Tool 220.127.116.11
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two – Patch June 9th 2008 + HardwareOC Half-Life 2 Episode Two Benchmark Tool 18.104.22.168
- Unreal Tournament 3 – Patch 1.2 + HardwareOC UT3 Benchmark Tool 22.214.171.124
- FarCry 2
- Fallout 3 – Patch 126.96.36.199.5
Resolutions and Image Quality Settings
Since we were comparing very high-end video cards, we ran all our tests under three 16:10 widescreen high resolutions: 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600. We always tried to run the programs and games in two scenarios for each resolution, one with low image quality settings and then maxing out the image quality settings. The exact configuration we used will be described together with the results of each individual test.
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.