|MSI R6870 Radeon HD 6870 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Friday, 05 November 2010|
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3DMark Vantage Performance Tests
3DMark Vantage is a computer benchmark by Futuremark (formerly named Mad Onion) to determine the DirectX 10 performance of 3D game performance with graphics cards. A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system's 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
There are two graphics tests in 3DMark Vantage: Jane Nash (Graphics Test 1) and New Calico (Graphics Test 2). The Jane Nash test scene represents a large indoor game scene with complex character rigs, physical GPU simulations, multiple dynamic lights, and complex surface lighting models. It uses several hierarchical rendering steps, including for water reflection and refraction, and physics simulation collision map rendering. The New Calico test scene represents a vast space scene with lots of moving but rigid objects and special content like a huge planet and a dense asteroid belt.
At Benchmark Reviews, we believe that synthetic benchmark tools are just as valuable as video games, but only so long as you're comparing apples to apples. Since the same test is applied in the same controlled method with each test run, 3DMark is a reliable tool for comparing graphic cards against one-another.
1680x1050 is rapidly becoming the new 1280x1024. More and more widescreen are being sold with new systems or as upgrades to existing ones. Even in tough economic times, the tide cannot be turned back; screen resolution and size will continue to creep up. Using this resolution as a starting point, the maximum settings were applied to 3DMark Vantage include 8x Anti-Aliasing, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, all quality levels at Extreme, and Post Processing Scale at 1:2.
3DMark Vantage GPU Test: Jane Nash
Our first test shows the HD 6870 clearly besting the HD 5770 and HD 5830 parts. This "replacement" card does quite a bit more than fill the same slot occupied by the older models. It also beats out an overclocked GTX460 by a little over 10% in this synthetic test, but its lack of shaders, compared to the HD 5870 shows all too clearly here. At least in DX10 synthetics, the 1600 stream processors of the top Cypress GPU model rule the roost.
At 1920x1200 native resolution, things are much the same as the lower screen size; just the absolute values are lower, the ranking stays the same. BTW, the order of the bars, from left to right is based on current cost of the products. The exception to the rule is the GTX260 bar which is not currently in the retail channel. One thing you may have noticed is how well the HD 5830 does on this test, compared to the HD 5770. That issue has been beat to death since the 5830 was first released, but I mention it to demonstrate that this synthetic test has a way of highlighting the performance differences between those two cards that is harder to demonstrate with some other benchmarks. All the choices seem choppy at times, as none of them manages to really break free from the 30 FPS lower limit. Let's take a look at test #2, which has a lot more surfaces to render, with all those asteroids flying around the doomed planet New Calico.
3DMark Vantage GPU Test: New Calico
In the medium resolution New Calico test, the moderately overclocked MSI N460GTX Cyclone does so well that it edges out the AMD HD 6870 with its base clocks. That's an impressive feat for a card in this price range. The overclocked results show that synthetic performance scales linearly with higher clock rates, just as you would suspect. The HD 6870 retains its lead over the HD 5830 and HD 5770 that we saw in the Jane Nash test, it's just the GTX460 that seems to get a boost from this benchmark. None of the cards get over 30 FPS in this medium-resolution benchmark, which shows how tough this medium resolution test really is.
At the higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the MSI N460GTXCyclone with its factory OC holds onto a slim lead over the HD 6870, by less than 1 frame. The fact that the 6870 and 5830 have the exact same number of stream processors (1120) seems to have little effect on the performance results. Clearly the architecture improvements have made a significant difference, and none of that difference is due to the improved tessellation engine in the new Radeon 6xxx series, as these are all DX10 tests. Even the fastest single GPU cards have trouble rendering this scene, with the top card putting up an average frame rate in the low 20s. Soon this benchmark suite may be replaced with DX11-based tests, but in the fading days of DX10 it has been a very reliable and challenging benchmark for high-end video cards.
We need to look at some actual gaming performance to verify these results, so let's take a look in the next section, at how these cards stack up in the standard bearer for DX10 gaming benchmarks, Crysis.